I Love Typography

Linotype the film — final push

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.

“Linotype: The Film” Official Trailer from Linotype: The Film on Vimeo.

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.

Gathering Footage

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

Nadine Chahine

Davin Kuntze

Matthew Carter

You can see excerpts from several of our interviews in this video:

“Linotype: The Film” Interview Excerpts from Linotype: The Film on Vimeo.

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.

LINKS

Kickstarter project.


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  1. Congratulations, this is a true labour of love.

    I’m heading over to the Kickstarter project page now!

  2. Awesome. As soon as I have a job, I’ll order the DVD.

  3. Tatiana

    It’s great! Congratulations! The word is: PASSION!

  4. svat

    Trivial question, out of curiosity: Does the film mention James O. Clephane? (who financed and encouraged the invention of the machine, much as the supporters of the film are doing!)

  5. Karen

    We were at the Shelburne Museum in VT last fall. They have a replica of an old printshop there with a working letterpress. The also have a beautiful Linotype machine. I asked to see it demonstrated, but they said no one knew how to run it. I asked the docent if she could explain how it worked and she answered simply, “It’s magic.”

  6. This sound really awesome. I want one!

  7. Any sort of printmaking fascinates me. Can’t wait to get my hands on this movie.

  8. Lyn

    I hope the movie comes to Australia. Love the the music.

  9. I set type on an Intertype (a machine based on the Linotype) in the late ’70s. The circulating matrices were endlessly fascinating. Changing fonts required lifting out one magazine and replacing it with another (a pain in the ass as I recall). I do look forward to seeing this film!

  10. I was the last apprentice trained on the linotype in Melbourne Australia. I loved that machine! During one quiet spell at work I stripped the whole machine down for cleaning, and put it back together. When the lino tech. came in he admitted that he had never seen a machine stripped down completely. They truely are an engineering marvel.

    Look forward to seeing the movie!

  11. I think regardless it is a beautiful piece of machinery that was the stepping stone into the digital age. It might not be relevant and efficient any longer but machines like this will never be forgotten.

  12. Best of luck with the film, hope it’s really successful.

  1. Linotype: The Film—Aug 26, 2011
  2. sociallinkets.info—Sep 16, 2011

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