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Battles With Bits of Rubber

This podcast is a joint venture with Stuart Bray and Todd Debreceni. It's all about the making of stuff for makeup effects and prosthetics. Todd is author of 'Special Makeup Effects For Stage And Screen', what many consider to be the modern makeup FX bible. Stuart Bray is a working makeup FX artist with many years experienc. Credits include 'Saving Private Ryan', 'Shaun of the Dead', 'Dr Who' and more recently 'Game of Thrones'. If you have any FX questions you would like to see made into a featured blog post, then get in touch: stuartandtodd@gmail.com
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Jan 8, 2021

Daniel was the first professional prosthetic professional to look at my portfolio. That stuff sticks with you.

That was back in 1994, and there was still a lot of Frankenstein stuff kicking about in the workshop from the previous year. I learned a lot being in that workshop, and got to see a makeup test on Ian McKellan for Richard III in my time there.

Daniel has recently been praised for his work as makeup and hair designer on The Queens Gambit (Netflix) and Chernobyl (HBO). He has an extensive range of credits spanning 37 years, including Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker, Band Of Brothers, Frankenstein (Academy Award nominee) Empire Of The Sun, Cloud Atlas, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and Enemy Mine.

In this conversation, we talked about how often simple techniques and good paintwork can do so much and using appliances wisely. It is very easy for an artist to fall in love with the processes and things they have learned, and to decide to inflict themselves as extensively as possible on anything they do. Instead, the aim is to see the full picture and work with the raw material of the performer and make only the correct changes for the character.

Daniel also is a director at his temporary Tattoo company, TattooedNow! which he runs with Serbian artists Igor Strangliczky and Nikola Prijic.

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

 

Dec 28, 2020

In this second and final part of the chat with Dominic, we look at his art and discuss the drawing and sculptures.

As usual, this podcast episode is a tale of two stories. Todd and I talk about the difficult work involved in lifecasting the deceased, which can be much trickier than dealing with the living.

Then the chat with Dom, looking at his processes for creating artwork, using traditional and digital media and how they can work off each other. ZBrush has become such an integral part of many design processes and is a powerful tool with a terrifying interface which puts many people off.

It's a good chat, and it pleased us greatly that the feet-on-the-ground attitude Dom has, despite being such an accomplished designer, was an inspiration. It's the kind of thing you need to hear if you are intimidated by good work.

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This past month has seen us produce some new videos for the channel. It's been a while since we have made some video tutorials, and so we present a couple on using cap plastic - one comparing the methods of application using an airbrush and a conventional brush: https://youtu.be/A71eYQF-Ot4

Todd also made a cool video showing some alternative methods of applying cap plastic as a spray if you are not in possession of an airbrush: https://youtu.be/YSKcDClVZ8s

Finally, a video of a mould Stuart did with makeup effects artist Helen McKenna. Helen had sculpted a neat cyclops bust on a Don Lanning workshop and had kept it under plastic for almost a year.

She wanted to mould it but wasn't sure how to go about it. We decided the best way to help would be to mould it in the workshop and video the process: https://youtu.be/KatTvV8dOrU

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

 

Dec 13, 2020

In this episode (and the next), we have a chat with artist Dominic Hailstone.  He works extensively with visual effects and has a background in makeup effects and practical effects which inform his approach.

Being an early adopter of visual effects and using computers places him in a unique position of seeing both sides and is well versed in the processes and business in film making. As you will hear, his intimate understanding of film making as a storyteller and a designer gives him a good insight into the business.

Necro Deathmort Album Cover Art

Check out Dominic's website https://www.dominichailstone.com/ where you can see his work as a director in The Eel, artist, sculptor and visual effects reels. The variety and range of mediums and styles is fantastic, and you really have to see this stuff to appreciate what he is capable of.  We think you'll get a kick out of it.

Dom is also on YouTube and Instagram @dominic_hailstone_

In this first part, the areas we cover include:

  • Management meddling with effects and design choices.
  • Being responsible for more than just effects, creating your own work.
  • The struggle between old school & new tech.
  • What is special now, and the insubstantial nature of the internet

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

Nov 29, 2020

This episode is a catch up on some emails and questions we had over the last couple of weeks. We have some great questions this time around, so many thanks for getting in touch!

We talk about epoxy surfaced moulds, crinkly edges, and dodgy makeup course practices.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Silicone Art - Silicone As An Art Material
By Tom McLaughlin V1.3

Fundamentals of Facial Prosthetics
By Robert E McKinstry

Products mentioned:

MAC Matte Cream or 'Crème Matifiante'

A quick shout out to Thomas Tuohey for making this awesome mixer head available on Thingiverse:
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4648372

This fantastic materials calculator:
https://www.fxcalc.monster/

Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

Nov 15, 2020

Brian Kinney is a primetime Emmy-nominated makeup artist and a Journeyman in IATSE Hollywood Local 706 Make-up Artists and Hairstylists Guild, where he serves as Makeup Craft President and Executive Board Member.

His work can be seen in feature films and television shows, such as Fear The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Westworld, Purge: Anarchy and CSI. Check out his extensive IMDb page to see the hefty list of credits.

Brian came to my workshop just after Christmas 2019 and we had a great afternoon catching up and recording a chat. It seems funny to remember when you could just be in a room with other people normally and not wear masks...

Anyhoo, we started our chat with the time Brian visited the workshops of Stuart Freeborn (original Star Wars trilogy, 2001, The Bridge Over The River Kwai) which is eye-watering nostalgic.

Brian has a fantastic manner, combining the makeup artists skills with exquisite etiquette (plus a great voice for radio as you'll hear!).

We chat about being responsible for things on set, how bosses may allocate tasks to their freelancers, case-hardening skills learned in makeup school in the real world and being available to help others.

Check his website out here. He is on Instagram @bekinney.

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

Nov 10, 2020

Lars is a generous self-taught artist from Sweden. He works in film, TV and theatre productions often using new technology to scan and print items for practical effects.

We wanted to chat theatre stuff, as that is not something we have spoken much about on the podcast. It's an area which may well be more available for people starting out, as many sizes of theatre and regional playhouses have small scale productions offering great opportunities for creative people starting out.

In this episode, we talk scanning, printing and sculpting in virtual reality, trouble with new LED lighting in theatres, making mistakes and having the courage to say YES to things in order to figure out how to do them. We also chat about the famous airbrush splatter nozzles which Lars came up with and freely shares on his website.

Check out Lars' website, shop and in particular, the tutorials which cover so many important areas in makeup effects, from sculpting, moulding, painting and of course, hair punching. Of particular note is the excellent silicone calculator on there too! Lars is on Instagram @makeupfx.

We mention the Effects Lab, which was a big deal in the early days of the internet before everything became a massive echo chamber. It is currently being overhauled and upgraded, but much of it is accessible here. Well worth checking out if you haven't already.

Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

Oct 29, 2020

https://battleswithbitsofrubber.com/

It’s Halloween. A Saturday! A full moon! Also not happening because of Covid. Boo.

It’s a damn shame, but I imagine around the world, a lot more horror movies will be watched. I can only hope such mass consumption will drive production to make more stuff as we burn through the back catalogue of shows with a worldwide captive audience.

Cutting Edges

On appliances, a cutting edge is often employed to mark the boundary of where appliance stops and real skin should begin. With foam and gelatine, the end of the piece was the end of the piece. With silicone appliances, we usually have a cap plastic barrier which extends beyond the silicone edge to provide that nice, melt-to-nothing transition.

However, on a lot of flat moulds, we have seen varying takes on how far away a cutting edge should be from the sculpt. We chat about that!

Cap Plastic On The Back Of A Piece

We also chat about cap plastic on the back of pieces. Usually necessary when a mould and a core is involved, but there are some reasons why it is desirable to not have cap plastic on the back of a piece.

For one, often when removing the appliance, the cap plastic will stick better to the skin because of the glue than it does to the back of the appliance. This ‘delamination’ means it takes longer to clean up and can be a pain.

Why cap plastic the back at all? Usually two reasons.

One reason is deadened/softened silicone is very sticky, so the barrier makes it possible to handle the piece during demoulding. The other is to allow ‘cheaper’ water-based adhesives (as opposed to the more expensive silicone adhesives) to bond better to the piece.

Let’s not forget that silicone is a material much used for moulds precisely because not much sticks to it. Including most glues and makeup.

By having a barrier on the surface which is not actually silicone at all, but cap plastic, suddenly a whole world of things can be used on the makeup and blendable edges are possible. The sheer joy!

So, when running flat pieces, now I don’t bother with cap plastic on the back. I did it, like many do, out of habit and seeing it down without really asking myself why it was necessary. By spraying more cap plastic on the back, we essentially double the edge thickness and it’s an extra step in the job.

We talk through some notions of why it can be a problem, and how one might get around it.

Podcast recommendation

Check out a great podcast I just discovered via Kiana ‘Freakmo’ Jones called Red Carpet Rookies. In particular, episode #5 with Bill Corso talking about digital makeup. It’s a great show done by someone who cares about the subject, and I’d add it to your podcast subscriptions if you dig film chat.

So, getting the horror on with audio books to keep us spooked during the workshop hours…Salem’s Lot and the The Exorcist was a double bill which put me in the right mood for some Halloween Horror Movies this weekend.

Sculpting a vampire face whilst listening to William Peter Blatty read Regan’s tirades at Father Karras felt like a peak moment of Halloween fun.
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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

https://battleswithbitsofrubber.com/

 

 

Aug 27, 2020

Danny has done some interesting things with prosthetics, leading with fashion and high concept looks and bringing appliance work into the mix.

Most demonstrations at trade shows involving appliances are showing just the tail end of a much longer hidden process which perhaps isn't at all evident in the final piece. It's nice to hear about what happens in the lead up to such a thing.

As with many artists sealed tight with Non-Disclosure Agreements on professional projects, trade shows offer a real opportunity to try something new and experiment with ideas and processes without the risk of shooting days or high-stakes schedules.

We chat with Danny about her influences, approach and work ethic and get into some pretty useful stuff. For example, Danny keeps records of makeup applications and lists what was used, including techniques, materials and products as well as notes on what well and what didn't.

The result after a number of years is a great resource which will supply a record of a journey, as well as a very practical guide to your own best practice for similar jobs in the future.

It takes a deal of humility to acknowledge what didn't work and address those shortcomings. It is also good practice to acknowledge what did work and take note of what went well.

It is easy to become automatically self-critical as a default position, but the ability to have genuine regard for your own work, objectively seeing good and bad and using them both as a guide to improvement is a useful tool.

It was a great chat and we got fired up as you'll hear.

Links to things mentioned in this episode

The Dip by Seth Godin:

(summary: Every new project (or career or relationship) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun until it hits a low point - really hard, really not fun. At this point, you might be in a Dip, which will get better if you keep pushing, or a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better no matter how hard you try. The hard part is knowing the difference and acting on it.)

Science Kits for kids: https://www.robocube.co.uk/collections/stem-kits

We mention a popular chain of hardware stores in the UK called B&Q, the name is an acronym of the original owners' names, Block and Quayle.

In the US, Home Depot would be an equivalent. If you have been on the hunt for unusual uses for conventional materials, then you may be familiar with the odd looks when responding to enquiries.

Check out Dannys' work on her website and instagram.


Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd


 

Aug 19, 2020

We have all spotted things in shows which were never meant to be there. Scars swapping sides, hair up one minute and then down the next, blood which moves shot to shot or an errant edge which can't be hidden.

Those are the things which you notice, and maybe take great pleasure in spotting and shaming those unfortunate artists who were 'responsible'.

However, there are many things which you didn't spot which could have been issues if they were not overcome before the cameras started rolling.

We go through some of these hidden problems which are not so rare, and which will tax the creative minds of those on whose shoulders these things fall.

We have had a long lay-off and been quiet coping with one thing and another, so apologies for the radio silence. We have a few new toys which will mean things are going to be more regular on the podcast front.

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Links to things we mention in this episode

Nomad sculpting app: https://nomadsculpt.com/
Procreate art app: https://procreate.art/
Infinite painter: https://www.infinitestudio.art/discover.php
Forger sculpting app: https://forgerapp.com/
ZBrush (all bells and whistles): https://pixologic.com/
Zbrush Core (stripped down, lighter version): https://store.pixologic.com/zbrushcore-2020/
ZBrush Core Mini (even more stripped down and free): https://zbrushcore.com/mini/#
Sculptris (free sculpting app): https://pixologic.com/sculptris/

What we do in the shadows (excellent TV show): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7908628/

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

 

Jun 21, 2020

Closing moulds correctly is vital to get good casts out of them. There seems little point in making a good mould and then getting bad casts out of it.

In this episode we chat about things to consider when looking at ‘mould closure’. Essentially, a mould other than a flat or open mould will usually need to be attached or fitted to another component to produce a cast.

This could be another part of the mould if a ‘multi-piece’ mould is made and/or a core which will be placed into the mould to create the interior.

These pieces need to remain securely in position, and may be required to exert a lot of force if the cast piece needs to have thin seams which are more easily repaired.

That has cost implications - think about having to repair bad seams of fifty casts out of a mould which wasn’t closed correctly!

Small block moulds are often clamped together for speed and convenience, but what happens if the mould is huge, such as a full body or a dinosaur?

This episode has another hefty set of notes to help make sense of it all. It is picture heavy and goes deeper into what to look out for.  Get them here or the blog post for this episode

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

Jun 11, 2020

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 61-Episode-Art-Cutting-Edges-sm.jpgCutting edges are the point at which a core meets the mould, and is crucial in creating a fine edge for many appliances.

In flat moulds, there can be something similar even though a core isn’t involved, as it establishes where the appliance actually stops and the skin begins.

A cutting edge and overflow are critical in foam appliances, especially where a mould has foam latex added and a core is pushed into it. A gap between the core and the mould face would ensure the excess foam could escape, and the contact point where the mould meets the core would be decided carefully and precisely.

Go to our website to get the free booklet supporting this episode, or go here.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Cutting-Edges-Notes-Mockup.png

This principle has carried on with silicone, although usually excess waste is minimised owing to the fact silicone isn't mostly made of air, as is the case with foam latex.

Wherever the core meets or touches the mould - be it keys, the cutting edge or an unintentional, is known as a touchdown. Getting great edges is important in making pieces which will blend into the skin and appear as part of it, rather than exhibiting a clear boundary where the fake stops and the real begins.

Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us?

Send them a link and help us grow!

-Stuart & Todd

May 17, 2020

Blog Post for this episode here.

Tim Baggaley played the one-armed zombie in Shaun of the Dead. He's a damn nice fella, an actor, talented graphic designer and a fabulous dancer.

In this episode, we chat about his experience on set and his recollections of being among the undead.

As we chatted, he reminded me of a few other things we had worked on together and we get into the nitty-gritty of whether or not we should see the genitals of monsters. Sounds like a fun tangent, but it is a serious consideration when making creature suits.

After all, their absence may be as strange as whatever freakishly upsetting creature-junk one may wish to design in their place. Who wants to write that back story?

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Many thanks as always for your time checking the stuff out. You can email us direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave us a voice message directly on our site.

If you enjoy this podcast and got something out of it, would you do us a solid and tell just one more person about us? Send them a link and help us grow to the right people!

Stuart & Todd

May 17, 2020

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 59-Episode-Art-Mark-Donovan-sm.jpg

Here is a little treat - an additional little episode that checks in with Mark Donovan who played The Hulking Zombie in Shaun Of The Dead.

We talked through the difficulties involved in getting ready to be attacked with records and cricket bats, shovels and the heat whilst caked in blood.

Also, as you'll hear, some very cool comic book related stuff which was an exciting discovery. You may recall in the bumper podcast episode #55 that Stuart Conran mentioned the back story to the Hulking Zombie, how he came to be a zombie and why he was there with Mary.

I mentioned this to Mark and not only was he aware of it but he has the actual original panels framed at his home!

Check pics in the accompanying blog post here.

Many thanks for listening.

-Stuart & Todd

 

 

May 17, 2020

It was a great pleasure to chat with John face to face (before lockdown, I hasten to add) back in December of 2019.

John is a well known FX artist who has since gone on to work at Tussauds and is a freelance artist.

I think you will get a real kick out of hearing his take, a perfect attitude to how to feel when creating. We chat about what it means to sculpt, that internal dialogue we all have when creating something new,



Fact checking bellend: In this, I mistakenly assign Constantin Brâncuși as the artist behind 'Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2)' which of course it wasn't - it was Marcel Duchamp.

Links to things we mentioned.

The Barclays Bank commercial directed by Ridley Scott.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnVyANe0ZnE

John Schoonraad Episode: https://battleswithbitsofrubber.com/14-scanners-schoonraads/

Neill Gorton Episode: https://battleswithbitsofrubber.com/51-neill-gorton/

Kris Costa: https://www.instagram.com/theantropus/

Olya Anufrieva: https://www.instagram.com/he77ga/

Follow John on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jcormican/

Johns website: https://johncormican.co.uk/

Some of John's work

Nightbreed at Image Animation, Pinewood Studios.

Vasty Moses sculpt in progress.

The Judge Dredd wall panels for the movie.


Many thanks. Don't forget you can get in touch by leaving us a voice message or email stuartandtodd@gmail.com.

- Stuart & Todd

May 17, 2020

Air bubbles of one kind or another are inevitable if you deal with materials which start out life as a liquid and then later solidify such as plaster, latex, silicone and resin. Let’s take a look at what can happen, why, and what to do about it.

Blog post accompanying this post: https://battleswithbitsofrubber.com/58-airbubbles/

Apr 28, 2020

This episode of the podcast, we catch up with some questions left on our answerphone, emails and comments.

Clay issues, alcohol colours, and a nice message from sculpting master Amelia Rowcroft. Cheers to those been in touch, and leaving messages. You can get in touch by email at stuartandtodd@gmail.com or leave a voicemail here.

I mentioned working at the BBC Visual FX department, and I was reminded that I have a book about it -

BBC Vfx: The History of the BBC Visual Effects Department 2010
by Mat Irvine (Author), Mike Tucker (Author)
ISBN-10: 1845135563
ISBN-13: 978-1845135560

I mentioned 'enjoy the suck' and it was, of course, 'embrace the suck', and it's meaning is as follows:

(military, slang) To consciously accept or appreciate something that is extremely unpleasant but unavoidable.

Quite appropriate right now.

Check our podcast website here: https://battleswithbitsofrubber.com/

Apr 25, 2020

The Shaun Of The Dead prosthetic team reunites and talk through the movie effects shots.

Blog post for this episode here

I thought it would be fun to chat with Stuart Conran and Dan Frye, two FX buddies who I have known and worked with for many years on many projects. I rewatched the movie to refresh my memory and listed the effects in chronological order.

Make sure to download the free booklet which accompanies this episode.

This little nod of appreciation comes from that place which still makes me warm and fuzzy when I flick through old Fangoria and Gorezone magazines.

You can easily get in touch with the show by leaving us a voicemail on our website here or emailing us at the usual address, stuartandtodd@gmail.com.

Thanks for listening.

-Stuart & Todd

 

Apr 17, 2020

Blog Post link: https://battleswithbitsofrubber.com/54-approaching-workshops/

Folio under your arm, at some point you may wish to appeal to those who could give you a job.

It's nervewracking to be judged, but your folio is maybe pages of your heart and soul now made visible for others to assess and rate.

The main way anyone gets work is simply by having a portfolio of good work and then show that to someone who pays for people like that to solve a problem they have. There isn't a single path or trick to game the system. You are not likely to be given a job you are wholly unsuited to - the work is too precious to those who are looking to hire, and there is a pretty robust system of hiring.

Here we discuss some main points to help you get your head straight. Think through what you could mean to them rather than what they can do for you. Listen to the podcast for the full monty, but the key points are listed below!

1.        How much to charge.

  • Know your worth       
  • Know how much it costs you to stand still for a day and do nothing.    
  • How much do people get paid? Check with trade union pay rates for your region to compare and see what is current.

2.        The film industry isn't looking to take you on and train you. It doesn't need another mouth to feed.

  • The machine which is the film industry isn’t looking to take on someone, spend time training them only to have them up sticks and work for someone else. The ‘industry’ isn’t a single entity, so much a mass of small companies, individuals and private interests.
  • For anyone to take a chance on someone unknown, share their contacts, processes and the inner circle is quite a thing to undertake. The risk is you could take that and use what you have learned to help a competitor, so it’s a peculiar situation to be in.

3.        Waiting to be picked.      

  • Someone waiting to be picked V an independent self-starter.        
  • Evidence of motivated and talent.    
  • Show evidence of your desire to do the work. A chef doesn’t require a fully fitted kitchen before making their first omelette – make what you can when you can to the best of your ability. Doing so will give you practice and display your journey to an interested party. The people you are trying to work for are like that and they know their own.  If you want to do it for a living then you should be doing it whatever.

4.        Awareness of the state of the industry.        

  • Do you know about the industry? About current artists names, credits and back story?    We have taught at many places where students didn’t know the masters or even watch films to have an awareness of what went before. This is something your potential employers will notice as they DO know and care about it.
  • How good are those currently working and do you measure up?   
  • What can you do to improve?           
  • What do people pay for? ... People pay to have their problems solved.

Whose problems do you solve?

  • Do you know the industry well enough to know that and how you can fit in to it?       
  • What can you provide and where do you fit in the workflow?        

5.        Actual ability levels.        

  • Are you an asset or a burden? Are you asking to help them or are you asking them to help you. Conisder their needs first, and how it will shape your approach.         
  • Does your folio show examples of what problems the employer will need you to solve?        

6.        How Busy is the film industry right now?     

  • The industry sweeps between crazy busy and deathly quiet.
  • Are they too busy to see your folio?         
  • Not busy means they may have time but they are not hiring either.
  • How can you find out and what questions should you ask?
  • It is easier to turn down an email than a phone call. Hard copy letter is something not too many do so maybe that is an option. You can’t game the system – good work and a good attitude will win.
  • Some will hire because of the right attitude and whether you can fit into the organisation as it currently stands. They will pay for someone who is competent enough to do what is asked.
  • Chances are they already have their key players in place, so they are not looking for a Jedi Master. They need enthusiastic and capable people they can slot into an existing framework and who will do what they are asked to do.

