Everyone loves a good movie or show. With the advent of Netflix, Hulu, and so many on-demand options, binge-watching is now a near-daily activity for the vast majority of adults.
When it comes to binge-watching, there’s a myriad of great movies and shows out there, but as an inventor or CAD services company, it’s especially great to see the kind of work you enjoy represented on screen in some way, shape, or form.
It’s difficult to pare down a list of the best inventor-based movies since, lately, there has been such a resurgence of films either based on real-world scientists and inventors, or dramatizations of futuristic creations.
Several movies now spend much more time diving into the world of science and analyzing the creative aspect of inventing as opposed to telling the audience everything comes out of some form of Deus Ex Machina type of creation. Even films from Marvel Studios spend a significant amount of time trying to ground their fantastical world in the fabric of real science.
Let’s look at some of the best films to watch for an inventor, starting with movies about real famous inventors.
5 Movies about Inventors
1. The Imitation Game
Alan Turing has been called the father of modern computing. The time he spent creating the first actual computational machine, nicknamed “The Bomb” during World War 2, changed the tide of the war when it successfully cracked the Enigma encoding machine’s code.
The movie dramatizes a good deal of his life but it is an excellent expose of a highly intelligent inventor as well as the resistance he encountered from colleagues who believed his work was a waste of time. Anyone who has tried to invent something or disrupt an industry has most likely heard at some point that it wouldn’t be worth the time or effort to accomplish what they were trying to do.
One of the best parts of the film is the accuracy with which they portray the time required to complete the invention. There are many iterations and failures, and during those times it seems as if the result will be a failure, but the team, led by Turing, is diligent and perseveres.
That perseverance is something that many inventors and product design services can relate to. Whether they’re designing a brand-new product or merely creating a schematic of new construction, industry red tape, customer demands, and other factors force them to reiterate their design over and over.
2. Flash of Genius
Flash of Genius tells the story of the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper. I’m sure many people will ask themselves “was this such an important invention? How could the inventor of a windshield wiper make for the topic of an interesting film?”
This one is a must see. Robert Kearns, an engineering professor, develops a novel idea for a windshield wiper that would be significantly safer than the current design. When he pitches the idea to several vehicle manufacturers, including Ford and Chrysler, he is turned down, but the technology still finds its way to the marketplace.
Most of the film covers his legal battles as he tries to wrestle his intellectual property back from the corporate entities. After a harrowing ordeal including his lawyer pulling out of the case and Kearns’ rejection of a settlement, the judge rules that his intellectual property had been infringed upon and he is awarded millions for his work.
This film, and the true story behind it, show how necessary it is for an inventor to utilize patent services in order to protect their intellectual property and to ensure that what they’re working on is secure.
3. October Sky
An older film, October Sky details the high school adventures of Homer Hickam, a future rocket engineer. Hickam, along with several friends, spend their free time learning how to construct rockets due to their fascination with Sputnik.
Most of his time is spent teaching himself how to perform the math required to make his designs work, and he is left to learn and grow up quite a bit on his own. The group of friends steal the parts necessary to make their projects and eventually grow a following in the town as more and more people begin to support their work.
The heartwarming story shows how passion can lead an inventor and designer to create something truly extraordinary. In the face of many challenges, both financial and intellectual, Hickam and his friends did everything they needed to to get off the ground. The diligence and effort they put forth are indicative of the lengths to which an inventor will go to make their dream a reality.
In many cases, that involves teaching themselves something completely outside of their skillset so they can perform the necessary work – almost like when Isaac Newton created calculus so that he could properly explore his notions of physics and gravity.
4. The Social Network
Facebook is a giant. That much is true. Love him or hate him, Mark Zuckerberg has created an empire, and his innovation with regards to social networking and multimedia has been a game changer.
This story combines many of the aspects of the earlier films, as he begins in college with a simple idea that transfixes him. That seems to be the way it typically starts – an inventor will have an idea that they can’t shake out of their head. This obsession eventually drives them to create something previously unimaginable.
In the film, Zuckerberg spends time iterating and designing to create the perfect, dynamic social network. He has to defend his intellectual property against his friends and former colleagues who, having intimate knowledge of the process, attempt to take credit for it as their own.
In the end Zuckerberg’s persistence pays off, and he creates the most widespread social networking site in existence today. We’ve all seen the fruit of his labor, and because of his tireless effort, he is now worth billions of dollars.
5. The Theory of Everything
Stephen Hawking was a man ahead of his time. His intellect was unrivaled by many of his peers including a large number of colleagues he worked with. Tragically, his body was racked with illness as ALS began crippling him from a young age.
This film explores his life, beginning with his exploration into cosmology and his creation of theories on black hole development and the nature of time. While not technically an inventor, Stephen Hawking has many of the necessary qualities of one.
We see his persistence and perseverance and it takes a look at something often undervalued in the world of inventing and design – support. Often, working on a new invention or design, we overlook the necessary support that helps us reach the point of completion.
Hawking relied frequently on his first wife as well as his collegiate friends and eventual colleagues to help him with his theories when he had trouble writing, walking, and eventually speaking.
His persistence is evident, but the film also makes it clear that talented individuals supporting him were inherent to his success. That is a lesson that should not be quickly overlooked for any inventor or designer.
5 Movies about Inventing and Design
1. If You Build It
The previous movies we discussed addressed a specific inventor and the work they did to make their dream a reality. This one, and the ones that follow, explore the process of inventing or designing something new.
A group of high school students learns how to design and construct a new building for their school. Not only is this incredibly heartwarming and impactful, but it is also educational and interesting.
