If the prospect of a long weekend not spent abroad is too much time outside of the office/work and a little daunting then this might help. I’ve compiled of my top 5 documentaries that will inspire you and have you back to work on Tuesday bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Most of the links are to Netflix UK, you can sign up and get your first month free here.
20 Feet From Stardom
Heralded as “a shoutout to the backing singers”, 20 Feet From Stardom puts the spotlight on those whose voices accompanied some of the biggest acts of all time. These predominantly African-American women reflect on their careers and highlight the importance of the harmonies. From the "Doo do doo do doo” of Lou Reed’s Take A Walk On The Wild Side to The Ronettes' ‘Be My Baby’, the stories are captivating throughout. I was particularly struck by The Blossom’s Darlene Love’s account of Phil Spector’s manipulative (and tragic) dictatorship over her career.
Enron - The Smartest Guys In The Room
One of my most watched documentaries out of my own disbelief in the greed and corruption that one company could get away with (to monolithic proportions) back in the ‘90s. This video documents the collapse of one of the biggest energy companies of all time after their conniving political backhands to deregulate the energy industry thus allowing them to commit fraud on a mass scale. Court footage and interviews with the key players who yanked at the frays on Enron’s accounting facades tells a valuable and sobering lesson in how not treat your investors and staff.
This is a brutal yet stimulating journey of independent game developers who despise the generic output from mass market publishers such as EA; they are striving to create something for themselves. It’s gripping account of the discipline and creativity these developers balanced in order to bring their dreams to market. Featured is the lead up to launch of Super Meat Boy and on-going development (at the time) of Fez. It’s a hugely encouraging story for anyone facing adversity in the early years of a business. I won’t give much away other than that,
Interviews with the leading capital investors who worked with entrepreneurs to launch tech companies such as Apple, Cisco & Intel. Most poignantly with Intel, touching on Moore (see Moore’s law) departure from Fairchild Semiconductor who were inarguably the pioneers in producing and globalising transistors and integrated circuits. It’s a fascinating account of the true ‘Silicon’ (Valley) innovators from the ‘60s onwards.
Steve Jobs - Billion Dollar Hippy
One of the biggest inspirations in tech and co-founder of one of the biggest companies in the world - this documentary is a retrospective into the importance of Steve Job’s California hippy roots. Job’s take on LSD was that it “reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money”. It’s an incredibly human and early insight into how much of a visionary the late-CEO of Apple was.