Seven Stages of Film Production

This is SOOOOO true…… was showing it to everyone on a recent feature shoot and it had them all in stitches…

Craig Ormiston

During the production of “Hollywood Is Like High School With Money,” the following list was posted by our Second Assistant Director outside her production trailer door:

Seven Stages of Film Production

  1. Wild Enthusiasm
  2. Total Confusion
  3. Utter Despair
  4. Search for the Guilty
  5. Persecution of the Innocent
  6. Promotion of the Incompetent
  7. Distribution of T-Shirts

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Misadventures in Mouldmaking. Pt 2….

Ok, so you made a mould.

 

Cool.

 

Now what?

 

Time to make the cast and see how good that mould actually is!

STAGE 1: Making a Silicone Hand from your Life Cast Mould

 

Step 1. Buy your silicone.
First, go to local suppliers. Stand dumbfounded for twenty minutes looking intently at all the available choices. Remember (vaguely) what you read about different types of silicones in “The How and Why of Silicone”. Decide that only the best is good enough for your piece! Choose a Platinum 1:1 mix silicone. Gulp at the price, but buy it anyway.
Proudly take your new purchase home and re-read basic silicone casting instructions.
Make a mad dash back to local suppliers, arrive three minutes before closing.
Head home again, wallet considerably lighter, but now armed with a can of release wax spray, plastic measuring cups, wooden mixing sticks, flocking and silicone pigments.
Finally arrive home after wrestling with peak hour traffic, having realised halfway home that you forgot to buy disposable gloves. Remember you have a packet in the laundry cupboard somewhere. They’ll do….

Step 2. Calculate the amount of silicone you are going to need.
You do this, of course, by weighing the clay from the sculpt (which you carefully saved when you cleaned it from the mould). You then calculate 70% of the weight of the clay, and add 10% for safety, to get the total required weight of silicone.

Or, alternatively, as you removed the clay, you stuffed it all into a container that you know the volume of, and if you know the total volume of clay, you know you will need the same total volume of silicone… (Plus 10% for safety, of course.)

Yeah…. right……

Since you totally forgot to measure, weigh, or even save any of the clay in your enthusiasm to clean your lovely new mould, you decide you will attempt to guess the volume by filling the mould with water. Look carefully at mould for a few minutes, notice the multi-piece nature of your mould, and its irregular shape. Dismiss this idea.

Have a rough guess instead.

Step 3. Measure and colour the Silicone.
Dig around in the laundry till you find that pack of disposable gloves. Find the kitchen scales and sneak them into the work area while nobody’s looking. Make a small attempt to protect them by covering them with plastic wrap. Realise you wrapped it too tight and the scales don’t work. Try again by loosely laying a sheet of plastic over them.
Take two measuring containers, open containers excitedly, have a sudden fit of anxiety and spend fifteen minutes trying to remember if you are supposed to mix a 1:1 silicone by weight or by volume. Decide on weight.
Weigh out equal parts of your silicone.
Carefully mix a tiny bit of pigment into Part B, as per the instructions. It looks too pale. Add more. Still too translucent.
Add flocking.
Scoop out excess flocking. Resolve to use a spoon next time instead of just shaking it in.
Remember trick of putting a marker pen dot onto a wooden stick and using that to see if silicone is correctly coloured. Decide it is.

Step 4. Mix the Silicone.
With a little bit of nervous trepidation, prepare to mix the silicone. Carefully scrape Part A into mixing bucket, pick up Part B and begin to tilt bucket.
Stop suddenly, remembering that you haven’t released your mould yet. Spill silicone on benchtop in the process.
Scrape silicone back into measuring cup.

Step 4. Release Mould.
Shake can thoroughly and spray interior surfaces of mould with a thorough but even coat.
Allow to dry.
Go make a cuppa.

Come back to workspace, sit and contemplate mould for a few minutes while sipping your restorative beverage. Admire how the pieces lock together, front, back, and that funny little piece around the thumb…..
Put down mug. Pick up mould, hold it together…. suddenly realise the single most important thing you totally failed to consider when you were making it, was how the heck you were going to clamp it together and stop it leaking when you fill it….
Dash off to Facebook for a quick look at some photos of Mould Porn on 911, leaving cup to go cold…
Forty five minutes later return with the only thing resembling a clamp you could find in the shed, and look at mould critically. Go back to laundry and find a roll of gaffa tape. Thank your lucky stars you have some left!
Ten minutes later, proudly admire your handiwork. Your three part plaster mould now looks like something from the return of the mummy, encased in layers and layers of grey duct tape. Ain’t nothing getting out of there no how!!

