We’re excited to share the stories behind the winning film in our 2016 I Look Up Film Challenge! Learn more about the Runner-Up, 20×10.
Team: Patrick Higgins and Kurt Hanley, Filmmakers
Location: Austin, Texas
AIA: How, if in any way, did this film challenge change your perception of architecture?
Kurt Hanley: I didn’t understand how powerful architecture can be until this project. What has been created at Community First! has drawn people into an area that most people would never go near. It is great to see architecture be apart of movements that are challenging the way we think of social issues.
Patrick Higgins: Going into the project I thought that most architects had somewhat frequent opportunities similar to projects like Community First! and Mobile Loaves and Fishes, where the architect is challenged to design for significant social and cultural change. But it seems like these opportunities don’t come often enough. The desire to design and build for positive social change was so evident with every architect we spoke to – I think almost all the architects involved in the Community First! project were essentially volunteers – but it does take dedicated community leaders and organizers to engage architects in meaningful ways, to create the kind of staggering possibilities you see with Community First!.
AIA: What compelled you to tell the story you did?
KH: Showcasing this project allows us to continue the conversation of how we as a society are trying to alleviate homelessness.
PH: We spoke to many architects and designers in Austin, and no group was faster in getting back to us than the architects behind Community First!. They were so eager to participate and share this story with a wider audience, and they were very generous with their time. They’re the storytellers behind all of this. I really didn’t think we’d fill up multiple cards on every interview, but we sure did. We had great conversations. As filmmakers, Kurt and I just had to figure out how to tell this amazing story in 2-3 minutes.
AIA: As a filmmaker, what has been your experience collaborating with the other on this project?
KH: As a filmmaker it has been great working with all of the architects. Learning more about their process has allowed me to see similarities between the professions. I think the biggest thing we relate on is the focus to understand the client. Knowing the story around who we are creating something for allows us to find insights that lead to the right designs decisions.
PH: In making a film, you look at every detail, and every decision, to try and make 2 minutes or 20 minutes or 2 hours really meaningful for the viewer, in ways that contribute to a conversation around the subject. In working with the architects here, it’s evident they’re building a living experience, in a community that’s growing and changing in really interesting ways, and they’re influencing months and years of people’s’ lives in profound ways through the intention and skill behind every design decision. It’s incredibly inspiring.
Thank you to Patrick Higgins and Kurt Hanley for sharing their story. View all the winners here.