David Krantz and Ian Harris finished architecture school in 2005, and already they want to go back: this time not as students, but as filmmakers. Krantz, a landscape architect who went to Clemson, and Harris, who studied architecture at the University of Cincinnati, want to make a documentary about undergraduate architecture students and their final studio theses.
The idea goes back to Krantz's school days. In his fourth year, having completed his studio requirements, he took a graduate-level course. With little prior connection to the other students, Krantz experienced the studio as an outsider. It proved a revelation. A documentary fan, he recognized the story waiting to be told: the egos, the 16-hour work sessions, the agonizing crits. “Architecture school,” says Krantz, “requires you to be in a studio on weekends, at night, and your friends just don't understand: ‘Why can you not go out and party with us?' ... Why do kids [endure this] to get this job? What is the job? Why is it such a desirable job?” It wasn't until Krantz and Harris met in early 2006, however, that the film became more than a notion. The two bonded over the idea. Says Harris: “We both believed in the story, started to develop the story, and then [asked ourselves]: ‘How are we going to do this?'”
Since that self-reflective pause, the two have had a hell of a year. Each day, after long hours at their San Francisco firms—Krantz, 24, is employed at Hart/Howerton, and Harris, 26, at GLS Landscape/Architecture—the budding filmmakers return home to work on the documentary. They've tapped into the Bay Area film community to learn how to shoot a movie, partnered with the Film Arts Foundation to help with finances, and found friends and others to provide occasional assistance. The apartment they share splits the distance between their offices, maximizing collaboration time, and its slightly down-at-heel address saves rent money. (Plus, if you lean out of the kitchen window, there's a fine view of the new federal building by Morphosis.) Krantz and Harris are the film's producers, directors, and, so far, financiers. They calculate it will cost $175,000 and another two years to get the film ready for screening.
In September the pair toured a handful of schools that expressed interest in the project. Now they are in discussions with the Pratt Institute School of Architecture. If all goes well, in a few weeks Harris and Krantz will leave their firms and head to Brooklyn, N.Y., to start filming.
Initially, Krantz and Harris called the documentary Architorture—a wry, if lovingly intended, comment on the demanding nature of design education, and one they fully realized might seem like bad PR to most schools. (“I've been lectured to by deans,” says Harris.) The working title has since been changed to Archiculture. “We're not making this film with an agenda,” says Harris. “Hopefully, [it's] a means for people to watch and then begin to discuss what the architectural education system is like.”
Learn more about Archiculture and track the documentary's progress at archiculturefilm.com.