The di­rec­tor of new film De­sign Canada, Greg Dur­rell, ex­plains why the story of Cana­dian graphic de­sign needed to be told

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Greg Dur­rell ex­plains why the story of Cana­dian graphic de­sign needed to be told

Hav­ing raised almost $100,000 on Kick­starter, De­sign Canada, a film about the his­tory of Cana­dian graphic de­sign is pre­mier­ing this sum­mer – five years since Greg Dur­rell – part­ner at Hulse & Dur­rell – and his col­lab­o­ra­tors Jes­sica Ed­wards and Gary Hust­wit be­gan film­ing. We caught up with Dur­rell to find out more about the project...

What in­spired you to start the project?

Grow­ing up in Canada, I re­alised I was sur­rounded by beau­ti­ful sym­bols and lo­gos, but I could never re­ally find any in­for­ma­tion about them. As my frus­tra­tion grew, I de­cided to make a film about it. When I be­gan the project I didn’t even know any­one who had made a film be­fore. A mu­tual friend put me in con­tact with Jes­sica and Gary and a half-decade later, the rest is his­tory.

Did you dis­cover any new work?

I feel like I dis­cov­ered ar­chives which had not been seen in decades. Track­ing down Canada’s de­sign pi­o­neers was of­ten a chal­lenge. Little in­for­ma­tion ex­isted about them on­line and when I showed up at their homes of­ten I would be look­ing through their body of work for the first time. The Cana­dian de­sign story was not doc­u­mented in the same way as in the UK or US.

Who were you most ex­cited to talk to?

Hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­view Massimo Vignelli about Cana­dian de­sign two years be­fore he passed was a huge honour.

How did you keep mo­ti­vated over the long time­line of the project? And why did you de­cide to de­lay the film’s re­lease in 2017?

The story was some­thing I was very pas­sion­ate about and I knew from the start that it would take years to com­plete. I believe that small daily habits can build into ex­tra­or­di­nary out­comes, so mo­ti­va­tion wasn’t a huge is­sue. I’ve al­ways en­joyed long-term over short-term projects.

The de­ci­sion to de­lay the re­lease was do­ing what was best for the film. We had a nar­ra­tive thread that weaved some of our sto­ries to­gether, and it was not work­ing. It was one of those sit­u­a­tions where on pa­per it sounded great but in ex­e­cu­tion it was off, and we knew we could fix it. This re­sulted in de­lay­ing our re­lease nine months, blow­ing up our time­line, reshoot­ing new sto­ries and then re­assem­bling ev­ery­thing. It was worth it.

Do you think the film will help boost Canada’s de­sign rep­u­ta­tion?

Re­gard­less of what it does, or does not do for Canada’s international per­cep­tion, I hope peo­ple take away that graphic de­sign mat­ters and it in­flu­ences our lives ev­ery day. If we can be­come more con­scious of it and use it as a tool, we can build a bet­ter coun­try and ul­ti­mately a bet­ter world.

How can peo­ple see the film?

Fol­low us at­sign­ and on so­cial @de­sign­can­film to stay up to date about screen­ings near you and the dig­i­tal re­lease at the end of the sum­mer.

Greg Dur­rell is one part of Hulse & Dur­rell, a Van­cou­ver­based de­sign firm that de­vel­ops brands, prod­ucts and films. www. de­sign­canada. com

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