Winterim set designers trade time off for a creative outlet

By Marissa Soto, Staff Writer

The Master’s University Communication Department held its fourth annual Winterim session in January. The Winterim classes are designed for students to earn three credits in merely a week rather than a full semester. This year’s Winterim is fashioned to film for a television show pilot, “The Shade.” There are six classes that feed into the Winterim immersion, which all come together for the production. One class in particular, Set Design and Wardrobe, mainly focused on the pre-production aspects.

Much of the pre-production was done during the winter break where several students devoted their time and energy into prepping different details for on-screen elements. 

Among some of those students was junior Eva Craw and senior Eliza Nesheim. As part of the class, both Craw and Nesheim spent a majority of their Christmas break finding or creating props for the set. 

“Everyone in our department works really well together. This is my first time doing behind the scenes work, and it has been so cool to see everyone work and to see how all of the little details come together,” said Nesheim. 

The two followed a master-list based on the script. They continuously reread the script, highlighted items for props, designed decor for set walls, created art for the set, ordered props online, contacted other individuals to find pieces and got creative with the finetuning that went into their work. 

“It is not necessarily about the props, it’s about making sure everything looks like it fits and belongs there in the story,” said Craw.

The set design crew wanted a continuous theme throughout each prop and item that was consistently a mood of dark yet redemptive. 

“Everything you see in a movie has a purpose, down to the lighting and the mousetraps under the table. There is a purpose to every single thing, and it has been touched by at least ten people for a common goal. It even makes me watch movies and television shows differently,” Neshiem said.

“We’re able to tell the different departments, ‘This is the backstory we have created for a piece and the background for the story as a whole, even behind the words Professor Green wrote in the script,’” Craw said. 

Another aspect of pre-production goes into preparing the wardrobe, hair and makeup design for the actors. Sophomore Abigail Hokanson, head of hair and makeup, spent time during her break researching and melding different time periods and looks into the hair and makeup. Hokanson even practiced the makeup on herself over the break, making fake bruises on her arms. 

“All the students that worked over break are so amazing and worked so hard,” said Hokanson. “It really shows their heart for what we are doing that they were willing to use their own time to work for the production. It’s been so cool working with them.”

Hokanson also managed the mask that the main villain, Nachzehrer, wore in the show. The artist ordered the mask and figured out how to apply it to Nachzehrer’s actor. Sophomore Sean Doyle and junior Catalina Sonnenburg additionally had their own roles in mask making for the thugs in a fight scene. 

The masks’ creation consisted of modeling clay, papier-mâché, aluminum foil and paint. Each mask was unique in order to invent a personality and individuality for the characters. In the weeks between the end of the fall semester and start of the production, Doyle and Sonnenburg spent hours on mask design and modeling, even working during family vacations if necessary. Besides making masks, Sonnenburg found and put together jewelry, including rings and necklaces, for the actors to wear for different scenes as well as shopping for pants, shoes and other clothing items for the cast.

“It’s important to realize that a project this big doesn’t just happen overnight,” said Doyle, “something of this high quality and budget takes time, determination and commitment.”

Marissa Soto can be reached at

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