The Midnight Charette is an explicit podcast about design, architecture, and the everyday. Hosted by architectural designers David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, it features a variety of creative professionals in unscripted conversations that allow for thoughtful takes and personal discussions. A wide array of subjects are covered with honesty and humor: some episodes provide useful tips for designers, while others are project reviews, interviews, or explorations of everyday life and design. The Midnight Charette is also available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.
This week David and Marina are joined by Jeff Durkin, an architectural designer turned filmmaker, to discuss his transition to filmmaking, working in Hollywood, storytelling, making design films for architects, the importance of marketing, his filmmaking process, and more. Enjoy!
Highlights & Timestamps
Jeff discusses his transition from architecture to filmmaking and working in Hollywood. (00:00)
What I noticed in filmmaking [is that] it’s the last art form where there’s a true artist at the top and everyone else works below them. But in architecture you can have three or four principals on it, a couple of project managers, maybe a designer, an engineer… there’s a much more team approach. It used to be like Frank Lloyd Wright was the master. He would do it and his team and assistants would execute the work. Filmmaking is still like that, where the director is the lead artist and they have all the power and all the control. (04:22)
Jeff discusses how he learned filmmaking and working as part of an insert crew. (07:50)
How Bread Truck Films got its name and the differences between shooting with a small five-person crew and a hundred-person crew. (15:33)
Jeff’s transition back into architecture after working in filmmaking and the differences between the two professions. (20:05)
I think architecture, people don’t realize it, but it’s a pretty regulated profession. When you’re designing the front a building, you might have a design pretty quick, but you’re spending a lot of time how the handicap access ramp works, how the fire sprinklers plug in, how the parking works. In filmmaking, it's not regulated. If you have idea: I want this guy to kick down the door and blast everyone with his AK-47, you can set that up and go do that. (22:32)
The importance of fundraising in filmmaking and marketing. (26:22)
If you create this awesome film, but don’t have a budget to let people that it’s there, you’ll fail. [...] Even in Hollywood they will match… so if the Avengers cost $200 million to produce, they will have a $200 million marketing budget. (27:40)
The differences between shooting with a large crew versus a small crew. (32:37)
Jeff discusses making documentary design films for architecture firms and his process. (35:20)
If shoot a building for three days, I know I’ll have it. I'll have everything I need, I’ll have the interview, footage, I’ll have it at sunset, during the daytime, the landscape, interiors, and details. Then I typically take a week to edit [...] I come up with a rough cut pretty fast, with music titles, text, then I spend about a week massaging it, then I send it to the client for feedback. (50:03)
Jeff discusses interviewing and directing architects and helping them with scripting and storyboarding. (01:06:10)
Jeff discusses the over-usage of drones and other video recording technology (01:16:26)