Score dead when composing music for Agatha Christie

I could go on, or I could just say he’s a legend because the credits roll.

I was honored when Shostrom agreed to speak with me about his extensive filmmaking experience and what creators and filmmakers need to know now, especially about creating great makeup effects. To enjoy!

FROM THE OUTSIDE “Easy Prey” Clip (1986) Body

Editor’s note: The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

No film school: Let’s talk about how you got started.

Mark Shostrom: Well, I actually started with creature effects and (was) interested in makeup in general. I was a monster kid and when I moved to LA to pursue music or makeup, I happened to see an ad for a dramalogist for an American Film Institute student film. It was called purple.

And that led to my first makeup job. I think it did five or six projects with the American Film Institute. I just missed David Lynch. He was there a few years earlier. But I was able to work with a lot of people who had worked with him in the early days.

And it was a very strange period in 1980, because the field of makeup effects was about to be born with the release of American werewolf And The crying And The thing, those kind of things. So I got in right before that happened, and when that happened, the whole city recorded it.

It went from, I remember one Time magazine or To live The magazine’s cover story was, I think it was called, “Makeup Artists, Hollywood’s New Stars.” And it all passed The elephant man And Furious bull.

LA had four or five makeup studios at the time. It went from that to 70 in 1985, including mine. So it was a non-stop period of about seven years of just constant work, where we actually had weekends off because they made so many drama films in the ’80s.

Behind the scenes of A nightmare in Elm Street 3: Dream WarriorsMark Shostrom / Provided

NFS: What you’re discussing now is actually one of my favorite eras of film. I’m a big horror fan myself and I enjoy seeing the practical effects of that period. It really was an art form and now it’s coming back to that.

Shostrom: I’m on one Fangoria email (list) and it said there’s a new horror movie being made about a polar bear, and they’re doing it all practically.

So yes, you’re right. It’s making a comeback. I mean, in the mid-eighties we didn’t call them practical effects. We just called it effects because there was no CGI. I remember being called in for reshoots of the film I had made in ’93. They did some pickup shots, with a foot shot off and scars on a guy’s chest, and I gave them a price, and they called back and said, “Well, we want you to do the foot, but we’re going doing it.” the scars in CGI.” And I said, “What is CGI?

NFS: I’d like to have a little conversation about that too. I know why I think there is so much value in practical effects, but what do you think it brings to a project?

Shostrom: One thing is that I know that when I work with actors, they have something real to respond to. I remember working with one of the guys from a Ray Harryhausen movie, Sinbad, and I said, “How was it?” And he said, “Well, we’re standing on a beach and looking at a tennis ball on a C-stand, moving around. We can’t really dive in and behave in such a technical and artistic way.”

You just get something very tangible that’s on set. You can tell when it’s there. When you watch a movie you can see that it is something real that was there. If it’s made well, it looks real.

And they can do amazing things with CGI. But one thing I noticed about the creatures is that the creatures don’t seem to have any weight. I mean, technically the skin looks good and all, the hair, but there’s something about them that the human eye can detect, that it’s not real, that it was never there. I mean, in my opinion, the best directors are the ones who know a lot about CG and practicality, and they know when to combine the two, when to use one over the other, or like Guillermo del Toro. He is brilliant at combining the two.

Behind the scenes of Evil Dead II Behind the scenes of Evil Death II Mark Shostrom / Provided

NFS: What work are you most proud of?

Shostrom: Well, I think there are two. One of them would be Henrietta Evil Death II, the whole prosthetic bodysuit for Ted Raimi. And the other would be the Pretorius creature From further.

Because at that time I was making those films back to back, From further first and then Evil Death next, and I was really, really ambitious. And then I got the script From furtherI thought, “Wow, this is going to cost a lot of money. They don’t have it.” And I just recruited a little team of guys who had as much enthusiasm as I did, and we just said, “We’re going to do this and we’re going to make it really, really cool. We’re going to give them more than what they pay for.”

And technically, the From further creature was an animatronic doll. It wasn’t practical, it was real. It moved around the set using a pivot device, kind of like a see-saw device, but there was a guy in there who controlled the arms and the head and the neck and all that.

But all the fine facial movements were done using a pole cable, little handheld devices that allowed you to open the eyes and growl the lips, and things like that. So I was very proud of how that came out. And I had a great team that worked really hard on that.

