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April 20, 2011

In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week Eight: Making a modern dwelling—and a documentary film series.

 

The following is an interview with Craig Brooks, director at Kontent Partners. He shares his story and his vision for the Maxon House film series. Enjoy.

 

Craig Brooks, director of the Maxon House film (left), and author Lou Maxon (right) discuss tactics for the afternoon's filming session.
Craig Brooks, director of the Maxon House film (left), and author Lou Maxon (right) discuss tactics for the afternoon's filming session.
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Director Craig Brooks gets in the brush to capture close-up action of site preparation work for the Maxon House documentary.
Director Craig Brooks gets in the brush to capture close-up action of site preparation work for the Maxon House documentary.
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Craig Brooks takes a look at the permit set of plans to figure out what the afternoon of filming looks like on the site.
Craig Brooks takes a look at the permit set of plans to figure out what the afternoon of filming looks like on the site.
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dwell maxonseries8 photo3

When you hire an architect you get much more than the voice and perspective of one individual. In the case of Olson Kundig Architects, you get the collective experience of an award-winning firm that has been around decades and done quite a wide range of projects. One of the unique aspects of Olson Kundig Architects is the culture. And with culture comes tradition.

Our project is like many others that Olson Kundig Architects takes on in that it will involve artists and craftspeople, it will feature sustainable design elements, and at some point in the project’s life cycle it will be the subject of one of the firm's Thursday Night Crits. 

 
One opportunity that came up early in my discussions with the firm was an invitation to come and speak about my work as part of their visiting lecture series. The firm opens their doors to individuals who excel in disciplines other than architecture to speak and present their work. Much of my professional work focuses on helping brands identify and then share their stories in non-traditional ways (think less commercial, more compelling editorial style). Some further discussions happened and the firm invited me to pitch some ideas on how we might collaborate on some projects that took advantage of both of our backgrounds. I pitched the concept of taking one of their clients and having a documentary film series made about the experience of that client engaging with the architect and the journey towards the ultimate building of their residence.
 
The firms’ partners welcomed the idea and took it one step further, challenging me to share our story: the making of Maxon House.
 

Craig Brooks, director of the Maxon House film (left), and author Lou Maxon (right) discuss tactics for the afternoon's filming session.
Craig Brooks, director of the Maxon House film (left), and author Lou Maxon (right) discuss tactics for the afternoon's filming session.

 
Although my wife and I had been documenting things for our own personal story, we wouldn't have the time and resources on our own to realize this vision so I reached out to some professional contacts to see if anyone would be interested in taking the project on. Plus, I wanted there to be a third party who could put their own filter on this from a creative and a logistics point of view. I made a few calls and finally was able to connect the architecture firm with Craig Brooks, a director and owner of Kontent Partners in Seattle. The two met, some proposals were exchanged and before the ink would dry on an agreement the cameras were rolling. 
 

Director Craig Brooks gets in the brush to capture close-up action of site preparation work for the Maxon House documentary.
Director Craig Brooks gets in the brush to capture close-up action of site preparation work for the Maxon House documentary.

Kontent Partners has been at pretty much every critical meeting and moment during the entire project. The focus of the film series is to share the collective stories of all the individuals that make a project like this possible. Obviously it takes the client (us) to commit to the project but well after that step happens there are countless individuals and companies that help shape and realize our vision. This is their story too. We joke as we write check after check (after check) that we've created a micro-economy with this project, but it’s actually true. There will be a lot of money spent but more importantly, there will be a lot of people we get to meet and engage with that would only ever happen because of this project. This is what makes the experience for us and for our family truly memorable. The craftspeople, the architects, the foresters and everyone else you'll soon meet through the process of this blog have become part of our extended family on this trek.

 

Craig Brooks takes a look at the permit set of plans to figure out what the afternoon of filming looks like on the site.
Craig Brooks takes a look at the permit set of plans to figure out what the afternoon of filming looks like on the site.

For previous installments of "Building the Maxon House," click here.

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