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 ( 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 ( 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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