Gary Hustwit, the director behind the design trilogy of “Helvetica,” “Objectified” and “Urbanized,” has figured out a way to take the over 100 hours of footage that weren’t used in his films to the audience that he knows is super interested.
Anyone that’s made a documentary can understand the shooting to edit ratio. On certain projects, it’s high as 100:1, or even more than that. I have all of these conversations that I got to have with these designers over the past eight years. When you take a look at what we got to use in the actual movies, there’s so much more that we got to talk about that didn’t make the cut. It was such a shame to leave it on a hard drive, because there were so many interesting points that didn’t make it. It seemed like a book I would want to read. There are about 100 hours of additional interviews that we didn’t use, in addition to stuff that made it into the film. I’m excited to present the entire context of the conversation, to put the full conversations into the book.
Will you be using interviews that didn’t make the films?
There were definitely a handful of people that we interviewed and didn’t make it in. I’m still deciding what to do for those. On the one hand, they’re great conversations. A lot of times you have too many people and maybe you had two people talk about the identical subject and it didn’t make sense to have them both in. I’m still trying to make a call on that.
You just published a book of images from the architecture of former Olympic cities, did you learn anything from that process?
My background before I got into this was in book publishing. I published 50 books of other people’s works. Backing up, I started out in the indie music industry, and I wrote a book about starting an indie record label in the 80s and then published all kinds of other books. That’s what brought me out to New York. And I got caught up in the dot com boom and then DVD production, documentary production. It’s a return to that time in my life.
It was a much different project, the Olympic book is all images. It did bring me back to the nuts and bolts of print production. It probably did get me thinking more about the book as medium, which I’m sure kind of led to the ideas for the Design trilogy book. From a creative standpoint, it’s a completely different animal. Art book versus text. With something with this much text, it’s gonna be a challenge to transcribe, translate. We did interviews in seven different languages. Copy editing 500 pages of text should be interesting.
Has anything surprised you about the response to the book since you’ve announced it.
I think the subject matter of all three films, there is an established audience for design books for reference books on graphic design or architecture or industrial design. There’s a demand for them. On that front, the response didn’t surprise me. I think from the filmmaking side, the response surprised me. I couldn’t figure out why no one else had done this before.
Hopefully, it will get other filmmakers thinking about book projects on their own documentaries. If you look at filmmakers like Errol Morris — I would love to see the full transcripts of the whole interview. those decisions of what to keep in the film are subjective. I really love process. It’s really interesting to see the full context of the conversation, to realize where the filmmaker made their choices, and how they constructed their film. I think it will be interesting for people who are documentary filmmakers or designers to take a look and see a little bit of the process of how documentaries are made.
Are you offering to help other filmmakers?
[laughs] No, but they can learn by example! I’ll support them!
Take a look at Hustwit’s Kickstarter video below: