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Editor’s note: To uncover the FX secrets of TRUE BLOOD,
Fangoria.com engaged legendary FX artist Steve Johnson (GHOSTBUSTERS, SPECIES,
THE ABYSS, etc.), who spoke with his friends at MastersFX, the studio he also
serves as a consultant for.
During the first part (see here) of our conversation with
the TRUE BLOOD makeup team, Todd Masters, Dan Rebert, Mark Vinniello and Andre
Bustanoby shared some of the notable experiences from their first three seasons
on the hit HBO supernatural drama. In Part 2, we sit down with the group on set
to quiz them about various personal highlights to date…
STEVE JOHNSON: Here’s the big question: Todd, your favorite
effect in all three seasons so far?
TODD MASTERS: It’s hard to say, because there are so many
great effects in this show. The one I always think about first is when
Lafayette’s stuck in the dungeon with a bunch of body parts from this dude we
saw get ripped up earlier. There’s a severed leg that Lafayette pulls out, and
I guess part of it is supposed to be made out of titanium, a hip replacement.
On the day, Nelsan Ellis, who plays Lafayette and in real-life ISN’T at all
like his character, really got into it; so much that he actually busted the
device—on camera! He’s ripping it to pieces and starts putting it in his mouth,
and it was like, “Jesus Christ, this was never the plan!” But it looked great,
so that’s my favorite moment: watching Lafayette go nuts.
DAN REBERT: There’s a scene where Tara [Rutina Wesley] is
imprisoned by Franklin [James Frain], who’s basically taken her hostage, and he
asks her to feed on him. We had a little insert neck that she bit into, which
looked pretty bloody and great, but there was a mistake—we had a little piece
of latex, with thermal gel nernies in it that she was going to bite into, but
there are actually two different types of thermal gel nernies. There’s a
super-elastic type that can stretch across the room; and there’s some other
stuff that doesn’t, which is weak and brittle, which is what I wanted because
Tara is supposed to tear it away.
I packed the wrong nernies, and we had to shoot it with the
thermal gel ones, so she was supposed to bite into the neck and rip it. And
she’s stretching and she’s like four feet away, and the director, Michael
Lehmann, and [show creator] Alan Ball are sitting in front of the monitor
laughing their asses off, saying, “Break it away! Break it away!” [Laughs] And
she’s like four feet away.
ANDRE BUSTANOBY: There were so many individual moments,
whether it was somebody who really deserves to get killed or maimed or bitten,
but I think Longshadow’s death, in the first season, it was really shocking in
the first episode when the first vampire dies. It was so utterly bloody and I
wouldn’t say gory per se, but—
MASTERS: That was a funny day too, but I don’t think we
should talk about that. A whole headache on that one; it was awful.
REBERT: Maybe I better keep my mouth shut on that gag. It
worked great actually.
MARK VINNIELLO: The newscaster getting his spine ripped out
[in season three’s “Everything is Broken”] was my favorite effect. I think he
was going to have his heart ripped out, which we’ve seen a million times, but
Dan came up with the idea that he would punch through, pull back and yank his
spine on the way out.
REBERT: I thought it would be cool to see the spine, but I
was being worried about it being too gory. There was a little false front of a
fist on an air bladder that would come through the chest. Initially they wanted
like a whole hand to come out and they were going to add that digitally, but
after seeing how well the effect worked, they didn’t. There’s no digital at
all. It’s just the front of the hand, and it’s on a bladder, with a little
spring-activated piece to open up his chest. Blood would come out and he would
fall over and the spine was actually on a piece on his back.
VINNIELLO: That was my favorite effect; he took the wind
completely out of my sails now! Like Dan said, there were multiple elements to
it, and we had a great actor, who came in for multiple tests like the 1.0 the
2.0 and finally we did a full test. And on the day, we had the puppeteers, we
had the actor, we had the guy pulling the spine; it all came together like an
REBERT: We did it maybe seven times, but that’s the way
[director] Scott Winant is, because he’s having fun with it. When we did the
blisters on Sookie’s back, for “Scratches,” he was like, “Is there anything
else this could do? This is so much fun popping the blisters!”
MASTERS: That was all he wanted to shoot: “Keep pushing
those blisters! More pus!”
REBERT: “Scott, it’s smoking, there’s pus. What more could
JOHNSON: I have a favorite effect, which is the crispy-fried
guy in season three.
REBERT: It is, but I have to say, there is a similar makeup
in 28 DAYS LATER, and Alan Ball had referenced that. He wanted it to look like
burnt, dried log, but I think ours looks better. Again, but the way I think a
lot of people f**k up makeup effects is they think if you put a really good
sculptor or a really good moldmaker or painted on it, you’re going to get a
really good piece. With something like this, it couldn’t be further from the
truth, because you can’t think about a burnt log. A burnt log isn’t some
incredible sculpture; it’s basically layer upon layer of destroyed material.
That makeup was little collodion flakes, which were tinted and dried and
attached to all of the appliances. And the appliances were sculpted very
quickly. David Snyder sculpted them and they were sculpted in like an hour,
because all we really needed was some rubber on the face and everything else
just fabricated on top of that.
JOHNSON: It was really unique. In the close-up you can see
the little flaky areas, and I’d never seen anything like that.
REBERT: In-between takes, we would add flakes to him, so
when he moved around, stuff would fall off of him. What was interesting about
that was the way we did his hands. We had finger extensions that were little
bone tips and then topical bone appliances over the top and we fabricated all
that burning stuff over the top of it.
VINNIELLO: There’s actually a gag where he gets punched and
spits up some ashy stuff out of his mouth. I thought “How are we going to do
that?” and Dan said, “Give him an Oreo cookie!” That’s genius! It’s exactly
what he did, and it looked like he’s spitting up ash.
JOHNSON: I’ve got one last thing to ask: What’s up with
these guys wandering around with blood smeared all over their faces? I can’t
tell you how many well-dressed Southern gentlemen I’ve seen walking into a
parlor after feeding on blood. Why don’t they wipe it off?
MASTERS: I don’t know what to tell you, there’s a whole
subplot about a pie-eating contest. It’s really sexy.
BUSTANOBY: And kind of fun.
MASTERS: Are there any other teases we want to drop for
REBERT: I don’t think we’re supposed to say anything. Other
than that it’s about witches. They’ve already released that. But all the other
stuff we have to shut up about.
JOHNSON & MASTERS: [Together] Awww!
REBERT: Especially that big one we talked about before.
MASTERS: The wink, wink, nudge, nudge one! They’ll have to
tune is and see…
Spceial thanks to Andrea Dulmage and Joe Nazzaro
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