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.
Did you have an interest in all these monsters as a kid? What
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.
Any favorite monsters growing up?
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
Did you experiment with monsters as a kid?
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.
Did you get any formal training?
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.
Any FX guys you admired when you were young?
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?
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.
What did you do at John’s shop? Work on anything we would
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.
What do you do at Winston Studios?
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
Let’s hear a good, juicy story about working at Winston Studios or
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
Any good stories to tell about Stan himself?
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
What aspect of FX work do you enjoy the most: painting, sculpting,
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.
Which do you think is your strongest talent?
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
What can you improve on most?
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.
other pros you admire?
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.