EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH
Today at HOLLYWOOD SPY we are joined by Shaun Smith, make-up and effects expert who worked on many visually stunning movies such as 300, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, I AM LEGEND, THE MONKEY KING and CHRONICLES OF NARNIA! Shaun Smith has over 20 years of experience working on make-up, special make-up effects, puppets and props for feature films, television and commercials and he was kind enough to sit down and have a chitchat with your Hollywood Spy.
SHAUN, CAN YOU TELL US WHAT DOES THE WORK OF A MAKEUP SUPERVISOR CONSIST OF? WE KNOW IT INVOLVES MUCH LEARNING, INSPIRATION AND CREATIVITY. YOU ORGANIZE AND SUPERVISE INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOPS....Yeah, I love it, love the intensity of it. It’s like a big puzzle and its fun to figure it out. There is something about the collaboration process that keeps me excited. I basically work out the details and the look with the director and other people on the team. I then do a budget and schedule for the job, hire the team, coordinate the shop build, apply and oversee make-up applications and most importantly make sure we stay under budget and on time.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH THE BIGGEST VISUAL GENIUS IN MODERN FILM - ZACK SNYDER - ON THE GROUNDBREAKING EPIC "300"? ANY CHANCE OF WORKING WITH HIM AGAIN?
I feel fortunate I worked with Zack on his first two films “Dawn of the Dead” and “300”. Both successful movies with a ton of make-up. Zack’s a lot of fun. And like I said, we did two successful films together so you never know. I really like Zack so working with him again would be cool.
YOU ALSO WORKED ON ANOTHER EPIC FILM "CONAN THE BARBARIAN" CREATING SOME TRULY MEMORABLE LOOKS. THAT GENRE IS PROBABLY A HEAVEN FOR MAKE UP ARTISTS.I’m a huge fan of the Conan comics and the 1982 Milius film! So yeah, working on a Conan movie was unbelievable. I was totally engrossed in the process. We had a pretty small crew for a job that size. When I look back at all the makeup and hair work in that film…I am really proud of what we produced.
CREATURE EFFECTS IN WILL SMITH'S POST APOCALYPTIC FILM "I AM LEGEND" WERE ALSO YOUR JOB?We worked out the original make-up test with director Francis Lawrence. We imagined the Hemocytes covered in white ash because in the original script the city was going to be on fire and ash was everywhere like snow, hence the white caked make-up. The theory was that they smeared an ash concoction over their skin to protect it and give some relief to the raw and translucent skin underneath. Ultimately they decided to go digital for the infected humans (Hemocytes). I believe I ended up being credited as the Creature Effects Supervisor on the film.
AND ALSO IN "CHRONICLES OF NARNIA" AND "FOUR BROTHERS"?
I supervised both “Chronicles” and “Four Brothers” for another company since I enjoy running shows for other people and I treat it with the same passion as if it were my own. For “Four Brothers” we built a mechanical Rottweiler that attacks Mark Walberg and Tyrese Gibson. For “Chronicles” we did eight Mechanical Deer, four white and four brown puppets. The build time was really short so I came up with the idea of building just four mechanical bodies where we could switch out the head and skin depending on which colour deer we needed for the shot.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK ON UPCOMING ASIAN ADVENTURE "THE MONKEY KING". NEW TRAILER SHOWS SOME REALLY OUTSTANDING MASKS AND MAKE-UP!Thanks! Yeah, lots of fun makeup on that film. It is rumored to have cost $100 million dollar and I believe it’s one of the biggest make-up effects shows ever done in China. It is probably the most mentally challenging film I’ve ever done. It was about a year and a half stretch of crazy travel and nonstop work. We had to build a shop from the ground up and probably had close to 100 people working on hair suits and makeup effects! We made 80 full haired monkey suits or as I like to call them, Mankey suits, all hand tied, one hair at a time on to Spandex suits... Each suit had two heads and multiple faces. Plus we built a ton of other characters. Desire Soto was my Right Hand on that project! The key to surviving these huge jobs is to surround yourself with good people and have awesome interpreters who understand both cultures.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON CURRENTLY?Currently I am in pre-production on a Breck Eisner film starring Vin Diesel ”The Last Witch Hunter”! Some really cool stuff on that and I’m super excited. Earlier this year, I worked on the new season of “Eagleheart”. I also completed work on Director Jesse Johnson’s latest fan film short “Lobo” with two time World Kickboxing Champion Jerry “Golden Boy” Trimble.
ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING MAKE-UP ARTISTS?
The field is saturated with aspiring artists so make sure it’s what you really want to do before you drop $10,000 or more on make-up school! Be prepared to work your way up. Learn to live frugally because starting pay can be low. And please, always be respectful of the people who came before you and learn the history. At least know who Dick Smith is. Then… practice, practice, practice!
Sounds like a fun and challenging career for those who persevere in it!ReplyDelete
Yes, as Shaun said a career that requires a lot of dedication, work and travel.Delete
This work takes such a vast array of skills and expertise. As you know Dezzie, 300 is one of my all time favourite films and Narnia is dear to my heart. While theatre goers marvel at special effects, we often don't think about the genius that goes into the creation of them.ReplyDelete
Wonderful interview darling :)
Glad you liked the interview, Anne!Delete
Isn't it intriguing and interesting seeing what goes behind the camera and seeing how all those masks and effects come into life.
he seems like a master in his tradeReplyDelete
That he certainly is!Delete
That I am Legend one is scary.ReplyDelete
It's a great mask, too bad they decided to go digital in the endDelete
Sometimes I don't mind digital stuff, other times I miss the old school regular way.Delete
Hope you're weekend was good. Just now, I popped in an apple crumble. House already smells nice.
We do love apple cakes!Delete
I have tremendous respect and admiration for the artists that make up my favorite characters in movies. What a difficult job. I watch the program Face Off and am so amazed at the creations.ReplyDelete
Nice to meet you Shaun.
Hey Dezz Baby :)
Yep, that programme certainly did make the profession much more popular among the audience. And Shaun is such an expert in his job!Delete
What a fun, albeit demanding - profession. Great interview, Dez and Shaun :)ReplyDelete
Glad you liked the talk!Delete
It's amazing how creative movie artists can be. Prosthetics in movies must get really technical and tricky. Such precision and talent.ReplyDelete
yep, I'm guessing Shaun needs to have all kinds of scientific knowledge in order to do his jobDelete
Crikey ... that's some make-up job!ReplyDelete
Fascinating behind the scenes interview. Thanks for sharing your expertise.ReplyDelete
It really is fascinating, SandraDelete
Super interview, Dezzy. It takes a lot of talent and determination to succeed as a make-up artist, and Shaun obviously excels on both counts. Thanks for the peek behind the scenes.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Susan! Shaun sure is an extremely talented man!Delete
It is really amazing what makeup artists can do!ReplyDelete
Great interview. I have nothing but respect for those that spend so much time using their imagination to entertain ours.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Dave, glad you enjoyed it!Delete
I agree. And now I'm wondering... how come I never read this interview, but then I saw the date and I remembered, so I'm forgiven, right? Excellent interview.Delete
yep, there were times when Blue didn't have Dezzy in his life.... was that even life? :))) We thank Shaun for wonderful answers!Delete
I admire those who have such talent to create make up work! Shaun certainly has a gift and uses it well. Great interview!ReplyDelete
He most certainly does have itDelete
Okay that was a great read and what a world of talent... it is cool to dream something up and make it happen. Seeing something like this is an inspired adventure, gives us hope to have the same dream. So whatever we each should dream, dream out loud.ReplyDelete
THANK YOU to both of you!
I think Shaun would love your view of it, Jeremy! I think that sometimes when he is spending months and months in his workshops in difficult work, he doesn't even know how much the final result will be inspiring to many other peopleDelete
You did a awesome job sharing someone who has the opportunity to share something grand. Inspiration comes from everything, today his story is mine. I try to surround myself with things that lets me hold onto my dream, though my dream changes everyday...ReplyDelete
thanks, J-man, glad you enjoyed it, I'm sure Shaun will be proud to read your comment and see how others appreciate his work.Delete