Posted by: lucylightning | November 8, 2013

M is for Mothership

by Lucy Leitner

A is for Aaron J. Shelton, a local filmmaker and instructor/editor at the Douglas Education Center who calls serving as AC on the Honey Boo Boo episode of Toddlers and Tiaras his claim to fame.

M is for M is for Mothership, Shelton’s two-and-a-half-minute entry into the ABCs of Death 2 competition, a horror short contest in which the public votes for the winners with the Facebook Like button. The rules are simple — create a short film inspired by a word that begins with the letter M. Shelton went the extra-terrestrial route.

“Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated/terrified by aliens, alien abduction and UFOs,” Shelton said.

abcs-of-death 2

He brought in Andy Westfall, who is currently wrapping up the soccer documentary Muerte o Gloria: The Rise of the American Soccer Fan, and mentor Robert Tinnell — a director, comic book writer, producer (Surf Nazis Must Die), and DEC’s Factory Digital Filmmaking Program Director — as producers. Tinnell suggested that the short alien film be part of the Final Product class, a course for students in their graduating semester to create a short film with an industry professional.

“The students just didn’t fetch coffee,” Shelton said. “I mean, some of them did that, but they also served in prominent roles.”

Indeed, every major role outside of producer, Shelton’s writer/director credit, composer Duncan Blickenstaff, and actor (local pro Seth Gontkovic) was filled by a DEC student. Tom Savini Special Effects Program students, led by Carlos “Mayhem” Alba, created the special effects with student Jess Phillips was responsible for wearing some of those special effects (the alien suit). The Director of Photography (Michael Scardina), Assistant Director (David J. Oates), and Editor (Nick Eisel) jobs were all completed by students as well.

pittsburgh short film

The school schedule condensed shooting to the weekend before the competition deadline in a model home in Morgantown, WV. Post production took place in a grueling week that included 25 visual effects shots. The hard work paid off and Shelton’s film is a sophisticated, exciting, and weird two and half minutes that deserves more votes than (probably) many winning politicians got across the nation on Tuesday.

Just visit the film’s page at the A,B,Cs of Death 2 website and click the Facebook Like button above the video to vote.

Learn more about Aaron Shelton’s work by visiting



  1. I seldom comment, however I browsed a few of the comments on M is for Mothership | Hollyburgh.
    I actually do have a few questions for you if
    you do not mind. Is it simply me or do some of these remarks appear as
    if they are left by brain dead folks? 😛 And, if
    you are writing on additional online sites, I’d like to keep up with you.

    Could you post a list of the complete urls of
    your social community sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

    • Sorry for the incredibly late response, but I just saw this.

      I’m actually pretty focused right now on writing my second novel, so I’ve been neglecting pretty much all my online writing. But my Twitter feed is @TheLucyLeitner, web sites are and

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