Starting in June, high schoolers will have a unique opportunity: as part of the Daniels Faculty's first-ever Architecture and Film Camp, an online summer program for students entering grades 11 and 12, they'll learn how to use the principles and techniques of architecture to make spectacular short films.
Leading the new online camp will be Jay Pooley, a Daniels Faculty assistant professor whose life story proves the camp's architecture-is-film thesis. "I was designing sets for independent theatre companies, and then I went to architecture school and really fell in love with architecture," he says. He earned his Master of Architecture from Dalhousie University in 2011, then worked at a few architecture firms before deciding to take his career in a different direction. He's now a production designer for film, with an extensive resume of award-winning work.
One of several "Sick Kids Vs." spots that Pooley worked on.
Pooley was the production designer for Sick Kids hospital's "Sick Kids Vs." campaign — a series of commercial shorts that used clever sets and costume design to portray the hospital's young patients as fierce fighters against childhood disease. The campaign won four awards at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.
Pooley's Jedi: Fallen Order commercial.
Pooley's other notable credits include an ADCC-award-winning ad spot for the Canadian Olympic Committee. In 2019, he was the production designer for a commercial for the video game Jedi: Fallen Order, for which he oversaw the design and fabrication of a miniature sci-fi universe, down to the lightsabers.
Although film and architecture are usually considered to be separate disciplines, Pooley doesn't see them quite that way. For him, buildings and films are different means of imparting similar ideas and feelings. "When you finish watching a movie, you find yourself struck by the environment you were immersed in, and the story you psychologically took part in," he says. "I think it's the same thing with great buildings. When we leave a space that we find very moving, we have a similar feeling of being immersed. We remember moments inside it. We remember textures and smells and the way that light bounced off surfaces. I have always felt that the type of skill sets we teach in architecture are a close jump to making films."
The Architecture and Film Camp will teach students to deploy architecture in the service of film, and vice versa. During each one-week course, Pooley and the other camp instructors will use videoconferencing software to remotely mentor students through a creative exercise that marries the two mediums. The setup is pandemic-friendly: there will be no need for anyone to gather or leave their homes.
Each week will have a slightly different theme. At times, students will use film to document real architectural spaces and objects within them. At other times they'll point their camera lenses at abstract worlds where the normal laws of physics and reason don't apply.
"Each of the weeks will end with students having made a short film," Pooley says. "But each week the approach to making that film will be different. For example, week one will be more about documentation. Week two will be about abstracting an existing world — so maybe taking the work from the first week and saying: okay, now your room exists without gravity. So what does that look like?"
Students will be able to sign up for as many (or as few) one-week courses as they choose.
The camp's participants will produce their films using only the equipment they have on hand. None of them will be expected to use anything more sophisticated than a smartphone camera. Each week of the program will consist of a mixture of guided tutorials, workshops, and independent work.
The Architecture and Film Camp is just one of several remote-learning camp programs the Daniels Faculty will be offering this summer. To find out about the others, which include programs for younger students, visit the "outreach" section of the Daniels Faculty website.
The Daniels Faculty's Architecture and Film Camp will begin the week of June 28. For more information, or to reserve your spot in the program, click the link below.
Top image: Still from a commercial for the Canadian Olympic Committee. Production design by Jay Pooley.