Obsidian · Uncategorized

Obsidian: Origins

Last semester, right around November, a guy named Elijah Chandler asked me to be the Production Designer for his senior thesis film called Obsidian. I happily accepted because not only was working with Elijah the best part of my Biola Film class that semester, but I usually don’t get asked to do Art Department stuff for film sets. I usually get stuck on crafty because I was a little too good at cooking for people on Incoming! I’m trying to fix that. I accepted Elijah’s offer, and he did a happy dance and hugged me, and, well, here we are.

I started thinking about it/working on Obsidian over Christmas break. It’s a short film that aspires to lead into a feature about a 20-somethings guy named Ethan who is trying to process through abuse from his childhood in the fantasy world he has created in his head. Each character in the film has a counterpart in his fantasy world, so Ethan is the Prince of the Kingdom of *say it with me* Obsidian (roll credits 🙂 ).

Designing this is a challenge because I have to design essentially 2 different worlds – Ethan’s real world, and Ethan’s fantasy world. Both need to make sense so the viewer doesn’t get yanked out of the story. Both designs need to have enough room to grow into a feature, but they still have to be feasible for a little student short film.

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • Meetings –  meetings over dinner with Elijah the writer/director, and Anna Matz his girlfriend and co-writer,  meetings with graphic designers, potential Art Directors, other Production Designers and one big meeting with the current production team. The good news is we’ve pushed principle photography to August. The bad news is that we need funds. Here’s the result of one of my meetings with an artist named Rebecca Patton: Rebecca       Isn’t that fantastic? That’s the castle made of Obsidian that I see in my head. It’s Ethan’s castle – a mixture of Japanese and German architectural trends that underscore the different perspectives on dragons between eastern and western cultures that serve as a metaphor for Ethan’s struggle with his sexuality (isn’t this fun? i think this is fun). I don’t want to give everything away, but I do want to show off some of my thought process – I want my design to contain visual metaphors that clue the viewer in to the deeper realities of what is going on


  • Daydreaming and surfing Pinterest & Etsy (yes this does count as work)  – the better I understand what Elijah wants and what I want the better I can articulate that to the concept artists, and to Ashley Popiwichak, my current Art Director. I used all this research to populate a look book linked below (side note: none of the images in the look book are owned by me – sorry!). Obsidian Look Book


  • Making a budget – Ashley and I made a budget for Elijah to help with fundraising. We made a high, low and middle-of-the-road budget (so really 3 budgets total). Ashley got me started with the real-world stuff, and I spent like 12-15 hours finishing it off. It’s super boring, but here’s the middle-of-the-road budget just to give you an idea what we’re looking at and the funding we’re praying for: Obsidian Art Budget Mid-Range


  • Testing out my seamstress skills – I know August is pretty far out, but I want to test out a theory on how to make a princess dress. Specifically this dress, minus the stupid stapled-on sailcloth top:

Ashley's princess dress

(P.S. I found this dress on Pinterest and cannot find any attribution for it on the internet)

So here’s what I’m starting with:

I figure I can use the tiers in the silk skirt as a guide and sew layers on to it. As a bonus, the skirt has an elastic waist, so my actress could be any size and theoretically it will still fit. That’s probably not my final top (and I bought a gorgeous gold and cream obi to tie top and bottom together) but that is my new dress form. Her name is Ophelia.

Sorry this post is so long – thanks for sticking with me! There will be updates on my progress to come 😀


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