The relationship between architecture and cinema as art forms is not a secret. However, it is interesting to see that more and more architectural professionals are drawn to the world of cinema. Many architectural students and professionals over the years have changed the course of their careers and held hands of cinema or writing. Because both writing and cinema seasons their enthusiasm to create alternate realities, craft a scene and carve-out space. After studying architecture, Arundhati Roy, for instance, tried her hands at both cinema and writing and eventually chose the latter. It comes naturally to architects to transition into new roles, and especially so when the cinema is their calling. Here, we make ourselves familiar with a few of these distinct individuals who have a background in architecture but are successfully contributing to the world of filmmaking in varied capacities.
An architecture graduate from India, who went on to pursue his interest in filmmaking is now an internationally acclaimed set designer and concept artist. Anshuman has worked on many popular films and has projects like Hangover (2009), Terminator Salvation (2009), Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) on his impressive portfolio. His passion for cinema can be traced down to his thesis, which was a part of his Master’s programme, was – Beyond Mise-En-Scene: Narrative Through Architecture in Main Stream Cinema (1980-2002). Anshuman’s practise involves the creation of three dimensional built environments digitally.
Shruti Gupte, known for her work as a production designer in films like ‘The Lunchbox’, ‘Photograph’, ‘Taare Zameen Par’ is an architecture graduate from CEPT University. She has been working in the film industry for 15 years now. Shruti, in her interview with Creative Yatra, says that she was forever fascinated by the parallels between architecture and cinema. Shruti weaves the visual layer into the stories she works on, but it is always to serve the storytelling and not to satiate personal desires. Shruti’s scope of work requires a thorough understanding of the characters in the film/play, so that she can create spaces in which they belong.
Tino Schaedler is a German Production Designer and Art Director. He specializes in designing digital sets. Schaedler has lent his expertise in famous films like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. And he also is a trained architect. Schaedler had worked under the architect Daniel Libeskind before transitioning to cinema. Schaedler enjoys the freedom that digital set designing provides him over conventional building practice. Apart from crafting a visual language for the films, Schaedler also works as an interior designer and retail designer for brands including Nike, Google, Apple, Swarovski, BMW and more.
Ila Bêka and his partner Louise Lemoine form the artist duo – Bêka & Lemoine, the leading architectural artists in the contemporary world. Ila Bêka is a trained architect, video-artist, filmmaker and producer. These two have been working for the past 15 years, mainly researching on experimenting “new narrative and cinematographic forms in relation to contemporary architecture and urban environment”. They make films that focus on the relationship between people and design. Their films have been exhibited at major biennials like The Venice Architecture Biennale. MoMA in 2016, acquired the complete work of Bêka & Lemoine for its permanent collection.
Anthony Quinn was a Mexican-American polymath. He was an actor, painter, writer and film director apart from being a pupil of architecture who trained under Frank Lloyd Wright at Wright’s residence and studio. He revealed to Wright about his inclinations towards acting and received support in return. Quinn then moved to stage and slowly transitioned into films. His films The Brave Bulls (1951) and Viva Zapata! (1952) fetched him his first two Academy Awards. He kept moving between Hollywood, Italian Cinema and Theatre.
Joseph Kosinski is another architectural graduate who is enjoying the fruits of his success in the world of filmmaking. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, maybe his films would. He is the writer, director and producer of the blockbuster, Tom Cruise starrer, Oblivion. Kosinski in his interviews has claimed to have learnt two things from architecture school. And one of the two learnings was that he did not want to be an architect. The other was the virtue of self-criticism.
Nathaniel is an artist, but he is worth mentioning here. Son of a master architect Louis Kahn, Nathaniel Kahn is an award-winning filmmaker. The documentary he made about his father Louis Kahn, “My Architect” was nominated for Academy Awards. Another documentary of his, “Two Hands” was also nominated for the Oscars and an Emmy. Nathaniel has chosen documentaries as his form of expression because, with documentaries, one can’t predict what’s coming next.
Cinema is one of the most creative, collaborative art forms that also pays well. Art Direction, Set Designing, are some of the smoothest modes of transition for an architecture student or graduate. For those working in the digital set designing or VFX that requires knowledge of modelling and rendering software, education in architecture becomes worthwhile. Most of these people, who have carved a space for themselves within the world of movie-making, allege that cinema has given them the freedom of expanding their craft.