Behind-the-Scenes with the 2017 I Look Up Film Challenge Runner Up

Brad Deal, director of Pisces, was chosen as the 2017 I Look Up Film Challenge Runner Up. Deal’s film Arch 335: Rebuilding Medcamps earned his team the 2016 Grand Prize and People’s Choice Award. Learn more about Brad and his compelling film below and vote by October 6 for this year’s People’s Choice Award winner.

Pisces, from Greek mythology, takes the form of two fish connected by a cord that allows them to help others and ensures that they don’t loose one another. Pisces and its myths became the framework for our 2017 design build project: A bridge that connects the two sides of a summer camp for children with special needs and creates an variety of opportunities for one of their favorite camp activities: fishing.

AIA: How did you get into filmmaking?
Brad Deal: I’m an architect by training, now teaching at Louisiana Tech’s School of Design. I’ve always enjoyed documenting my projects through my own photography, but when I began teaching the design build studio’s I was inspired by other short films and music videos about other design projects and architecture programs that really brought to life the process and energy that goes into the projects. I decided as I began my own design build operation that It would be rewarding to document them via film and I’ve gathered footage and edited something together for each project ever since.

AIA: How long have you been a filmmaker?
Brad Deal: I’ve had a love for photography every since I took an elective course in college about 20 years ago. I first began novice filming and editing to compliment my design build studios in the Spring of 2013 and I’ve made annual short films about the work ever since.

AIA: What does “Blueprint for Better” mean to you?
Brad Deal: The real hook for me is the word “better”. In my teaching efforts I like to reference the incredibly simple and accessible definition for design offered by Herbert Simon, one of the most influential minds of the 20th century. He essentially said that design is any effort towards “changing existing conditions into preferred ones”; making things better. Most people don’t think of themselves as designers or that they have the capacity to effect change, but the fact is that we all make decisions every day that have the power to make things better for ourselves and, if we choose, for others around us. I love this prompt because it encourages all of us to be reminded of the power our decisions hold to improve any situation in which we find ourselves.

AIA: What was it like working with architects?
Brad Deal: Speaking as both the architect and filmmaker, I only wish I had time to collaborate with more people these film projects. I will say, the additional collaboration I was able to have with my architecture students and the children that we built the bridge for was really inspiring. It’s always rewarding to hear that your efforts are appreciated and that they’re consistently having a positive impact on the lives they touch. It doesn’t get much better that!

AIA: What was the most challenging or surprising part of the process?
Brad Deal: As a novice filmmaker, one of the most challenging tasks is navigating unfamiliar territory, weather that’s a new piece of equipment, a new environment for filming, or trying to manage an interviewee that’s getting nervous. And the editing! The footage and interview content I have is overwhelming in its volume and story telling qualities. It was really a challenge to convey 6 personalities/perspectives AND a project’s design and construction processes in just 3 minutes. I hope I have the chance to develop a longer format feature that allow be the tell the stories of this work with even greater depth and meaning.