How a filmmaker created a spaceship in his basement
We built a spaceship in my basement and let it fly.
This post was written by Kyle Kelley.
Hey, my name is Kyle Kelley. I’m a filmmaker from Kansas City, Missouri. My team and I have just created a new commercial called Epidemic Sound & Beyond. We developed this in partnership with Epidemic Sound to showcase the expansion of their ever-growing library with the release of over 90,000 premium sound effects ready to take your videos out of this world.
Take a look at the executive summary below, then learn what helped make it.
I knew this shoot was going to be a lot of fun. I also knew that there would be unforeseen obstacles as I had never built a spaceship before. So that was a fun challenge. In addition to having blueprints made, I had to find someone to build them. Luckily we found a great carpenter named Gary Mosby, who loved this project as much as we did.
We spent a couple of weeks in his workshop designing the set, building the frame, dashboard and seat. After that was done, we loaded it into a U-Haul and took the set to my basement, where the team and I drilled paint, fabric, holes, set cables, lights, switches, buttons and all the finishing touches on the.
I knew we were going to do a little VFX on the dashframes. So we painted them Rosco chroma key color. It’s the best green screen color for any movie project. This would make it easier for the VFX artist to replace them in the mail.
The astronaut’s suit was great fun too. We rented the helmet, but everything else we did from scratch. The majority of the suit is made from Costco winter jackets cut and sewn together by our amazing seamstress, Karen Elizabeth. We ordered the gloves from Amazon and wrapped the wrist in the same fabric as the jackets. The chest piece was a martial arts vest.
Once the spacesuit was assembled I painted the outside white. To give it a worn look after it dried, I simply rubbed the jacket parts together until I got the look I wanted.
On the day of production we were a small crew of seven people due to the COVID restrictions and the small location. The crew consisted of Kyle Kelley (director and producer), Alexandra Lambdin (producer and location sound), Lucas Falco Cohen (DP), Brittany Laney (AC), Blake Betts (PA), Vic Dominguez (gaffer) and Jackson Montemayor ( BTS.). ).
We shot all spaceship scenes in my basement. When I designed the spaceship set, I knew we had to build a frame on the outside of the set to support us at warp speed on the day of production. We had to have the warp velocity reflection on our astronaut’s helmet to make it real. Using a green screen was out of the question as there was no room in the budget to replace and add the helmet shield and reflections in the post.
We found a way to do this in a practical way! So I did what any indie filmmaker would do. I took my 55-inch VIZIO TV off my living room wall and mounted it on the outside of the spaceship set. We connected an iPad to the TV and played the Warp Drive recordings on it. That worked perfectly for our setup. I was able to get the reflections and the look I wanted.
After lunch we moved production to our second location. For the second half of the shoot, we shot a short two-hour scene in my aunt’s living room. The entire day of shooting was done in about eight hours.
Camera and lenses was Alexa Mini LF with vintage Nikon Ais lenses.
The lights were ARRI SkyPanels, ARRI L7 and two Quasar Q5 lights.
The Q5 Q-Lion was the perfect flicker-free light that was incorporated into the design of our spaceship set to be used as a practical device. We have mounted thin sheet metal under the fabric so that we can easily attach the lights with the built-in magnets. When it came to filming, we could easily move the lights to fill the frame perfectly.
For the post, I put all of the footage on a drive and emailed it to our editor Nick Stout who did a great job of editing. An editor is so important to the success of any project. From start to finish, Nick kicked this edit out of the park. His passion for storytelling and his experience as a filmmaker make him a great editor. After we were locked for editing, a copy was sent out for the post-sound mix and a version for color and VFX.
A clean touch adds so much depth and style to every single shot. I absolutely love what Dmitri Zavyazkin did with paint and VFX on this project. He made such a nice touch on this project, really worked out all the details.
For the VFX, although the screens are small, he did a lot of work to make sure those screens look real. He even added texture and scratches to give them that worn look. He did a great job replacing the green screen and integrating it into the scene without looking wrong and taking you out of the moment.
Sound design can shape or destroy your vision. If it’s bad it can ruin your video, but if it’s good it can take your project out of this world. Oliver Hughes did an incredible job bringing our project to life through sound design. Without his experience and sound knowledge, this project would not be what it is. He shaped and mixed over 80 different layers of sound effects to create this adventurous world.
I couldn’t be happier with the finished commercial. It was great to see all of this come together from pitch first to Epidemic Sound to final delivery. The crew, the postal team, and the actors all brought their A-Game with them. You made this project possible. I couldn’t have done it without her.