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MHS grad’s short film will take you to an ‘alien planet’ a day trip away

Director Zeek Earl (center) on location in the Hoh Rain Forest with some of his cast and crew during filming of his new sci-fi short, Prospect. (Submitted)
Director Zeek Earl (center) on location in the Hoh Rain Forest with some of his cast and crew during filming of his new sci-fi short, Prospect. (Submitted)

Of the Keizertimes

McNary High School graduate Zeek Earl debuted his latest short film, Prospect, at the South by Southwest in early March.

The full film, the tale of a daughter and father searching for rare material on a toxic planet with hope of striking it rich, is now available for viewing at To watch, visit Earl launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that gave him the budget and additional volunteers to bring the whole thing to fruition.

We sent Earl a few questions asking what went into the production of Prospect, and how he feels about the final product.

Keizertimes: How did you find your actors?

Zeek Earl: Tony Doupe (who plays the father) is a well known Seattle actor; we offered him the part directly. Callie (Harlow), the daughter, I found by going to a play put on by a youth theater company and we asked her to audition.

KT: When we spoke about the Kickstarter campaign you mentioned that you were growing some of the film’s stars in you garage. What species were the bugs you used for filming and how did you select them?

ZE: Milkweed bugs. They are one of the few insects it’s legal to ship across state lines. We ordered them from an education science supply. I liked the color and we needed something that was dependable in terms of supply.

KT: How long did you spend building the spacesuits?

ZE: The space suits were constructed in phases. We first had a seamstress make the base and then we turned them over to the production designers to add detail and texture. The bandit suit in particular was worked on pretty consistently over five months. The whole thing was a learning process; everyone half knew what they were doing and we spent a lot of time figuring things out.

KT: How did you select the Hoh Rainforest as the filming location?

ZE: It feels very alien to me. The magnitude of the moss and ferns there is not something you see in a typical northwest forest. We don’t have many rain forests up here in general. I love the feel of it.

KT: Was there anything about the site that inspired moments of the film?

ZE: The location determined a lot about the film.  All of the action sequences were carefully planned around the exact foliage and trees in certain areas. The lighting was completely natural; we didn’t even bring in any reflectors or shades. We shaped all the scenes around the time of day and the shadows of certain trees.

KT: Was there anything in the final product that exceeded the expectations you had before getting behind the camera? How did it unfold?

ZE: When you put so much effort into a little film like this, you’re just happy when it works at any level. At a certain point during production any expectations we had for how things were quickly abolished on set as we adjusted to the particular circumstances of whatever was going on. On a film set, you’re adapting constantly and a lot big creative decisions are made on the fly. I’m just happy it worked – and I have a million new experiences to build on for next time.