To give you a little insight into our little film over the next few weeks we are going to post some blog posts from our core crew about things that inspired us and helped us to build our film.
First up is a piece discussing five documentaries that influenced and inspired the making of Made You Look, from the perspective of co-director Anthony Peters.
1. Beautiful Losers
This really was the first documentary to cover the post millennium DIY scene in the graphic arts… In the USA anyway.
Don’t be fooled by the ill-judged skateboard related marketing of this film, skateboarding only gives the documentary a context from which to begin and is barely a footnote. The film features the talents of such giants as Geoff Mcfetridge, Shepard Fairey, Mike Mills, Ed and Deanna Templeton, Barry McGee and the wonderful work of the late Margaret Kilgallen.
One of the key figures in this film is also the director, and much in the same way as Finding Vivian Maier this film tells the tale of the directors experience as well as the greater story.
The central figure is gallery owner Aaron Rose, who facilitated an amazing scene through his Alleged gallery in the 90’s and 2000’s. Due to his unique role in the story he was lucky enough to have stacks of archive footage with which to tell it. Also as one of the voices in the film he is able to flesh out the story with a subtle kind of narrative, which is lucky as a few of the talking heads in the film are evasive and awkward on camera.
Ultimately a very tragic story, thankfully Aaron Rose didn’t choose to exploit the tragic events to the advantage of the film, but instead is tender with the way he approaches the story.
I’m fairly certain that Made You Look couldn’t exist without Helvetica. Gary Hustwit’s film is a bit of a masterpiece, not just in the tone, use of music and the way the story is composed; but in the sheer mastery of taking something as seeming mundane as a typeface and bringing it alive in vivid technicolour.
My main line of work is graphic design, so I love to hear about and read about typefaces, but I never would have expected such a universal film to be made about one. Helvetica brings an emotional depth to something that usually isn’t considered that way, and there is so much humour in this too.
David Carson discussing expressive words such as ‘second date’, ‘sunshine’ and ‘caffeinated’ and how they fail to become animated in the Helvetica typeface is just sublime.
As is the section when Paula Scher makes a point about Helvetica being the font of ‘the man’. I loved the idea of a typeface having a personality beyond aesthetics, in this case a square, authoritarian personality which accompanied bombs, helicopters and guns to Vietnam.
Hustwit is an inspiration because he really has done things his way, and seems to find stories where no one else does, and increasingly more epic ones too.
If you haven’t seen this go get it!
The accelerated Culture of the early 2000’s had little time for nostalgia, its head was full of the wonders of email addresses, myspace, mobile phones, futuristic graphics and vectors, always vectors… We had just exited a mixed up cultural decade here in the UK, much of the music and culture looked back, but there was huge movement of forward thinking electronic music of all tempos and colours, as well as agencies and studios such as Designers Republic and Airside…
It seems we were so obsessed with the future we forgot to take note of those parts of our recent history that make up the fabric of modern aesthetics. In the last five years we have seen a complete turn around on this trend, almost a rejection of the future, but all the while recording the past on ultra modern, ultra minimal devices that can do more than a swiss army knife, a calculator and pocket watched combined…. And some.
Many people are harking back to slower times, we have slow culture, beards, penny farthings, knitting and NHS style glasses and so on and so forth..
So it’s no surprise that films like Linotype and Sign Painters have been made and have found such a solid audience.
Doug Wilson’s film is full of heart and soul, a beautiful swan song for a machine that pretty much helped build the 20th Century. I sat back in awe as I learned about the fact that hundreds of these marvellous machines used to work around the clock for publications such as the New York Times. The machines were an enigma that was referred to as the eighth wonder of the world by Thomas Edison.
In the same way Hustwit brought heart and soul into something inanimate so too does Wilson. Right down to the heartbreaking conclusion. A beautiful film, both visually and in its tender approach to historical storytelling.
4. Art and Copy
A fascinating juxtaposition from the outset. Doug Pray’s Art and Copy uses the high priests and priestesses of the advertising and frames them alongside the everyday Joes who paste up the billboards and put the ads in front of our eyes.
Seemingly a risky compositional tool, but this approach allows the viewer a buffer so that they may enjoy the wonderful tales told on screen without becoming overawed.
What’s so refreshing is the amount of female voices in the film, it seems that the Med Men portrayal of strong females is not a ruse and is indicative of the times, no other industry seemed so forward thinking!
George Lois lights up the screen, the Hunter S Thompson of advertising. Lois has so many great stories and such a wild imagination, a true subversive.
Once it was fashionable to dismiss advertising outright, to sneer at it, but so much beautiful work has been done in the field, some thoughtful, honest work that stands head and shoulders with the great artists of the 20th Century.
I implore you to watch this film, and take a peek inside the minds of the creators of some of the greatest ads of the last 100 years.
PressPausePlay is our closest cousin in terms of subject matter, as is the fantastic Side By Side documentary. All three films deal with the questions of fear in the digital age, of the future versus the past.
PausePressPlay uses talking head interviews with Musicians and filmmakers and crafts a story about fear of an unknown future in the digital age.
A great mixture of old and young voices creates and interesting tension, with a few of the older voices seemingly despising the democratisation of creativity in the modern world and the normalising effect that it has.
The core story is sewn together with a narrative about Olafur Arnauld’s, a musician of whom I have been a fan for a good few years now. Olafur’s story does sway from the core theme but its an enjoyable detour.
The film has so many beautiful, well made points, and some incredibly candid interviews with people such as Moby, Seth Godin , Bill Drummond, Lena Dunham, Sean Parker and Robyn.
The film doesn’t really answer any questions or quash any fears of the digital age but it doesn’t need to, the questions are evolving and the answers aren’t really apparent yet… I guess things are moving way too fast for us to really understand what is happening properly!