How the Directors of 'Prospect' Built a Utopia in Pre-Production

The SXSW award-winning directors built a beautiful world with a shoestring budget and their own bare hands.

What would you do if you were tasked with building an entire universe on an infinitesimally small budget? Where would you even start? This is probably the biggest problem that any independent filmmaker with a science fiction project must solve.

Co-Directors Zeek Earl and Christopher Caldwell have found a solution. To put it plainly, you can't separate the money from the creativity.  Some people may falsely interpret this sentiment as as "You have to make sacrifices to make a film within your means." According to Earl and Caldwell, what a filmmaker should really be thinking is, "What are the creative decisions we can make that will make our film look expensive?"

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For Earl, Caldwell and producer Brice Budke, this meant that every creative decision was tied to a producing decision. Perhaps the most important of these decisions was to rent a warehouse in Seattle, fill it up with thirty different artists (from bike-makers to carpenters), and go through seven months of pre-production, building the universe of their debut feature Prospect as practically and detailed as they could.

Their efforts garnered them the Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award after the film's premiere at SXSW, which singled out their film as the best in the Visions category. 

I sat down with Earl, Caldwell, and Budke to discuss their old-school, unorthodox methods and what it takes to build a Utopia in pre-production.

Listen to the episode by streaming or downloading from the embedded player above, or find it on iTunes here.

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This episode was edited by Jon Fusco.

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Your Comment


This film looks fantastic. I was thinking about the short only a couple of days ago. When is it due to be released?

April 9, 2018 at 8:51AM

Dave Thomas
Writer / Director

Great article btw.

April 10, 2018 at 2:20AM, Edited April 10, 2:22AM

Dave Thomas
Writer / Director