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Quality and speed are two things that pop into my mind about Russ Lukich.  Not only does he do everything at warp speed, he does it with perfection and doesn't sacrifice quality.  A self proclaimed workaholic, Russ strives to improve all facets of his FX skills and talents all the time.  Read about Russ and his work and take note of his pearls of wisdom spread throughout his interview.

 

·       LMC: Did you have an interest in all these monsters as a kid?  What sparked it?

RL:   I’ve always loved em, and still do.    Being a latch key kid in a neighborhood without many kids kept me watching monster movies and entertaining myself with artistic projects and model kits ( Most of which were shot up with a BB gun ( I didn’t have firecrackers))!!  I would watch these creatures running around and say “ HOW DO THEY DO THAT ?”. I had to know.  I had to make them too. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t blown away, inspired, and addicted to Harryhausen’s work.

 

LMC: Any favorite monsters growing up?

RL:  I would have to say that Gigers alien, The Gillman, and anything w/ Vincent Price, always got my attention. All of Harryhausens creatures, the skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts blew my mind. Then my little brother came along and was more terrifying then all of them.

 

LMC: Did you experiment with monsters as a kid?

RL:  Did I build any from dead people ?…NO… UNFORTUNATELY, NO LAB OR ASSISTANT !!

I always was drawing or making things that I wanted though, after seeing Gremlins I wanted one so I took some blocks of mattress foam and sheets of foam and scissors and made one full size. Unfortunately I painted it with enamel paints which slowly ate away at the foam so it is long gone.

 

LMC: Did you get any formal training?                                    

RL: I watched any making of specials or read any articles I could find in Starlog or Fango, and some of the other magazines at the time  There weren’t schools around for this when I was a wee lad. You just have to want to do it and commit yourself to spending a lot of time on it instead of having fun in the real world.

 

LMC: Any FX guys you admired when you were young?

RL: I was always a Lon Chaney Sr. fan, his phantom makeup was amazing . Dick Smith of course, who put out his book for anyone to make themselves up as monsters, and his make up kit with the great scar molds and supplies.

 

LMC: Where did you’re big break into the FX business come?

RL: Probably when I moved to L.A., I had to come to where the action was.  Like a lot of people I started out here working for John Beuchler, the man who brought us Friday the 13TH 7 and a cool version of Jason. Great guy, fun to work for.

 

LMC: : What did you do at John’s shop?  Work on anything we would recognize?

RL: I was only there for a few films, smaller budget stuff. Addams Family Reunion was fun, the Richie Rich sequel and another. Myself and a friend, also made some of the masks for Halloween H2O. There ended up being 3 diff  shops masks in the film. One of the ones I worked on was in the beginning when the nurse gets killed.

 

LMC: What do you do at Winston Studios?        

RL: I am doing commission work right now, but I had a nice stretch at Stan’s, the past couple years. I was fortunate enough to do a great deal there, sculpture, painting, fabrication and was puppeteer on Jurassic Park 3 and the Time Machine…I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being an “ ALL AROUND “ artist.  Know how to do many things and strive to do them well is your best route. Even though in many shop situations you must hand off or take over other's work.

 

LMC: Let’s hear a good, juicy story about working at Winston Studios or on set?  

RL: Honestly I don’t have any, you are there to be a professional, know your job and give the director what he wants. I would like to see some of the “ CRAZY FX GUYS “ days come back, but it is a different industry now.

 

LMC: Any good stories to tell about Stan himself?

RL: Stan knows what he wants to see, and is very good at knowing and interpreting what the director wants to see as well. He has an excellent eye for form and detail, and expects the same attention to detail and form from his artists. I enjoy being in an environment where the art is not lost in making “ monsters”. Many times due to schedule or budget in shops out here, that is not such a constant as it is with Stan Winston Studios

 

LMC: What aspect of FX work do you enjoy the most: painting, sculpting, etc?

RL: I enjoy sculpting a lot, it’s challenging to recreate nature or  incorporate that into something alien or new. Painting is also rewarding, Its sort of the icing that needs to go on your cake to make it look GOOD. So I guess my answer would be the entire artistic process. Molds and casting things get tiring though.

 

LMC: Which do you think is your strongest talent?

RL: I have a pretty good eye for detail, and can translate something 2D to 3D well. I also can replicate established designs for clients pretty accurately.

 

LMC: What can you improve on most?


RL: ALL OF IT ! There is nothing anyone does that they could not do better. By doing things all the time, you will find ways to get faster and better. I also appreciate and listen to critiques, and tips by others. It helps to be humble, because there will always be someone a little or a lot better than yourself out there. I still look at others work and say “ WOW, I need to concentrate on being better at ___ or ___ ! ”. This usually leads to not going out and doing fun stuff with friends, but that’s the price of progress.

 

LMC:  Any other pros you admire?



CL: The list is endless, Baker, Bottin, Steve Johnson, Dick Smith, Optic Nerve etc…There are many people who are fantastic that never get written about also.  Usually, people only know the names of the shop owners, who may not have physically created the things that you think are so cool. There are a lot of very talented artists that get lost in the shuffle as far as being credited.

 

 

 

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Let Russ know what you thought of his interview.  At the end you can leave him some comments or click the doggie to go leave your mark now.