Maybe this was all happening for a reason. Perhaps I was not cut out to be a Make Up Effects Artist and the Universe was revealing alternate plans for me, but how could I be sure? I had to know, but how COULD I know? Then it hit me. I would write Dick Smith! Of course! THE godfather of Make Up Effects! I put a package of photos together including my Waxman mask, and wrote Dick and asked him for an honest assessment of my abilities. I knew Dick was good about writing back. I had seen his letters sent to Mark Shostrom. I made a promise to myself to respect whatever Dick had to say.
|Dick, with a rouge's gallery of some of his creations|
What a prince of a man! So generous and, at that time, free with his advice. He had, obviously, received my package and while he was thumbing through the photos, and decided to call to discuss them. He liked the Waxman mask and thought that the other pieces showed a great deal of potential. I asked if I should pursue a career in Make Up Effects, and he answered, "Yes, of course." I want to say he spent about 20 minutes with me on the phone giving me sculpting and painting advice. He said he would mail me some important information about making prosthetic molds, etc. (and he did). Finally, he excused himself, wished me the best of luck, offered to look over any new photos I had for review, and said good bye.
|I sent this photo of the Waxman sculpt to Dick...|
|...and this photo of the final mask...|
|...and this sculpt I did for my "Jenifer" mask...|
|...and this creature design.|
Suddenly, I didn't give a damn about what anyone at UNO had to say about my work. I had advice from THE person that I needed to hear from. Because he had taken the time to call, I was determined to put into practice the things that Dick had recommended. I went back to work. I purchased Roma Plastilina from Dixie Art Supply, built an armature and started to sculpt what would become my first foam latex mask. And here's where working at Fox Photo came in handy - I brought the sculpture to my booth and would work on it during the day.
Honestly, I think most folks got a kick out of driving up to the booth and seeing someone sculpting a creature inside. They still got their photos and with me distracted, there was less of a chance that I was perusing their vacation photos.
The nearest dealer of the mold-making stone Ultracal 30 was in Houston, TX and I would have to pay to have it shipped in across state lines. The shipping cost three times more than the plaster itself! But, I was doing it right. I was following Dick's suggestions and refining my work. The first beastie I decided to undertake was a Yeti foam-latex mask.
I now understood the coring process and I figured that before I would attempt an overlapping prosthetic make up, I'd go with something easier. I ended up sculpting, molding, coring, and running the mask out of R&D foam latex http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/features/blood-sweat-and-latex-home-schooling-shannon-shea-special-effects.php (for more information about R&D foam latex and my first disastrous attempt at running it). The result was not bad for a twenty year old kid.
|My Foam Latex Yeti Mask|
|Dramatic lighting never hurts...|
|Putting the bald cap on...|
|Ready for the prosthetics...|
|Gluing the prosthetics down...|
|Basing the appliances...|
|Ready for hair application...|
|Laying the crepe wool hair...|
|Finishing the hair and adding color...|
|The final result was...well...unsatisfactory, but taught me more than I ever learned prior to it.|
|I lifecast Tracy, but didn't end up doing a make up on her until years later...|
I did end up doing SOME illustrations for his catalog, but most of the time I was handling the accounts payable department or putting job bids together under Mr. Fletcher's guidance. At first, this felt like a step backward, however as I got older and became involved in the business side of creature effects, I discovered that my training at Driller's Electric had come in handy.
Still smarting from the failure of my overlapping appliance effort, I decided to go backward and produce a foam latex zombie mask made to fit my high school friend, Tim Guillory. This time, I was a bit more pleased with the result -
|Tim is wearing a foam latex mask, built up neck and crepe wool hair.|
I had crossed over the line, then; I was a "professional."