Similar to what happened in October Sky, the children had to teach themselves how to do the design and analysis of the structure they were building, which is, in and of itself, a huge feat and requires many years of schooling for professionals.
Also, they had to teach themselves to put the construction together as they were going. I don’t know how many of you out there have physically built a building, but I would have to assume it is not a simple task.
The children persisted and educated themselves while they were working, which is what many inventors have to do, be it learning to write software code like Mark Zuckerberg did, or learning to perform the math needed to get a rocket to space, like Homer Hickam and his friends did – all while actually working on their projects.
2. Abstract: The Art of Design
This Netflix original series takes an in-depth look at the many groundbreaking leaders in the design industry, such as Nike and Bjarke Ingels, an architect who defies convention and creates some masterpieces of design and engineering. The series focuses significantly on the passion and energy these individuals put into their designs and work.
Dedication is necessary to accomplish revolutionary things, and these architectural designers put them into whatever they’re doing, whether it’s interior design, footwear, or children’s illustrations.
This show explains how design is so much more than drawing pictures and putting together colors. As the designers explain – engineering, math, and creativity all play vital roles in the design process, even for illustration and interior design. This documentary explores those concepts in detail and discusses how all the different designers in different fields use those elements to create compelling and unconventional designs.
3. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
This documentary may not seem related to invention or CAD design at all, but believe me, it is. Jiro Ono is a sushi chef in Tokyo, and he operates out of a Tokyo subway station with a ten-seat, fixed-menu sushi restaurant.
The catch? He has earned three Michelin stars, and his restaurant is regarded as one of the best sushi restaurants in the world. The story also explores his two sons, who are both sushi chefs and have both opened up renowned sushi restaurants of their own, though they haven’t achieved as much success of Jiro’s original restaurant.
What makes this film so inspiring for inventors is how it follows a simple, individual entrepreneur who had a strong vision, a passion for his product, and a desire to hone his craft.
Jiro Ono takes the time to cultivate his skills to become the best in his profession, and he focused on what he did well. Ono never planned an expansion, never relocated his restaurant, and keeps his menu simple – for the very fact that he knows his product and he knows his market.
This is a vital lesson for any inventor or entrepreneur out there – if you know what you’re doing and you know your market, you can manufacture success without any fancy gimmicks or tricks. Jiro has no tricks – he doesn’t even have a large restaurant, he just provides the best quality product that anyone could ask for, and it has worked out exceedingly well for him.
4. Burt’s Buzz
Burt’s Buzz holds a special place in my heart because, for one, I live near the headquarters in Durham, North Carolina. I also use Burt’s Bees Chapstick religiously. Burt Shavitz is a man similar to Jiro Ono in that he only cared about his product.
Shavitz was an avid beekeeper who remained fairly reclusive throughout the majority of his life, but he did one thing very well – he kept bees and made things from their wax and honey. This film explores his life as a simple man with a passion for bees and how his work blossomed into a nearly billion-dollar business practically on accident.
One of the hallmarks of this film is, once again, the support network around a passionate individual and how significant that can be to accelerate a goal or dream. Roxanne Quimby would sell Shavitz’ homemade wax candles at local markets, and as the demand rapidly grew, they went into business together and created an empire.
Without Quimby and an eventual network of hardworking individuals around the two of them, Shavitz likely would have never progressed beyond earning a few dollars here and there at various markets, and his products would have remained just a well-made item from an individual, only available to those closest to him.
The Fyre Festival and everything involving it and its constituent business ventures is the perfect example of how not to invent something or be a good entrepreneur. The absurdity that was the Fyre Festival is one of the most entertaining documentaries on the internet.
Billy McFarland is a very talented businessman, with a strong proclivity for sales and marketing. That much is evident because he sold an incomplete and ineffective product not only to thousands of concertgoers but to multiple skilled and wealthy investors.
While Fyre was not a successful event, there are some great lessons that an inventor and entrepreneur can take away from it. First, even the most ludicrous, poorly planned idea can succeed if you can market it well, which is exactly what the Fyre team did. Second, and most importantly, to accomplish the things you need to, you will need a competent team around you.
Despite the fact that there was not ever a legitimate concert, the Fyre festival still got to the point of landing thousands of people on an island and putting them in tents, mainly because there was a fleet of managers and workers coordinating everything as skillfully as possible in the face of the mind-numbing idiocy that was the actual festival.
For sheer entertainment value, as well as a confidence boost that you can get your product off the ground, this film is a must see.
There are several movies out there that an inventor can relate to about inventing, design, engineering, and specific inventors. This is simply a curated list to spark your curiosity and get you on a journey of design and invention.
There have been many times in my own life when seeing someone else invent or create something lights a switch in my mind where I think “I could make something like that” and I’ll get to tinkering, only to quit two days later. With the right resources, however, like a skilled team of engineers and designers who provide new invention development services, you can truly make something impressive.
Cad Crowd Can Help You Make Your Invention Idea a Reality
Cad Crowd offers you an opportunity to work with talented individuals who have the expertise you need to make your dream or invention a reality.
Better yet, taking a lesson from Robert Kearns and Mark Zuckerberg, when you hire a designer through Cad Crowd, your intellectual property is always protected and will remain secure throughout the entire design process. Make your vision a reality and become a creator with our invention design help. Check out how it works.
If you are open to different design concepts for your invention idea, you can launch a contest and choose the submission that appeals to you the most. Learn how you can launch a design contest in as little as 15 minutes.