“Mortimer” Short Film Project: A Student Perspective

The practicum class at Huntington University Center for Digital Media Arts in Peoria, Arizona, is currently working on the production of a short film called The Amazing Mortimer. Though I am not in that particular class, I was able to help out at the shoot anyway. Having never actually been a part of a short film to that extent, it was a great experience to have as a filmmaker hopeful!

I had never even touched a boom pole before, but with a more experienced guide in audio, I was quickly shown what to do and instantly became a part of the action. There were difficult moments trying to figure out where I—as a sound person—was needed, and trying to get cooperation from others, but there was general good cheer and friendly joking, even under the stress of trying to finish the shots required for the day.

I also helped Cara Wilson with set design. It was amazing to see what goes into making a simple room look realistic enough to be an old man’s living quarters. Newspapers from the 1800s were stuck to the walls, straw snowflakes were hung from strings attached to the ceiling, and a 48-star flag was suspended with ropes as a fantastic backdrop. Simple things like a half-played game of solitaire and a dirty plate with breakfast remains were all small details that added so much to the set as a whole. I learned that little features can always add something new.

Even though I was an extra grip, I was able to acquire good beginning skills in working with sound and set design during a shoot and I am very happy I was able to have that experience!

by Maggie Nelson, film student. (Published in The Filmstrip, December 2016 edition.)