Prop mould, open end up, into a bucket.

Step 5. Mix Silicone.
Return to workbench.
Suddenly discover a bit of silicone that dripped off the bench and onto the floor earlier.
Do a neat impression of Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
Pick yourself up off the floor, cursing and rubbing bruised hip. So this is how old people feel….
Carefully examine rest of floor for unseen booby traps. Lay a trail of newspaper over spilt silicone to absorb it.

Mix silicone. Pour both components into mixing bucket. Using a wooden paint stirring stick, combine Part A and B thoroughly. Keep stirring for a couple of minutes till your arm is getting tired. Use hand.

Step 6. Pour Silicone.
Stand on chair, positioned above bucket containing mould so as to remove air bubbles whilst pouring.
Carefully and with great precision, overbalance and pour a thin stream of silicone and manage to get it all over the bucket and the mould sides, in fact everywhere but IN the mould. Swear. Balance more carefully and get the rest of the silicone onto the mould. Scrape out the last of the mix carefully. A little bit short but what the hey.

Check your your watch for the gel time. Do a rough cleanup and go and get a well deserved beer.

After gel time has elapsed, come back and check mould. Spilt silicone has oozed out over the mould surface and appears wet.

That’s odd.

Poke silicone remaining in bucket. It’s not set. Well, its kind of like a loose jelly, but definitely hasn’t set yet.

Go off and get dinner and another beer.

Come back an hour later. Realise with some trepidation that silicone still hasn’t gelled properly.
Dammit, must have been a dodgy batch! Curse the stupid suppliers. Have another beer and go to bed, hoping problem will have disappeared by morning.

It hasn’t.

Next morning:
Call suppliers and explain, politely but firmly, that they have sold you a dud batch and that you will be coming back in to return it and get a product that works.
Have animated discussion with irritating salesperson on the other end of phone about possible causes of silicone obviously being faulty.
Agree with the persistent gentleman that this is your first time but insist that you did everything properly. Outline in great detail the technique and materials you used, so he can see how it is obviously a fault in the materials he has sold you.
Listen patiently, then to humour him, since you will need to shop there again, go off to laundry on pointless mission, to hunt for disposable gloves box.
Slink back to phone, agree with the nice man that yes, they were latex gloves and no you weren’t really totally aware of the inhibition issue in using Platinum Silicones, and yes perhaps next time you should be more careful.

Spend two hours attempting to clean half-set silicone out of mould.

Drive to suppliers during the middle of the day, hoping the guy you spoke to will have gone to lunch.
No such luck. He is having a late lunch today. Sheepishly walk in and smile weakly in greeting.
Buy more silicone and a packet of non-latex gloves.

Return home and repeat process.

Take a moment to consider that it was probably a blessing in disguise, albeit a rather expensive one, as you realised when cleaning the silicone out of the mould, in the daylight, that your pigmentation was a bit off, way too translucent. Sure, when you looked at the coloured Part B the little dot was barely visible through the silicone, but you failed to account for adding Part A to the mix diluting the strength. Congratulate yourself on not making the same mistake twice.

This time, after the allotted time, the silicone has quite clearly gelled correctly. Give yourself a little congratulations and wander off to do something else for a bit.

Step 7. After the total cure time has elapsed, open the mould.

Learn quite a bit about the importance of pour angles and air bubbles in the process.
Resign yourself to the fact that monster hands don’t necessarily need ALL of their fingers intact.

Show the finished piece off to a couple of your non-makeup artist friends and family. Be quietly pleased by their enthusiastic reactions to how lifelike and fleshlike it is. Dismiss their congratulations and reply to their admiration by saying
“oh, it’s easy when you know how”.

Next step: Painting and Finishing!


The How and Why of Silicone. Part 5

Alright, its been a while coming, but here as promised is the section on Painting Silicone. And yes, I know this says Part 5, and Part 4 isnt up yet, so you may think I’m jumping the gun, but Part 4 is going to deal with seaming and finishing techniques, as well as some interesting manufacturing tips, so bear with me and I’ll get there eventually!!

There is a lot of information here, so read carefully.

Each section has a “WHAT” describing which products we use for each purpose, followed by a “WHY” we use that and not something else, and then finally the all-important “HOW” to do it.

The products available to you will vary according to your location, and you may not have access to a particular thing, but you should be able to find the information here to help you make the most of what you CAN get.

Materials are expensive, so to avoid costly mistakes it is best to research your materials well and talk with your local distributor as well. They are there to help, and have a vested interest in getting you to come back and spend more money with them, so they will (usually) try to be helpful!

