In May of 2010, Los Angeles-based filmmakers Christopher Lockett and Gary Nicholson read an article on Wired.com about “The Last Generation Of Typewriter Repairmen.” Casual conversation over coffee about the importance of the typewriter in world history eventually turned toward the inevitable conclusion that “this would make a good documentary.”
Lockett and Nicholson agreed that the passing of the typewriter, a portable printing press that moved the world’s communication technology from pen and ink to the QWERTY keyboards on today’s computers, along with the highly skilled technicians who service them, should be documented.
But as so often happens in documentaries, a funny thing happened on the way… to paraphrase Mark Twain, news of the typewriter’s death is greatly exaggerated. Three typewriter repairmen the filmmakers have interviewed all agree that their business is better than it has been in years.
Perhaps it is a reaction to the plugged in existence of today’s 24/7 communications world. Perhaps it is mere nostalgia and kitsch. Perhaps it is an admiration for the elegance of design and the value of time-tested workmanship. And for some, like typewriter collector Steve Soboroff, it is the appeal of owning machines on which American writers like Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Ray Bradbury, John Updike and Jack London typed some of their finest work. (He also owns typewriters once owned by George Bernard Shaw and John Lennon)
But one thing is certain, from the Typosphere – an online community of bloggers who sometimes meet up for “Type-In” events, to vintage stores in fashionable neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Portland and Philadelphia, to noted typewriter collector Tom Hanks, to teachers using typewriters to encourage young writers to focus their thoughts without benefit of a delete key – if the typewriter is on the way out, it’s going out with more appreciation that it’s seen in years.
The Typewriter (In The 21st Century) – if the typewriter didn’t exist, the filmmakers couldn’t have typed this. And you probably wouldn’t be reading it on a computer screen. It’s that important.
Current Status of the Film
So far, the filmmakers have documented two Type-in events, (Los Angeles and Phoenix, AZ) have interviewed three typewriter repairmen, one noted typewriter collector and already have arranged to interview at least one Hollywood screenwriter who still uses a typewriter. They have also interviewed journalists, authors, teachers, poets, enthusiasts and people who use typewriters in their personal and professional life. They have also interviewed technicians with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office who repair the typewriters the department still uses. Along with dozens of photographically gorgeous typewriters lovingly restored by repairmen Ruben Flores, Ermanno Marzorati and Bill Wahl, the filmmakers have interviewed Darryl Rehr, the author of the definitive book “Collecting Antique Typewriters” , an “instant poet” who types spontaneous poetry on the street, and an author who has documented the feminist history of the typewriter’s early days – it was the first piece of office machinery that gave women the opportunity for employment outside the home, and also an artist whose work features typewriters.
Why We Need Your Help
There are other novelists, screenwriters and enthusiasts out there. And there are so many more typewriters we’d like to feature – typewriters that produced some of the finest works of 20th Century American literature. Travel isn't cheap and we really want to be able to focus on the east coast now that the west coast is almost complete. The east coast will allow us to expand the scope of this film and will guarantee our production will be the definitive film on the subject of typewriters.
We have the actual editing of the film covered, but we need your help with the expenses of music acquisition, archival footage and a digital cinema package.
The Film will premiere in early 2012 in Los Angeles and New York first and then at festivals around the world. The DVD will be released in early spring of 2012.
Any extra funds we receive above our funding goal will be used to pay for additional screenings at film festivals.
Our Shooting Wishlist
- East Coast-based orchestra that uses typewriters in their music,
- The US Patent office holding Christopher Scholes original 1868 US Patent for the typewriter.
- man in Philadelphia who has wired a manual typewriter to a computer screen via USB cable
- A 15-year-old collector in West Virginia who has collected more than 200 machines and has written and published a book about collecting typewriters.
- A writer who got kicked out of the Writers Room in Grenwich Village for using his grandmother’s 1929 Royal typewriter and making too much noise. He was given an ultimatum: Use a laptop or get out.
- Swintec-One of the last manufacturers of typewriters in the world is located in New Jersey.
- Two women in Brooklyn who refurbish typewriters
- The New York Museum of Modern Art which has a collection of Olivetti Typewriters
- The Smithsonian
- Various typewriter enthusiasts and collectors located on the east coast
$10 and above-Mini Poster from the film on card stock.
$25 and above- small 8x10 poster from the film signed by the director.
$50 and above- DVD with all the extras and bonus features along with everything in the $25 package from above.
$75 and above- DVD, Limited Edition 11 x 14 poster,
$100 and above-DVD,small poster, hand typed letter of thanks signed by the director.
$125 and above- DVD, small and large Limited Edition posters, one 8x10 production still of your choice from the private collection of famous typewriters in the film: John Lennon, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Bradbury, George Bernard Shaw, Jack London, John Updike.
$250 and above- End credit "Special Thanks" along with everything in the $125 package, you will have your name listed in the end credits of the film as a supporter of the film. Your name in lights!
$500 and above- Limited edition film t-shirt, along with everything in the $250 package.
$1,000 and above-2 tickets to the premiere in either Los Angeles or New York, Associate Producer Credit in the film and listed in the IMDB database, 2 limited edition t-shirts, 2 DVD copies of the film signed by the director, and 2 8x10 signed production stills from the private collection of famous typewriters in the film: John Lennon, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Bradbury, George Bernard Shaw, Jack London, John Updike.
$1,500 and above- A portable manual typewriter along with everything in the $1000 package. See photos below for typewriters available.
This customized 1960s Smith-Corona Sterling manual portable typewriter features a brushed steel finish:
This 1966 SCM Classic 12 in 10cpi Pica, is clean and in excellent working condition. It has 2 change-a-type keys and all the bells and whistles that Smith Corona put on their top-end manual machines in the 60's, and it comes in a nice black hard-plastic case.
$2,500 and above- The manual typewriter used in the film, limited edition t-shirt, DVD, Limited Edition 11.5 x19 poster,
Assistant Producer credit, 8x10 signed production still from the private collection of famous
typewriters in the film: John Lennon, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Bradbury,
George Bernard Shaw, Jack London, John Updike, 2 tickets to the premiere in either Los Angeles or New York.
$5,000 and above-Invitation to come to Los Angeles ( airfare, hotel and transportation accommodations not included) and type a letter on Hemingway''s Royal typewriter (see photo) Also a copy of the letter written by Hemingway. Typewriters have fingerprints that are unique. The typewriter is part of the Soboroff collection In addition, you will receive an Associate Producer credit, 2 tickets to the film premiere in Los Angeles, 2 limited edition t-shirts, 2 DVD's + 2 posters of the film signed by the director.
$10,000 and Above:
For a $10,000 contribution you will get to type a letter on each of the following typewriters: Jack London George Bernard Shaw John Lennon The Unabomber (plus read original letter he wrote to Steve Soboroff, the collector, from prison) Ray Bradbury Tennessee Williams Ernest Hemingway Jim Murray John Updike Streisand Redford typewriter used in the film: "The Way We Were" In addition, Mr Soboroff will donate a typewriter used on episodes of "The Twilight Zone" ( He has been unable to verify it though he has lots of representations that it is authentic. You will also receive a associate producer credit, DVD, poster and T-shirt.
The team is shooting on Canon 7D and 60D DLSRs and editing in 1920 x 1080 full HD on Final Cut Pro and recording sound digitally on a Zoom H4N.
- (45 days)