As some of you may know, I am the director of a feature-length documentary film about the Linotype type casting machine. About a year ago, I partnered up with two good friends on a journey to document the Linotype and the people who love these crazy machines. After 45 interviews and 26 separate shoots, we have amassed an amazing collection of footage telling the surprisingly emotional and fascinating story of the Linotype.
Called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by Thomas Edison, the Linotype revolutionized printing and society, but very few people know about the inventor, Ottmar Mergenthaler, or his fascinating machine. The Linotype brought about a revolution in literacy and communication as dramatic as the internet today. To read a much more in-depth history of the Linotype, you can read my article in Codex #1.
The film tells the story of the people connected to the Linotype and how it impacted the world. We have discovered that the Linotype was more than just a machine - it was a career, a skill, and a passion. Even in the face of modern technology, many still believe it to be the best way to create beautiful typography.
We have filmed all over the United States and into Europe. Along the way, we met some of the most generous and amazing people that have a passion for the Linotype. Filming in barns, museums, corporate headquarters and government buildings, we found Linotypes in tiny towns and major cities. Below is a small list of a few of the people that we have interviewed over the past six months:
Matthew Carter — type designer & former Linotype employee
Frank Romano — preeminent Linotype historian
Carol Knopes — former editor at USA Today
Carl Schlesinger — former New York Times Linotype operator
Bill Boarman — Head Printer of the United States
Nadine Chahine — type designer & Arabic specialist at Linotype
Klaus Trefzer — German collector of Linotypes
You can see excerpts from several of our interviews in this video:
Funding the Film
From the beginning, all of our funding has come from grassroots support — people that love printing, communication and typography. We had a very successful Kickstarter campaign in November that exceeded our expectations. This allowed us to expand the scope of the film to include more people and locations to make this the definitive film on the subject.
Honestly, our original budget for the film was naïve in estimating our total film expenses. Thankfully, the Kickstarter community knew better than us and gave above and beyond our goal. In a moment of serendipity, the money raised was exactly the amount needed to fund the filming portion of the film.
We are now launching a second Kickstarter project to help cover our post-production expenses such as color-correction, audio engineering, motion graphics and titling, music, and archival footage. Post-production is where the film really takes shape. If we have done our job correctly, it is where we take 45 interviews and tell a story together.
Supporters of the Kickstarter project can receive limited-edition letterpresses posters, a copy of the final DVD or even an actual line of lead type.
Screenings & Release
Many have been asking when they can see the final film. Because of our expanded scope, the film will premiere in early 2012 and screenings of the film will tour around the world shortly thereafter. The DVD will be released in the spring of 2012. We will be submitting the film to various film festivals and we hope to meet many of you out on the road.