Thesis Meeting Robert Kurtzman

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!!!!!

Update on the Thesis

On Monday from 11:40-12:00 I headed down to the short north to interview Cory Harrison, an avid artist young to the prosthetics industry. Cory is mainly a a makeup applications artist, and does a lot of work in the drag industry here in Columbus. I got some great insight from Cory, being new to the whole prosthetics thing. We've made plans to schedule another interview in the next few days or so.   From 2:00-4:00 I was down at Unit 70 for my third film shoot there. I got to interview Bo Bruns the owner of the company and studio. From what I was told by Rich my teacher and an employee there, Bo doesn't open up much to strangers and new people. I was instantly surprised how relaxed and enthusiastic Bo was to answer the questions that I threw at him. Bo gave a lot of great insight into the company and the practical effects industry providing in detail what he loved most about practical effects being in movies. There was a lot of content given and I was thoroughly impressed at what he had to offer. We talked for a while after about general basics in the business side, as well as our experiences from ccad. Bo then took a few minutes to show me some of the secret tricks of the trade that their studio has accomplished and made over time. Bo was kind enough to offer me to come back whenever I felt like dropping in, without having to really get in touch. It was a fantastic time, getting to interview the owner and hearing his stories and experiences.  I still need to reshoot some interviews with Kat Francis, and get in touch with Gary Jones, a director and all around artist in the practical FX industry. I'm still waiting to hear back from David Greathouse an artist from Cleveland and a contestant from Face-off. I've been able to get in touch with Rashaad Santiago and Laura Dandridge, both fellow contestants and season champions from Face-off. With three and a half weeks, I have to start putting together a rough cut of my thesis. Tomorrow I will be working with Annie Kuhn fixing and cleaning up my audio files from my interviews. The last few days I have been organizing and archiving my footage arranging them into different folders by footage.   Today I will be working late in the labs FINALLY beginning to cut together a rough cut. It is going to be a daunting task rough cutting together a thesis film that will run around 15-20 minutes long, with the hope that this will really help my portfolio in the art side of things. A lot of people have been praising my work, but I'm not ready to accept it until the final film is done. I'm tired and so exhausted from school, but my passion and drive for this project has kept me going. The amount of networking and heavy communication with some of the great artists has been beneficial beyond all comprehension. So I hope that this film will run smoothly together and that it will show my passion and enthusiasm for the practical FX industry.    

On Monday from 11:40-12:00 I headed down to the short north to interview Cory Harrison, an avid artist young to the prosthetics industry. Cory is mainly a a makeup applications artist, and does a lot of work in the drag industry here in Columbus. I got some great insight from Cory, being new to the whole prosthetics thing. We've made plans to schedule another interview in the next few days or so. 

From 2:00-4:00 I was down at Unit 70 for my third film shoot there. I got to interview Bo Bruns the owner of the company and studio. From what I was told by Rich my teacher and an employee there, Bo doesn't open up much to strangers and new people. I was instantly surprised how relaxed and enthusiastic Bo was to answer the questions that I threw at him. Bo gave a lot of great insight into the company and the practical effects industry providing in detail what he loved most about practical effects being in movies. There was a lot of content given and I was thoroughly impressed at what he had to offer. We talked for a while after about general basics in the business side, as well as our experiences from ccad. Bo then took a few minutes to show me some of the secret tricks of the trade that their studio has accomplished and made over time. Bo was kind enough to offer me to come back whenever I felt like dropping in, without having to really get in touch. It was a fantastic time, getting to interview the owner and hearing his stories and experiences.

I still need to reshoot some interviews with Kat Francis, and get in touch with Gary Jones, a director and all around artist in the practical FX industry. I'm still waiting to hear back from David Greathouse an artist from Cleveland and a contestant from Face-off. I've been able to get in touch with Rashaad Santiago and Laura Dandridge, both fellow contestants and season champions from Face-off. With three and a half weeks, I have to start putting together a rough cut of my thesis. Tomorrow I will be working with Annie Kuhn fixing and cleaning up my audio files from my interviews. The last few days I have been organizing and archiving my footage arranging them into different folders by footage. 

Today I will be working late in the labs FINALLY beginning to cut together a rough cut. It is going to be a daunting task rough cutting together a thesis film that will run around 15-20 minutes long, with the hope that this will really help my portfolio in the art side of things. A lot of people have been praising my work, but I'm not ready to accept it until the final film is done. I'm tired and so exhausted from school, but my passion and drive for this project has kept me going. The amount of networking and heavy communication with some of the great artists has been beneficial beyond all comprehension. So I hope that this film will run smoothly together and that it will show my passion and enthusiasm for the practical FX industry. 

