Space Channel’s Wynonna Earp has a great mix of practical special effects and prosthetics. The SPFX department, headed up by Leo Wieser of Bleeding Art Industries, and Makeup Department Head Joanne Jacobsen worked very closely throughout the series. In our first guest blog, Joanne talks about one of the bigger makeup effects for the show – that of the character Drek, played by Zachary Parsons-Lozinski, in Episode 9 of the first season.
Guest Blog by Wynonna Earp Makeup Department Head Joanne Jacobsen
The challenge of the Drek makeup initially scared the heck out of me. Not only was it the biggest, most time consuming makeup I had ever done, it was also the biggest project I had worked on from conception to birth – pun intended for those who have seen the episode. Because I also did the makeup for Drek’s mother – the wonderful Stone Witch, Constance Clootie – I felt even more a part of Drek.
Ron Murphy, who has a limitless imagination when it comes to directing, asked Leo and me for a makeup that looked completely perfect from the back but was ugly and terrifying from the front. He wanted it mask-like in look and texture, yet almost human.
After I explained that the actor would have to shave all his body and facial hair, our producers went to the actor to confirm he was still in, and Leo and I went to work on the concept design. Leo has a wealth of knowledge and is constantly in research mode. Leo oversaw and worked out the science side and I focused on the art – and the practicality of applying and maintaining the makeup on set.
Through many, many conversations, texts and weekend emails, Leo convinced me the way to do this face was with silicone (Smooth-On Dragon Skin) and apply it with Skin Tite (also a Smooth-On silicone product). My previous experiences with Skin Tite were not positive so I was very hesitant, but in the end he was right (but don’t tell him I said that!). He even found a YouTube video of Lars Carlsson, from MAKEUP EFFECTS AB of Sweden, demonstrating this method (see link below).
Lars made it look easy, even the removal and clean-up. I emailed him with a rash of questions and some apprehension. After all, we had to deal with cold weather, condensation, movement; the actor had to be able to scream, and Ron wanted one eye looking like a glass bead so our actor had to be blind in one eye for two days of shooting. Lars’ generous response and valuable advice helped put me at ease.
OK, so now we knew it would be made of silicone. We knew how it would go on and how it would come off. Now, to design it.
Alyssa our sculptor (and Bleeding Art Industries head fabricator) was absolutely wonderful to work with. She even let me touch and move her sculpt around. I have great respect for a sculptor with the confidence and team-focus to let me do that. Alyssa sculpted, poured and pulled Drek in record time.
When Gunther Schetterer (my 1st Assistant Makeup) and I did a trial on this makeup with Zachary it went so smoothly, it was amazing. Having a patient actor is a blessing. He was very excited about this role which helped Gunther and I get over any fears; we really enjoyed doing this makeup. In the trial we put it on in seven pieces including the neck bits. On the two actual shooting days we were able to put it on in five pieces. A lot of the texture and colour came from freestyling with Skin Tite and flocking (fibers used for colouring). Gunther gave one side of Drek’s face smooth edges and I gave the other side meat-like scars. It was so much fun!
When Drek was born on camera he looked perfect… from behind, every mother’s dream. Then on the reveal, we see that his face is a hideous combination of pain and distortion – a face only a mother could love! We had birthed a monster!
Watch for our next blog on the mechanical special effects and prosthetics for the first season of Wynonna Earp after Episode 10 airs Saturday May 20.
Wynonna Earp airs on Space Channel on Saturdays after Dr. Who. It is also available by clicking here on iTunes.
Credits: It takes a team – a Canadian team: Concept and Design by Leo Wieser and Joanne Jacobsen, Sculptor and Prosthetic Builder Alyssa Moor, Special FX Makeup Artists Joanne Jacobsen and Gunther Schetterer
This Blog was originally posted in May 2016.