THE PRINTED PAGE
Q: You say this film was inspired by a comment your father made fifty years ago. With benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see why he could say it, but what was the comment and what in that moment prompted it?
A: The comment was made to my father that printing was not going to exist in five years (1964). He was at a wedding and he was seated next to a business guru out of Atlanta. Computers mean that my father should get out of the business as fast as he can. My father, being a man who considers many opinions thought about it and rejected the idea. Fifty years later his print shop is still in business and going stronger than it ever did.
Q: You also say print is now more popular than ever… how so?
A: Well as it is said in the film, printing is just changing, who delivers it, where it is delivered and how it is delivered and even when. More printing is done today than ever, it is just these answers that have changed. The individual may print their own documents at home (and pay a higher price for that location), the amount of literature you get to your door that you actually handle (instead of letting an email security program delete it before you see it) the constant lack of credible connection we are faced with in digital efforts keeps the gatekeepers of trust with the folks who still invest in a hard copy.
A: Prove that they are much less bound (pun intended) I know this seems like something we all just should know because we see it in cafes and on buses andmany places but just because it is reported and it is partially what you see, doesn’t make it accurate.Technology is currently the blooming flower in the garden. Print is the soil. I always ask people to curate for one day the paper they touch. Just hang on to it all. Or try and take a picture of all the printed material you consume in one day. Not many come back without a shock of how much printed material they actually touch and see. When I ask them to rate their experience the answers I get back revolve around finality and trust. Even a menu in print says, we have this item, while digitally it lacks that confidence. Flexibility in digital delivery is a strength that is also a weakness.
Q: Newspapers are closing left and right, or going to online-only (Seattle, Portland, maybe Chicago next…) As a print proponent, what would you advise these folks to do to grab the not obvious advantages of print in a digital age?
A: Well as the interview in the movie says, newspapers are closing because the corporations and shareholders of the corporations aren’t seeing the maximum amount of return. Strangely the worst reporting in the ‘crisis’ in print has been from print. Financial decisions do no reflect societal decisions. There are some great products and companies that no longer exists simply because it was advantageous and profitable for shareholders to close them out. Societal needs and wants should not be confused with shareholder value when considering the death of the newspaper.
What is and always has been clear is that newspapers were never for the immature of society. It was the person who, needed more depth, had time to digest greater volumes of information, needed accurate information not just gossip. We see younger generations using tech but they have not reached a point in their lives when stepping out of the fastest running water makes sense. You cannot pin the likelihood of the future on what young people are doing when they are young. Not many of us live the lifestyle we did when we were 20 when we are 45.
And I am not print proponent. I presented my findings through conversation. As a documentarian I don’t see my role like a narrative filmmaker where I develop the story arc and then shoot it. I know a lot of docfilmmakers do this but I simply like to gather information and see who has a compelling story.
I think we need more filmmakers who act like scientists or journalists instead of street corner megaphones for their cause. Viewers are using documentaries as they would hard science now and that leaves us in a position of great responsibility. We can’t as members of a growing community let this craft be divided into Liberal and Conservative or right and wrong or black and white, industry versus society. I know of no one or nowhere in the world that drops neatly into a well defined category. We owe it to our viewers to present stories and then let them decide based on the accurate information.
And like the scientific community I would welcome a film from a respected filmmaker that found something different in the way of a conclusion. I simply do not know if documentarian should be on your list of things to do if you don’t have an open mind and welcome conversation.
People who see this film might be surprised to learn that I shot my family’s portion last. I never really intended to use any footage other than the print shop b-roll. I mean really, how many of us think their siblings are that interesting. I worked off the incident from my Father’s past but if anything, I felt that what we might have in the end was a film that said, after fifty years it is finally coming true. Print is dead. I simply did not find that it was true. The film reflects my findings not my beliefs. Had you asked me prior to talking with people about this, I would have thought as most of us might, print is at the end. Now, I think my rush to judgment was a little premature.