Documentaries – My Internal Dialog

Me, to myself: “Hmmm, Helvetica. How in the world could someone make an 80 minute documentary about a font?”

Me, to myself (in response): “Good question. It’s possible  this documentary could be really interesting and full of useless knowledge about fonts which I could then use to impress (annoy) friends/acquaintances.”

Those who know me well know I enjoy acquiring completely useless information on a variety of topics. Naturally I’m a sucker for good documentaries.

Netflix is a great source for documentaries including a program on the history of Helvetica by director Gary Hustwit. In the universe of useless information, I suppose most would place the biography of a font somewhere on the unexplored edges.

Back to the dialog in my head leading up to the decision to watch.

Me, to myself, again: “But 80 minutes? No way I make it all the way through.”

Me, to myself (in response): “Telling people I watched a documentary on the biography of Helvetica will likely result in the following reactions:

  1. ‘Trent, I don’t think I know many people who would watch a documentary about a font, let alone admit to having watched a documentary about a font.’
  2. ‘You watched a documentary on the history of a font? That sounds about right.’ Or,
  3. ‘What’s Helvetica?’”

Me, to myself, again: “Well now I have to watch it. I need to be able to inform and educate the ‘what’s Helvetica?’ people. (Naturally they will want to hear all about it, right?)

Eighty minutes later I had watched one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.

Netflix is great for discovering documentaries you would otherwise never know existed. I also discovered Between the Folds by Vanessa Gould. Netflix repeatedly offered it up in “Suggestions for Trent”, but I dismissed it initially based on the following internal dialog:

Me, to myself: “A film about origami sounds incredibly boring.”

… it was actually a monologue for a while, until I had this thought:

Me, to myself (in response): “Don’t forget how much you liked Helvetica.”

And with that, I began watching. Three minutes into the film I was certain this would be as good if not better than Helvetica. Not only did I enjoy the film, I was inspired.

I recommend checking out Helvetica (helveticafilm.com). Helvetica font is ubiquitous. You most likely saw it somewhere today. Why wouldn’t you want to learn more about something you probably see every day?

I also recommend Between the Folds (greenfusefilms.com). The air bag in car steering wheels owes its compacted shape to an algorithm derived from principles of origami.

Or, let your internal dialog voices go back and forth for a while until one of them convinces you to check out a different documentary.

Me, to myself: “Perhaps someone has made a documentary about people who listen to internal dialog too much.”

Me, to myself (in response): “To the Netflix catalog!”

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