There’s a new Kickstarter project that launched yesterday that I think is fantastic: TELL ME SOMETHING, a book of photos and advice from fifty documentary filmmakers. This is a great project, and I’m not just saying that because I’m one of the fifty! There are some legendary filmmakers who are part of it, like DA Pennebaker, Albert Maysles, Barbara Kopple, Frederick Wiseman, and many more. It’s an honor for me to be included in this book.
To help the project reach their funding goal, I’ve donated five of my personal copies of the sold-out Design Trilogy Box Set to their campaign. So if you missed getting one when we did the Urbanized Kickstarter campaign, here’s your chance. And if you’ve already got a Trilogy box set, please back the project for the book, which is only $40. I think it’s going to be really special.
Categories: Film News
Greetings friends, here’s a quick update on The Olympic City, my photography collaboration with Jon Pack where we’re looking at former Olympic host cities around the world and documenting what happens once the Games are gone. Jon and I have visited 13 cities, culminating with my trip to Beijing in December (above) and Jon’s trip last week to London to document the transformation happening at the Olympic Park there. So we’ve finished photographing, and now the book is in the capable hands of our designer Paul Sahre. The book will be going to press in March, and shipping in April. If you didn’t reserve a copy through our Kickstarter campaign, the remaining 300 available copies of the book will be offered for pre-order in mid-February. I’ll post details here or on my Twitter feed.
Categories: Merchandise, Musings
Bill Moggridge, legendary designer of the first laptop computer, co-founder of design firm IDEO, and director of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, passed away earlier this week after a battle with cancer. I had the honor of interviewing Bill at his home in California in 2008 for “Objectified”. He was a brilliant designer, educator, and all-around gentleman. He will be missed.
The Cooper-Hewitt has created a video tribute to Bill, and the folks at IDEO have made a website celebrating Bill’s memory. See some of the entires there or add your own.
And here’s a clip of Bill’s appearance in “Objectified”.
Bill Moggridge – clip from “Objectified” from gary hustwit on Vimeo.
Categories: Design News, Film News, Objectified
I’m excited to announce a new project: The Olympic City, a photo book I’m collaborating on with photographer Jon Pack that looks at the legacy of the Olympics Games in former host cities around the world. Hosting the Olympics has become a way for a city to show itself off on an international stage and generate toursim dollars, and cities spend millions or billions for the privilege. But after the events are over, the medals have been handed out, and the torch has been extinguished, what happens next?
In The Olympic City, we’re documenting the successes and failures, the forgotten remnants and the ghosts of the Olympic spectacle. Some former Olympic sites are retrofitted and used in ways that belie their grand beginnings; turned into prisons, housing, malls, gyms, churches. Others sit unused for decades and become tragic time capsules, examples of misguided planning and broken promises of the benefits that the Games would bring. We’re interested in these disparate ideas — decay and rebirth — and how each site seems to have gone one way or the other, either by choice or circumstance. We’re equally interested in the lives of the people whose neighborhoods have been transformed by Olympic development.
A large-format hardcover book of the photographs will be published in March, 2013, in a limited edition of 1,000 copies. We’re excited the acclaimed graphic designer Paul Sahre is designing the book. There will also be an exhibition of the photos in New York City and other cities early next year, details TBA. We’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign, you can back the project and receive copies of the book, a deleuxe version, original prints from the project, and more.
The role of the spectacle in urban design (sports stadiums, convention centers, etc.) was something our team discussed at length while making Urbanized but we didn’t end up having space to include that discussion in the film, so I’m excited to explore it in another media with this project. I hope you’ll follow along as we finish the book, it should yield some interesting discoveries.
Categories: Design News
Please join us for a celebration of the life and work of Hillman Curtis, hosted by his friends, colleagues, and the subjects of his films.
The Films of Hillman Curtis
With special guests Milton Glaser, Debbie Millman, Stefan Sagmeister, Paul Sahre, Paula Scher, James Victore, and more to be announced.
Thursday, June 21st, 7pm
333 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
Drinks reception: 7pm to 8pm
Film program: 8pm to 9:30pm
General admission: $20
VIP ticket with priority seating and after-party invite: $50
Tickets on sale now.
Proceeds from the evening will benefit the PS29 Arts Fund, the Carroll Gardens elementary school attended by Jasper and Tess Curtis. This event was organized and curated by Gary Hustwit, Stefan Sagmeister, Ben Nabors, and Ben Wolf, with support from the School of Visual Arts.
Categories: Design News
The 1,000 copy limited-edition Design Trilogy Box Set is now officially sold out. Thanks to everyone who ordered one, especially our Kickstarter backers who ordered it last year and supported production of Urbanized. Hope you all enjoy it!
Categories: Film News, Merchandise
Last Wednesday, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian debated USC professor Jonathan Taplin, director of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and former tour manager of The Band (watch the video). The topic: antipiracy, SOPA, and the current state of the entertainment industry. Taplin asserted that music piracy has impacted the income of musicians like The Band’s Levon Helm (who passed away from cancer last Thursday, R.I.P.), forcing Helm to have to tour in order to support his family and pay his medical bills. Ohanian countered that crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter could enable fans to help artists like Helm by directly financing their projects.
“You want to give every great artist a virtual begging bowl with Kickstarter. But Levon never wanted the charity of the Reddit community or the Kickstarter community. He just wanted to earn an honest living off the great work of a lifetime.”
