Making sci-fi set pieces for low-budget film making

Many years ago, I got to visit the set of a low-budget sci-fi film. Inside of a warehouse, the crew had built a spaceship interior and part of a building that looked out onto an alien landscape. I was immediately struck by two things: how cleverly it had all been put together and how ridiculously cheesy it all looked close up. Everything was home store basics: plywood, 2x4s, conduit, decorative tiles, plastic plumbing fixtures, etc. And lots of pointless toggle switches, gem lights, square colored buttons, and a few PCs embedded in the plywood control consoles.

When I finally saw the finished film, I was struck by something else: With the right kind of filming, lighting, some atmospheric smoke, and composited after effects, it all looked way higher budget and convincingly real.

On the YouTube channel, CreateSciFi, Anthony Ferraro builds sets and props for the low-budget sci-fi films that he also posts to his channel.

In the above video, using a few home store parts, some resin cast doodads, and some LED light strips, he creates a cool retro-looking computer station for a scene for his current film (see trailer below).

Here is another of his set projects:

And here is a trailer to the film he needed the computer console for: