A lone sheriff in the vast lands and valleys of Brada County is confronted with a dual mystery. A pair of sociopathic criminals being chased across the plains have disappeared, and reports keep surfacing of a large, shadowed animal roaming the farmlands of the county. With the assistance of an environmental consultant and the mayor of the nearby town of Sombra Hollow, the sheriff races to find the connection between the mysteries that haunt the valleys of Brada County.
“Prairie Dog” is feature film modeled on the monster movies of the 40s and 50s. It’s designed as a stylistic visual framework in which to pay homage to the practical visual and makeup effects pioneered through this genre, with fantastical atmospheric environments, creature and prosthetic makeup design, as well as the overall cinematic aesthetic for the story.
I’ve always held an affinity for the fabricated, physical effects of filmmaking. From the pioneering work of Jack Pierce and Lon Chaney Sr., to the physical worlds of Douglas Trumbull and Richard Edlund, the illusion of a reality based on hand-crafted design was mesmerizing to me. I experimented with these illusions throughout my childhood in short film creation, and later in my teens and early twenties with longer form narratives, using light and atmospherics to better ‘sell’ this illusion. After studying makeup and fx arts I was reinvigorated in my pursuit of this form of illusory visual narrative. “Prairie Dog” was designed to explore these techniques within the framework for an old fashioned monster-adventure.
The environments and locations, of the fictional Brada County and Sombra Hollow, isolated amidst the foothills of the mountains, were brought to life through matte paintings, location photography and constructed model work. The creature work was attained through a mixture of full-size sculpture, eighth-scale rod puppetry, and miniature elements.
All of these ideas, while experimental and ambitious, increased in difficulty when placed under the thumb of extremely low budget filmmaking. Through loads of volunteer hours, donated equipment and locations, and a great team of young, energetic and equally ambitious professionals on our cast and crew, “Prairie Dog” created a uniquely atmospheric and hand-crafted idea of what old-fashioned monster movies used to be.