We all watch movies and wonder how and where the special effects were achieved. Mask making and costume design are things that treat our visual senses, but we often forget that someone toiled hours over these.
We had the opportunity to talk with Robert Prince, FX Artist for Dieabolic Effects here in Niagara.
So, how did you initially get involved with working in special effects and makeup?
When I was young, I asked my mother if I could go see a scary movie. I think I was about six or seven. This was around 1980 and we lived into a very small town located in Dominion, Cape Breton and my family was close friends with the owner of the movie theater. My mother figured that I would be ok as long as it was allowed by the owner of the one screen theater that seated about 60 people, Olive. After my mother spoke to Olive, I was allowed to go watch my first scary movie. What I didn’t know was that both my mother and Olive agreed that I would not make it more than five miniutes into the movie.
So I went to the theater that was only five minutes up the street. Once I got there, Olive greeted me, gave me a root beer, a chocolate bar, popcorn, and some bottle caps candies. I actually can only remember the bottle caps because they were my favorite. Olive sat me in the very back row close to the entrance within ear shot of her while she was working the concession stand. The place got dark and the movie started.To this day I can not remember what movie was playing. I sat in the back row waiting for it to start. Olive constantly came in and checked on me with her flash light to see if was ok. As stated before, I can not remember what movie it was but I do remember being scared out of my whits. I do remember sitting back in the seat and covering my face with the popcorn bag. One vivid memory that I do have is the reactions of all the people in the theater when a scary moment happened – all the screams! I was scared out of my mind, but I stayed.
I stayed because of the reactions all the people had during the movie. I knew then and there, that I wanted to work making scary stuff so I can scare people. I am now a lot older and have worked in the film industry for over 20 years making people scared.
When you entered the film industry, did you have to go to school beforehand or was it something that you picked up along the way?
I had worked in the film industry for several years as a Special Effects Make Up artist and many other job titles. At one point, one of my union reps approached me and told me that they may be changing guidelines for different departments. So, I decided to go to Complections College of Make up and take an advanced make up course so I could quickly recieve my diploma. Long story short, I had been working professionally for years before going to school for SPFX make up, but then I had to take courses to get my papers.
Which movies/shows have you been contracted to do and which ones were your favourite?
I have worked on several films, plays, and tv productions over the years. Some have included the Harry Potter series, Superman Returns, the Pit Pony CBC TV series, the Disney film Squanto – A Warriors Tale, Paranormal Witness, Cyborg Soldier, and many others. I do love what I do and never considered working on such things “work”. It was always fun to me. One of my favorite films I did work on was Survival of the Dead by George A. Romero. However, I did not do the make up for it but acted as a few zombie characters instead. I had grown up with Mr. Romero’s films and it was an honour to check that one off my bucket list.
Which piece of work are you most proud of?
This is a difficult question. In my opinion, a true artist is always not 100 per cent happy with what they create, because, like myself, I can continue working on one piece for a long time. Over the years, I have learned to walk away and leave things so I can create more things.
We as artists, have to learn to put the brush down and call a piece finished. One project I had done for my final exam in Make Up school, called Ripped Apart, would have to be one of my favourite projects I have done if I had to name one.
Check out Dieabolic Effects at dieaboliceffects.com or every Sunday at the St. Catharines Flea Market on Turner Crescent.