An Inkling for Type—Tom Hanks Stars in New Documentary

Hanks' collection

By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter

Those who find themselves lusting for the simplicity of yesteryear—or those who haven’t quite adapted to a world run by iPhones—will find common allies in the upcoming documentary “California Typewriter.”

Directed, photographed and edited by Doug Nichol, the title is taken from one of the last remaining typewriter shops in the world and follows Berkeley shopkeeper Herbert Permillion III as he attempts to keep a decades-long family passion well-oiled and in working order.

Self-funded and filmed over a period of five years, the documentary features interviews with actor-writer-producer and Palisadian Tom Hanks and his collection of more than 250 vintage typewriters.

Hanks, who is preparing to launch his first book of typewriter-themed short stories in October, has been public with his adoration for the manual typing machines over the years.

He’s even created the app “Hanx Writer,” which allows users to send texts with key tones that sound with the thunderous “clack clack” that once dominated busy newsrooms and the leather-bound studies of great mid-century writers.

(According to Allen Ginsberg, who scripted by hand, Jack Kerouac was one of the fastest typists among writers—approaching 110-120 wpm).

The film also features interviews with former Palisadian and singer-songwriter John Mayer, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David McCullough and the late Sam Shepard.

After making its premiere at the 2016 Telluride Film Festival, the rights to “California Typewriter” were purchased by Gravitas Ventures when the film garnered critical acclaim.

Gravitas Founder and CEO Nolan Gallagher later told members of the press that the thought-provoking documentary is “timely” in an age where technology can thwart effective communication.

Still a few weeks away, “California Typewriter” will arrive in select theatres Aug. 18.