How film can enrich good design stories

Brad Deal - Hero’s Launch

Hero’s Launch is a fully accessible canoe and paddleboat launch for MedCamps of Louisiana, designed and constructed by Arch 335 Studio.

The winner of the 2016 I Look Up Film Challenge encourages architects to embrace the power of film

To AIA, its members, and all involved with the I Look Up Film Challenge,

On behalf of myself, Robert Brooks, our students, and the entire Louisiana Tech University School of Design, you have our utmost support and appreciation for making the I Look Up Film Challenge possible and for allowing us to share our work with such a broad audience. I’m reaching out to let you know about the far-reaching impacts and the many forms of success and goodwill that we have received as a result of the film your work encouraged us to create.

After seven years of education and 10 years of professional experience in design and construction, I chose to transition back to academics in 2012 when I was given the opportunity to run the design-build program at Louisiana Tech. I trust you’ve seen our film, Arch 335: Rebuilding MedCamps, by now and are familiar with our partnership with MedCamps of Louisiana. This work and its success is a product of our passion for service and design education. We love to share the stories that the work generates, but it was not until the Film Challenge prompted us to package those stories into a 3-minute film that we could broadcast them in such a powerful and accessible format. Our success in the Film Challenge was an incredible achievement for us, but—to our surprise—the film turned out to be a catalyst that triggered an outpouring of support for our work in 2017.

In a single screening at a fundraiser, our film helped MedCamps raise over $52,000 towards our 2017 project. That’s nearly three times our typical project budget, pledged in just 10 minutes. We featured the film on a crowdfunding page through our university to raise funds for new tools to replace our aging drills, welders, and saws. Amazingly, we received $18,000 in donations from architecture alumni and supporters from across the country, as well as roughly $12,000 in in-kind tool donations from local vendors and Stanley Black and Decker (the parent company of Dewalt Tools).

In a single screening at a fundraiser, our film helped MedCamps raise over $52,000 towards our 2017 project. That’s nearly three times our typical project budget, pledged in just 10 minutes.

The film also played a big part in our program winning ACSA’s prestigious Collaborative Practice Award for 2016-2017. That achievement took us to ACSA’s annual meeting in Detroit, where we spoke about the work in more detail. All of this is in addition to the opportunities AIA provided for us to present our film at the New York Architecture and Design Film Festival, at SXSW Eco in Austin, and again at A’17 in Orlando.

Even our university’s president has joined in the support. He has screened the film at over 60 internal and external events this year, where he points to our work as the benchmark for the exemplary educational experience he strives for and promotes. We were even given special access to host the design portion of our studio at the university’s newest center of excellence, the Center for Collaborative Research, in their recently acquired $2 million contemporary building adjacent to campus.

In my 20 years in the field of architecture, none have held the level of success and satisfaction as this past year. We owe much of that success to AIA and the I Look Up Film Challenge for pushing us to present our work in such an accessible format. Architects are not widely known for their self-promotion or marketing prowess, but most of us can certainly tell good stories. By encouraging the architecture community to create short films, you are helping us all leverage these stories by sharing the incredible value that architects can bring to their communities.

I can’t wait to see what the third generation of the I Look Up Film Challenge brings; I’m looking forward to creating my own contribution very soon. I truly hope AIA continues the important work of hosting the Film Challenge, and I want to be sure that all involved are aware of the broad reach of the films and the power of stories they tell. It goes far beyond the challenge itself.

With sincere appreciation,

Brad Deal, AIA

Assistant Professor of Architecture

Louisiana Tech University School of Design

Image credits

Brad Deal - Hero’s Launch

Henry McCoy

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