Backyard Dream Productions gives tours of “virtual studio”, dreams of bringing filmmaking to Wisconsin

By Published On: June 9, 2024

Story By : Joe States
Kenosha News
June 9th, 2024

Backyard Dream Productions gives tours of “virtual studio”, dreams of bringing filmmaking to Wisconsin

A man and woman are sitting at a street café on a sunny day, enjoying a cup of espresso. Then, with a few button presses, it’s nighttime.

It’s magic — movie magic that is — and it’s only possible because of Wisconsin’s first virtual production studio right in Downtown Kenosha from Backyard Dream Productions, at Herzing University, 5800 Seventh Ave.


Mike Determan Backyard Dream DP –   (Credit: Kenosha News)

On Wednesday morning, the 2,700-square-foot studio was full of Harborside Academy students learning about video production for their end-of-the-year project and touring the virtual studio, the main feature of which is a 10-foot by 30-foot curved LED screen wall. (check out our demo reel here)

The background is entirely computer generated in a gaming engine. As the camera moves, the background shifts in perspective to match, giving the illusion of the actors being in a real location.

This way, in comparison to a green screen, the effect is captured in-camera, meaning it won’t have to be added in post-production and can help actors understand the space they’re supposed to be in without the expensive travel costs of actual locations.

The technology was used and promoted by Disney for many of its Star Wars productions.

Backyard Dream founder and Kenosha native Alex Kudrna is an early adopter of the technology, calling Backyard Dream one of the “pioneers” in the field, learning how to work with and best utilize the technology.

“It’s exciting, I love to be on the cutting edge, it’s cool to see where it’s going,” Kudrna said. “We’re ahead of the curve, it’s stressful sometimes.”

The technology isn’t just for space adventures. Backyard Dream’s demo reel shows examples of its potential for business presentations, music videos and commercials. Whether its movies, television or livestreaming, Kudrna said the technology is a useful tool for any type of filming.

Kudrna described the studio as the “next step” for Backyard Dream, which he started nearly a decade ago now. When asked why he chose Kenosha, Kudrna said he “wanted to make my dream happen here in Kenosha.”

“This is a good spot for the moment, but we want to have a full sound stage someday,” Kudrna said.

Harborside teacher Susanna Miller said they’ve worked with Kudrna before. She appreciated the benefits having an expert share their experience brought to the students.

“I think having experts in the classroom is an opportunity for them to learn more on the topic,” Miller said. “They learn a lot through the day, but having experts allows them to be hands on.”

Kudrna said it was all part of his hope to give back to students, “no matter the age.” He hoped the studio could be another small piece to keep young people in the area.


Kudrna has big dreams, both for the studio and for filmmaking in Wisconsin. He’s on the committee of Action! Wisconsin, a statewide coalition supporting film and television production tax incentives, specifically Wisconsin’s Senate Bill 1026.

The bill, which has reportedly received bipartisan support, would create income and franchise tax credits for film production companies and create a State Film Office.

On the wall hangs a statement from Kenosha native and Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo voicing his support for the bill and praising Backyard Dream Productions.

“I am impressed by the progress and future prospects of Kenosha,” Ruffalo said in the statement. “Notably, Backyard Dream Productions is pioneering an industry in Kenosha, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to the film sector.”

Kudrna said Wisconsin is one of just ten states that doesn’t offer any production incentives for filmmakers. Between the studio and his legislation efforts, his goal was to bring more and larger productions to Kenosha.

Kenosha New Source