April 28, 2008

Helvetica, the Film

Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface celebrating its 50th birthday this year as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. Helvetica is currently screening at film festivals, museums, design conferences, and cinemas worldwide. Design & People is planning a screening soon.

By Gary Hustwit, the Documentary Filmmaker: It was one year ago today that Helvetica had its World Premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Showing the film in public for the first time was surreal, and extremely stressful, but it was a life-changing event for me. I’d never made a film before, and it was incredible to have a sold-out audience respond like they did, and then do my first Q&A session (with David Carson, no less). Suddenly I was a filmmaker, where before that day I was just a guy who liked films and had helped some friends produce a few of their documentaries.

My head is still reeling from the 12 months that followed. Visiting 100 cities in 25 countries, meeting (literally) thousands of designers all over the world. Hearing from all the people who were inspired by the film. Seeing it broadcast on BBC1 in England, getting nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, all of this is way beyond what I ever imagined when I first came up with the idea to make a movie about a font. The result is that I’m addicted to the process of directing documentaries, and plan on making as many as I can until they stop me.

So on its one-year anniversary, I’d like to once again thank everyone who helped me make this film, everyone who’s actually in it, everyone who helped organize events during the past year, everyone who’s watched the film, and every graphic designer on the planet. You all rock.

What’s next? Helvetica focused on the people who make type, and how graphic design affects our lives. My next film focuses on the people who make objects, and how those objects affect our lives. Yeah, that’s sort of a vague description, I know. We’ll have a website up soon that’ll give you more details. I’ll try to continue blogging here for the near future, and then switch over to the new film blog at some point.

The one thing I’ve learned about making documentaries is that each one is an adventure. So I hope you’ll stick around to see me through the next one.

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