 

IMPORTANT NOTE ON THE INTRINSIC COLOURING OF SILICONE:

The best paint job should complement the colour of your silicone, not completely hide it. Painting silicone isn’t like painting foam latex or latex, where you are starting with a very unnatural flat dead appearance and trying to bring it to life. In fact there isn’t a lot of point using silicone for pieces if you aren’t going to take advantage of the very flesh-like translucency it inherently possesses. So the crucially important step is to tint your piece intrinsically before you cast it, to give your piece the best and most lifelike tones onto which you can then paint your ‘skin’ surface.

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Misadventures in Mouldmaking

Hi all,  I thought I would just post a bit of a primer for newer readers, and all the lurkers with perhaps a little less experience.

We are incredibly privileged to have as Members of ‘Neill Gorton’s Makeup FX 911’ Group on Facebook many of the worlds most talented Makeup FX Artists. We also have several sensational sculptors, magnificent mouldmakers, terrifyingly talented technicians and fantastic finishers.

Each of these areas is a speciality all on its own, and you could easily devote a lifetime to learning and developing your skills in just one particular area and still not know everything about it!!

Most early career artists don’t start out with the intention of becoming, say, a great fibreglass mould maker, or a particularly expert seamer and patcher of foam latex and silicone. These skills are viewed as ‘less glamorous’ than something like sculpting or painting, or on-set application of prosthetics, although most people don’t even consider that by making a career out of honing a particular skill that it is possible to be more in demand as a specialist and get more regular work than a Jack-of-all-trades!

When we start out, it is natural to want to do EVERYTHING!

And, in our naiveté we often assume that if we are pretty good at one thing, we will be pretty good at all of it.

There’s your first problem… 😉

There is a lot of resource material on here and elsewhere in books and online, to tell you what you need to know to get started.

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So You Got Your First Real Job As A Makeup FX Artist…….

Congrats on getting your first real gig.


Now comes the REALLY hard part!!


You are no doubt filled with excitement, enthusiasm, and a little bit of trepidation. Which is all to the good. 
There is nothing quite like jumping in at the deep end to find out exactly how well you can swim. And you are about to!!

If I can offer you any advice for the job it is this: 

BE PREPARED 
Yep, it’s the ol’ Scout Motto. 
And it holds as true for what you are about to do as for a soldier preparing for battle…

L1060413

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Making Money from Someone Else’s Art: dealing with Licensing and Intellectual Property Rights

So, you are now starting a business, and you want to be able to sell your work.  Thats great!  You have worked hard to get to the point where you feel competent enough and that your work is of a high standard, and now its time to start reaping the rewards.

Except…. that along the way to get to this point, you practiced by creating work based on characters you admired or were inspired by, and although you have undoubtedly also done some fine original work, you have discovered that the work people most want to buy is not something you actually own, but rather a reproduction you have done of a well-known character from a movie/tv show/comic or book.

Of course you realise that selling this piece is totally illegal and could get you into some serious trouble, but after all it was only one… or three… or fifteen… no harm done, right?

Wrong.

You could easily find yourself being sued if someone who actually owns the copyright on that character discovers you are making money off their work. And in the case of movie studios and tv production companies, the stakes are especially high. Can you afford to lose everything?

Unknown

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Letter to a Young Filmmaker….

As you grow older, please don’t lose your enthusiasm and energy in the slow trawl through the current miasma of the Australian (and dare I say greater world) film industry….

Here and there on your journey you will find pockets of fresh and exciting ideas, full of people who energise you and give hope for the future.

But there are much larger swathes of territory and time to be crossed, inhabited by the soul-destroying shades of those who live on memories of past glory, clinging with their skeletal death-grip to the tattered remnants of strategies and ideas they once thought would conquer the world….. (usually accountants and economists…. LOL)

Dont let them beat you down.

You, like all people your age, with youth and innocence on your side, look at the generations who have gone before and think, “Why don’t they fix it? Its so obvious that we can do better!” and you are partly right… Sadly, you too will grow up and get tired of fighting against the system, as did the generation before you, and the one before that…. ad infinitum.

Yet in every era, there are a few who hold on to that precious flame and nurture it. Slowly, slowly, we build on those ideas, and slowly, slowly, we will infect the rest, building the numbers, until we reach critical mass, and only then will we effect mass change. But take heart, there is no reason you can’t be successful in the meantime on a smaller scale. Whatever your area, as an actor, a writer, or another kind of crew member, we are all involved in the change. Continue reading


Never Insult a Trekkie: A Lesson for J J Abrams

Bearing in mind I’m not a Trekkie, per se, but I am and always have been a Sci-Fi fan, and I totally understand the sentiment here….

