Filmmaking best practices, part 2: Tell your story, win money, and make a difference

With just under two months left to submit a film for your chance to win $5,000 and screenings in New York and Chicago, it’s time to focus on concepting and filming. In the second part of our filmmaking best practices series, we will cover creating your film and connecting with the community to amplify reach.


Tips on Concepting 

Develop 3-5 potential stories to tell and run them by your team. If you have a filmmaker partner identified, run the ideas by them so they can offer a perspective on storyline and visual approach.

Tips on Filming 

Film during the day. Capture a variety of angles: close, wide, and even drone shots. Capture footage of people engaging with the architecture. Leverage old video footage and photography that might add context to your story. Virtual renderings and graphics can also add a nice touch and help tell the story in a more dynamic fashion.


Tips on Interviewing 

Stay relaxed whether in front or behind the camera. If you’re being interviewed, repeat the question in a sentence when answering. Share colorful details and anecdotes to enrich your story and make editing easier. If you’re the interviewer, allow the interviewee a bit of silence to formulate and complete their thoughts. If you notice the interviewee has an important point to make or capture, allow them to repeat it a few times so that you get the perfect take.

Tips on Editing 

Organize footage by date and subjects. Reference the storyline developed during the concepting phase, so that you can sort through what to keep and what to cut. Remember that with such compelling content, you can create shorter cuts that can support your longer film.


Free/inexpensive music: Epidemic Sound, PremiumBeat, Pond5, Marmoset, and Audiojungle. You can also reach out to the artist directly on if you really want a specific song.

Free/inexpensive editing software: Adobe Premiere, iMovie, Final Cut Pro.

Visit No Film School for more information and filmmaking tips.


Once registered on you will be able to submit your film up until the August 27 deadline. We have provided specific directions and parameters, making it very simple for you to get your film to us.

After your film is submitted, we encourage you to create a community engagement plan to amplify the reach of your film. You can use the hashtag #Blueprintforbetter across social channels, and also submit your film to local publications for them to share your story. This will be particularly important during the public voting phase of the film challenge, but more importantly, it’s a chance for your community and network to learn about and support your work.

Ownership of the content submitted to the AIA Film Challenge will remain with you and your filmmaking partner. Owning your film allows you the freedom to submit it to various festivals and share it across social media channels as you see fit. So, spread the word far and wide! The benefits are vast. Note that by participating in the challenge, the AIA may use submitted films for promotion or distribution in connection to the campaign, so you might see your film distributed across AIA channels, extending the reach of your story.