by Katrina Diamond
Learn what it takes to make it in the big leagues from Season 3 Contestant on SyFy’s “Face Off”.
Q: What is your background in Special FX, schools, training, gigs, etc.?
A: I’m pretty much self-taught. Everything I learned was mostly from books. I also took the Dick Smith course which was extremely helpful. It was like a correspondence course because they didn’t have online classes back then. In 1994, I went to Toronto and took six weeks at Complections International Academy of Makeup Artistry to improve my beauty makeup.
Since then it’s been a matter of watching videos and learning new techniques. Some of us on the show have used the Stan Winston School of Character Arts which is online and you can subscribe for a flat fee per month. It has incredible artists who show you amazing new techniques. There are two good books I’d recommend: Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen: “Making and Applying Prosthetics” by Todd Debreceni and “The Monstrous Monster Make-Up Manual” by Mike Spatola.
Q: Tell us how you got involved in the show, what was the casting process like?
A: They did online casting and then live auditions. The live ones were held in Orlando and Los Angeles for me. They had us organized into groups of six and we had 15 minutes to apply makeup to ourselves. I’m not sure how many people were there total, but if we passed that initial test we moved on to an in-person interview with casting.
Q: Why do you think you got selected for the show?
A: I feel it was a happy accident. I think being a guy from the south made me sound different from everyone else. Otherwise I don’t think it was anything special. I’m usually the more laid-back, pretty straight-forward talking guy. It doesn’t always make sense what I say but it’s funny to people.
Q: Any funny or interesting behind-the-scenes stories from the set?
A: We were always trying to amuse each other while we were working. One day everyone started whistling, another day it was a water fight. Everyone on the cast truly got along after the first episode [one cast member left during the first show]. We were like a bunch of kids cutting up all day.
Q: What was your favorite moment on the show?
A: There were several great moments for me. During the first challenge when Glenn Hetrick commended me on time management, that meant a lot. Also when Paul W.S. Anderson said he’d expect six or seven people to take a week to do my zombie queen.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you so far on the show?
A: Everything was a big challenge in one way or another. We basically have a limited time to do impossible tasks. I learned later that my creation during the Dr. Seuss challenge holds the record for the biggest mold in “Face Off” history. It was a big physical challenge, that’s for sure. All of the challenges were fun though, some more fun than others.
Q: Any advice for aspiring special FX artists?
A: Get your hands on some materials and start practicing. Supplies are readily available online and in stores. There’s so much information out there, nothing is preventing anyone from getting into this. But you have to jump in with both feet and actually do it.
Q: How do you think it will affect your career if you win the entire competition?
A: In my mind it doesn’t matter who wins, everybody’s so talented. What I’d love to be doing when it’s over is a lot more film work. I’ve done some but it’s mostly been specific effects work. I just finished one where I got to make some real creatures. I want to continue making characters. I also love making props. I was able to do a lot of that on “Face Off.”
A special effects artist is so much more than makeup. For me, makeup is just one part of it. I think character development and fabrication go hand-in-hand. One example is the Predator character. There’s costuming, animatronics, sculpting by four or five artists. And each of those pieces was actually made by special effects artists.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the process — the concept/design phase, or creating the prosthetics, mold-making or actually applying it to the person? And/or what’s your least favorite stage of the process?
A: There’s not a least favorite part for me, I love every bit of it. And that’s why I’m ready for any opportunity because I do everything. And I love doing it.
Q: What are you being for Halloween? Do you transform yourself or is it difficult to do so?)
A: This year I’ll have to be at the “Face Off” finale on October 31, but I usually transform and do my own costumes. Everything from vampires to KISS characters. When I was at Dragon Con this year there was a guy who came up and asked me if I was the real Roy from “Face Off.” I said yes but I laughed and asked him what he meant. He told me the hat and glasses might have just been a good costume. So I guess this year I’m going as Roy Wooley from “Face Off” for Halloween.