What maker doesn’t like to unwind with a good movie, TV show, game, or book? We tend to focus a lot of attention around here on being productive, and consuming lots of non-fiction guides to specific tools and techniques. To change things up a bit, we decided to compile this guide to Make: leisure. Warning: may contain themes of cleverness, mischief, gadget-loving, subversion, and inventiveness. We call it “media for makers.” Enjoy, and please add some of your own maker-tinged favorites in the comments.
The Prestige ($15) When I first saw this film, Michael Caine’s character made me want to drop everything and pursue a career as an ingÃ©nieur, building tricks for magicians. Prestige is a satisfying thriller about the extremes a stage magician will go to to create the ultimate illusion. Bonus: it’s got a wonderful turn by David Bowie as every maker’s favorite scientist, Nicola Tesla.
World’s Fastest Indian ($15) “A wonderful film about the incredible Kiwi maker Burt Munro, who re-built a 1920s Indian Motorcycle in his garage, in the 50s and 60s. It took him forever because he couldn’t find most of the parts and had to build them himself. He used up his savings, and contributions from neighbors, to bring the bike to Bonneville, where all the young turks sneered at him. What happened? Watch it…” — Dan Woods
Primer ($20) “Low-budget sci-fi flick about guys who make a time machine in their garage.” — Collin Cunningham
Rififi ($25) “For the famous, wordless, tool-filled sequence showing how the jewel thieves break into the store.” — Paul Spinrad
MacGyver – The Complete Series (Seasons 1-7) ($145) Well, no surprise here, right? MacGyver is the symbolic proto-maker! Pick up the collection of every episode and relive the ingenious creations that inspired a generation of tinkerers.
Gilligan’s Island – The Complete Series Collection ($34) “The professor can make anything out of coconuts (OK, anything except a way off the island). Remember when he made a battery for the radio?” — Marc de Vinck
“And, when cocopunk finally becomes the next wacky maker sub-culture, you’ll have these important training materials on-hand!” – Gareth Branwyn
The A-Team Complete Series ($250) The semi-cheesy, always fun team-based approach to MacGyver-meets-Rambo-meets-duct-tape genre. I know I watched this show too much as a kid, because the recent balloon boy incident made me think immediately of Murdock’s lawn-chair hot air balloon prison escape. Yet I vow to one day build a replica cabbage cannon from Season Two!
Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection ($20) One of our favorite wacky inventors in the Rube Goldberg mold. The animation, characters, and ridiculous situations are charming and appealing. The craftsmanship of the models and sets are an added layer of joy, on top of the clever, hilarious stories. This four-disc set includes the four shorts, all of the “Cranking Contraptions,” and a bonus “Shaun the Sheep” episode.
Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure ($15) When DisneyToon Studios (full disclosure, I work there) began to build a franchise around Tink, they emphasized her talent as a tinkerer. Watch this adorable adventure movie to see the most MacGyver-esque exploits that side of Neverland.
Kiki’s Delivery Service ($25) A lovable Miyazaki coming-of-age film about a young witch in a new city. I love the aviation-obsessed boy, Tombo, who builds a crazy propeller-driven flying bicycle.
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water ($45) This anime series was inspired by Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. It follows the exploits of Nadia, and Jean, a young inventor. The pair are being chased around the world by a group of jewel thieves, starting at the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. Filled with great machines, science, watercraft, and adventure.
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box for Nintendo DS ($30)
Wonderful characters and beautiful hand-drawn art set the stage for this challenging and enjoyable series of puzzles wrapped in a mystery plot. Hop aboard the Molentary Express, and tackle brainteasers, to solve a murder.
Little Big Planet for PS3 ($50) Absolutely gorgeous physics-based platformer. The Sackboy character could have been pulled straight out of the creative, quirky minds of our friends at CRAFT. Come for the puzzles, stay for the level design tools that let you make your own content.
Fantastic Contraption for iPhone and iPod Touch ($4.99) I’ve always loved the original Rube Goldberg game, The Incredible Machine. I’ve happily played many of its descendants. But Fantastic Contraption has me particularly hooked. The interface works beautifully, the physics are spot-on, but most of all, it’s the design constraints. Rather than allowing you to place objects throughout the scene, you are confined to building a machine in a small space that transports your cargo to its goal. Brilliant!
Makers by Cory Doctorow (~$25, or free download)
This one probably needs little introduction. An excellent novel that reads like reality, a reality filled with makers, hackers, micro-lenders, 3D fabricators, and the up-to-the-minute details that Doctorow’s famous for.
Device Vol. 1 ($19.99) “Celebrates the genius of invention and ingenuity with a showcase of works from an international roster of tech-artists, including H.R. Giger, Ashley Wood, StÃ©phane Halleux, Viktor Koen, Christopher Conte, Gregory Brotherton, Mike Libby, Nemo Gould, and many others. Foreword by our very own Gareth Branwyn.” — Marc de Vinck
The Alex Rider Collection ($14)
The gadget-filled spy series is perfect for the maker-minded young adult on your list. Once they’ve read these novels, they’ll enjoy the gadget blueprints, tech specs, and other details in the Alex Rider: The Gadgets volume. He’s got a Game Boy Geiger counter, CD player circular saw, mouth brace radio, and more! [Editor's disclosure: Penguin Books, publishers of the Alex Rider series, advertise with Maker Media and we are currently running an Alex Rider contest.]
Trustee from the Toolroom by Nevil Shute ($28) This rich, satisfying novel centers on Keith Stewart, a scale-model engineer and technical journalis, who goes on a journey to the South Pacific to track down his family fortune.