We love practical special effects (we say “practical” as people often mix their terminology – visual effects, CG, and physical special effects – three different types of effects), this series of blogs is about – the practical also called “mechanical” special effects and prosthetic special effects, which are headed up by SPFX Supervisor and Bleeding Art Industries founder and co-owner Leo Wieser.
As part of the cycle of the Earp curse, our heroine Wynonna sends the bad guys – revenants – back to hell, but in this episode one of the revenants seems to return… but wait…it’s actually his even more evil twin brother (courtesy of talented loca actor Josh Bertwistle). We were able to add to our growing list of practical effects and gruesome illusions – the most prominent being the Bowie Knife to the head. As a base to the illusion, we used the old arrow through the head trick with this prop, with the hilt of the knife on a wire that clipped into Josh’s hair.
That was the easy part; to make it look like the tip came through his mouth was a bit more difficult. We had to make a set of upper and lower false teeth that were broken looking, that had the knife coming through them, that fit to the actor’s real teeth and had a blood tube attached to the back of them. Everyone on set had to be on board to make this type of illusion work as it has to be shot from the right angle to make it convincing, the actor has to know how to hold his head the right way and how much blood to drool out when the SPFX team starts pumping blood through the mouth piece. All of these criteria were taken care of and the character met his demise in a unique yet gruesome way.
This character also has rather extensive facial burns from previous evil experiments which were created by Bleeding Art out of silicone and skillfully applied by makeup department head Joanne Jacobsen and her assistant Gunther Schetterer on set.
In this picture, Bleeding Art’s Alyssa Moor is working on an early idea for the face ripping off sequence. In this concept the skin flap would be loosely placed over the actor’s face on top of a skull plate mounted beneath. It was at this point that we found our director was sensitive to gore and the prosthetic was scaled back to a more realistic and perhaps more disturbing version of what was shot.
As for mechanical special effects in this episode…wow….there was a whole street of fog (see our previous posting, “The Blog on Fog” for more info on that effect), a blood explosion inside what we called the “box of doom”, Cryderman’s exploding blood head (complete with falling bits) and people everywhere frothing at the mouth.
As a final note, we’d like to give a shout out to Big Rock Beer, whose beer taps can be seen in Shorty’s Saloon on the show. For years Big Rock has been a huge supporter of the arts and entertainment scene here in Calgary and in many places in Canada. They were one of the first craft breweries to exist long before the current multitudes came on the scene. They started the Eddie Awards (a fundraiser competition for emerging commercial producers to show their work using Big Rock as a theme and with proceeds going to a local not for profit) which have now morphed into a short film festival.
In the interest of full self-disclosure: when Leo and Becky first started Bleeding Art, they very quickly whipped together an ad submission to the Eddies – set to Tom Cruise’s “Mission Impossible” theme music – created and shot in less than 2 weeks before the deadline and managed to get into the top Eddies being screened. And Becky really likes their beer. Our hats off to Big Rock for their participation in Wynonna Earp and for allowing us to splatter their taps with Cryderman bits. And a second hats off to our good friend David LeReaney who played the part of Cryderman so creepily well.
We’re posting 2 Wynonna blogs this week as the final episode – 13 aired on Space last Saturday. Season 2 begins next Friday June 9 on Space. Watch for our blog on the Season 2 opening episode the week of June 11.
This blog has been edited from when it was first posted in June 2016.