creative research

Typeface (2009)

Typeface (2009)
59 min – Documentary – 2009 (USA)
Charting the intersection between rural America and contemporary graphic design.
Director: Justine Nagan

(from IMDB)

I screened Typeface the movie in the seminar room and invited fellow viscom students to watch it and engage in an informal focus group about it afterwards. In total five people plus myself watched the film, which I felt was quite a good turnout considering that Thursday is not a usual uni day and the first years were on their field trip.

The main points from discussion were:

  • the characters and personalities made it really interesting
  • interested in both history of letterpress and the Hamilton Wood type Museum’s story
  • the shakey hand-held camera look made it look cheap and low budget, and at times distracted from the narrative and disrupted viewing
  • shared the frustrations of the Museum’s Board and the town and developed own thoughts on best action to take without the film telling them, which kept up levels of engagement. Viewer could see solutions – eg take on an apprentices, run workshops – that the characters couldn’t
  • the inclusion of the dying town and the failing Museum made a sad and strong narrative and opened wider discussion about dying industries
  • the shots were a little samey at times – rows of wood type and wide shots that tried to include all action. Missed the aesthetics of the machinery and close up textures and shapes. Liked the historic pictures that were included too.
  • the film did make them wonder about local letterpress and produced a desire to try it themselves

Main creative points I’ll take forward:

  • find historical references and shots
  • make visuals really interesting with a diverse range of shots and actions, featuring movement, texture, details…look at the beauty of the machine, the choreography of the process, and the final work
  • make sure there is something to care about from the outset
  • maybe think of some way to support people post watching the film, eg a website where they can find local workshops, printers, etc
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