To describe Print the Legend as required viewing is like saying that the invention of electricity is important. In fact, I’d say those to analogies are so similar that that first sentence should be enough to motivate you to watch it. But, I’m going to write the rest of this under the assumption that the first sentence isn’t enough.
Print the Legend is about the revolution that’s happening in manufacturing by way of 3D printing, or stereo lithography. It’s about the future and it’s about the beginnings of an industry that, when fully matured, is going to change the way physical stuff is made an distributed as much as the computer has changed the creation and distribution of digital stuff.
Print the Legend follows the story of two 3D printer start-ups, Makerbot and Formlabs. It’s the story of two small groups of dreamers as their dreams grow. It’s also the story of personalities and their influence on the revolutionary changes that happen in the United States, and probably the entire world.
One of those personalities is clearly corrupted by his position of power and he eventually sells his company to a much larger company for just over $600 million.
Because I write, direct, and edit movies, because I study the business of filmmaking almost as much as the process, I notice how things are done and sometimes I can infer why they’re done. Print the Legend has a bias. It’s biased against big business and against the closed-source culture.
And, that bias makes sense. It’s not a normal movie. It’s a Netflix production. Whether it was originally funded by Netflix or simply purchased by Netflix afterwards I don’t know. But, it makes perfect sense why Netflix would acquire it. It fits with their ideal.
Netflix paints itself as an underdog. It’s good business, especially when people root for the underdog. Underdog implies a bully. And EVERYONE hates bullies. But, is it a valid portrait? Netflix now have over 30 million subscribers, each of whom are paying at least $6.99 a month, it’s a bit of a mystery how they can still believably paint themselves as an underdog.
Netflix will continue to make and acquire content that helps paint that portrait. They’d be foolish not to. It’s good business. Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It exists in culture. And sometimes that culture twists art for the purpose of propaganda. Is Netflix doing that with Print the Revolution? Yes. Is it subtle? Yes and it would have to be because no one likes to be preached to.
But, even with all that said, the fact that they have documented the beginnings of another huge shift in human culture, that’s worth paying attention to. Go watch Print the Legend. Go be inspired by the possibilities of the future. Go be inspired by how a small group of people can make a difference. Then, get up and make a difference. All you have to do is care.