7.        How close do I live near the work?     If you don't, consider the following points.

  • Travel costs    
  • Accommodation costs           
  • Loss of income from previous job you may leave     
  • See it from employers’ point of view
  • Language/visa/immigration issues to consider        

8.        Luck.

  • Right place, right time.
  • The harder I work, the more good luck I seem to have.       
  • You can't control your employers or their desire to hire.

9.        People hate 'dear Sir/Madam'          

  • It displays a lack of awareness and disinterest, and laziness. Starting with ‘Hey everyone’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ just smacks of cut and paste, and nobody wants evidence that you have cut as many corners as possible as to not even check to see how your enquiry is coming across. When I read this, I am not 'everyone'. Remember, a single person is reading this at any one time so address them as such.
  • Don’t show your employer that you are lazy in the very first contact. Research who you are writing to.

10.      Offering to work for free.

  • You are going up against people trying to make a living so few of your colleagues will think well of that strategy. Endless supply of newbies who think it’s a viable strategy but the essence is to get free training and opportunities in exchange for no pay.
  • The cost to the employer is babysitting fees and stress, so not always a good deal for them. If you have competence then you should get paid for that. If you have no competence then maybe you shouldn’t be there.
  • Taking work for no fee v covering material costs. Not to subsidise/finance the production. Working for free in order to gain experience and et something out of it, going in knowing this and not being taken advantage of.
  • Maybe good experience and folio building but limit these jobs, and be wary of taking a paying job from someone by offering to work for free.

11.      Security, NDA's and outsider risk.       

  • Relatively new phenomena which didn't affect those running shops when they started out.        Stolen phones, inadvertent plot spoilers, production protecting their investment.
  • Can you be trusted or do you have a history of revealing every facet of your life online which may deter an employer.     If you seem to blab about every injustice you have perceived then as someone who may have to tell you to get stuff done, I am going to wonder if you will hate on me publicly and so that’s not a good quality to have in someone who I will need to have my back. Discretion is a desirable quality.

12.      Unions.       

  • Does a union control the work and are you permitted?      
  • BECTU in the UK. The IATSE in North America is more effective as a union. Unions protect workers and maintain pay and conditions but the trade off is it isn’t an easy path or an open door. The flip side is an unregulated workforce in which good people wouldn’t stand out in a listing.

13.      Look out for cons and being taken advantage of.  

  • Paid/subscriptions/services to find work      
  • Non-payment and getting ripped off.

    Starting out, eager to please but don’t agree to unreasonable. If you are not experienced enough to know what reasonable is then maybe you are too green to be taking commissions. Work for someone else and earn your chops.  

14.      So what should I do to get my work seen?

  • Do good work and present good, clear images.
  • Digital folios are essential but consider a hard copy. These are people who sculpt after all, and like tactile objects.  
  • Keep a list of who you contacted, when, who you spoke to and what was said. Follow up on any advice or information.
  • Be on time.
  • Try and meet people at trade shows and events such as The Prosthetics Event, IMATS and other gatherings related to your area f interest.
  • Remember, you can't trick your way into work. You either have the chops or you don't. Good work gets seen and noticed. If you need to improve, then sink your energy into that rather than aggressive campaigns of hustling.
  • Keep a professional social media profile and post good work regularly.
  • Be persistent and polite.


Once again, thank for listening. Consider leaving us a voice message to ask a question, say hi or to leave us an intro for the next episode! Tap the 'Send A Voicemail' tab on the right, or go to the contact page.

Email is stuartandtodd@gmail.com.

Please consider sharing this podcast with one person whom you think may enjoy it! We want to grow and with your help, we can!

-Stuart & Todd

1.        How much to charge.

  • Know your worth       
  • Know how much it costs you to stand still for a day and do nothing.    
  • How much do people get paid? Check with trade union pay rates for your region to compare and see what is current.

2.        The film industry isn't looking to take you on and train you. It doesn't need another mouth to feed.

  • The machine which is the film industry isn’t looking to take on someone, spend time training them only to have them up sticks and work for someone else. The ‘industry’ isn’t a single entity, so much a mass of small companies, individuals and private interests.
  • For anyone to take a chance on someone unknown, share their contacts, processes and the inner circle is quite a thing to undertake. The risk is you could take that and use what you have learned to help a competitor, so it’s a peculiar situation to be in.

3.        Waiting to be picked.      

  • Someone waiting to be picked V an independent self-starter.        
  • Evidence of motivated and talent.    
  • Show evidence of your desire to do the work. A chef doesn’t require a fully fitted kitchen before making their first omelette – make what you can when you can to the best of your ability. Doing so will give you practice and display your journey to an interested party. The people you are trying to work for are like that and they know their own.  If you want to do it for a living then you should be doing it whatever.

4.        Awareness of the state of the industry.        

  • Do you know about the industry? About current artists names, credits and back story?    We have taught at many places where students didn’t know the masters or even watch films to have an awareness of what went before. This is something your potential employers will notice as they DO know and care about it.
  • How good are those currently working and do you measure up?   
  • What can you do to improve?           
  • What do people pay for? ... People pay to have their problems solved.

Whose problems do you solve?

  • Do you know the industry well enough to know that and how you can fit in to it?       
  • What can you provide and where do you fit in the workflow?        

5.        Actual ability levels.        

  • Are you an asset or a burden? Are you asking to help them or are you asking them to help you. Conisder their needs first, and how it will shape your approach.         
  • Does your folio show examples of what problems the employer will need you to solve?        

6.        How Busy is the film industry right now?     

  • The industry sweeps between crazy busy and deathly quiet.
  • Are they too busy to see your folio?         
  • Not busy means they may have time but they are not hiring either.
  • How can you find out and what questions should you ask?
  • It is easier to turn down an email than a phone call. Hard copy letter is something not too many do so maybe that is an option. You can’t game the system – good work and a good attitude will win.
  • Some will hire because of the right attitude and whether you can fit into the organisation as it currently stands. They will pay for someone who is competent enough to do what is asked.
  • Chances are they already have their key players in place, so they are not looking for a Jedi Master. They need enthusiastic and capable people they can slot into an existing framework and who will do what they are asked to do.

7.        How close do I live near the work?     If you don't, consider the following points.

  • Travel costs    
  • Accommodation costs           
  • Loss of income from previous job you may leave     
  • See it from employers’ point of view
  • Language/visa/immigration issues to consider        

8.        Luck.

  • Right place, right time.
  • The harder I work, the more good luck I seem to have.       
  • You can't control your employers or their desire to hire.

9.        People hate 'dear Sir/Madam'          

  • It displays a lack of awareness and disinterest, and laziness. Starting with ‘Hey everyone’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ just smacks of cut and paste, and nobody wants evidence that you have cut as many corners as possible as to not even check to see how your enquiry is coming across. When I read this, I am not 'everyone'. Remember, a single person is reading this at any one time so address them as such.
  • Don’t show your employer that you are lazy in the very first contact. Research who you are writing to.

10.      Offering to work for free.

  • You are going up against people trying to make a living so few of your colleagues will think well of that strategy. Endless supply of newbies who think it’s a viable strategy but the essence is to get free training and opportunities in exchange for no pay.
  • The cost to the employer is babysitting fees and stress, so not always a good deal for them. If you have competence then you should get paid for that. If you have no competence then maybe you shouldn’t be there.
  • Taking work for no fee v covering material costs. Not to subsidise/finance the production. Working for free in order to gain experience and et something out of it, going in knowing this and not being taken advantage of.
  • Maybe good experience and folio building but limit these jobs, and be wary of taking a paying job from someone by offering to work for free.

11.      Security, NDA's and outsider risk.       

  • Relatively new phenomena which didn't affect those running shops when they started out.        Stolen phones, inadvertent plot spoilers, production protecting their investment.
  • Can you be trusted or do you have a history of revealing every facet of your life online which may deter an employer.     If you seem to blab about every injustice you have perceived then as someone who may have to tell you to get stuff done, I am going to wonder if you will hate on me publicly and so that’s not a good quality to have in someone who I will need to have my back. Discretion is a desirable quality.

12.      Unions.       

  • Does a union control the work and are you permitted?      
  • BECTU in the UK. The IATSE in North America is more effective as a union. Unions protect workers and maintain pay and conditions but the trade off is it isn’t an easy path or an open door. The flip side is an unregulated workforce in which good people wouldn’t stand out in a listing.

13.      Look out for cons and being taken advantage of.  

  • Paid/subscriptions/services to find work      
  • Non-payment and getting ripped off.

    Starting out, eager to please but don’t agree to unreasonable. If you are not experienced enough to know what reasonable is then maybe you are too green to be taking commissions. Work for someone else and earn your chops.  

14.      So what should I do to get my work seen?

  • Do good work and present good, clear images.
  • Digital folios are essential but consider a hard copy. These are people who sculpt after all, and like tactile objects.  
  • Keep a list of who you contacted, when, who you spoke to and what was said. Follow up on any advice or information.
  • Be on time.
  • Try and meet people at trade shows and events such as The Prosthetics Event, IMATS and other gatherings related to your area f interest.
  • Remember, you can't trick your way into work. You either have the chops or you don't. Good work gets seen and noticed. If you need to improve, then sink your energy into that rather than aggressive campaigns of hustling.
  • Keep a professional social media profile and post good work regularly.
  • Be persistent and polite.


Once again, thank for listening. Consider leaving us a voice message to ask a question, say hi or to leave us an intro for the next episode! Tap the 'Send A Voicemail' tab on the contact page.

Email is stuartandtodd@gmail.com.

Please consider sharing this podcast with one person whom you think may enjoy it! We want to grow and with your help, we can!

-Stuart & Todd

Apr 12, 2020

There are often a number of questions about prosthetic makeup that get asked often. We put together the top 5 that keep cropping up and do a deep dive into our responses.

1. How do I match an appliance to a person's skin tone?

2. How do I ensure a good edge on an appliance?

3. How can I create good work without spending a fortune on materials?

4. How do I get work?

5. Will computers take over the work of makeup artists?

Check out the blog post with extensive notes (and a downloadable booklet) by tapping here.

 

Also, you can leave a voice message directly on our website through our 'Speak Pipe' feature. Check it here.

-Stuart & Todd

Apr 2, 2020

Todd talks with his good friends and fellow artists, Jacquie & Brandon Ryan.

This episode looks at how people teach, learn, and maybe don't learn. We all need a motivation to learn, and many of us will require different styles of learning such as visual, auditory, practical hands-on tasks or live demonstration to get started.

One simple rule to remember is this: Sucking is learning. Making mistakes is when you learn. Learn how to make mistakes and pick yourself up. Nobody likes failing, but using that as fuel is worthwhile. As the military put it - 'Pain retains!'

Check our blog post with extensive notes here.

Mar 19, 2020

I first met Neill with a folio tucked under my arm for my interview I had managed to arrange at Ealing Studios in 1995.

My first job with him was making oversized Casio watches, which were fibreglassed out of silicone moulds to make G-Shock watch display units.

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Check out our new website:
Battles With Bits Of Rubber Dot Com

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One thing I have always noticed about Neill is that he has a seemingly fearless approach to problem-solving. He will go directly to the source and grab whatever is the root of the issue in order to overcome it.

This seems to me to be the single best approach to fixing things which go wrong and thus continue on to better results. It is so easy for us to protect ourselves from the pain of that difficulty that it needs constant motivation and reminding to break through that in-built resistance.

