Your Film Challenge questions answered

All submissions to the 2018 AIA Film Challenge are due August 27, which means it’s time to start finalizing your film. To help smooth the process, we hosted a Q&A-style creative call to review important Film Challenge information and answer questions from participants. 

Keep in mind 

Participation is free. You can register today and submit your film later.

Official rules. Review the document, which can be found at the bottom of the registration/ submission page and includes a cover page that outlines key takeaways. 

Submit release forms. Email your release forms for talent, location, and/or music to with your name and film title. 

Films submitted should abide by the following specs: 

  • Apple Pro-Res 422
  • 1920×1080
  • 29.97fps
  • Progressive

AIA Film Challenge logo. Every film must include the AIA Film Challenge logo at the end. You can find the logo on our FAQs page.

Creative Call Q&A

Q: Who is a civic leader? 

Civic leaders include anyone from non-profit leaders and librarians, to mayors or local park directors. Anyone who works or volunteers to promote the quality of life in their community is a civic leader.

Q. Can I participate and submit a film if I’m not in the United States?

Absolutely! Though cash and travel prizes are reserved for participants in the US and territories, we accept international submissions for a special International Award, including dedicated mentions across social channels, press mentions, and an award seal.

Q. How do I connect with the architect of a project to capture my story, and vice versa? 

As a filmmaker wanting to focus on a specific project, feel free to reach out to the firm or architect directly and tell them about your idea. You can also take a look at the American Institute of Architects’ website, where you can view featured architects, projects, and access a full directory of firms across the country.

If you’re an architect, try looking within your immediate network or local film schools. A quick Facebook post or Tweet can uncover connections you never knew you had. You can also search Facebook film groups, YouTube, and Vimeo for filmmakers in your area.

For more ways of connecting with architects or filmmakers, we encourage you to check out the blog post “Connecting Filmmakers and Architects”.

Q. Can I tell the story within 5 minutes?

We are confident that a compelling story can be told in 3-5 minutes. Be clear about the story you want to tell. Creating a treatment will help you understand the scope of your story. If you feel like the scope is too broad, focus your film on the most compelling element, Do this before you shoot, and you’ll definitely be able to tell an impactful story in 5 minutes. 

We encourage you to check out our short documentary seed film, Caño Martin Peña: A Blueprint for Better, for an example.

Q. I’m not sure the footage I have is professional enough to tell my story.

The footage does not have to be professional for the story to be impactful. Think of it as a creative problem to solve: How do I apply a specific stylistic look for more impact? Keep in mind that the judging criteria also includes storytelling and adherence to prompt, and architectural placement. The style is important, but the story is key.

Q. Can I submit a film produced for another project?

Submissions must include some original content created by the team members during the challenge period, as well as the Film challenge logo found on the FAQ page. If you have footage from a project that hasn’t yet been made into a film, or an existing film that may be relevant to the Blueprint for Better theme, you can edit it with additional interviews or editorial tweaks to make your existing footage or film eligible for the AIA Film Challenge.

Q. Does the film need to be documentary style, or can it be fiction?  

Submissions must be videos with sound in digital format and must be in the form of an original documentary. Narrative elements including animation and special effects are permitted, as well as usage of some third-party footage or footage previously shot by the entrant.

Q. Are there any restrictions on the focus, i.e. something currently slated for construction, recently built, a hypothetical situation, etc.?

We don’t have restrictions on the focus of the story. Keep in mind that architects are involved at every stage, from initial conception through construction, and beyond.

Stay tuned for a blog post providing a checklist for submitting your film and an in-depth review of the official Film Challenge rules.

Submit your film now and send any questions to