I created this set design for a 5-week series I wrote called Lights, Camera, Action! In this series, kids will watch movie clips from movies each week and will learn how to pull Biblical truths out of any movie and apply them to their lives. Topics covered in the series will include: jealousy, integrity, friendship, persistence, and encouragement. Family take-home cards will include an additional family movie discussion to go along with the movie of the week. The cost for this set design was easily less than $50. Most of the decorations for this set design were homemade, so you don’t need to purchase a lot to make it happen in your ministry.
Let’s start with the best part of this set design, the giant film strips/screens. We decided to create two film strips because we wanted to hang one on either side of the center screen. You could definitely only make one and use it centered or even as a stand up on your stage instead of mounting it. The backing of the film strips is a 4×8′ piece of 3/4″ insulation foam from Lowe’s. We purchased the white foam with the silver coating on the front. I removed the silver coating carefully even though we were planning on covering it because I had future plans for creating screens out of them when I was finished with using them as film strips. More on that in a future set design post. After I removed the silver coating, we covered the foam board with black Kraft paper. You will need two people to do this quickly and effectively. If you use a four-foot wide Kraft paper roll it will be exactly the right width to cover it without cutting. I always keep a roll of this stuff handy because I use it all the time for set designs. Secure the black paper to the foam board with high-quality tape. I would suggest either gorilla or gaff tape to make sure it stays put. The rest of this project is a piece of cake. The large white squares are 22×28″ pieces of white poster board. I was able to pick these up for four for $1 at Hobby Lobby, but you can always get white poster board two for $1 at the Dollar Tree or Walmart. I didn’t have to cut them down at all! Four pieces of poster board fit perfectly. I used a combination of double-sided duct tape and hot glue to secure the pieces of poster board to the paper. Overkill? Maybe, but I wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to fall apart. The small white squares around the edges of the film strips are pieces of white cardstock cut into quarters. I used a paper cutter to make the edges cleaner and save time. I only used hot glue to attach the pieces of cardstock since they were smaller and lightweight. The pieces of foam board were around $8 each at Lowe’s, the poster board cost me $1 per film strip, and I already had the roll of black kraft paper and cardstock on hand. In total, I spent $18 to create two 4×8 ft. film strips.
You may have noticed in the picture of the stage above that we turned the film strips into screens. We used ProPresenter to create masked images for each film strip. We changed out the pictures on the film strips every week to go along with the movie we were using. We found two cheap projectors to use just for this project. You don’t need a very bright bulb for this because you aren’t changing the images or projecting lyrics on them. We decided to leave the film strips up for our Disciples Series and used the same concept.
You won’t need to spend a lot to create the set pieces for your main stage. It’s mostly cardboard and spray paint. We had everything already on hand for these items, but you may need to purchase some of them. We created the “film reels” by tracing a hula hoop onto pieces of cardboard. Next, we just drew the details in pencil and cut them out using an x-acto knife. We spray painted them silver and gold. I get all of my cardboard sheets for free from Sam’s Club. They always have them lying around in the aisles, and sometimes if you ask they will give you a stack of them from the back. The large “clapper” is also a sheet of cardboard. We didn’t even have to cut it. We spray painted it black and added the details with a white chalk marker and white tape. The large popcorn is an old mattress box we wrapped in red kraft paper. We always have every color of the rainbow in kraft paper rolls on hand. We used white masking tape to make the lines and printed an image that said popcorn off the internet and taped it to the front. We made the popcorn by spraying mounds of great stuff foam insulation on foil. It puffs up a lot. We waited for it to dry and peeled it off. I would suggest using wax paper or parchment paper instead because the insulation foam stuck to the foil pretty bad. We hot glued the “popcorn” to the top of the box. I was a bit disappointed with how the popcorn for the large popcorn box turned out. I would definitely have added more popcorn kernels, but we ran out of insulation foam (and money). Everyone still loved it though.
For the ceiling, we created huge admission tickets to hang around the room. We used a full sheet of posterboard for each ticket and just cut the corners to make them ticket shaped. I would suggest spending a few more cents and buying the good posterboard from Hobby Lobby instead of the cheap stuff from Dollar Tree or Walmart. The posterboard they sell at Hobby Lobby is much thicker, and the edges don’t curl up like they do on the cheap posterboard. Sometimes you can catch the posterboard on sale at Hobby Lobby for two for a dollar. When you see that sale, stock up! We drew the ticket detailing on both sides using a large black marker. We hung the tickets from the ceiling using clear fishing line. Always remember to at least triple knot your fishing line, or it may come untied.
This theme was perfect for creating lightweight set pieces for our portable 1st-2nd grade room. We created a smaller version of the clapper we made for the main stage for this room using a piece of black foam board from the Dollar Tree. The small film reel is also a piece of black foam board with pieces of white cardstock hot glued to the front. The popcorn box is a smaller version of the large popcorn box on the main stage. We made the popcorn kernels much smaller and it actually ended up turning out much better than the big box because we were able to mound the popcorn to make it look more realistic. Everything was super lightweight and easy to move in and out every week.
The full 5-week Lights, Camera, Action! Series will be available soon.