We are living in a time when substantial sensory inputs come through moving‐ images. We can assume that this affects our spatial understanding. It is therefore crucial for interior designers to explore spaces through film. In spring 2017, Interior Design, VCUarts Qatar in collaboration with Doha Film Institute (DFI) offered a design studio in film design. The intent was to support a budding Qatari film industry as well as utilize filmmaking tools to explore space.
The course contained elements of: theory and analysis as well as “real life” experience where the students worked to execute projects together with professionals from the film industry to generate:
• Deeper understanding of interior design concepts: spatiality, color, materiality, narrative, symbolism etc. through the camera lens.
• A portfolio and confidence which enables the students to pursue careers within filmmaking.
• Process‐based hands on learning experience, from ideation to full completion.
The course was structured in three different phases: Workshops, Production, and
In the Initial Workshops, students worked individually—through a series of themed tasks— to build up understanding of the inner workings of film, using a selected movie scene1 as a precedent. These workshops were presented as tangible outcomes, such as: models, storyboards, mood‐boards, title sequences, etc. Workshops aimed to reintroduce already familiar tools within new dialogues of filmmaking. The phase culminated in the creation of a full mise en scène set‐design.
In the Production phase, knowledge acquired in the workshops were synthetized into a real movie production –‐“the Reluctant Warrior”2— involving external actors and film team. From a given manuscript, the team of students: designed and built a full scale film set; created a wardrobe; and selected and designed props. Based on aptitudes and interests, the students took on the different roles within an art department and were responsible for the full production, acquiring permits, coordinating with actors and Director of Photography; and catering for food during the shots. The direction, filming and acting fell outside the scope.
The Postproduction phase aimed to wrap up the course. In this phase, the team together with an external editor produced a final product, including: a final cut movie, a poster and a screening3. Similarly to the production phase, the students took charge of the process’ “nitty gritty”.
In short, the studio was a great success. It was experimental, innovative, and positively received. The students demonstrated a high level of learning and understanding of the subject matter, which was attested by professionals who participated in external critiques and students’ verbal comments & written evaluations. Furthermore, direct after the class four of the students continued to work with film production in the short film titled “Elevate”. The producer of “Elevate” corroborates the highest level of proficiency in the group and has extended job offers to our graduates for two upcoming projects. This positive attitude towards the outcome are shared by the two involved institutions, and it is the intent to continue and expand the collaboration.