The linotype is an outdated, complicated machine that no one under the age of 60 has any interest in using ever again. But in this age of American Pickers, what's old can always become new again.
So naturally, somebody made a documentary called Linotype: The Film.
Three somebodies, actually: young filmmakers Doug Wilson, Brandon Goodwin and Jess Heugel. But they're not linotype connoisseurs fighting to inspire nostalgia for an obscure historical apparatus. Rather, they aim to reveal the stories behind wacky machinists and the impact of what Thomas Edison dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World."
"It's not just a dry, boring history film. There isn't even a narrator," said director and producer Doug Wilson. "It's more about the crazy old people who worked with these crazy old machines."
The Miami film screening of Linotype: The Film will take place July 27 at The Wolfsonian Museum, where Wilson will be present to speak and answer questions on the documentary. An afterparty at The Betsy Hotel South Beach will follow.
So far, the film has traveled to locations worldwide, and has received surprisingly exciting feedback. "People like the film," said Wilson. "My favorite response is from people who were dragged there by their spouses or friends and are like, 'ugh how boring is this documentary about a stupid old machine going to be,' and then come up to me saying they adored it, and really didn't expect to."
The linotype was a groundbreaking improvement from the manual letter-by-letter typesetting process that preceded it. It was the standard in the industry for newspapers, magazines and posters for decades until the '60s and '70s, when it got dumped for new technology.
Blah, blah, blah, we know. But so do the filmmakers. "It's not a nostalgic film, because no one going to see this would feel nostalgia," said Wilson. "It's a modern film about an old technology."
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"Our journey isn't exactly Indiana Jones, but it's a wacky travel on the road," said Wilson, whose team traveled across the United States and parts of Germany in search for machines that still work, and users who were still alive.
Judging from its trailer, Linotype: The Film is quick and fresh with cool, catchy music that somehow makes you want to sit in front of the bulky, crazy-looking gizmo and type away William Randolph Hearst-style. Maybe it's the word nerd in us, but consider our interest piqued.