Monday, July 23, 2012

Sy Fy's FACE OFF Season 4 is makin' my Spidey Sense tingle.

A while back I had applied for Sy Fy Channel's 3rd Season of their Special Effects Make-Up Competition Show FACE OFF (Click here to check it out). Unfortunately I wasn't selected. 

*Cue sad violin music and crying clowns* 

I did however find out after emailing my submission that I had little less than a week to submit another video for Season 4! I knew I had to go a bit bigger, and separate myself from the competition, but I was just as limited with my materials as I was my time. Refusing to give in or offer shitty excuses I dug in and did some research into what I could pull off in the short time I had.

I didn't have enough time to sculpt and make an appliance and I didn't have any pre-fabricated. I didn't have any mechanical elements or costumes or anything fancy and store bought. I didn't have gelatin or silicone or other big budget materials. I was really nervous and was racking my brain. What I did have was Liquid Latex. So I decided to turn my weakness into a strength...


I love liquid latex. I still remember the first time I ever got a hold of it. I had a 3 oz bottle made by Fun World that I got from a day after Halloween sale at the local department store. I remember falling in love with that stale cat urine smell of it. Nothing in the world sets me off like that. It's like hearing the buzz of a tattoo gun for those of us that are heavily inked. I also remember not being allowed to have it anymore when I was startled by my mother who came in to check up on me when I was being too quiet and promptly spilled all of those 3 ounces of liquid latex on the carpet. Seems my fx career was dead before it was even born.

Needless to say I love how liquid latex can stretch and peel and bubble and blister and the many ways you can shape it. I would consider it to be to an fx artist what a Sharpie is to a graffiti artist. It's a building block, our training wheels. I knew I had to incorporate it all into something fun, but I wasn't sure what. I wanted it to stretch, to be organic. I was thinking of Rob Bottin's work with John Carpenter's THE THING and the stretchy-ness of it all I researched all the images I could, of tentacles, aliens, rotting fleshing, burns & wounds, going darker and deeper...

I swear this is research...

It was stumbling upon some research that I found my muse. I have a deep affinity for comic books and I knew I had to create something a bit more offbeat then the other submissions. Last time around I did a demon, decent enough, but underwhelming honestly. I completely understand why I was overlooked. I delivered a good Halloween costume at best, not something you could film, add a soundtrack to, and then have people pay to watch. This summer was going to be filled with some of the biggest comic book blockbusters of all times. I wanted to capture that excitement and capitalize on it as well. I may not be the hero you deserve, but I'm the one you're gonna get!


I decided I was going to deliver Spider Man from the Secret Wars story line from the Marvel comics. The black suit of his with the amazing powers is what helped birth Venom and Carnage, possibly the best villains Peter Parker ever had to face. I wanted my make-up to be a character, something that was interactive and had a bit of imagination. I wanted to give my audience some showmanship. It was important to me to show off a bit of my personality and what I could accomplish when pushed into a corner with no time, no money, and no sleep. I'd be perfect for this show.

I decided to used a mixture of liquid latex and black and white acrylic paint. This would be similar to those chuckle-heads you see at sporting events in February with nothing on but a primary color. I decided to paint up my entire upper torso and knowing the pain of having to rip/peel/scrub liquid latex off I decided to shave my arms, arm pits and everything in between. This was no small task for someone that's never had to do that.  Waiting for it all to grow back is also

I first started off with a bit of red and purple make-up to simulate bruising along certain portions of my shoulders, neck and face. I outlined my abdomen and rib cage the way they airbrushed the Spartans of 300, well, as best I could on myself with grease paints and a brush in a tiny bathroom at 3am.

I made small latex tendrils by rubbing together strands of almost dried latex. These would serve as the Alien Symbiote spreading about and infecting me. I added one white contact lens for a bit of dramatic flare. I glued a bald cap down and simply painted over that as well, and then adhered those same tendrils atop of that.

The latex and acrylic paint went on easily, though I wouldn't recommend it to any one with a delicate complexion. Honestly I could have used food dye just the same. Ya live, ya learn. None of the color seeped into my skin and came off with a pull of the latex. I added a touch of black blood to my mouth and let the drool take hold. I honestly love this stuff, just how it looks and shimmers, and it's become a somewhat constant in my fx work as of recently.

So without further delay, here's my submission for Sy Fy's FACE OFF Season 4...

Ideally I would've loved to have had ringing church bells play over my hamming it up for the camera, but I think you can see an honest effort to recreate a million dollar look with a handful of quarters. Again all of this was made up, photographed and edited in less than 6 hours, all by yours truly.

Here's a few photo out-takes to highlight my efforts as I attempted the long clean up process...

What I didn't feature in the video is the massive white Spider logo I painstakingly recreated on my chest. You may see it briefly applied, but I was so sleep deprived you only get what I can give you in the video. I should have just gone to work the next morning dressed in this get-up. In the end I look like I could be a back-up dancer in a MushroomHead video. I'm cool with that. All in all I think I used about $10 worth of materials in a little under 2 hours to complete the final look. I still can't get over doing all this make-up on myself.

I had a blast tinkering with all of this and I cannot begin to thank all the people that helped link this video and spread the word on my efforts, not only for this application, but also my one previous. It's the support of my friends and people that dig what I am doing that keep me going, even if I didn't get picked for Season 4. Or I don't think I was picked. I never did hear anything. My new hope is to connect with new friends and filmmakers and explore the creative process together.

Part of my growth as an artist is dueling with the perception that I am not good enough, that I need more of a budget to do it right, more time, more training, a proper education. I see these as roadblocks in my path and while sometimes I barrel through them, or sneak around, I do have to acknowledge that they are there. It's not easy relying on passion alone. I'll doubt myself far more than anyone else ever could, and because of that I'll probably never appreciate any praise that is given to me, instead deeming it unworthy. And yet I crave external validation for these efforts. I've never met anyone that doesn't like to be appreciated. And so goes my duality of man.

As I seek to overcome that obstacle, I am, above all, compelled to create and share. I just hope what I do finds its proper audience. I just hope to give my creations a loving home.

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