Sometimes in life you get lucky and get to meet one of your heroes.
Hillman Curtis and his books have deeply shaped our thinking around design, web, video, and what it takes to do great work. (And with 150,000 copies sold, we’re not the only ones). A self-taught coder, he rose to head up Macromedia’s Flash efforts and went on to form his own design shop that counted Yahoo and Adobe as clients. A relentless creative, his passion for film led him to break out on his own and lead to a full-length feature film with David Byrne of the Talking Heads called Rise, Rise, Roar.
On assignment for 99% this past June in Brooklyn, we got the chance to meet up and interview Mr. Curtis on his approach to taking big risks. At the conclusion he asked if we’d be interested in collaborating on his new website for his film production company, hillmancurtis, inc.
...We jumped at the chance. It seems sometimes in life you get super lucky and even get to work with one of your heroes.
While we build most of our client sites on the content management system (CMS) of ExpressionEngine, we also like to do projects on the open-source platform of WordPress.
Hillman was particularly interested in exploring WordPress’s capabilities and going after a fresh look and feel with a modern design. He was also looking to use Twitter and blogging to showcase more of his work and push small updates out. All his video content would be pulled over into the site from his hosted Vimeo account in HD format.
This new design would require a completely custom WordPress theme coded from scratch using best practices for HTML5.
Working with Hillman, we brainstormed different ways the site design could play well with WordPress. The ability to drop in custom news and easily update the homepage slideshow with recent film shoots was key.
We also synced up the admin panel and tweaked the CMS so Hillman can easily edit all content as well leveraging the power of WordPress’ custom post types.
The site pulls in his Vimeo pieces and works beautifully on mobile devices. With a custom coded filmstrip of other videos, it provides an experience of watching films much like a photo slideshow. Clicking on the little “?” reveals a dropdown that makes it easy to learn a bit more about the story behind the piece.
Using Disqus, we’re also able to allow readers to comment through their Facebook or Twitter profiles.
Hillman’s work compromises largely film these days. With commercial spots for clients like IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and R/GA, his work tells powerful stories. His artist series is must-watch for any creative.
Finally, all this great digital content can live in one place and be easily updated on a regular basis. Be sure to clear a few minutes and take the time to experience his work. You won’t be disappointed.