In 1992, when my father called to tell me: "Lucia, I've written you into my will," I was not sure how to respond. For as long as I could remember, my father Glen Howard Small, futuristic architect, had never planned for his future. He had always been broke or on the verge of it. He would say that it was because he was "true to his vision - a vision the world isn't ready for.” He continued: "I'm leaving you all my drawings and models - the Biomorphic Biosphere, Turf Town, the Green Machine. If I can't do it before I die, I want you to write a book about my work."
Quickly, I tried to assess whether this was an honor or a curse. I questioned whether or not I could live up to the challenge. Did I even want to? I offered to make a film instead - while he was still alive. Only after the conversation ended did I realize the implications of what I had suggested. I wondered how I could make a movie about a maverick visionary architect and, more importantly, why I would choose to venture down the treacherous path of examining my father's life.
I immediately realized that the film I wanted to make differed from that which my father had envisioned. He couldn’t really expect me to be objective, could he? Dad wanted a retrospective of his professional achievements, while I wanted to focus on all aspects of his life, including those that affected my family, his second family, and the girlfriends that followed. He ultimately agreed, as long as I "got the work down."
During the making of the film, I struggled to remain true to my own vision, battling the notion of what my father deemed "important" for the film and what I saw as critical. Many years later, older and a tad wiser, I see that I've been able to stand my ground, albeit not always easily; Dad finally seems to like the film. But that didn't prevent him from rewriting his will, bequeathing the biographer's job to all of his children.
Then, in late 2002, nearing the end of our festival whirlwind, I couldn’t help but promise my father that if he ended up building any significant buildings, I would film him again. In 2003, just as he was breaking ground on a couple government buildings in Managua, Nicaragua, I got an e-mail from my father: ”Genius II must be made.” Soon thereafter, I flew down with a Director of Photography, Allie Humunek, to spend several days filming his life and work. Along with various other projects in development, Genius II is now in the works.