The film industry is couched in problem-solving, each situation unique and usually high pressured. It is an attractive career and it rewards those involved with decent pay and pride, at the cost of many long hours and the weight of responsibility.

When things are done well by competent practitioners, it often looks like not much has been done at all - as if the ease with which something has been accomplished has been the result of something requiring little skill. The truth is, people who are highly skilled make it look easy, and it is interesting to discuss this with people who are successful and well connected to their efforts which made them so.

It does nobody any service to imply that great success is easy, yet there is no shortage of 'get rich quick' schemes online, dangling the carrot of instant fame at the touch of a recording button.

Truth is, people pay for what they value and solving problems is a valuable commodity. The job of all of us I think is to figure out whose problems you can solve, and how to be of service whilst building a body of work you can be proud of.

In this episode, Neill & Stuart dig into the behind the scenes stuff about what is hard and how to address the weaknesses. We also come up with three very practical ways to get started, which don't involve massive expense or commitment:

  1. Sculpt self-portraits with clay, spending just 30 mins a day and reuse the clay to practice sculpting. Mirror, lamp and you. Do this for 30 days. Take a photo each day of what you did in the time, and rip the clay up and reuse it the next day. Repeat.
  2. Sculpt a face or creature face onto a board. Make a plaster mould of this and make a latex face mask. Avoid expensive silicone in the first instance, just stick to the basic materials.
  3. Highlight and shadow makeups. The cornerstone of everything, modifying forms with just highlight and shadow using a few brushes and a makeup palette such as the 12 colour 'Supracolour' B Palette from Kryolan.


Neill also talks about his interest in psychology and how it can best affect how we see to sculpt.

We do so many things automatically without actively noticing, so learning to do new things makes you meet those difficulties. That is the blockage when you start learning new things. There is no immediate reward, no endorphin rush of doing something you are competent at.

When starting out, most people are awful, few people are 'natural born sculptors'. It takes repetition and powering through the crap stuff, like purging the spout of a half-used tube of glue, getting the crust out of the way so the fresh stuff can get out.

I'm a better sculptor because of how I break things down into simpler forms. Complexity is just repeated layers of simplicity. Sculpting is difficult because you have a low-resolution version of things - you can't have a high-resolution version of all things in the world, it is too much information to retain and recall so we become adept at glossing over most things most of the time.

When called to reproduce and generate something which is believable, it helps to have a clear idea of how to break down a given subject so it can be approached and digested systematically in smaller, simpler chunks, arranged in the right order.

Asked to draw a horse from memory, most of us will realise what we don't have stored as we have instead an 'icon' of what a horse is rather than a detailed, accurate schematic. You know what constitutes a horse so you can recognise one when you see it, but recreating one will require more resolution than you have, so feed that when needed by studying reference material

Lastly, a few words about social media enterprises.

YouTube sells the idea that it's easy, but there is a lot of unseen work, effort and equipment which needs to be used correctly.

The illusion of social media platforms is that they make you think of them as accessible. In the entire history of entertainment until recently, TV and media used up on a pedestal, that which was on a screen wasn't interacted with. Now the platform has been democratised.

However, you can't own an audience. You cannot control a following.

To be of value, have something first, and once you have something to offer, THEN use the social media outlet to promote it. After all, you don't buy a shop and then wonder what to sell in it.


In this episode we mention a few things, so here are the details regarding them.

The 'Corson book' is a classic and has just come out with the 11th edition. It also has a lot of cool stuff in by a friend of the show Matthew Mungle so we recommend that:

Stage Makeup
Richard Corson (author), James Glavan (author), Beverly Gore Norcross (author)

Psychology book recommendations:

Your Deceptive Mind:
A Scientific Guide To Critical Thinking Skills
By Steve Novella

Black Box Thinking
By Matthew Syed

Radical Candor:
How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean

By Kim Scott

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win
By Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

VANESSA DAVIS - THE SKULLTRESS™ - @skulltressbeauty

Many thanks for listening! Give us a share on the socials and maybe check our merch store here and our Teespring Store to show your support!

Check out the awesome podcast pin badge.
It's made from metal and everything!

-Stuart & Todd

Jan 16, 2020

At IMATS London 2019, I sat and had a great chat with Rick from Bolton University. For those that may not be aware, a breif Rick bio:

"Richard is a senior lecturer and Programme Leader of the Special Effects for Film and TV degree at the University of Bolton. He’s been teaching at the university for several years and specialises in character work, in both the prosthetic make-up effects and model-making fields. "

In the episode, we talk about the massive effect 3D printing and technology is having on what was previously a traditional skills area. What is cool is that new blood is coming in, taking on board the new tech and learning old skills for the first time in equal measure, making something new and quite special as a result. He is an interesting chap and has, I think you will agree, a very good voice for radio! Give us a listen and let us know what you think.

Incidentally, all the lecturers at Bolton have been doing great work there for years, making a real impact on the quality of work and competence the students leave with. The lecturers and support crew in all the courses at Bolton have been so generous and supportive, they really do deserve a shout out.

We recently collaborated with various mentors to support their recent Island of Dr Moreau project which was filmed this past week.

More on this exciting collaboration with Matt Winston from the incredible Stan Winston Character School of Character Arts here.


In it, we discuss various things, and I mention a He-Man and a Skeletor suit made for a Money Supermarket commercial built by Legacy FX.

Check out the cool behind the scenes video of David Monzingo, Brian Best and Myself wrangling suits for the commercial shoot in London here. I was lucky enough to help out just for a day - David and the Legacy FX team handled the build and full shoot days - it was a blast!

