The Digital Filmmaking Institute put on the Duke City Shootout film festival annually for ten years.  It started with a script contest.  The best seven scripts were then made into short films, with film sets in and around Albuquerque, during the festival.  The writers were brought in and given crew and equipment to make their films.  The all volunteer crew ranged from union professionals to students.  A panel of celebrity judges picked the best film and we had a premier where the awards were given out.  Here's the ones I created film sets for.

Maklar, Anyone?

Lead Set Dresser

My first Shootout.  We had a great script, a fun little sci-fi about fans of a Star Trek type TV show having a fan club meeting and discovering something about one of the members.  We had a lot of fun shooting this, but I would have liked to put in much more set dressing.

It was set in the home of our club leader that was built and decorated in the 1970's and never updated.  The characters were convention going fanatics and the refreshments were all given other planetary names.  One character was a holigram so we shot his part with a green screen.

DVD cover art by Director Phil Guzzo.

Find out more about "Maklar, Anyone?" on IMDb.

Young Gun

Set Decorator

We had a terrific crew for this one, because of the veteran team of Anthony Nickols - 1st AD, Darlene Hansen - Producer and Michael Flowers - Art Director.

The story is a morality play about the negative influence of violent video games.

Our young hit man lived in an ill-kept mobile home, with poor supervision.  We got the use of an empty mid-80's mobile that had structural damage, but was a nice home in it's day.  Our challenge was to dress it down for our film set.

Our beleagered husband lived in an upscale house.  The house we used belongs to our Prop Mistress, Gilda Vogle and needed little work since she's a natural decorator.  The most we did was dress the guest bedroom for the scene exposing his wife's affair.

The husband met with a hit man and drowned his sorrows at a strip club.  We used a club that had been shut down for our film set.  The challenge here was to make it look active and attractive even though it had been stripped (pardon the pun) of most of it's carpet and mirrors.

The husband tracked his wife to her lover's office.  Her lover was the designer of the violent game that influenced our young hit man.  We used the downtown studio of a local photographer, a friend of our Art Director.  We were lucky to find she had lenses in the outside walls and viewscreens showing cool, live views of the street below.  This made for the perfect high-tech background for our simple high-tech office film set.

Find out more about "Young Gun" on IMDb.

Mr Fletcher's Yard Sale

Set Decorator, Prop Master, Art Director

I chose this as my favorite script because if was a cute sci-fi story and I knew I could do the sets well.  Little did I know I would wind up having three key positions with no full-time assistants.  That amounted to me being three departments by myself:  Art, Set Dressing, and Props.  Luckily our writer/director had detailed storyboards.  We had fun, but we could have done much better with a larger cast and crew.

We only had three film sets for this script, all shot at the same house.  It starts in the kitchen of one of the boys, after a sleep-over, then they set up a lemonade stand and their neighbor across-the-street, Mr Fletcher, sets up a yard sale.  What happens next is pure science fiction.

The Treehouse

Set Decorator / Designer

Our producer told us that he hand picked each of us for this film, my job was to design / dress the film sets for this story.  We had a good crew, a timely story and great locations.  Unfortunately my car died and most of my pre-production efforts were wasted since I was unable to take part in the actual filming.

For this film we had five sets and some driving scenes.  Two of the film sets were vehicles.  We also had a convenience store exterior, a back yard and a home interior.

One of the skills I bring is drafting floor plans.  They are scale drawings for the sake of planning set decoration and can aid the other departments in visualizing our film sets.

The story was about a man and his little girl who were having to move to his sister's house due to tough economic conditions.  While trying to find her something to eat they meet a lady and her little boy who help them with a random act of kindness.

This is a rendering of what I had planned for the truck film set.  I thought the father would have to bring his recliner because that's where he comforted his daughter when she missed her mother or when there wasn't enough to eat.  He read to her in  this chair, he had to bring it.  He also brought her headboard so she would have something familiar over her in the dark.  Of course he brought her toys and dolls.  Her clothes were carefully packed into an old suitcase, but his own clothes were piled into plastic bags.  A few boxes and their small TV set rounded out their meager possessions.

On the truck dashboard we find a newspaper, folded to the employment section with ads circled and crossed out.

We come to Laura's yard which has a treehouse her ex built for their son.

The father enters the house, through an open door, looking for something to fill his daughter's empty tummy.  On the fridge we see a drawing Laura's son made of his dad, in his treehouse.  It's a homage to "The Little Prince" by Antoine de St Exupere.  He finds some granola bars in the cupboard.

(On the left is the pre-production photo, on the right is the screen capture.  The kitchen was so perfect, just the way we found it we only had to add story specific details.)

Learn more about "The Treehouse" on IMDb

I've also dressed film sets for the feature "The Donor Conspiracy".