How to Make a Documentary on Cubicles

Posted on May 26, 2007

Editing is going a lot quicker than I imagined. I just finished a rough cut that I’m pretty happy with yesterday, and I got some great feedback from the editing teacher.

I realized I never finished recounting the epic Spring Break Documentary Road Trip or went into details as to the making of Cubicles (as it is now called), so I’ll just summarize who I filmed and why below ((This post title is a little deceiving. I don’t really want you to make a documentary on cubicles, because I’m doing that and it just wouldn’t be cool. But I do want you to make your own documentary. That’d be cool)).


This was our last stop on the Road Trip. Steelcase is the number one office systems manufacturer in the country, so I had to go visit them to see the latest and greatest cubicle designs ((The technical name is Open Office Systems, or just Systems)).

We got a great two-hour tour covering all sorts of design aspects. Steelcase does a lot of research into how people work, information that has already made it’s way into the documentary.

Interior Design Professor

Going through my school’s web site, I located an interior design professor who’s been designing offices for about 40 years. He kindly agreed to be interviewed and we talked about the history of cubicles, how it affects productivity, psychological factors, and where office design is going in the future.

The Boss

I wanted to interview someone who had worked in cubicles, but has now made it to the coveted corner office. So I interviewed Bob, the Executive Editor of our local newspaper. He’s not the biggest fan of cubicles, though he’d rather go for a more open office layout because of the way a newspaper is put together, rather then private offices for everyone. We talked about past places he’s worked, the worst office he ever had, people he’s worked with, and the rapid speed at which businesses are changing.

The Cubicle Worker

It would be kind of bad to have a documentary about cubicles without interviewing someone who works in one. Emily also works at the newspaper, but she stood out from the rest because her cubicle is pretty pimped out. To avoid being a “corporate drone,” her walls are covered with blue fabric and photos on black paper to make them pop. It reminded me of Cube Chic.

So those are my four main interviews. Unfortunately some are only in the rough cut for a very small part, but I’m glad I haven’t had to cut anyone…yet.

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  1. Great website. Sometimes I can’t help but surrender to my honest computer Wanna very nice joke?)) What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frostbite.

  2. I wondered if in all your investigation you found why the cubicle was created?

    The first modern office workstations were called the Action Office 1, 1964. Knowledge workers using that first design began to have mental breaks. By 1968 the problem was solved with the cubicle.

    Cubicles are designed so that a concentrating worker cannot subliminally detect threat-movement in peripheral vision to trigger the vision startle reflex. The startle reflex is a hard wired part of human physiology. It cannot be turned off.

    If you can learn to ignore movement in peripheral vision the startle will stop. But your brain continues to subliminally detect threat-movement and attempts to trigger the startle.

    That threat detection and the brain’s reaction is a Subliminal Distraction, the name of this phenomenon. SD is explained in college psychology under psychophysics.

    With enough exposure the subliminal appreciation of threat will color thought and reason. Typical symptoms are fear, paranoia, panic attacks, depression and thoughts of suicide.

    VisionAndPsychosis.Net proposes this phenomenon is the cause of college suicides, and student disappearances. No school deliberately provides Cubicle Level Protection for student study areas or warns students in apartments or two person dorm rooms. A library carrel is full Cubicle Level Protection;

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