THE MAGIC OF MASKS
Making a Head Cast
On December 13th, 2001 we began our preproduction work on The Tenement with an open casting call. But, nothing is as rewarding as the first time you get your hands dirty. On February 24, 2002 the real work started. What began as any other day ended with an incredibly enriching experience. Michael Gingold, the managing editor of Fangoria Magazine underwent a partial head casting process for what will be one of The Tenement's best scenes and one of the Black Rose Killer's finest moments. And for the record, I didn't get my hands all that dirty. That's the great part about being a director. Ed Shelinsky and myself met Mike at Brian Spears' house. Brian and partner, Pete Gerner were joined by fellow makeup and effects artist, Gene Mazza. The video and pictures that follow show the process from beginning to end.
There is nothing better than a warm welcome when you pull up to someone's house. Brian's shop was even more inviting.
The first step was to cover Mike's head with latex to protect the alginate from getting into his hair. Vaseline was then applied to exposed hair (eyebrows, etc.) so it wouldn't pull out when the mold was later removed from his face.
Next, Brian, Gene and Pete applied the alginate to Mike's face. They are careful not to cover Mike's nostrils so that he can breathe. Prior to starting Mike was shown hand signals in the event that anything went wrong.
Mike's head is wrapped in plaster bandages to let the alginate set. The alginate will harden and form the "negative" mold. Mike gives a thumbs up to let us know he is okay.
Less than 5 minutes later, it's time to remove the mold. Everyone gathers around to check it out. Presto! We have our negative.
Now it's time to make the "positive" mold. Brian mixes ultra cal 30 and acryl 60 together. Then Brian and Pete apply layer upon layer of this "plaster" material onto the negative. It is allowed to dry for about 45 minutes.
Later, Pete removes the newly formed positive and grinds off any excess to give it a more finished look. It's still a little early but what an uncanny resemblance!
That's the end of the first phase. It took about 2 hours. The next phase is to make a clay build-up over the positive. The clay will be molded to the way the facial appliance is supposed to appear in the movie. From the clay covered positive, a new negative will be cast. Below is the clay covered positive of Mike's face. This is an early representation of what the foam latex appliance or prosthetic will look like. The full clay head will be utilized in making a full foam latex replica of Mike's head.
Once we have the final negative, foam latex can then be poured into it. The "plaster" positive and negative is pressed together with the foam latex in-between. When the foam latex hardens, we peel it out. We will then have our mask. All that is left is to paint it. Below is an example of finished positive and negative "plaster" molds. Look familiar? It's Cornelius from Planet of the Apes.
Now let's take a look at how the finished prosthetic looks when applied to Mike's face during our makeup test.
Brian glues the prosthetic to Mike's face using Pros-Aide.
Brian then applies makeup to match Mike's flesh tones and to create the effect of swelling and bruises. The prosthetic was pre-painted with Pax and the bruises were done with rubber mask grease paint. The whole process took about an hour and a half. Now that the test is done it will be much easier and quicker to do the application when it is needed for the day we shoot the scene. What you see now is to give you an idea of how it will appear in the movie. Additional makeup will be added when we shoot the actual movie.
Here is what Mike and the foam latex head looked like on the day that we shot his scene.
Well there you have it - the magic behind the making of a prosthetic mask and a foam latex head!
Now check out the movie trailer to see part of the scene in action!
This is also a video featurette on The Tenement. Buy it today!
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