Skip to content

Local artist Damon Mohl is one of 33 filmmakers from 22 colleges around the country to be nominated for a 2011 Student Academy Award for his short film “The Dust Machine.”

Produced while he was a master’s student in the art and art history department at CU, Mohl’s 15-minute short film is nominated for the “Alternative” category along with three other films.

Mohl, 36, describes the non-linear, surrealistic dreamscape as “an imaginative visual journey into a dark microscopic world. ‘The Dust Machine’ is a poetic meditation on absurd technological eras of exploration, communication and isolation.”

Mohl began filming in early 2008 as part of his thesis exhibition. Pieces of the sets Mohl built and utilized were exhibited at the CU Art Museum in spring 2010, when he graduated.

In addition to shooting on two full-sized and numerous miniature sets alike, Mohl employed underwater sequences, as well as shots captured from “desolate locations” in Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California.

“I like to build sets,” said Mohl. “I want to construct the whole world. But, the funding has to be right. CU was great about grants, scholarships, teaching positions. The film was really expensive, and I wouldn’t have been able to complete it without the support of CU.”

Mohl approximates the short film cost $20,000 to produce, including the purchase of underwater casings for camera equipment that Mohl intends to use on future projects.

“The Dust Machine” has been accepted to the Pineapple Underground Film Festival (Hong Kong), Germany’s 27th Annual Hamburg International Film Festival and the Athens International Film Festival and Video Festival (Ohio).

“I love film. I watch a lot of movies,” said Mohl who added that his greatest inspirations are Andrei Tarkovksy’s “Stalker” and the works of Werner Herzog, who, while attending the 2010 Conference on World Affairs, saw the sets for Mohl’s film, along with its trailer.

“That was the highlight of grad school,” said Mohl.

“I think his film is great,” said Rich Miller, longtime administrative director for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences — responsible for both the student and professional Academy Awards — “and (Mohl’s) competing in a tough category. ‘Alternative’ is probably the toughest category we have. I think his film is terrifically interesting.”

Miller said, on average, 550 films are submitted every year in this country.

Foreign films are accepted, as well, though judged separately from those submitted by American schools.

Along with a medal and a trip to LA for a week of “industry-related activities,” the awards ceremony on June 11at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Mohl could earn a cash grant.

Past award winners include CU’s Trey Parker, Robert Zemeckis, Bob Sagat and Spike Lee.

Join the Conversation

We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.