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The ax fell for the third time on Syfy’s new monster hit, the makeup FX competition show FACE OFF. And Fango was there to interview the latest head that rolled (see our previous interviews here and here).
Early on, Frank Ippolito became the contestant audiences loved to hate. His work habits appeared a bit…relaxed, and his treatment of at least one other contestant came off as quite combative. But Ippolito challenges that perception, and Syfy offered some video on their website to support his version of what actually happened on the show.
FANGORIA: Let’s start with your background.
FRANK IPPOLITO: I’ve been a makeup artist in LA for about 10 years. I’ve worked on PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2 and 3, CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK. I did an MTV show a couple years ago called ONE BAD TRIP. I’ve been recently doing a lot of work with Danny DeVito [pictured right in 3rd photo here]. He makes these little horror films, like short films, that I’ve been working on for about a year and a half. I used to run the Chiodo Brothers shop. I did that for about four years. So I’ve been around a little bit I suppose.
FANG: So what’s up with the Danny DeVito films?
IPPOLITO: Danny’s been making these little horror films, these short films. He has them on his own website, TheBloodFactory.com. He’s been making them for a little while, but I just got into it last year and I’ve been working with him since then. I think he’s getting ready to do a horror movie feature, and this is him just kind of playing and feeling it out.
FANG: It’s always interesting to find out who’s secretly a horror fan, like Mel Brooks.
IPPOLITO: It’s cool. Danny loves it. He always wants more blood, more blood, more gore. I’m working on building the next one that shoots in about a week and a half. One girl gets her face ripped off…
FANG: The question I have for reality show contestants that seem to have a decent career going before appearing on the show is—what was your motivation to apply for the show?
IPPOLITO: When you go through life you kind of judge things on, are you going to regret not trying something? And if I would have not tried out for the show, I would have been sitting here [thinking], “I should have tried out for that.” So I just went and did it for fun. And I got on, and it was fun.
FANG: When you first got there, you saw all these other makeup artists. What was your assessment at that point?
IPPOLITO: Well, I knew a couple of them from the past. I’ve known Gage Hubbard for a while. I’ve known Tom Devlin for a while. I knew Megan Areford a little bit. And I knew of Connor McCullagh, but I never met him personally. When you walk into a situation like that, you kind of size up the room. Connor was probably the only other person in the room with probably as much of a résumé as me. I think second to Connor would be Tom. I’m good pals with Tom, and I think his work is awesome. I think the stuff he does is crazy and I love it. I actually just directed a short film, and I had Tom do one of the gags for me.
FANG: So basically, you know these people…
IPPOLITO: I knew some of them. You look at some of them and go, “Who are you?” I guess the one thing I had up on some of the people is this show isn’t a make or break for my career. If I do good, I don’t know that I’m necessarily going to be elevated to something special. If I do poorly, I don’t think it’s necessarily going to shut doors. I went into it with an open mind, just to have fun with it.
FANG: Have you seen the show? Have you been watching episodes?
FANG: So you know that either truthfully, or through the tricks of editing, they have portrayed you as the guy who gets it done early and then hangs out and reads a book.
IPPOLITO: [Laughs] It’s kind of funny, like, through editing… I do have a bit of a prickly personality. Part of that is kind of how I am. But, like you said, through the miracles of editing…I’m not really disrespectful toward the people that I work with. I’m never, you know, rude. I don’t particularly act the way I was acting on set, or the way they portrayed me. I’ve always said people can call me a lot of things, but lazy is never one of them. And the show kind of portrays me as lazy. That’s probably the only thing that’s kind of frustrating.
FANG: So let’s talk about the naked body painting challenge, and the model with the lampshade on his head. You know how it was portrayed on the show. What’s your version of what went down?
IPPOLITO: There were some other things going on, some behind the scenes stuff, that kind of had me in a mood to begin with that day. And then getting picked last kind of sucked. I kind of felt singled out. I think the situation was much more lighthearted than it was portrayed…Obviously they need to make it seem more interesting. I don’t think that it would be an interesting show if they showed me and that [model] goofing around and having fun and laughing. You know, that’s fine. Because we were. I got along with the guy just fine. When I talked with him about my idea of painting him into the wall like that, I said, “I’m not really sure what to do with your head.” And he goes, “Put a lampshade on it.” And I was like, that’s a great idea! I’m pretty sure how that went down. He was totally cool with it. It wasn't disrespecting him, it wasn’t rude.
FANG: Let’s talk about your last episode. You and your partner, Anthony Pepe, not getting along. Thoughts?
IPPOLITO: I’m not a particular fan of Anthony or his work. But they portrayed me as the one that was the jerk, the one that’s lazy or incompetent. Anthony is the one that fits that role a little bit better. It was just a little bit more convenient because I was a little bit more of a loudmouth and probably easier for them to edit me into that. There are some people you work with that you just don’t see eye to eye with, and I’ve been pretty fortunate to be able to align myself in LA with people that I do work well with, so I never really have to run into that situation.
