Cyearah Hoursey is a full time professional in the film industry and has worked in the property and art departments for many film productions in Oklahoma. She most enjoys the role of Property Master. Hoursey is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and International Studies. She has also attended the Digital Cinema Program at Oklahoma City Community College. Previous productions include “Reservation Dogs,” “For the Love of Money,” “Seven Cemeteries” and “Asking for It.”
Do you have other departments or positions that you also work?
I have worked within the departments of art, property and, most recently, electric. I have held the positions of art director, set decorator, set dresser, on-set dresser, assistant property master, property master and electrician.
How did you get started in the film industry?
I received my first opportunity in the film industry after a semester of study within the Digital Cinema Production Program at Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC). The program is headed by a group of great instructors who possess a wealth of past film industry experiences and knowledge and have a notable influence on the growing Oklahoma film industry today. It was through them that I met my mentor, Rebekah Bell, and landed an intern set dressing position on “The Pale Door.”
Did you have any formal education or training related to the film industry before starting?
I did have a brief formal education and training for the film industry in the Digital Cinema Production Program at OCCC.
Did you have any formal education or training related to your specific department on-set?
Yes, the Digital Cinema Production Program at OCCC offered training and practice in nearly all aspects of the filmmaking process. I was immediately compelled with the art department lessons and exercises, and knew it was the department I wanted to first pursue within the industry.
What are some of your most recent successes (credits or accolades) related to your career in the industry?
I had the pleasure of working as a set dresser for the Hulu show “Reservation Dogs,” which has recently been nominated for several awards. It’s a great show and production and I’m proud to have played a part in its creation.
What has your career in the state’s film industry taught you?
My career within the Oklahoma film industry has taught me so much about myself personally. The art department in particular demands a certain creativeness and resourcefulness I had not previously exercised or known within myself. During each project I find a moment of pleasant surprise and deep pride in our team or myself for creating or producing seemingly impossible sets or props.
What is the highlight of your career thus far?
The most recent highlight of my career involved the work done on the project “Seven Cemeteries.” An action and comedy piece starring Danny Trejo, with elements of horror and gore, the project presented the challenges of unique sets, weapons and items that our art and props department met with vigor. The art and props team for “Seven Cemeteries” is what I consider a dream team and it was assembled by one of my favorite colleagues, who I have grown alongside with in this department as co-department heads, and myself.
What is your favorite aspect of working in Oklahoma’s film and television industry?
My favorite aspect of working in the Oklahoma film industry is the connections I’ve made with great people. Film people are the best people. While collaborating and working diligently with the crew to create a project, you find you bond very deeply with and gain so much respect, and even love, for each other. I think this is especially true for Oklahoma crew, as we are modest and still growing. Thus, we cross paths on different projects often. It was an unexpected bonus to making movies.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone starting their career in Oklahoma’s film industry?
How does someone in your field/department best promote/market themselves to those hiring in your industry?
You best promote yourself in the beginning by first making yourself available for the work, and then by performing to the best of your abilities. If the department you are striving for is a good fit, department heads will take note and consider you for hire in the future. If not, consider another field. One realizes on set the wild and vast range of job positions that are needed to create a film. Find what fits your interest and skillset.
Are there any local film organizations, resources or events that have been beneficial to you in your career?
I have especially enjoyed, as of late, the Film Education Institute of Oklahoma (FEIO) learning workshops. I have had the pleasure of teaching props on the 2021 summer and winter workshops. I believe the programs are well designed for those looking to get into the industry and they help me identify hirable art and props candidates. I really enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences to our growing Oklahoma film workforce and hope this resource remains ongoing.
What’s the one item you can’t live without on-set, and why?
For props, I need my modge podge! No break or tweak or build can stop me if I gots my glue handy. If I am working in art, I can’t be without command strips and a hanging kit because we can’t have bare walls, can we? No, we cannot.
Would your career be impacted without the state’s film incentive program? If so, how?
I imagine my career would be impacted without the state’s film incentive program by receiving less local work. To personally witness the growth in numbers of film work opportunities has been great and inspiring.
Where do you see yourself – AND – Oklahoma’s film industry in the next five years?
In five years, I see myself creating and working on films of my own as well as my colleagues’. I also see myself in my own little okie prop shop, providing, building and consulting for active local film projects. I see the Oklahoma film industry creating and sourcing more outlets and opportunities to showcase local talent, not just as a workforce, but as creators and producers. I know the Oklahoma crew and industry is bursting with potential, knowledge and talent. Stick around and find out.
What are you working on now or next?
I’m currently trying my hand at something new and am an electrician intern for “The Line.” I can tell already I’m developing an altogether new interest and love for this department and witnessing filmmaking from a different angle.
Next, I am on the upcoming project “Cricket” as property master.
Learn more about the props department in episode three of OF+MO’s Pivotal Work: Early Access FREE video series, featuring Cyearah Hoursey.
“Building Hollywood in Oklahoma” takes a deep dive into production and art design in film and television, highlighting specific trades and skills associated within each department with guest panelists Rebekah Bell (Production Designer/Art Director), Cyearah Hoursey (Prop Master) and Kaitlyn Shelby (Production Designer/Prop Master). This panel is moderated by Sean Lynch (Production Designer/Digital Cinema Instructor, Oklahoma City Community College).