Watch the “Artist Series” videos, by Hillman Curtis
From 2005-07 AIGA Medalist Hillman Curtis directed and edited the “Artist Series,” a collection of short videos about some of the most inspiring and talented designers working today. Watch them all here, and read Curtis’ insights into his own process, below.
How did you develop the idea for the video series?
I knew I wanted to get deeper into digital filmmaking, and the first step, for me at least, was to buy a new camera (a Panasonic DVX100). The next step was to find a project. Since no one was knocking on my door with film projects, I decided to create my own.
At the time I was preparing to give two lectures in Texas: one in Dallas and one in San Marcos, and my friend Stef Sagmeister was sharing the bill, so to speak. So I asked him if he would mind if I brought my camera along to film him.
I shot footage on the plane, during his talk, and in a convertible that we rented to drive from Dallas to San Marcos. I had a vague idea that I’d make a short documentary and then if it turned out OK, I’d make others. In the back of my head I knew it could be a way for me to meet some of the designers I admired. And I knew I’d learn a lot—both from the featured designers and from the actual technical process of making the film.
How do you choose the music and images?
That’s one of the hard parts. But, you know... the music is going to be different for Milton Glaser than it is for James Victore; they have a different energy as people and I try to find music to support that. A lot of the music is original music that Eli Janney composed based on the feel of music I used while cutting. So I’ll use Sufjan Stevens or Mogwai to cut to, then I’ll hand the file over to Eli, and he’ll work to match it.
Any other video projects you’re interested in right now?
I’m not sure. I’m not interested in directing commercials, and I took a real beating filming the two music videos I did. I have started a short film series and just wrapped the filming of the second in the series... but I don’t know.
The first few shorts were sponsored by Adobe, and I couldn’t have asked for a better patron; they were incredibly supportive and positive. But I’m happy just doing this on my own. The videos are a real positive balance to the design work I’m doing, which has been very analytical and precise recently (I’m currently involved in the redesign and conceptual design investigations of Yahoo.com).
I’m real hesitant to attach money and clients to this stuff because it’s still so pure to me, and it is something I can do all by myself. I like the control.