While I can agree with some of Taplin’s views on piracy and how it has influenced the situation of someone like Helm (though one might also need to look at how The Band’s record sales royalty percentages are structured, and Helm’s publishing splits), I don’t agree with his assertion that Kickstarter is “a virtual begging bowl” for creatives.
Kickstarter is not a begging bowl. It’s a happiness machine.
About eight years ago, my girlfriend at the time was in the process of starting a non-profit literary magazine. We happened to be at a friend’s wedding, and someone we met there was asking us about the project. “Why would someone want to give money to help start this magazine?” he asked. We launched into a long pitch about how they’d be helping champion new writers, that literature was important, that we were educating people, etc. etc.
He paused for a second, then said, “No, no, that’s not what you’re offering them. You know what you’re offering? Happiness. A lot of people want to get involved in creative projects, but for whatever reason they can’t. You’re offering them a way to do that, a way to be involved in something important and creative. So don’t think of it as asking them for money, you’re providing them with happiness.”
Those words have stuck with me, because they represent a shift in how we as artists think about raising money for our projects, whether it’s a $10 Kickstarter backer or a $100,000 investor in an indie film. It’s not charity. What Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo have done is provide a large audience with an easy way to become part of the creative process and feel good about it. And with many projects now raising millions through crowdfunding, there’s no doubt in my mind that it will be a bigger part of how we all work in the future.
Obviously we’re in the midst of a major shift in terms of how artists should and can be compensated for their work. My films are illegally downloaded constantly, and I’ve tried to combat that by making the films as easy as possible to legally access (like by renting or downloading Urbanized directly from this site). When I went on tour with my second film, Objectified, I asked audience members how many of them had seen my first film, Helvetica. Maybe half the audience would raise their hands. Then I asked, of the people who’d seen Helvetica, how many had watched a pirated copy? About half of the people who had just raised their hands usually kept them up. On one hand, you could argue that I’d lost money from those people not paying for the Helvetica downloads. But on the other hand, they’d all just paid $20 for a ticket to the Objectified event.
So in my case I believe that file sharing has opened up a larger audience for my films, especially internationally. And how I utilize that larger audience to make my future films possible, and pay the rent, will be the key to my continued sustainability as an independent filmmaker. I believe that having a direct relationship with the people who want to see my films made, and making it easy for them to be involved in that process, is the best way to achieve that. Everybody’s happy.
In 2005, when I began the process of making Helvetica, I was searching for other design-related documentaries. I discovered there was only one filmmaker out there who was documenting designers and their work in an innovative way. Hillman Curtis’s Artist Series shorts were beautifully conceived, shot, and edited, and they really inspired me. You could tell he was passionate about documenting creativity and sharing it with other designers through these short profiles, which were always available free on his website. I was in awe of his creative output and how he balanced paid gigs with passion projects. His filmmaking style was unique, and he often put the guts of the film production process (boom microphones, lighting stands, backdrops, dolly tracks, etc.) on-screen as visual elements. In a way, his films simultaneously exposed his subject’s creative process, and his own.
He inspired countless designers through his books and conference appearances. His early Flash designs changed the way the web looked and helped open up the possibilities of online media. He explored narrative film, making 11 original short films, also viewable on his site. Hillman’s only feature-length project was the 2010 music documentary Ride, Rise, Roar about David Byrne, which my partner Jessica did the film festival publicity for. When I saw it at the SxSW premiere, I told Hillman it was one of the most well-photographed and edited concert films I’d ever seen. He was working on another feature, his collaboration with designer Stefan Sagmeister, The Happy Film, and he recently posted this short on Vimeo in which he explained his approach. “Be prepared to reinvent yourself,” was his advice to young creatives.
I first met Hillman in 2007 at the Design Thinkers conference in Toronto. We had plenty to talk about, we were both originally from Southern California, had our roots in the music scene, and in a sense we were doing the same thing with our films but in different forms. At the end of the conference, they gave the speakers a gift of an ornate hand-blown glass bottle of artisanal maple syrup. We were both flying back to New York, but Hillman didn’t have any checked baggage and realized they probably wouldn’t let him on the plane with a large vial of syrup in his carry-on. So I offered to bring it back in my suitcase, and we agreed that we’d meet up for brunch some weekend and make pancakes with the fancy syrup. Of course it slipped our minds, and every time we ran into each other after that, we were like, “The maple syrup!!!” Eventually I got his bottle back to him, but we never did have that pancake brunch.
Hillman passed away Wednesday night at the age of 51, after a three-year battle with cancer. He was someone who I truly admired, and this is a huge loss for all of us. My heart especially goes out to his wife Christina and their children.
Watch one of Hillman’s “Artist Series” short films now. It will make your day, and your life, better.
All the Design Trilogy box set orders have been shipped out! And after the dust settled from shipping, there are 38 copies remaining from the 1,000 copy limited edition. You can choose between either DVD or Blu-ray discs, and they’ll go on sale here on Friday, April 20th, noon EST.
Categories: Film News, Merchandise
Urbanized is now available on DVD & Blu-ray, with an hour of bonus interviews and footage, 5.1 surround sound, and liner notes from director Gary Hustwit. Order now, and get $5 off the retail price, plus an exclusive Urbanized Field Notes notepad, while they last!
You can also rent or download the film right from our site, or from iTunes USA, Canada, or UK, or from Amazon US.
Categories: Film News, Merchandise