• Apr 20
  • 4

Remembering Hillman Curtis

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.

Cheers Hillman,

Categories: Musings

  • Apr 18
  • 2

Design Trilogy box sets… 38 copies left…

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

Stream 16 tracks from the Urbanized soundtrack, free!

Kristian Dunn of the band El Ten Eleven (above) wrote the score for Gary Hustwit’s Objectified, and is back with new music for Urbanized. We’ve uploaded 16 tracks of his original score for your streaming pleasure, free! Listen now.

Categories: Film News

DVD Extra: “Requiem for Cabrini-Green”

Here’s a sneak peek of one of the extras on the Urbanized DVD, from our filming of the demolition of the final tower of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project.

The DVD and Blu-ray will be released February 14, pre-order them here. We’re also taking pre-orders for the last few limited-edition Design Trilogy Box Sets.

Categories: Film News, Merchandise

Last 250 Design Trilogy box sets on sale

We’ve created a limited-edition box set of definitive editions of Helvetica, Objectified, and Urbanized (on DVD or Blu-ray disc) in a specially designed slipcover package, with a hardbound art book featuring photos and notes on the making of the three films, guest contributors, and more. Plus some extra surprise goodies. Each copy signed by director Gary Hustwit. Discs are Region 0 (world) and include extra content and English language subtitles. Trilogy Box Sets will ship March 16th.

We’re producing 1,000 copies of this box set, but most of those have already been committed to backers of our Kickstarter campaign last year. There are only 250 copies still available, and they’ll be on sale here February 3rd, starting at 12 noon EST.

Update: The Trilogy Box Sets are now sold out.

Categories: Merchandise

Watch Urbanized Online, Now!

Starting today, you can now watch Urbanized online while it’s still in theaters! If you’ve got iTunes and you’re in the US or Canada, you can watch it via iTunes as a premium rental. If you’re not in those countries, you can rent it directly from our website via Distrify. You can also embed the film in your website or blog and share it with folks you know.

I’ll be honest, watching a film on your computer isn’t exactly the ideal viewing experience. But realistically, we aren’t going to be able to do a special screening event in every one of your cities, and this way we can show the film out to everyone who wants to see it. Now. I know some of you have your computer hooked up to your television with a good sound system, or use Apple TV or other devices to watch streaming video on your home system. That’s awesome. But I would still recommend that if you can, please try to see the film in a proper cinema!


Categories: Film News, Merchandise

  • Nov 15
  • 1

Urbanized posits that city dwellers must not only forge an innovative self-reliance, they must imagine higher forms of living. The radical fluctuations of growth and decline happening in modern cities necessitate infinite innovation. Urbanized is an extraordinarily ambitious attempt to make sense of a world flowing into cities. This visually arresting film, like Hustwit’s past work, elegantly conveys the omnipresence of design in daily life. Essential viewing.

Categories: Press

Theatrical update and new events

Some updates on our theatrical tuns:

- The NYC cinema run at IFC Center has been extended another week, until November 17th.

- Only two more days to see Urbanized on the big screen in Chicago at the Siskel Film Center, and in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Both runs will close on November 10th.

- Urbanized will screen at the Ragtag Cinema in Columbia MO, starting this Friday November 11th, through the 17th.

- Our Montreal theatrical run at Cinéma du Parc is November 19th to 25th.


Categories: Film News

A fascinating, idea-packed new documentary. Even viewers with deep knowledge of modern urban planning are likely to learn something from the carefully selected images and thoughtful interviews. It is worth venturing out of your room, climbing on your bike or boarding a low-emissions bus and fighting your way through a crowd to see.

Categories: Press

Ads via
The Deck

Urbanized is now available to rent or download on iTunes US, Canada, and UK. Watch it now.

Rent or download Objectified and Helvetica on iTunes now.