Creating a Vampire Lair of Redemption on a Shoestring Budget

In the realm of independent filmmaking, creativity often takes center stage, turning limited resources into opportunities for innovation. This is precisely what we set out to achieve with the short film “Upyri.” With a shoestring budget, I embraced the role of art director to bring this vampire tale to life.


“Upyri” is a tale of redemption woven with elements of vampire mythology. At its heart, it revolves around Hubris, the enigmatic leader of the vampiric clan E’pohvul. Hubris’s character is driven by his insatiable thirst for blood and his quest for power, which are in constant conflict with the remnants of his human nature buried deep within.

In the world of “Upyri,” virgin blood holds a sacred significance, as it possesses the potential to enhance the abilities of those who partake in it. Hubris and his coven, including Invidia, Delilah, Thumps, Mammon, Morgans, and Pharos, are on a quest to find a unique virgin whose blood can grant them the ultimate power – the ability to reshape humanity in their own vampiric image.

Art Direction on a Budget

Faced with financial constraints, I embraced the challenge of creating a compelling and visually striking setting for our characters. One of the most remarkable aspects of this project was the development of a low-budget Vampire Lair. Here, my creative vision came to life.

The Vampire Lair, intended as Hubris’s plotting chamber, became an evocative space filled with symbolism. We achieved this by layering postcards resembling ancient notes, over vibrant red-painted walls. The notes bore enigmatic symbols, hinting at the characters’ intentions and desires.

Additionally, we incorporated painted chess pieces into the design to symbolize the intricate plotting and strategy undertaken by Hubris. The chess pieces served as visual metaphors, representing the complex power dynamics and internal struggles of the clan.

As an art director, I relished maximizing the impact of the minimal resources available to us. The result was a Vampire Lair that felt immersive and thought-provoking, despite the budgetary constraints.

In collaboration with director Byron Erwin and director of photography Christian Monckeberg, we brought the world of “Upyri” to life. This project exemplified the boundless potential of creative storytelling, even in the face of limited means. It’s a testament to the power of imagination and resourcefulness in independent filmmaking.

“Upyri” stands as a testament to the magic that can be conjured when passionate filmmakers come together, driven by their shared love for storytelling and a willingness to take risks, even when working with the most modest of budgets.

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