Documentary inspires architecture students to think big in designs, life

April 29, 2010

by Amber Guyotte

Zack Godshall, a film and screenwriting instructor at Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge, presented his second film, “God’s Architects,” to students and faculty from the School of Architecture April 22.

Godshall said the 82-minute documentary about five divinely-inspired architects and their handmade creations was influenced by a friend’s research in finding people who built castles, mountains and sculpture gardens.

“I got into making this film about people who build big things because a friend of mine who was an architecture student at Tulane University,” Godshall said. “She researched people who build things without formal training, and I thought it was interesting what led these men to build these things.”

He said he learned about perseverance through the experience of meeting the people in his documentary.

“With faith, hard work and commitment to your task you can accomplish anything,” Godshall said. “It changed the way I thought about my own work as a filmmaker and also documentary film making because a lot of times you don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out but you keep going anyway.”

Godshall said he wanted to find out why the men built structures since there was no monetary gain.

“I was interested in somebody who works on things that are seemingly impractical and very unconventional, yet they’ve dedicated their whole life to it,” he said.
“They’re doing it for another reason, and I was really interested in what that other reason was. They said the heart of what they’re doing is devotional work or because of a divine order of some kind. That’s not the way most people talk about the work they do. I started listening to what they were saying and felt they had something valuable to share, mainly about the commitment in doing something that doesn’t necessarily make sense to anybody else but makes sense to them.”

Karl Puljak, director of the School of Architecture, said Godshall and his film were featured to introduce architecture students to something new.

“Meeting someone who is involved with the production and editing of making a big idea and turning it into a film is something that’s interesting to us,” Puljak said. “In some ways, film making is similar to architecture in the production of it as far as getting an idea and working it down to something that could be constructed or measured.”

He also said the content of the film is interesting because the people portrayed are not trained in architecture.

“What they’re doing is taking a vision they have and trying to realize it with building objects,” Puljak said. “We usually bring in architects that have been trained and are working in offices, and this is a look at some people who are a counter to that.”

Meagan Hill, a sophomore architecture major, said she gained insight about her career through the film.

“It was definitely a different aspect to architecture,” Hill said. “It inspired me that you can make architecture for a higher power, for God, and that people are really out there doing that.”