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FACE OFF, the new makeup FX competition series, is a ratings winner for the Syfy network. With all the ingredients for good reality TV—stern judges, drama and personality clashes between contestants and challenges that are creative while also being quantifiable—FACE OFF is the horror geek’s PROJECT RUNWAY. Sadly, on every such show, there has to be one person who gets the boot before they have a chance to really show the full range of their talent to the judges. FANGORIA talked to FACE OFF’s first sacrificial lamb, Jessica Kramer.
FANGORIA: Remind us, where are you?
JESSICA KRAMER: I am technically in Scottdale, PA. Everything on the Internet says Scottsdale, AZ. Whenever you say Scottdale, PA, everyone automatically assumes Scottsdale, AZ.
FANG: If you’re in Pennsylvania, I’ll go out on a limb and say you either studied with Tom Savini, or had some contact with him.
KRAMER: I did, yeah, that’s where I went to school.
FANG: And how was that?
KRAMER: It was a good experience. I learned a lot there, and I’m very glad I attended that school.
FANG: How long is that program?
KRAMER: Sixteen months when I went there. I’m not sure if it’s longer now. It was probably six years ago…
FANG: Are you working in the field? Or is FACE OFF the first time you’ve gotten to be “on set” creating something?
KRAMER: Right now, for the past five years, I’ve been doing face painting and body painting. I’ll do local events, fairs and festivals, things like that. I’ve done independent films, like local stuff, but this was the first big special effects project I’ve been involved with.
FANG: What were some of the independent films you’ve worked on?
KRAMER: Oh, my, I don’t really remember the names. They were very, very independent [laughs], and nothing that ever truly got finished. Like, they always got backed out on before they were completed.
FANG: That sucks!
KRAMER: I know! [Laughs]
FANG: You all auditioned via video, but was there more to getting on the show than that?
KRAMER: I only had, like, three days to make that video. Come up with the idea, edit, everything. I got it done, and I wasn’t really expecting much. It was near the deadline, and [I figured] they’d have everybody already picked. But I sent it in, and that night, a couple of hours later, one of the casting directors called me. They wanted an on-the-phone interview, so she talked to me, and a couple of days later they figured everything out, and then I had to go for another interview live in LA. They flew me out, and I had two hours to do a makeup on myself once I got out there.
FANG: This all happened so fast; you must have been thinking, “What the hell…?”
KRAMER: It was crazy. Because I’ve been doing face and body paint for so long, I had to kind of relearn some of the effects stuff I hadn’t done for a while. [Laughs] I had maybe a week? Not even a week’s notice before I had to fly out. So I had to resculpt an appliance, mold an appliance, do everything with it before I could go out there and apply it. I had to make it all from scratch in just a couple of days.
FANG: Who or what are your influences as far as being a makeup artist?
KRAMER: It depends. Steve Johnson is a huge influence as far as special effects. But the Wolfe Brothers are also a big influence, for face painting and body painting.
FANG: If you had your druthers, what would you be doing in the industry?
KRAMER: I have fallen in love with body painting. I love the art form, everything to do with it. That would be my perfect job—I’m doing it right now, and I love it. I love the special effects, but for some reason being able to make someone look like a zombie using only paint, or make them look beautiful using only that without any appliances—I think that’s a really cool aspect of it.
FANG: Are you watching the show?
KRAMER: Yes, I am.
FANG: So we can assume you saw the second episode, where the challenge was body painting.
KRAMER: [Laughs] Yes, I was so mad! I was very jealous, because I know I would have done very well with that challenge. The tattoo challenge as well.
FANG: So, the final challenge on your episode. I have to ask—do you think you should have gone home?
KRAMER: No, I don’t. [Laughs]
FANG: And who do you think you should have gone home?
KRAMER: I really do believe probably Jo [Kayla Holland]. Just because I don’t think she has the experience to do many of the things that were on the show. She showed her inexperience with ripping the bald cap, and not doing any of the edges…it just didn’t seem that she had enough experience to know to cover them.
FANG: Here’s a question about that bald cap. It looked like the tiniest hole, and yet everybody on the show was acting like it was the Grand Canyon. Couldn’t someone have just taken a piece of another bald cap and covered it with makeup?
KRAMER: That’s what we ended up doing. She tried to put stuff underneath it, she tried all these things. I had to body-paint the rest of the model, like her legs, I had to paint the beak and everything else. And I was like, “Just put the bald cap on.” She tried to use super glue, and I was like, “No, we can’t do that. It’s a horrible idea. It will be glued to her head.” So we put another piece of bald cap over, and then I put cotton and latex on top to give it texture. [But] you could still see the hole…it still looked really bad. It was an awful, obscene-looking hole. [Laughs] I tried to cover it the best I could, but still…
FANG: Any stories about the house where you were living that didn’t make it to air?
KRAMER: There was a lot of fun in the house. Gage [Hubbard] and Marcel [Banks] and I always stayed up super late, had girl talk basically. There were some food fights. Nothing too crazy.
FANGORIA: When you were eliminated, did the tone in the room seem to be angling toward you being eliminated from the show?
KRAMER: Actually, no—I think everybody was surprised I got kicked off. I think they thought either Sergio [Guerra] or Jo was going. I did most of the work on the ostrich; I sculpted the feet and the beak, and painted, and just did most of the work. And Jo just pretty much applied it. Sergio—I think everyone expected him to go home, because he was very slow at working. I think it was definitely a shock when I went home.
FANG: Why did you put the beak over the model’s nose above her mouth?
KRAMER: It was the easier way out. We both pretty much decided that. It was a stupid error on my part to do that. I believe the other ostrich didn’t even have a bottom beak.
FANG: Overall, were you happy with what you presented to the judges? Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
KRAMER: Yeah, I would have done a lot of things differently. When you went into the challenge, you weren’t sure of your partner’s capabilities, and what they would do. I wouldn’t have done a bald cap at all. I wouldn’t have done that hair work. Just little things. I would have made sure edges were perfect. There were things I really liked. I loved the legs, the sculpture of the feet. I definitely would have changed the beak—it wouldn’t have been so HOWARD THE DUCK-looking. I had some bad calls on my part.
FANG: Are you in contact with anyone from the show?
KRAMER: Yeah, I still talk to Gage and Marcel a lot.
FANG: Have you thought about coming out to Los Angeles to work?
KRAMER: I have. Gage offered me a place to stay anytime I want to come out. I’m definitely thinking about it. I’m not sure where I want to go right now. I’m not sure if I want to go the special effects direction, or stay and do body painting. I’m not sure where my path will take me yet. But I’m not ruling it out. If I got the opportunity, I would definitely be out there in a heartbeat.
You can see Kramer’s Facebook page here; her website will launch soon here. For more on FACE OFF, click here and check out the show's official website.
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