How Do Architecture and Filmmaking Actually Meet?

What is the Relationship between Architecture and Filmmaking?

There is no direct link for approaching architecture and filmmaking, but there are some general directions that can help both specializations to build connections with each other. Are you wondering what is the relationship between film directors and architects?

In this blog post, we will enlighten this matter of fact from different points of view and some other topics that define the exact purpose of both.

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There is a strong relationship between architecture and filmmaking - man holding a camera, Photo by Lê Minh

Approaching Architecture and Filmmaking

Let us first put each occupation into its own framing: When approaching architecture, you often start by thinking about the purpose of the building and understanding its function. This will help you to create a structure that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

On the other hand, when filmmaking, always be aware of the space around you. Try to use natural lights whenever possible to create a more authentic and realistic appearance. Also, be sure to focus on the architecture and its details, rather than the background scenery.

For instance, filmmakers often use architecture as a backdrop for their stories by setting scenes in iconic buildings, such as the Empire State Building or the Taj Mahal. Similarly, architects use films as a source of inspiration for their designs. They can draw on the visuals and atmospheres created in films to inform their designs, and some have even gone as far as to use films as a way to present their projects.

One approach for discovering the relationship between film directing and architecture could be to:

First, analyze the ways in which architects and film directors both use space to tell a story or share a message. Both use visual elements such as line, form, and composition to create a sense of place and atmosphere. They also use movement and the manipulation of light to guide the viewer's attention and create a feeling of time and space.

Next, you could look at specific examples of films that have been heavily influenced by architectural designs and films that have influenced architects. Refer to the section below for more examples and details.

For instance, Fritz Lang's films and the work of the German Expressionist architects have a lot in common in terms of their use of shadow, geometry, and the manipulation of space to create a sense of unease. Similarly, the films of Wes Anderson are known for their highly stylized and carefully composed sets, which often draw inspiration from architectural movements such as Art Deco.

Additionally, you could explore the ways in which architects and film directors collaborate to create a significant place on the screen. The production designer, who is responsible for creating the visual look of a film, often works closely with the director and the cinematographer to create a sense of atmosphere and mood through the use of architecture and design.

➤ Read also: Architectural Filmmaking: Best of Nicholas Sparks Books

Architecture in Movies

The relationship between architecture and filmmaking is multi-faceted, with both fields influencing and drawing inspiration from one another. In the realm of filmmaking, architecture plays a crucial role in setting the tone and atmosphere of a film, as well as shaping the visual language used to tell the story.

"Architecture is for people, it’s for us to live in. It surrounds us everywhere we look and tells us about our culture and community, making us feel many things as we react to certain spaces. Designing sets for films is the same principle – designing for people; in the case of films, we’re designing for the Characters." says Jacinta Leong, a movie production designer with a background in Architecture, to

I'm sharing a documentary video showing how the architectural themes are adapted into scenes to be integrated with the filming process. Here, are scenes from the "Alien: Covenant" 2017 movie.

You can have insight into how the different architectural themes scenes are set ready for filming, notably the White Room, Covenant Hypersleep, Juggernaut, David's Lab, Covenant Terraforming Bay, and Hall of Heads. All those were scenes where the architectural design and concept are strongly expressed to make a related sense of the place and time.

One of the main ways in which architecture and filmmaking cross is through the use of space. Architects design and plan physical spaces, while film directors use those spaces to create a sense of place and atmosphere on the screen. Both use visual elements such as line, form, and composition to guide the viewer's attention.

Impact of Digital Technology

Moreover, the impact of digital technology has affected both fields. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) has allowed architects and filmmakers to create highly realistic and fantastical spaces that would have been impossible to build in the real world.

It has also enabled architects to visualize their designs in a more dynamic and interactive way, which can help to communicate their ideas to clients and stakeholders. This has allowed for more freedom in creativity and experimentation in both fields.

5 Movies With Strong Architectural Themes

Here is a list of some movies that were strongly influenced by architecture:

1- "Inception" (2010) directed by Christopher Nolan, features the use of mind-bending architecture to depict the different levels of the dream world.

2- "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (2014) directed by Wes Anderson, showcases the opulent architecture of a fictional European hotel and the impact it has on the various characters.

3- "Blade Runner" (1982) directed by Ridley Scott, the dark, futuristic cityscape and the architecture of the buildings serve as a backdrop to the film's exploration of technology and humanity.

4- "Metropolis" (1927) directed by Fritz Lang, the film's portrayal of a towering, futuristic city and the social divide it creates between the wealthy elite and the working class, reflects the impact of architecture on society.

5- "The Truman Show" (1998) directed by Peter Weir, the film's depiction of a manufactured, idealized suburban community and its impact on the film's protagonist, reflects the impact of architecture on individual lives.

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Architecture Jobs in the Film Industry: Architects for Movie Sets

Here are some architects who have worked on designing sets and buildings for movies include:

  • Frank Gehry, who designed the set for the film "The Polar Express"
  • Neil Spisak, who worked on the design of the sets for the Harry Potter series of films
  • Nathan Crowley, who was the production designer for the Dark Knight trilogy of Batman films
  • John Dexter, who was the production designer for the James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only"
  • Ken Adam, who was the production designer for many James Bond films, including "Dr. No," "Goldfinger," and "Thunderball"
  • Eugène Lourié, who was the art director for the 1933 film "King Kong"
  • Ken Court, who was the production designer for "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"

These are just a few examples, and there are many other architects who have worked on designing sets and buildings for films.

Overall, architecture and filmmaking have a close relationship, as both deal with the manipulation of space and visual design to convey a message or tell a story. However, it is a complex relationship with many areas of overlap and influence. A deeper exploration of this relationship can reveal how the two fields have evolved in parallel and how they have influenced each other over time.

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