Linotype: The Film – Final Push

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News | Douglas Wilson | August 12, 2011

Linotype: The Film is a feature-length documentary centred around the Linotype typecasting machine. We are excited to announce a second Kickstarter project to help us cover post-production expenses. We need your help with the expenses of editing, colour-correction, sound mixing, motion graphics, music acquisition and archival footage.

With your help, we can deliver the highest quality production possible. Please read on to learn more about becoming involved with our project, and then visit the Kickstarter page to learn about the rewards. Your involvement is vital for bringing this project to fruition.

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

About the Film

Called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by Thomas Edison, the Linotype revolutionized printing and society. Very few people know about the inventor, his fascinating machine, or the revolution it sparked. The Linotype brought about a change in communication as dramatic as Twitter today.

The film tells the surprisingly emotional 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.

Although the film is about a machine from the past, we have found that the Linotype is still a relevant piece of printing technology that has something to say about the future of communication and news.

Current Film Status

After the original successful Kickstarter campaign, we spent six months travelling the United States and Germany interviewing people and gathering amazing footage for the film. We have interviewed 45 people and had 26 separate shoots. Now that shooting is complete, we are in need of funds to finish post-production.

Because of the generous support of our initial Kickstarter backers, we were able to expand the scope of the film to include people and locations not in our original plan. This has been extremely beneficial and has guaranteed that our production will be the definitive film on the subject.

Frank Romano, pre-eminent Linotype historian, interviewed for Linotype: The Film.

Why We Need Your Help

Honestly, our original film budget was a bit naive. Thankfully, the Kickstarter community gave above and beyond our goal and the money raised was exactly the amount of money we needed to fund the filming portion of the film.

Post-production is where the film really takes shape. We need your help with the expenses of editing, colour-correction, sound mixing, motion graphics, music acquisition and archival footage. With your help, we can deliver the highest quality production possible.

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.

Matthew Carter, type designer & former Linotype employee, interviewed for Linotype: The Film.

A few of the people we have interviewed

  • Matthew Carter – type designer & former Linotype employee
  • Frank Romano – pre-eminent 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 – curator of German Linotype museum

View the video below to see an excerpts from our interview footage:

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

History of the Linotype

In 1886 a German watchmaker named Ottmar Mergenthaler changed the world by inventing the Linotype machine. Called “The Eighth Wonder of the World” by Thomas Edison, the Linotype revolutionized printing and society.

Suddenly, newspapers could be printed daily, books could be produced faster and cheaper, and one typesetter could do the work of six men composing type by hand. The Linotype sparked an increase in speed of communication that can only be compared to the invention of the internet. It can be said that the Linotype was the Twitter of 1886.

Although these machines were revolutionary, new technology began to supersede the Linotype in the 1960s, and over the following decades they were scrapped and melted down by the thousands. Today, very few machines are still in existence.

The Linotype Today

The highly skilled operators of the Linotype are in a battle against time. If their skills are not passed along to a new generation of operators, the machine will die out completely. This stalwart group of former operators, historians, book printers, graphic designers, and concerned folks are doing everything they can to save the Linotype from the scrap yard.

Some see this as a fool’s errand, or as a hobby for those remembering their glory days. And some say it’s more than that…

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  1. Hey there might still be time to enrol in Linotype University.

    They run an annual 1-week course in Linotype operation and maintenance. This year it’s September 25–October 2. It looks like they’ve got more than a dozen different working models.

    Posted by Charles on Aug. 12, 2011
  2. Very interesting. I’ve worked for newspapers since 1996. My previous employer had a Linotype on display as a museum piece of the newspapers history.

    It was tucked away in a nice spot out the way in a hallway on a third floor with theater like rope and posts and a sign. I never seen it in action but heard many stories from the older coworkers.

    We had these great little tables that were about 2 foot square and 3 foot high and built very well. You could put hundreds of pounds on them and they would take it and still roll. I learned they were used to carry the lead plates around and had to be built heavy duty. Later they were re-purposed as computer transport carts… lol.

    Posted by Synthetic Tone on Aug. 15, 2011

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