Architects and Directors

Image source:  Ze Carlos Barretta
Image source: Ze Carlos Barretta

There are two professions which I find fascinating: architecture and film-making (particularly directing). My admiration for both occupations is based on their leadership and creative features. I grew up with the desire to become an architect like my dad but I realised in my latter years at secondary (high) school that desire was not enough hence I moved into Social Sciences where I was best suited. I recently came across an interesting Metro newspaper quote by Fernando Meirelles (Brazilian movie director) which showcased the leadership similarities between architects and directors. 

Fernando Meirelles studied architecture before taking up film-making so he is qualified to speak on both fields. He said:

“Both architects and directors are the head of big crews and their work is to bring a vision to the projects. We work with dozens of specialists and have to tell them how to do their work, even knowing they’re much better than us at what they do. Sometimes I see a director as someone who can’t act, photograph, plan, create sets or costumes, or play or compose music. The only thing you can do is ask people to do it for you.” (Metro)

Meirelles talks about the vision-casting and vision-communicating role of the director and architect in the first sentence. The architect produces the blueprints for a building, the vision or plan, which the builders must follow. The architect works closely with the builders (specialised teams of bricklayers, electricians, carpenters etc) to ensure that they understand and follow the blueprints. The director’s blueprint is the screenplay or script. He has to ensure that he communicates his vision of the screenplay to the actors. This is to make sure that they deliver performances that match his vision for the film.

The key to the director and architect’s success is their people skills not just their technical skills. Meirelles mentions at the end of his quote that both the architect and director need to get people who are specialists in their own domain to help them accomplish their vision. They need to get these individuals to buy into their vision if it is to be successful.

Effective vision-communicating and people skills are competencies that all leaders need to possess. These competencies are not just for architects and film directors. They will help you become a better leader if you develop them.

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