 


Todd and I chatted about safer mould materials, which is great for anyone with limited workshop access, open spaces and extraction. This led to an interesting discussion about comparing plaster and resin use in the UK and USA for mould making.

The materials we mentioned were acrylic polymers to be used with Gypsum, and sound similar in regards to mixing and properties:

Jesmonite by Jesomite

Acrylic Plaster Polymer by Alec Tiranti

Forton MG by Smooth-On

Acrylic One by Active Composite Technologies

We also discuss the workspaces used by students in makeup schools and colleges, measuring accuracy in CAD and ZBrush and the amazing work of Landon Meier. If you haven't seen his stuff, it really is incredible and you can do a lot worse for entertainment than check out his stuff here: http://www.hyperflesh.com/

This article is also entertaining: https://www.greatbigstory.com/stories/this-guy-makes-the-world-s-most-convincing-masks

His Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hyperfleshdude/

His YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/disgustedbaby

Correction - In the podcast at 19:03 it was Monsterpalooza 2018 we did the Bela Lugosi application - not IMATS as I said. D'oh!

Have a splendid week! We shall return soon.

Kind regards

---

Stuart & Todd.

Dec 18, 2019

In this episode, I got to chat with Matthew Mungle & visit his jail cell!

Matthew and his company, WM Creations have been responsible for makeup effects on scores of shows and racked up a lot of awards and nominations in the process - for a deep dive into that, check out Matthews IMDb profile.

The actual real-life holding cell in the studio, now decked out with suitably spooky decorations and effects! So much fun.

Todd and I also wax lyrical about the joys of epoxy and plaster, silicones we like for flat moulds and release agents for Pros-Aide transfers. We both like a firmer silicone as there is naturally some pressure that goes on when pressing a scraper over the back of the mould - so a soft silicone mould will compress too much and underfill if you are not careful!

One of the sculpting areas in Matthews studio.

Matthew talked at length about the process of taking a script, breaking it down and assigning it into a series of tasks - details which you don't often hear people talk about. He always wanted to do his own thing, and so he learned how to please a crew and producers before being a freelancer - getting the priorities right:

  • Learning how to delegate and let things go whilst still controlling quality.
  • How a job gets from words on a page to a series of jobs, and then pieces of rubber on a set.
  • How a TV show is like a train that leaves the station that doesn't stop until it gets to the end of the line.
  • Deciding what will be practical or visual fx.
  • Will an effect be suitable for the target audience to keep director, producer and network happy.
  • Discussing the effect with the appropriate crew like DOP and what to prep for.

We are also on Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud and YouTube ... basically, wherever you get podcasts!

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  • The video tutorial I mentioned on Freeform Sculpt and Freeform Air is here. (It was a squirrel - not a duck as I mentioned).
  • WM Creations have a range of FX materials such as Soft Sealer, Old Age Stipple and Alcohol Colours, and are available from good retailers such as BITY in the US and The Makeup Armoury in the UK.

There are endless rows of lifecasts all over the studio - talk about reference material!

Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider letting everyone know - tell a friend, share this episode on the socials and leave a comment or review on iTunes if you feel moved to do so!

You can email us directly at stuartandtodd@gmail.com

Till next time

-Stuart & Todd

Click to visit the Blog Post Episode to go with this episode.

Dec 12, 2019

In this episode, Neill Morrill joins me in the workshop as we hit up Todd in Colorado and chat about our collaborated efforts on the makeup we did for The Prosthetics Event 2019.

Neil is originally from the UK but moved to Toronto in the early 2000s and has worked on a number of high profile shows over the years such as 300, The Strain, Suicide Squad, Hereditary, It, Shazam! and the What We Do In The Shadows series.

It was an absolute joy working with Neil on our homage to Rick Bakers' 'Reverend Brown' makeup on Arsenio Hall from 1988 classic Coming To America.

Neil had the idea when chatting to our makeup sponsor Sian Richards when bouncing ideas around. The upcoming sequel recently finished shooting, and so Neil picked that as a good contender as a challenge for us to do - separated as we are by 3, 500 miles of Atlantic ocean.

British Rapper and DJ Normski agreed to be our victim, and so we set about hatching the plan. Obviously distance like that adds tricky elements to a physical process such as sculpting and moulding pieces, so we worked out a share of labour which was as follows.

Some video was shot and we will edit together the whole thing as a complete tutorial in more detail, so check the blog post for an abridged version of the first part of the process: http://www.learnmakeupeffects.com/48-neil-morrill/

Thanks for checking in!

-Stuart & Todd

Email the show direct at stuartandtodd@gmail.com

Nov 18, 2019

In this episode, Todd and Stu talk about our week making moulds with epoxy, dropping sculpts and moulage effects for first responder training.

Earlier in 2019, Stu got to sit and chat with some fine folks at IMATS London and a chat with makeup designer Kate Benton kicks off the first of these finally edited up after a crazy industry year.

This is the sculpt I was detailing and then dropped. Doh!

As you may know, this podcast is a side hustle for us which has been on the backburner for a while as the industry rocked the makeup case hard.

Now as things ease up, the Prosthetics Event is almost upon us and a season of podcast editing is happening and winding down for the end of the year. Deep joy!

Find out more about Kate on her website: http://www.katebenton.com/

The Heidi Klum Halloween makeups we mentioned can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp390WQaXY

Check out the amazing artistry of Mike Marino and Prosthetic Rennaisance (Proren) here: https://www.prorenfx.com/ and on Insta @prorenfx

We sure appreciate your ears and attention. If you would like to help support us, then please share this episode with someone who you think would get something out of it.

Get in touch at stuartandtodd@gmail.com to ask fx related questions and to suggest your ideas for a future episode. OK, back to the workshop for us.

Speak soon.

-Stuart & Todd

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