Films of AlN were grown on MgO(100), Al2O3, and Si under vacuum pressure (10-3 to 10-4 Torr) at different substrate temperatures. They were examined ex situ with infrared reflectance spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction and rutherford backscattering spectroscopy. Highly oriented smooth films were grown at film thicknesses below 1 μm. Thicker films showed significantly more roughness but remained oriented with respect to the substrate. AIN growth was faster on Si than MgO(100) or Al2O3 and Si was the only substrate that growth was observed at 500°C.