Butler alumnus production company debuts new thriller “Sir Mel Haze”

Photo courtesy of Youtube.com.

GRACIE ELMER | STAFF REPORTER | gelmer@butler.edu

After several years of planning and hard work, a Butler University alumnus and his business partner succeeded in making a thriller via their production company Life Through Fiction Productions.

On Friday, March 18, Butler alumnus Austin Lugo, who graduated in 2021 with an English major, and his friend Andrew Harp debuted their feature film “Sir Mel Haze” on Butler’s campus in Jordan Hall 141.

“Sir Mel Haze” is a thriller which follows a man named Mel trying to unravel the mystery as to why a group of government agents are after him. 

From pre-production to the first screening, Lugo said the entire film took almost a year.

“I wrote the script a couple of years ago, and nothing really came out of it except the main protagonist Mel,” Lugo said. “Then [Andrew and I] were discussing this, and we decided to make a short film. We had two months to prepare the film. We finished editing the script in six months … The writing was probably a month, and then there were two weeks for shooting.”

Aside from the duo, Lugo and Harp worked with several Butler students to help with the production of the film.

Shannon Mitchel, a senior creative media entertainment and theater double major, worked as the head editor and director of photography for “Sir Mel Haze.” They said they were enthusiastic at the opportunity to work on a film’s production.

“When my friend told me that someone in one of her classes was looking for people to be on the production team for a film that he was producing and directing, I sort of jumped on that opportunity to get some experience in that field,” Mitchel said.

Lugo said that patience and just buckling down to do it were the two factors that led to “Sir Mel Haze” becoming a reality. 

Mitchel asked actors they knew were available in the Indianapolis area. Though the film did not have the budget to compensate actors, they were able to find people willing to audition, and the casting process began. 

After auditions, meeting with the team and casting finalized, they began on the rest of pre-production: storyboarding, creating shot lists and rehearsals with the cast.

Mitchel said the team began shooting the film in August before the start of the school year and that all filming took place in the evening, sometimes until three or four a.m. However, the time of shooting caused some difficulties for the production team. 

“We were always running into questions about how to light certain scenes,” Mitchel said. “How do we light a scene inside a diner when it’s night outside, where every reflection can be seen? Is that something we need to fix in post-production?”

Ultimately, after years from conception to post-production, Lugo and Harp just hope that after the film’s premiere, people simply enjoy the film.

To view the Life Through Fiction Productions film catalog, join their Patreon at patreon.com/lifethroughfiction.

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