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If there's a harder working FX guy in Hollywood, we would like to know.  Mark Alfrey keeps busy pounding the clay for  movies, TV, even rock stars.  Check the shot to the left.  An exclusive shot of him with Marilyn Manson from his private collection.  He's the two breasted one btw.   

   
 

Mark got started by sculpting masks for some big name companies and moved on to the wonderful world of Hollywood FX.  This shot of  a mask he sculpted for Little Spider earlier in his career show's his trademark attention to human expressions and frightenly realistic detailing.  We caught up with Mark to find out what he's been doing, how he got where he is and other amusing tidbits.

   
 

       LMC: How long have you been in interested in the creature business?  Were you doing this stuff as a kid in your basement?

       MA: As long as I can remember Iíve always had a fascination with movie monsters. When I started reading Famous Monsters I discovered you can make a career out of creating them. We didnít have a basement so I had to do it from my little bedroom. 

LMC: Any interesting stories from those younger years?   Ruining the carpet, skipping school for the sake of art?

MA: When I was about twelve I did my first lifecast. I used plaster of paris. I didnít put any vasilene on his face so the plaster locked into his eyebrows and eyelashes. It took a long time to get him out of it but I managed to save the mold. A third of his eye hair stayed in the mold. He was pretty cool about it. The first thing I did was make a latex mask from it. The mask captured the hairs that were in the mold so I had a mask complete with punched hairs!

LMC: Did you get any formal education?

MA: Iíve studied the Dick Smith course but no college or trade schools.

LMC: Whatís your opinion of Dick?  His influence on the FX field?

MA: Very helpful and undercredited. He wasnít the first one to do prosthetic make-up but he was the first one to do it with such believability. He also invented so many formulas, wrote them down and shared them.

LMC: What about some of your early work (before you made a living at this stuff).  Were you a natural, or like the rest of us producing the elephant man when you meant to make Tom Cruise?

MA: I always had a lot of support from my family to build my confidence but my work really sucked until I was about 23. I worked as an assistant to New Jersey FX artist John Dods on several movies and TV shows in the early nineties like Monsters and Ghostbusters 2. John is an excellent artist and I believe I learned a great deal from watching him.

LMC:Any of those ďEurekaĒ moments coming up when your talent seemed to jump to the next level?

MA: No, but I canít wait for one! Most of those ďEurekaĒ moments have been when I look at other peopleís work and think ďWow! I ainít NOTHIN next to these guys!Ē

   
 

LMC:How did you catch your big break in the business?

MA: There was never a ďbig breakĒ. It was gradual. The day after I graduated high school a friend of mine called from LA to say he landed a job on Critters 2 and if I came out there I might get hired. So I grabbed some pictures of my work and caught a plane to La La Land. The Chiodo Brothers put me on critterball duty for a few months. When that job was over I had no idea how to find another job in the business so I moved back to Jersey. Soon after, I met John Dods. I worked for him occasionally and took odd jobs in between. In í95 dick Smith recommended me for a job at Distortions, a mask company in Colorado. From there it was a short trip to L.A. so I took it. I was immediately hired by K.N.B. EFX Group on From Dusk Till Dawn and Iíve been working freelance in Hollywood ever since.

LMC:How was Distortions?  Any notable masks/props out there you made?

MA: Thatís where I did the electric chair guy. I also did a lifesize Creature From the Black lagoon to be made as a latex costume. They molded the sculpture but they never produced it. I did a giant alien head and hands. The head can be identified by my name stamped into it. Also I did a tombstone with a skeleton climbing out from the ground in front of it. The tombstone has my name on it. Iíve seen it in some halloween stores and noticed the mass production of it makes it look like crap, as is with so many foam filled props.

LMC:A lot of mask collectors know you as the one who sculpted the electric chair guy, talk a little about that project?

MA: They gave me three days and a stick figure sketch for reference. I took polaroids of a shop guy in that general position and made up the rest. I also had a mirror around to do expressions for myself.

LMC:Wow!  3 days, you must have had fire coming off your tools

LMC:Youíve worked for a lot of big names and studios.  Do you have any favorites?

MA: Rick Baker! I always feel best about being in the biz  when Iím working for him. 

LMC:Any interesting stories about some of them?

MA: Yes! So many! But Iím having trouble thinking of one thatís perfectly innocent. Hollywood draws a peculiar bunch and the monster-making biz attracts the strangest of the whole club. Okay hereís one. I was hired to sculpt a head for a company once. I did it. The supervisor had different ideas and wanted me to make changes. But there was no time as the client showed up and approved it. After the client left the shop supervisor insisted I make the changes anyway. He said he knows better than the client. Another shop boss overheard this and told him to forget about it. But the guy sat down and started doing it himself. So the other shop boss and a third one tried pulling him away from the sculpture. They physically dragged him. Suddenly his shirt ripped off and he fell down out of it. He jumped up and swung his fist at the two guys and they took off. So the guy sat down and made the changes. When he was finished he asked a moldmaker to help him carry it to the mold department. As they carried this soft water clay sculpture across the room it slipped from their hands and landed face down on the floor. It was totalled. That particular shop is quite successful despite these events.

LMC:Ouch, so who took the fall for that one J

MA: I donít know. I quit.

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