 

Directors Statement Draft 2

Makeup, Monsters, and Movies: an Inside into Practical Effects

 

Directors Statement:

The original intent of this film is to explain and dive into the significance and importance of practical FX in the film industry. I believe that there is an importance to having prosthetics, makeup, and creature effects in movies. There is something that differentiates digital effects and practical on set effects. I have always been fascinated with practical movie effects ever since I watched Jurassic Park for the first time. Seeing those dinosaurs really wowed and struck me with a sense of awe. Within the last 20 years, CGI and digital effects have begun to take over the film industry and the use of practical effects seems to have slowly decreased. Although movies may be saving money in using both digital and CGI effects, it is pretty easy to tell the difference between a practical effect and a digital one. One major problem is that much of the digital and CGI effects have taken away the physical effects, losing believability in some aspect of realism. That’s why I want to bring to attention the importance of why practical effects still need to play a major part in film.

 

With this as my concept, I wanted to look upon the different aspects of the practical effects industry, focusing on creatures, prosthetics and makeup for movies. I wanted to not only focus on those but also on the importance of them in film and how they have evolved and changed over the years, starting from low budget productions to high expensive big budget name films.

With this in mind I want to interview people who have worked in the industry making creatures and monsters, makeup, and prosthetics for movies, even for haunted houses and other events. I have gathered together a large number of people who have worked in the industry both students, independent freelance artists, and a wide variety of other artists who have worked in the industry. I want to hear their stories, learn about their experience, how they got started, and what working on practical effects means to them. Bearing that in mind it is important for me to show the audience why each of the people I have interviewed, believe that keeping practical effects in the film industry is important. I hope that this inside will show people that although CGI has helped progress the film industry, that practical effects are more “practical” to movies and film.

This subject is very important to me. The practical effects industry has always fascinated me, and is something I have always dreamed of being a part of. The idea that one day digital effects might push practical out of the way in its entirety worries me. I think that we need to keep practical effects around for the sake of realism, compared to something we obviously know is false. 

Makeup, Monsters, and Movies; an inside into Practical Effects

I have decided on my senior thesis title as Makeup, Monsters, and Movies: an inside into Practical Effects.

Iam currently in the midst of scheduling my last few interviews. I have gotten in touch with David Greathouse, and will be scheduling an interview with him hopefully in the next two weeks. I have begun to start editing my senior thesis. I hope to have a rough cut by the middle of April. Once a rough cut has been put together, I will be editing in the rest of my interviews. I am waiting to schedule interviews with Christina Himiob, and Adam Milicevic, and one to two more artists. 

Right now I have hit a few roadblocks. I am stuck with some bad audio tracks from my interview with Katrina Francis. Hopefully with the help of Annie Kuhn we will be able to clean up the audio. 

I am also in the process of emailing Unit 70, to finish my shooting there. I have gotten in touch with David Watkins, a graduate from CCAD. Hopefully he will be able to come down and help me film and do audio. 

Capstone Thesis update

Most of my spring break consisted of me working on thesis. So far things have been going very well. In the last three weeks, i have gotten interview footage with Bill Hargreaves at Lexington Comic con. During Spring Break, On Sunday I headed down to Cincinnati for Horrorhound and got an interview with Michael McKay who played the Mummy in the Movie "The Monster Squad" as well as an artist that makes prosthetic teeth. On Tuesday I interviewed Kat Francis who worked for Robert Kurtzman, and worked for Union responsible for the prosthetic arm for the winter soldier. Wednesday I headed down to Unit 70 located by the airport and spent a little over three and a half hours there filming the studio and getting all my B-roll coverage. I have scheduled another time to go back there to interview some of the employees who work there. Right now I am currently scheduling a Skype interview with Christina Himiob and her boyfriend who are independent practice FX artists, as well as finding a time to interview Adam Milicevic who was on the show Face-Off season 8 and a returning contestant to season 11. As of now, I am in the process of organizing all of my footage and interviews. I talked with Kat and she directed me towards an artist named David House, someone who also was on the show Face-Off. I am still waiting to hear back from him. I plan on also interviewing a few students to get their thoughts. Finally I do have confirmed music for my soundtrack, all I need to do is to send my friend release forms for his music.