Issue 3 - Setting Your Story

Location, location, location!


“It’s pretty simple. No set…no movie.” ~Stev-o Spielberg (4th cousin once removed)

When you are telling a story, choosing where to set it is a vital part of the process. It immediately adds dimension and movement to the tale.

The spaces your characters inhabit inform the audience about who they are, so you need to use the locations smartly to impart what you need to the viewer.

Navigate the space itself, and now your characters need to get from location to location too. Movement. Motivation. Purpose. All derived from one added narrative element.


If it is done right, and done well, the main locations of your story can become a character unto themselves as your visual language unfolds for the audience.

It can have a personality, a sense of style that works in harmony with your characters, or stands in opposition to them. Below are some ways to get that done.


Work smarter, not harder. Assess what you already know you have access to and can create for your stories when you first sit down to write (or read) them. Use that to your advantage.

I recently wrote about smart location scouting for the no-to-low budget crowd on Medium. Some of that applies here too.


Use the space and the layout and flow of the area to help visually lead or direct your audience’s focus. To divide your characters and convey a sense of tension or disconnection between them.

Close them in. Induce a slightly claustrophobic sensation in the audience through the placement of the actors against the lines and movement of the space.


Let the space find the characters and be molded around them. Fitting their purpose or plot. Don’t force them into a space that doesn’t match the mission just because you have access to it. K.I.S.S.

You don’t want to do something simply because you can. Every choice you make informs the viewer in some way. So you need to make those choices deliberately. In line with your narrative and characters.

still pulled from the short film ART (2022)


The original story by Stephen King that we’re adapting, “Luckey Quarter,” is actually set in Reno, Nevada. However, I made the decision when penning the screenplay, E is for Expiation, to move the action and setting to CO.

Cripple Creek, Colorado, to be more precise. We needed to keep the gaming element of the story in play, as it is fairly central to the plot. If you know the short from Everything is Eventual then you know what Darlene experiences.

So there was no good way to divorce her from that detail. Or maybe there would have been, but I was not interested in doing so.


With bringing one of the final Dollar Baby Program shorts back to Colorado to close that circle Ralph opened with the start of the program back in the day (as mentioned in the previous issue), keeping the film set here was important.

And with The Shining being such an integral part of the King lore, it didn’t feel like too much of a stretch to bring “Luckey Quarter” to the state-ly home of the Overlook.

Especially since, as the header says, I’m a bit of a sucker for that storytelling symmetry.


Speaking of The Shining, and adaptations, while the King himself has been quite vocal about the Kubrick take not being his favorite, Kubrick rooting the film in the Native American commentary that he did seemed appropriately Colorado.

So I had a strong desire to at least touch on that famous tradition, as both King and Kubrick have permanent places on my tattoo sleeve on my right arm. My “writer’s sleeve of inspiration and more,” as I call it.

Finding a way to incorporate some nod to that somewhat infamous adaptation, felt apropos. And I had some vague ideas of how I wanted to do that. A bit of the commentary I wanted to touch on.

When Erynn, as introduced in the previous issue, reached out about the project and we began talking collaboration and her being attached, we discussed ways to bring her own background and relationship with it to the character.

Erynn Mitchell (photoshoot for Bold Journey Magazine interview)

Thus came a wonderfully insightful and helpful write up that Erynn was kind enough to entrust me with, and that she welcomed bringing to the script in ways that gave Darlene such resonance with her and beyond.

Given Colorado’s own cultural tapestry and history, with its deep indigenous roots, bringing these aspects to Darlene and the story just felt right.


While the story is set in Cripple Creek, and there are some sequences that absolutely have to be filmed there, we do have plans for filming some pieces (mostly interiors) here in Colorado Springs too.

As a means of conserving budget and sparing actors and crew mileage as able, there are ways we are planning to work the movie magic of location “faking” whenever the story would allow us to get away with it.

Giving us further home field advantage, beyond just the state borders we bound the story within.

More to come about the Stephen King adaptation as we get it into production this year! A crowdfunding campaign is coming soon. So you can support and be part of the project too!