Three short films including Boombox Retail: How can a city like Chicago use architecture to think small and empower women and people of color? C-House: Can a house be a billboard? What is Inclusive Design?: Can beautiful architecture make disabilities irrelevant?
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Marika Snider
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you so much! Boombox Retail and C- House are both part of a short film series on the importance of small projects in the career of an architect. The project initially began with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Innovation Award (grant) as a pilot program for oral histories. However, in looking for projects to film, we found that there are tons of wonderful little projects that don’t get a lot of press but which have had an incredible impact on the careers of their architects.
In 2011, Robert Maschke, architect of the C-House, won an AIA Small Project award for his bus shelter. The simple project used perforated steel panels to create an “origami-like” structure to bring dignity and design to his neighborhood bus stop. I was intrigued but the project was too small for a film so I worked with Robert to select one of his projects that made a good story and highlighted his design process at multiple scales.
In selecting Katherine Darnstadt’s Boombox Retail, I was specifically looking for a project with a strong social agenda. I was delighted to find that this project not only empowers women of color and others who are excluded from traditional retail space but also literally redefines small retail.
“What is Inclusive Design?” was shot for the American Institute of Architects iLookUp Film Competition. The prompt was “Architecture as a Solution” and the choice for filming was clear. The new Goodwill Easter Seals Building in Dayton, Ohio had just opened and featured an eye catching three-story helix encased in glass. In talking with Jason Sheets, the architect, I learned how other aspects of the design of this building enabled people with disabilities to work and become independent.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Boombox – it’s a shipping container, disassembled and reconceived in an unrecognizable form that’s so small that the architect had to re-write Chicago municipal code to make it legal. It helps empower people who are often left out of the market and it’s just fun!
C-House – this is your opportunity to see into an architect’s private house on an unconventional lot. It is both urban and suburban. It is outward and upward focused. It’s sleek and it’s warm.
What is Inclusive Design? (Goodwill Easter Seals) – Accessibility never looked so good! This building has a 400’+ ramp that allows people of any mobility to move up and down floors without the use of elevators. Inside, the building changes texture and materials to help orient people with visual impairments. This is high design with a direct social impact.
How do the personal and universal themes work in your film?
Each of these films is personal in two ways: by following a single architects design process, and by helping the viewer have a personal experience with the building. However, buildings aren’t simply used by their owners but have a bigger impact on the community around them.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
All of the scripts are collaborations with the architects. I develop a series of questions but I find that the interviews always get delightfully sidetracked. The goal is always to put the newly discovered story back together.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The feedback has been positive. The work of these architects is so interesting.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I have been surprised at how many people are interested in these projects. I expected the audience to be a smaller niche. It has opened my eyes to the power of storytelling.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I’m hoping that WeAreMovingStories will help bring these films to a wider audience outside of the architecture world.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Anyone who can help to increase the audience is appreciated.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
My not-so-secret goal is to promote architects doing innovative work. Architects don’t just “draw up plans” but we can help solve problems, even problems that don’t seem architectural. And I’d like to get funding to do more films. There are hundreds of other architects doing interesting work in the US and overseas.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Boombox Retail: How can a city like Chicago use architecture to think small and empower women and people of color?
C-House: Can a house be a billboard?
What is Inclusive Design?: Can beautiful architecture make disabilities irrelevant?
Would you like to add anything else?
I’d like to thank the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Small Project Practitioners (SPP) for supporting the short film series and especially for the help of Marc Manack and Carolyn Adams.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
My day job is an architect for the Ohio History Connection, which owns and manages Ohio’s 58 historic sites. I focus on the historic preservation projects and am currently working on the restoration of President Warren G. Harding’s House in Marion, Ohio and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s House in Cincinnati, Ohio. On the film front, I’ve just finished shooting at Sinclair Community College, a beautiful brutalist campus in downtown, Dayton, Ohio. This film will examine how 1960s idealism translates into the 21st century urbanism.
Interview: October 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Three Short Films by Marika Snider
Marika is a preservation architect who believes in storytelling through film and radio.
Buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists