If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
Monster-movie fans, does the phrase “man in a suit” hold a
special place in your heart? Then the feature-length documentary MEN IN SUITS
needs to be on your radar! Wyrd Studios and director Frank H. Woodward have
crafted a fun, educational and loving tribute to “suit performers,” as the
documentary refers to them—people whom the film industry doesn’t quite consider
actors, yet are responsible for bringing to vivid life our favorite practical
The documentary has been shot and edited, but there’s still
a ways to go in terms of sound mixing, color correction and other fine details,
so the producers are raising postproduction funds via Kickstarter (see details
below). The project is a genuine labor of lover for director Woodward, whose
passion for the subject, he tells Fango, “started with monsters. I wanted to do
something about them, but anybody can just do a documentary on monsters, and there
have been many makeup documentaries. So when we were looking for a new angle,
suits is where we ended up!"
Woodward marvels at the unique position of suit performers
in pop culture, reflecting, “You look at the Creature from the Black Lagoon,
Godzilla, Robby the Robot, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Predator, Alien…these guys are as
big as Indiana Jones or James Bond, and nobody knows who they are!” Woodward's
camera captures everyone from Guillermo del Toro and his monster regulars,
Brian Steele and the inimitable Doug Jones, to TV’s GHOST BUSTERS gorilla
performer Bob Burns, original Godzilla Haruo Nakajima, Stan Winston protégé and
xenomorph/Pumpkinhead performer Tom Woodruff Jr. and many, many others. Topics
include the most obscure goofy dinosaur suits in THE LAND UNKNOWN, the Gorn
from STAR TREK, Rick Baker’s ape creations, the late Kevin Peter Hall (the
eponymous performer of PREDATOR and HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS) and more.
The performers’ difficulties and rewards of being in the
suit are discussed in a good-natured but honest fashion, with the rigamarole of
lugging around hundreds of pounds of rubber and trying to make it look natural
a must-watch for anyone interested in pursuing this kind of work. The
interviews are intercut with suit performer Douglas Tait as his costume from
Joe Lynch’s upcoming KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM evolves from a spongy bodysuit to a
fully articulated demon, giving the audience a first-hand look at the process
of creating and inhabiting a monster. There’s also a straightforward and pragmatic
discussion of suit work in the age of CGI, which the interviewees both defend
and criticize as an overused tool.
Producer William Janczewski chimes in on behalf of modern
suit work, saying, “I think the problem with CGI, as good as it is today, is
that by tomorrow it’s going to feel cold. Because it’s going for this illusion
of reality, but with the suits there’s something organic you buy into.”
Woodward agrees, stating, “When it’s real, you can imagine it on the street.
When you know it’s CGI, you know it can’t follow you home.”
Not that the documentary or its creators feel the need to
pit CGI and practical against each other. “I share the feeling, which I’ve
heard from just about everyone who does this sort of thing, that to do it right
means a combination of practical and digital,” the director affirms. “There’s a
saying in performing magic that ‘The trick to a magic trick is to not do it
twice.’ Movies that mix up practical and CGI are the ones really pulling off an
illusion.” The documentary itself addresses the need for suit performers even
for exclusively CGI creations, as it features scenes on a motion-capture
soundstage, where the performer is still integral.
It all adds up to essential viewing for anyone who loves
creature FX, and if you count yourself among them and want to see the film
completed, go to MEN IN SUITS’ Kickstarter page and make an
investment and learn more about the sweet incentives that await your
participation. “The donations equal a pre-order, if you want to look at it like
that,” chuckles Woodward. So if this flick sounds up your alley, make your
contribution today with the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping to ensure
its place on your DVD shelf.
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment