Making Faces: Metal Type in the 21st Century (A documentary)

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News | Richard Kegler | March 18, 2010

Two years ago I shot footage (in HD video) for a documentary on possibly the only person who designed and fabricated fonts in both digital and metal formats. This person, Jim Rimmer, has died this year and this delayed project is in need of finishing. My commitments to starting a book arts center and making it work in one of the poorest cities in America has taken more of my time and resources than ever imagined.

With additional funds I can secure finishing assistance and be able to produce the film and schedule screenings as well as produce a DVD that will be made available via documentary and educational channels. To that effect I have started a Kickstarter project.

The trailer for the film was made with an optimistic target release of Spring 2009.

This project has a dual goal of documenting the almost-lost skill of creating metal fonts and of capturing the personality and work process specifically of practitioner the late Canadian graphic artist Jim Rimmer (1931–2010). P22 type foundry commissioned Mr. Rimmer to create a new type design (RTF Stern) that became the first-ever simultaneous release of a digital font and, hand-set metal font in 2008. The skills needed to create a metal font are known by very few people and Mr. Rimmer was generous to a fault when it came to sharing his knowledge. Considering that Jim Rimmer was possibly the only individual who designed and cast typefaces in metal as well as in digital format, this opportunity to document the processes of the historic with the contemporary would not present itself again.

This documentary was begun with a minimal budget but with expectations of a final edited film in Hi-Def digital video that would be accessible and useful for typography professionals and graphic arts schools and to a more general audience interested in motivation and obsession of a fascinating, esoteric and culturally omnipresent field of work. The final film on DVD is planned to be screened at festivals, graphic arts conferences and made available to schools, other interested organizations, individuals and broadcast outlets.

The home stretch in finishing this film is primarily making the time and securing additional assistance in tightening up some detail. Then it will be ready for the world. The lack of firm obligations to backers or release dates made this a hazy obligation. Every Kickstarter backer for this project will now be my motivation to have the obligation to get this project finished. Many levels of pledge rewards will provide a pre-order opportunity.

Richard Kegler filming Jim Rimmer

All photos: Anna Prior Photography

Richard Kegler is the founder and lead designer at P22 type foundry. Before his involvement in type design, Mr. Kegler was a bookbinder, designer, postgraduate, artist seeking a respectable self-sustaining life as a hand-craftsman. The years of historical typographic research at P22 has influenced a profound interest in using hand techniques alongside digital capabilities. Mr. Kegler has recently started a non-profit Book Arts Center in Buffalo NY and has returned to an active involvement in hand setting and printing metal and wood type as a concurrent career with digital font research at P22.

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  1. With 20 backers we’ve already raised two-thirds of the necessary money. Help out if you want to see this documentary come to light.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Mar. 18, 2010
  2. This is great. We managed to raise the necessary $3,000 in less than ten hours, and now we’re even at more than 120%! You know it’s for a worthy cause. This is going to be both interesting and beautiful.
    Rich, if you have enough extra money maybe you can produce some really cool letterpress printed DVD packaging. Or beef up the title sequence, for example by shooting someone hand setting the main credits, or by having professional motion typography, or whatever you deem appropriate. Can you give us an estimate what any of this would cost? ;)

    Posted by Yves Peters on Mar. 19, 2010
  3. As I said on the Kickstarter site:

    Truly amazing response. Thank you everyone!
    There are plenty of expenses still, so anything over the goal will still be put to good use. The manufacturing cost of the DVDs, promotion and of course presentation expenses have not be factored in, but this will absolutely make it the film happen.
    Thank you all for your support.

    I have now had offers of subtitle translation for 3 languages and Yves, those ideas sound great. I had heard someone say after Typecon 2008 when this project was announced that Jakob Trollbäck was interested in helping with titles. I have not spoken with him and that isn’t (yet) in the budget but every cent we get towards this will go to making it better.

    Posted by Richard Kegler on Mar. 19, 2010

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