Alumnus shoots dream film in South Dakota

After conceiving the characters and storyline in a notebook during his high school tenure, SDSU alumnus Luke Schuetzle has helped turn his notebook of ideas into a full length film.   

“After getting my degree at SDSU, I set out to do what I love to do and make movies,” Schuetzle said.

This is why Schuetzle joined forces with SDSU and Augustana alumni Adam Emerson and Andrew Kightlinger to create Dust of War.

The story follows a lone soldier who must fend off a warmonger to rescue the girl who is the key to saving humanity.  The entire film was shot in South Dakota, as its open spaces and rugged landscapes were a logical fit for the aesthetic of a post-apocalyptic frontier.  

“What the state lacks in tax incentives and available crew, it more than makes up for in low cost of living, a lack of corporate income tax and a very low sales tax,” said producers Schuetzle and Emerson.  They also commented on the amazing support given by the South Dakota communities they worked in (mostly all for free), that wouldn’t have been available elsewhere.

The goal was to make a “high-concept, ultra-low budget feature” paying tribute to sci-fi/fantasy of the past, like Mad Max and Star Wars. 

The movie was created almost entirely by young professionals, and it includes a cast of over 20 characters and 300 extras.  It’s in the form of a narrative feature, and it was Andrew Kightlinger’s first time directing a feature film.  

“I strove in every frame to fill the audience with a sense of inescapable humanity.  Can we see ourselves in this viscous apocalypse?” Kightlinger said, whose upbringing in Madagascar helped him conceptualize the film’s destitute setting.

The film is currently showing across the state of South Dakota following its success at the Comic-Con convention in California.

 “I always loved my time at SDSU and wanted to start giving back and helping my alma mater, now that I have actually a chance to do so,” which is why Schuetzle and the Dust of War team have agreed to give all proceeds of the Brookings screening to SDSU’s CEO club.

Entrepreneurial Studies Major and CEO club member, Travis Adler said, “The Dust of War movie proceeds will go towards funding the CEO program on campus, as well as help fund our trip to Chicago for the innovation expo.”

The film opens Friday, Oct. 11 at 7:15 and 9:15 p.m. at Brookings Cinema 5 and will run for one week.