And as for Ted Raimi and Henrietta, it was just a complete transformation of the man. And you don’t see half of what the suit was in the movie because it was very detailed down to every little bit of flesh sticking through his rotten body and stuff like that. And it was a lot of work. I mean, all these things are for practical effects. You work for three months, six months, and the time on screen can last a few seconds. Nature of the beast.

NFS: Evil Death is one of my favorite horror films ever. And Sam Raimi is also such an inspiration to so many indie filmmakers because of that film series… it was all about the passion and putting together something that was fun, but didn’t require a lot of money or time.

Shostrom: No, I think it’s kind of ironic that I’m sure there are a lot of kids going to film school these days who are inspired by Sam Raimi, who didn’t go to film school, who shot a bunch of movies on Super 8 and then walked into the office from the dentist and asked for a thousand dollars to invest in a movie.

And Bruce (Campbell) and Sam were telling me all these stories about knocking on doors for years hoping to get money for the first project, which I think was called Within the forest or something.

But yeah, I love the whole No Film School thing: I listened to an interview with my friend Buddy Cooper who did The mutilator, which I worked on 41 years ago, and he had saved $84,000 to go to film school. And then he read something, an article in The New York Times that said, “Don’t go to film school, make a movie.”

And he did. He didn’t go to film school; he made The mutilator instead of.

And I came across this all the time. I meet young people. I met a girl at the checkout. She was an inspector at the pet store I go to. And one day we started talking. “What are you doing?” “I’m going to film school.” And I said, “Wait a minute. Stop right there.” …And I said, “Don’t go to film school. Get a job in any film. You’re going to learn more in two months than you would in two years of film school.”

…I mean, ironically, I started at AFI, which is one of the best film schools out there, but most of the crews that work on those films, like me, that was our film school, work on the films and don’t go to the lesson . There’s no better teacher than an indie film. Real. Roger Corman days. Those are great.

Behind the scenes of From BeyondBehind the scenes of From furtherMark Shostrom / Provided

NFS: I think that’s great advice. Just the practical knowledge you gain from being on set is not knowledge you can necessarily gain elsewhere.

Shostrom: I had a friend who was a PA on film in 1980, a small student film, and he was going to work in the camera department for two days the next day and in the art department for a few days the next day as an assistant director. I mean, he learned so much. And he went on to supervise the producer of District 9.

NFS: Oh, wow.

Shostrom: And one day I asked him, “Michael, supervising the producer, what do you do?” And he said, I oversaw all the other producers in three countries. So he changed PA, he didn’t know anything. One day the cameraman said, Michael, get me a ‘cookie’, which means a cucoloris. Michael went to craft service and brought chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter and a whole selection on the tray because he didn’t know what a “cookie” was.

But then he produces this huge movie for two years. I like stories like that. …His name is Michael Murphey.

NFS: A lot of our readers are working on indie or cheaper stuff. Do you have any advice for making creature effects or practical effects look really good on a budget?

Shostrom: I think the first piece of advice would be if someone tends to jump on YouTube and say, “How do I do this or that?” There are so many bad makeup effect tutorials on YouTube.

There is a Facebook group called “Practical Effects Group” that you can join, which is a group of professionals and interested people who post endless photos and information about their work. And you could probably go further there and ask for tips.

NFS: Let’s say you have to create a wound. Do you have any advice about the materials that a low-budget production can use, or tips for the application?

Shostrom: Suppose you need to cause some wounds, some cuts to a person or some burns. I think the first thing I would do is avoid YouTube tutorials, because you will be dealing with tens of thousands, and you will have to spend so much time searching through them to find a good one.

I would say buy a good book on makeup, a real book, buy one with the most high recommendations. Like a book by Vincent Kehoe. There is Stage makeup by Richard Corson. I mean, the internet is a great resource, but you’re almost overwhelmed with too many choices. So you get confused, “Where should I really go?”

Because the actual materials and methods are quite simple. It’s just a matter of finding the best information. And you probably get that from a good book or a professional makeup magazine Makeup artist magazine or old issues of Fangoria And Cinefex.

Then (when we) actually talk about the practical methods, you really just have to find what materials you need and practice a bit. You can go on the Internet, you can find good blood formulas from Dick Smith, things like that. It’s just a matter of trying it a few times before the shoot, practicing of course until you feel comfortable making it look real.

NFS: Is there any other advice you’ve given? Maybe for a novice makeup artist or creation effects person?

Shostrom: Do not give up. Stick with it. Because that’s the nature of the film business, it’s a tough area to break into. It’s a tough field to stay in, even if you’ve been in it for decades, you just have to stick with it.