FANG: When you finished your part of the alien and then didn’t help Anthony finish his part, didn’t you think that might hurt the finished project over all?
IPPOLITO: I don’t remember it happening the way they portrayed it in the show. Everybody always gives me shit about being lazy and walking around. Even Anthony goes, “Oh, he’s getting coffee. He’s getting another coffee.” I got a coffee. What, are you gonna yell at me because I got up and got a drink of water? Because I went to the bathroom? It was edited to make it look like I was screwing around. I worked the whole time. On the body painting one, I worked the whole time. Connor finished two hours early on the body painting one, not me. It went down a little bit differently on the actual day than it was portrayed on the show.
Instead of taking the lead on that project, I said, “You know what, Anthony is going to be a hard one to work with, so I’m going to let him be in charge.” So I said, “All right, dude, whatever you want. Let’s make what you designed.” I had a different design, but he didn’t like it. He thought doing a retro, 1950s-ish throwback sci-fi alien would have been a cop out. So he had this idea for something else. So instead of me butting heads with him the whole time, I said, “OK, you tell me what you want me to do.” And he said, “All right, you do this, you work on this. I’ll do this and I’ll do this…” And so he pretty much delegated whatever the responsibilities were, and I did what my responsibilities were. And he’s not as fast as I am, you know, he’s not as refined—you can go down the list. But I did my job according to how he dictated it.
FANG: It was an interesting turning point in the episode when Tate Steinsiek and Sam Cobb had that giant mold they had to clean, and everybody from the shop ran over there to help them. I saw you helping with that, right?
IPPOLITO: I was the first one to go over there to help. I probably helped them for about a half an hour before anybody else really came over. I was the first one on the scene. I was the first one to chip in and give a hand. And then other people came in and helped them. Again, this was another thing they don’t show… I don’t think there was a single day we were working that I wasn’t telling somebody a formula of how to do something or a different way to mold something. I was always, always, always helping everybody. I think there was even a point when Jo Holland called me “Wikipedia” because anytime she had a question, I was there with an answer for her.
FANG: So now we’re at the elimination, and you and Anthony are pulled up, and you’re eliminated. And I have to say, your reaction did sort of seem like a passive-aggressive middle finger to the judges. Was that the case? Where you truly excited to get out of there?
IPPOLITO: I had jobs waiting for me. So when I knew I was on the chopping block, I was sitting there going, “Oh, cool, I can go home and work on these jobs that I’m stressing about…” I had other stuff lined up. I mean, you can’t just go, “OK, I’m going to go do this reality show…” and then not know what’s coming up next. I knew there was a job coming up next, and I needed to get to it. So I was kind of relieved in a way to get home and get to work. I haven’t stopped working since September. I’ve been wall to wall with stuff going on. So it wasn’t intended as a middle finger to the judges, it was how I was feeling at the time. I was happy to get off that crazy bus ride and get back to work.
FANG: Was there a point during the show when you thought, “You know, I’m really ready to get out of here?”
IPPOLITO: I’m trying to think how I can answer that. [Laughs] I mean, I was ready to go. Being on a reality show is a lot different than working in the real world. Being on a reality show is definitely more stressful that it probably appears. You feel like if you go there and you do your work and you keep your mouth shut you’ll be fine. It’s hard. It’s stressful. It’s a different animal. It’s definitely not like working in the real industry. You got a camera in your face all day long and stuff like that. I’m like, I gotta get out of here. This isn’t for me.
FANG: Did you have fun in the house?
IPPOLITO: Yeah! We had a lot of fun. I got along with people really well. Other than Anthony, I got along with absolutely everybody.
FANG: Did you see first-hand any of the evidence of this budding romance between Connor and Megan?
IPPOLITO: Yeah, you know, I think I was the one who instigated that. I was talking to Megan and she goes, “I think he’s cute…” And so when I was talking to Connor I go, “Connor, I think Megan thinks you’re cute!” And he goes, “Oh, cool, I think she’s pretty cute, too. I think she’s cool.” And so I go back to Megan and go, “Hey, Connor thinks you’re cute!” And she does her little giggle thing. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I instigated that. [Laughs] They gotta have something to talk about now that I’m gone.
FANG: Any last thoughts on the experience?
IPPOLITO: I’ve been having a party every week to watch the show. And Steve Johnson was there last night. And he was cracking up. “Frankie, I’ve known you forever! This isn’t you! What are you doing?!”
The biggest thing that gets frustrating for me is that I’ve been painted to be lazy or incompetent on the show, and that’s really pretty far from the truth. If people look at what I’ve done, I’m not a hack. I’m not lazy, and I’m not incompetent. I’ve been trying to figure out how to gracefully respond. I hope people understand it’s just a TV show.
Note: After our interview with Ippolito, Syfy posted a video showing “The Softer Side of Frank” that you can see here.
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