I also love Sci-Fantasy, and am partial to a bit of High Fantasy as well.

When a movie is made of a beloved book/comic/TV show, there will always be those who rail against ANY changes.
I usually ignore them.

There will be those fans who complain bitterly that the filmmaker did not crawl into their head and produce a film based precisely on the way they imagined things, because their way would have been better…
I usually ignore them too.

There will be those who dislike the necessary plot and story changes that must take place in creating a film, due to the simple fact that what makes a great movie great is very different from that which makes a good book/comic/TV show, and you cannot slavishly reproduce something from one format in another successfully.
I take those complaints with a pinch of salt, but i watch the creative process carefully in these cases.
A good deal of craftsmanship and sensitive is required of a director and producers to do this well, and it is my opinion that it not only requires a great filmmaker to make a great film, it takes a true fan to pull off a great conversion, someone with as much affection for the source material as the people who will flock to see it. For someone to do it well, and produce a fantastic movie while remaining true to the SPIRITof the book/comic/TV show is challenging and risky, and when they manage it they should be applauded.
But…. it baffles me when someone is handed that responsibility, the midwifery of a beloved piece of our culture, and that someone does not even pretend to understand what made it beloved in the first place….
Ok, so yes, I saw Star Trek, Into Darkness, and it was a pretty good film, but to be honest I didn’t see the previous movie, nor half of the more recent tv shows, so I had no particular expectations.
But I understand that a lot of people did, and to have J.J.Abrams essentially slap them in the face by saying that he really didn’t care about them or what it meant to them is a wee bit disingenuous. You would think that since fans who buy tickets to his films are directly responsible for his success and his position of power and privilege in the film and TV industry, that he might have had at least a little empathy for the people who put him there.

So. Completely agree with the last statement of this post: “……I wish he had respected that, if only on TV. I wish he had invested a little more effort in keeping the magic alive.”

Because thats what we do in this business… we make magic.  And without fostering and supporting that magic, whats the point?

Unkilled Darlings

I am a fan, not a fanatic, when it comes to Star Trek. I grew up watching the Enterprise float around a Styrofoam universe and I have a special place in my heart for William Shatner, despite the whole thing of him being William Shatner. Still, I’ve never been to a convention or a Klingon-translated wedding. I don’t own any kind of Starfleet getup and I never really got into Next Generation (the geeks in the gallery gasp!). I still, however, think J J Abrams is a dick for what he said.

(Click here to link to a larger gif)

jj abrams jpeg

Yeah, it’s shocking right?! (Geeks in the gallery gasp, again!)
Let me level with you—Maybe Star Trek doesn’t fly your space ship. Kirk getting it on with aliens and Spock’s pointy eyebrows turn you off. Fair enough—I don’t hold it against you. Honest, I don’t. Scifi is not for everyone…

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REVIEW: BOOK, Todd Debreceni’s “Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen” Second Edition

I purchased the original edition of this book shortly after its release in 2009, and read it from cover to cover in a day. Perhaps ‘read’ is not quite the right word- devoured, is probably more accurate! I was certainly hungry for the knowledge Todd had packed into it, and its sleek cover encased a particularly comprehensive guide to making and applying prosthetic makeup.  Now Focal Press have just released the Second Edition, with even more fantastic information and techniques.

Unlike a lot of the standard makeup tomes (although they are valuable repositories of information in their own right) “Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen” covers all of the latest industry techniques and materials. Not only does the book provide in-depth explanations, it is illustrated with fabulous photographs, in easy to follow chapters, covering the entire process of Prosthetic Makeups from Design to Application, and more! While perfectly suitable as a self-teaching manual – it is clearly laid out, like any good textbook, it also provides a great reference book for more experienced Makeup Artsist wishing to brush up on industry-standard techniques.

9780240816968

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How Will You Know When Your Dreams Have Come True?

I was reading the following blog post today and it got me thinking.

My Moment in the (Tuscan) Sun – Lee Jessup

It is an interesting thing to look back on your life and suddenly realise how much of what you have now is due to the realisation of dreams you had, in some cases many, many years ago.  From the smallest things, like the choice of cup you drink your tea from, to the home you live in, the career you pursue, even your relationships, every physical manifestation in your life began as an idea….

“What if….”

“If only….”

“I want….”

It is also interesting to note, that most of us spend so much of our time so intently focused on the things we DON’T have, that we forget to look around us and see what we have already received.

But what if you look at your life right now and you aren’t happy with much of what you see?

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