Today I took a trip up to Crestline Ohio to meet with Gary Jones a seasoned Director, Writer and Practical FX artist. I met with him at Robert Kurtzman's Creature Corps studio there in Crestline. When I got there Gary formally introduced himself and we went into the studio. Almost immediately I was filled with awe at the sight of so many iconic practical FX ranging from clay sculptures to full and film art ready creatures and props. Gary introduced me to Robert (Bob) Kurtzman, a highly regarded FX artist and director, well known for his work in The Rage, From Dusk Till Dawn, Army of Darkness, Pulp Fiction, Tusk, Yoga Hosers (and a LOT more). I was introduced to some of the other employees there who were working on a prop (which I am under embargo) for a movie, set in the near future. Through the conversation they realized that I was the student that had been trying to get in touch with them to come to the studio to meet Bob, which I thought was funny. Then Gary gave me a tour of the studio, which I had expected to be much much bigger.
Easily One of the coolest studios I think that I've ever been to in my life. There were so many iconic props scattered all over the place. The studio looked well worn, and I wondered what it looked like in its glory days. I got to see some props in action for future movies and a spray booth and a personal screening room that Ccad would kill to have. I sat down with Gary in Bob's screening room and spent almost an hour interviewing Gary, and having some of the most fun I've had in quite a long time, hearing stories, facts, and everything I could think of to ask him. After the interview I brought out my dinosaur puppet I had sculpted and fabricated and brought it to Bob hoping to get some feedback wether it was positive or negative.
(This is why today easily falls into my top 3 if not THE number 1 experience of 2017.)
Bob gave it a good look played around opening and closing the mouth, and gave me some great feedback. He was thoroughly impressed with my work and gave me some great constructive criticism, mostly on the paint job but was overall impressed with the sculpt I made. I was so pleased to hear that from someone, who's responsible for some of the iconic and memorable creatures and characters in pop culture history.
I also figured out how to patch awful seam lines In latex, which was really helpful, especially now that I'll have that for future reference. With that done, I got to stand around and observe some of the crew working on the prop in the studio. I talked with both Gary and Bob about some of the movies I really enjoyed, and had a some great conversations with them. With the intent of getting B-Roll I asked if I could get footage of the studio, of course with Bob's permission. Thankfully bob obliged and allowed me to shoot anything I wanted to in his showcase room, save for (again, under embargo) a prop for an unreleased movie. But before we left I did manage to get Bob to sign off on a release form, for the use of footage from his YouTube channel, so now, a happy coincidence, I now have an "autograph" from Robert Kurtzman. After all was said and done I thanked Bob for his generosity, Bob was curious to know when I would be done, which I was happy to hear, and then Gary and I headed out. I thanked Gary and we parted our separate ways. Today I was a kid in a candy store, I couldn't have been happier...
An absolutely phenomenal day, easily in my top 3 moments of 2017. I couldn't have done this with the help from Phil Garrett and Kat Francis. Kat, ALL the guys miss you, and I'm sure you feel the same way. They were really happy to hear about your MFA show, and were glad to know that you had reached out trying to get me in touch with Bob.
I never imagined in my lifetime that I would be meeting someone who helped shape the practical FX business and industry, NEVER imagined that I would ever be interviewing people in the practical FX industry. The last thing I ever expected was to be meeting so many famous and well renowned men and women who helped shape the industry and inspire me as a kid. I gotta tell you it's a humbling experience when you get to meet your childhood idols and the men and women behind he curtain responsible for all the monster effects in both those classic and iconic movies. I don't think I've ever put as much effort into anything as I have for my senior capstone thesis. With only a few weeks left, my post production has officially started with a few interviews left, still needing to be scheduled. With Robert Kurtzman's positive feedback and today under my belt, my drive and passion for this thesis film is a hot roaring fire. I'm so proud of myself and I can't wait to show this when it's all over!!!!!