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Continuing our conversation with FACE OFF contestant Tate
Steinsiek (see part one here)…
FANGORIA: Overall, what do you think was the hardest aspect
of being on a TV show?
TATE STEINSIEK: Probably the hardest aspect was the forced
seclusion. I’ve been in New York for eight years, I’m used to people just buzzing
around me, but I left that because I got tired of it. I moved back to my home
state of Oklahoma and got a little farm with my fiancé and just went into this
secluded world. I travel around for work. I’m a redneck at heart. I can
maintain myself in these metropolis environments, but I like horses, I like
ponds. I like sunshine and peace. And I’d been in that for well over a year at
the point that they flew me out for FACE OFF and threw me into this environment
with 12 strangers and a locked door behind us. So honestly, the hardest part
was just integrating into this odd reality. The work was honestly my release.
Going back to the loft after a days work was where the stress began for me. I’m
used to set stress. Social stress is a whole different beast.
FANG: How about those elimination days? Having produced my
fair share of reality shows, I know that there are days when the production
breaks for lunch in the middle of what appears to the viewer as an unbroken
panel and elimination, which is murder on the contestants.
STEINSIEK: There are obstacles that America has no idea
about. We rarely got to meet our talent until the day of application. They
always broke our talent for lunch after we’d applied, and we wouldn’t see them
for five hours and we wouldn’t have a chance to touch them before they went in
front of Academy Award-winning artists [laughs]. I don’t how much I can say; I
wish I could tell you all of it! A lot of effects artists, industry big guys
out there, are throwing a lot of criticism at some of our decisions, but there
are definite bullet points that led us to those positions that were completely
out of our control. The finale—we did the makeups, and it was probably seven
hours before we got them on the stage. So you have seven hours of people that
aren’t creature actors, they’re rolling around in chairs, they’re laying on the
floor because they’re tired and the suits are heavy. They’re eating food in
prosthetics. By the time my werewolf guy had gotten to me, he’d already taken
his mask off.
FANG: How do you run a company out of Oklahoma? Have you
already made your connections? Is it an example of now we live in sort of a
global society because of the Internet and you can make connections that way?
STEINSIEK: It’s 100 percent the advent of the Internet. In
fact, for the first year I was out of New York, no one even knew it. I didn’t
tell anybody I was leaving. I kept my website New York-based, I kept my 646
telephone number. It’s so cheap to just fly around when your cost of living is
nothing. When I’m in New York, my rent is $2,500 a month. In Oklahoma, I take
what I spend in six months on rent and buy a farm. I have the connections, I’ve
established myself with a network of filmmakers to the point that they will
always call me when effects are needed, and I just fly in and start
preproduction. I also have a warehouse in Brooklyn owned by a great friend of
mine who’s a fabulous photographer, and anytime I need to go into
preproduction, I’ve got a massive warehouse space out there. On the other end,
I’ve got Tom out there at 1313fx in Burbank, and anytime I have any LA stuff, I
just go out there with him.
I’m a hectic kind of dude. If I’m thrown into a hectic
environment, I get nuts [laughs]. And not in the best way. So I need this
serenity around me to try to keep my insane brain calm.
FANG: You actually managed to stay out of the drama on the
show. Interestingly, the person who seemed the most uncomfortable being on a TV
show, Conor, found himself smack dab in the middle of it. But you were pretty
much out of it. To what do you attribute your success staying out of the drama?
STEINSIEK: I’m the guy who gives people a chance, then makes
an evaluation on them based on what they do with it. I’m not one of those
people who demands proof that you’re awesome or trustworthy and then moves
forward, because that is what causes conflict. And that’s what happened in the
house. When you throw a bunch of alphas into one cave, there’s going to be some
scraps. I’m definitely an alpha, but I evaluate things differently. I was able
to gain the trust of everyone in the house because I honestly did care. I
honestly did think everyone was cool, and I honestly wished the best for
everyone in there. So even though I might have been in the middle of opposing
sides, I was always genuinely on everyone’s team, as odd as that sounds. People
just understood—I’m not gonna bitch about Meg [Areford], I’m not gonna bitch
about Conor. I’m not gonna bitch about Tom or Jo [Holland]. Because that’s just
not my style. And luckily everyone just accepted that and didn’t force me to
FANG: In the finals, when you were standing up there on the
stage and they eliminated Sam—which, from an audience perspective, seemed
justified in that her work wasn’t as detail-oriented or realized as the rest of
you—did you in the moment think, “I could win this,” or did you think Conor or
Gage were going to take it?
STEINSIEK: At the point they eliminated Sam, I knew it was a
toss up. Sam had a great concept, but she kind of got lost in all of the details
she burdened herself with. Gage—his thing scared the crap out of me. I knew he
was probably the best display out there. I wasn’t so worried he would take the
show, because I felt Conor and I had been on the top more consecutively, and I
knew both Conor and my pieces were great. But honestly…you know what, man?
That’s a hard question to answer because I really stuck my neck out trying to
do a werewolf in three days. And I look at everything with an
attention-to-detail-oriented eye. And I knew my stuff was riddled with
problems. Unfortunately, that’s unavoidable when you do something that large
scale with no time. But, once again, that’s my personality, that’s how I do
So I honestly didn’t expect to win. I hoped my cumulative
performance would give me that win, but I felt like I went out on the last
episode more concept driven than makeup driven and I wasn’t sure if that was
going to be enough for the judges. But like I said, I like to work things one
way, and that’s huge. I gotta be true to myself because I tell you what,
man—with the show being behind me and knowing the results and everything, I’ve
never had one moment of regret. I did exactly what I wanted to do, and I’m
happy with what I did. If I’d gone out there and played it safe and tried to do
more of a wolfman instead of a werewolf, and I still lost? Then I would have
always had that burden of doubt. And I don’t have that. I’ve walked away from
FACE OFF with a clear and clean head, and a lot of pride. I’m definitely happy
that I did things the way that I did them.
FANG: Anything else you want to tell the Fango readers?
STEINSIEK: FANGORIA has always been in my corner, and I
really appreciate that. I appreciate all of the support. It’s really been
ridiculous how much the public has gotten behind me. Almost especially with me
losing. I feel like this kind of validated underdog, and everybody has been
amazing. So tell America I say, “Thank you.”
About a month after our interview, Steinsiek found himself
on the set of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and was nice enough to give us this update.
STEINSIEK: I was asked by [judge] Ve Neill to come on to
SPIDER-MAN and help out in the makeup department. SPIDER-MAN has been
ridiculous to be a part of. I wish I could say more but this production is
super-sensitive. Let’s just say they are pushing the boundaries of what has
been done before. Ve has been wonderful since FACE OFF’s wrap. Her and I have
known each other for years through several degrees of separation, but it wasn’t
until the show that we truly got to know each other. We vibe super well
together on set, and she has asked me to come on another of her shows after
SPIDER-MAN. Everything that I wanted to happen as a result of FACE OFF is
For more on Steinsiek and his work, go to his website here.
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