5 Minutes with… Briar Levit, Director of Graphic Means
Hi Briar, can you tell us a little bit about who you are, what your background is, and how you initially got into film?
I’ve been a graphic designer for 17 years. My focus has primarily been publication and book design, but I’ve worked on all kinds of projects. In 2007 I started teaching design as well, after I found I really enjoyed mentoring interns I’d had. My entrée into film was really a means to tell the story of the Cold Type Era, although I admit I’m a bit hooked on the medium now.
Tell us about what you do.
I’m an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Portland State University. I teach and build curriculum for typography classes, page layout, information design, and thesis classes. Initially when I started teaching, I maintained a client-based design practice, but when I started working on Graphic Means, I let that go to focus on the film.
How did the idea for Graphic Means come about?
I have amassed a vast collection of design production manuals (1960s, 70s, and 80s) from the Goodwill over the years. As the stack grew, it became clear I was naturally drawn to this period of design, and the skills and processes that went along with it. I missed these production methods by about 12 years (I started studying design in 1996), and worked almost exclusively with a computer during my education and after.
I had some vague knowledge about production before the Mac, but it was only based on brief references my teachers made, or the little-used-tools that remained in various studios I worked in. It occurred to me that if I knew so little, my graphic design students know even less! So with this, I set out to document the tools, processes, and people, of this brief moment in the design world.
What were some of the best bits? And the worst bits, of making Graphic Means?
One of my favourite parts of making this film, was collecting and searching out pieces of design, and tools that were used to make them to show in the film. It’s like being a detective—a very dorky design detective. I now have a little mini archive of my own!
There wasn’t really a ‘worst’ part of making the film, but I can say that I had a hard time getting used to the fact that I couldn’t do the actual production on the film—I can’t edit, and I’m not an animator. I’m accustomed to working pretty independently, so it was an odd feeling. That said—it also opened up my eyes to the fact that if you collaborate with a talented person it becomes really clear that the sum of your talents is much greater than your individual skills. I’m really happy with the collaborations I did for the cinematography, editing, and motion design.
Is there another film in the works?
No, but there is a companion book in the works, so stay tuned!
Where can we see more of your own work, Briar?
SimilarlyDifferent.com (student work for a London travel abroad trip I lead)
Tickets just $25 Pro / $20 DA Friends
Book here for Wellington:
Book here for Christchurch:
And, if you’re in Hamilton, we’re delighted to say that Graphic Means will be screeening on Monday 14th August as part of this year’s SPARK Festival at Wintec.