Mirror Mirror, Perfected


P. Sam Kessie

Production Team

Director: P. Sam Kessie Production Design: Lindsey LaRissa Kuhn Costume Design: Zamora Simmons Lighting Design: Lane Wooder


Site Specific


Spring 2019

Budget for this Design Area


Comments by the Designer

Mirror Mirror, Perfected is a short film written, produced and directed by University of Iowa M.F.A. Cinematic Studies Candidate P. Sam Kessie. The short explores the impact of social media on the life of a young African-American woman named Sissy. In a world that has elevated virtual reality to produce “perfect” digital doppelgangers or “avatars” which can be used to generate both monetary and social gain. As Sissy’s pursuit of perfection in her dance intensifies, she begins to lose herself in her social media reflection. Mirror Mirror, Perfected spans several days over a variety of locales.

The design for Sissy’s bedroom served as both the audience’s insight into the mind of the character and also a catered to the unique needs of the short film. As Sissy is a dancer, there are several complex modern dance sequences in the film. The design for this set had to serve as both the dance studio for a young woman trying to gain a social media following but also the personal oasis for the character. I achieved this by integrating set dressing which explored the character’s obsessive nature with pragmatic details, like using a wood flooring to create a space for dance and exploration. The walls of this set are populated with dance awards and recognition, as well as personal trinkets and mood boards which speak to the character’s aspirations. Based on the primary shooting angle, I focused more attention on the east wall of Sissy’s room, which is a brick accent wall covered with collages, sketches, and notes which all speak to the character’s dedication to dance. Another key feature to the design was the color palette of both the floor and walls, which needed to compliment both the actress’s skin tone and also work with the dim-lit mood of cinematography.

This design set the stage for my interest in designing for film—I found that the attention to detail and nuanced scale of production spoke to my interest in texture and developing character through the smallest of details such as a collage of photos on the wall or the knickknacks on a nightstand. This design also speaks to how character development must run through all elements of design, and the text must inform both the aesthetic and pragmatic decisions in set design. This budget for this set was less than $300, and predominantly went towards the wooden floor to provide a safe and workable surface for the complicated choreography in the script.

Student Type



Copyright 2019 Lindsey LaRissa Kuhn