Special Effects Secrets From Steve Siegelbaum
“People want more today than just some black eyes and white face … The masses have become desensitized and are screaming for something different..more realistic gore , trauma , blood and high tech fx…”-Steve Siegelbaum
This is part 3 of my interview with Steve Siegelbaum from Gut Rot Effects. If you have enjoyed this content, please leave your comments and feedback down below. I’ve been on vacation for a few days so I’m sorry this is a bit late. And if you have time after you read this -please go check out our new site dedicated to the Haunt Industry at http://hauntopic.com.
Any good brands you suggest? Make-up, appliances, etc.
There are tons of products out there from many different manufacturers and retailers. You definitely wanna shop around before purchasing from the first place you find what you need. A little research will show you that prices can vary from place to place and that many of these places can be a one stop shop for everything you need for the task at hand.
The top places I purchase my materials from and have built good business relationships with are places like:
Bity Mold Supply – I have been ordering from these guys for a years and have never had any type of shipping or ordering issues with them. I always receive my orders on time and intact. They are one of the best supply company’s out there for a multitude of my FX needs. I get all my molding and casting materials here and they are always expanding by carrying more products every year. They are moving into AA skin illustrators, shop supplies, expanding foams, and silicone’s like gel-10 and gel-00. A great place to start looking!
FXwarehouse- A great place for all things FX. A one stop shop with just about every FX related material under the sun.
The Monster Makers- This is a great place to find some alternatives or really expensive products like slim or latex. They even offer kits that can supply your large shop with everything you need or smaller kits for beginners. They even break them down into kits just for masks, prosthetics, and even props.
The internet is a wealth of knowledge and places to get what you need. With the rise in popularity of special effects from TV and the growth of the haunted attraction industry; I am sure there will be newer products and materials popping up all over. So do your research and find what’s best for you.
What is the most complicated work you’ve ever done in special effects?
Some of the most complicated things can often be what most would think as easy…
I was on the set of Dan Eberles THE LOCAL for 20 days doing fight makeup and scars. You would think applying bruises would be easy right?
We had to show progression of time with the wounds and scars being sure that the placement is exactly the same every day. And that the age of the wounds progressed with the passing of time in the film. There were no pre-made prosthetics and it was all done on scene with photos from the shots prior by hand. It’s incredibly difficult to create consistency and realism and show the progression of age with makeup like that. It’s easy to make a dead person. Do that same makeup every day for 20 days while making it age and having it the same every time without the benefit of a prosthetic application isn’t easy. We call it continuity – the consistency of the characteristics of plot, objects, and effects within a production.
On the other side of the coin I worked a film called ABRACADAVER. The scene was to have a woman’s throat slashed-then cut the left arm off and then eviscerate a man tied to a wall above the dying woman. Having all his guts and intestines fall down on top of the dying woman’s head and face covering her in his gooey death. Ha.Ha.ha…
I guess you can call this one a staffing issue. When running a crew there are all sorts of logistical issues you’ll run into and hopefully you figure them out first. The issues I ran into were not only trying to run a crew for the first time but keeping a handle on each person. I made a big mistake in my hiring decisions and all it takes is one lazy or disrespectful crew member to hurt your reputation. That person was let go on set…
I learned a valuable lesson: that a big part of the FX makeup industry is working with people you can rely on. Not much in this Field is done alone. You need a good crew you can call on.
As you get more work, more and more of your time on set is at meetings with directors and getting the big picture of the scene needing the effect. Then delegating what is needed to be done to those that can effectively do that particular task while working together to create the best possible effect.
Even with one person down the effects themselves worked out well. With the remaining crew we applied all the blood tubing, a full recreation of the actor’s chest, stuffed it with guts and let ‘em bleed. We happily went through 11 gallons of blood that day.
So sometimes the most complicated work for effects isn’t the effects – it’s learning to work out logistical issues with the crew themselves.
Your tag says you’ve done work for film. Which one’s?
Man I’ve done all kinds:
- JOSH AND LUCAS – a student film (student films are a great way to hone your skills) where I had to make-up a trained dog to look like it was injured and dying.
- THE LOST TRIANGLE – a lot of war wounds and torture FX
- ABRACADAVER – an award winning film with slit throats and evicerations.
- THE LOCAL – feature action drama from director Dan Eberle’s out now on DVD.
- A PRAYER TO A VENGEFULL GOD – another award winning film out now on DVD , Netflix , and on demand.
Plus many Haunted Attractions, live TV shots, and even building sets for George Romero and Elvira as well. I even applied the makeup for their live TV spots. You can watch them on my YouTube Channel.
I have done many cool projects and am proud to have been a part of each and every one. I hope to continue doing bigger, bloodier, and more challenging projects in the future.
Any other advice for make-up artists and special effects beginners?
Yes. Stick with it. Don’t give up! Yes, there will be hard times and many challenges that you may feel you cannot overcome. But if I (an untrained, unschooled, self-taught, makeup artist) can be part of some great and successful projects and continue to work in this industry I love so very much.
Than anyone can.
There is and always will be a need for practical FX and someone will always be filming a movie or putting on a haunted production. You just need to get out there and soak up as much information about the materials you want to work with. Ask yourself how do they apply and how does this work with that? Experimentation is the key.
If you can’t afford schooling, there are seminars and classes you can take to learn techniques like mine.
( GUTROTS TRAUMA 101- basic techniques on creating realistic trauma FX)
There are all sorts of books and how-to videos out there. The internet is a huge source of information, tips, tricks, recipies, and more..
Do your research. Practice your craft. And always remember this is an industry where it takes a certain dedication to fine-tune your craft. Extremely long hours on and off the set. Days and weeks away from family and friends. You need to have passion no matter what you do in life. It’s that passion that I try to spread to all I meet and teach. You have to be willing to do what it takes, be persistent, and ask questions to those in the field. Be prepared to work hard for little or no pay just to get your work seen.
And when you feel you have learned everything you need to know; your next lesson is that you don’t. Special effects is a constantly evolving field. With new techniques and materials being used and discovered almost daily. You will always be learning new things and if you’re not learning you’ll be left in the dust for others to sweep out of their way. It’s a tough industry and I feel lucky every day to be where I am in it.
Name 3 websites/podcasts/channels you go to for special effects information?
There is a wealth of knowledge out there and you need to know where to find it. So here are some places you can check out with all sorts of how-to info from creating great and cheap FX to making your own haunted attraction and everything in between.
Scary Visions. You get how- to’s, convention and trade show info, haunt forums, vendors, and all sorts of links to find everything haunted under the dark moonlight sky! You could be here for days!!!
Haunt project. A forum where how-to’s are a way of life. From creating dummy bodies to skinning a complete skeleton. Or even making animatronic monsters. They have it all!
Haunt Universe. An open forum for haunters and FX artists to trade info and knowledge.
So get out there search the web for anything in the Haunted Attraction, Film ,and Special Effects Makeup industries. There are chat rooms just for haunters or FX artists and websites dedicated to home haunting and professionals. All you need to do is look. These sites I’ve mentioned will open many doors of knowledge and suck you into a realm of wonderful people that I am proud to call my coworkers and friends.
There sure is a lot of information out there and you can soak up all you want but at the end of the day it’s what you do with it that counts.
So get out there! Freak out your parents, scare your teachers, and get on your way to doing what you love. How do you know you’re good at it unless you try? “The only bad chance out there is the one not taken”