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LMC: What are some movies/shows you have worked on?

RK:  Most of the films that I have worked on are independent films that most people probably have never heard of. The most well known shows are Power Rangers in Space, Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, X-Files, MTV's Super Adventure Team, and Fear Runs Silent. I had the opportunity to be part of Michael Burnett's crew for Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights II, III and IV. I was also part of the crew for a Daft Punk music video at Tony Gardner's Alterian Studios. Being a non-union makeup artist I still consider myself an up-and-coming effects artist. I am a makeup soldier, working in the trenches in a guerrilla filmaker's war.

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LMC: How much more work is involved running your own shop, than doing FX work for someone else?

RK:  Running your own shop is no picnic. You have to consider things like overhead: rental costs, supply costs, phone bills, electric bills, taxes, business licenses, reseller's permits, etc. You have to consider things like hiring employees; the interview process alone can be exhausting. Then there's always the possibility that you may have to fire an employee. There's much more responsibility as a shop owner such as meeting with production staff, coordinating various departments, scheduling your employees, maintaining not only shop supplies but office supplies and restroom supplies. And of course there is the fact that if anything were to go wrong on a project it is the shop owner that is responsible. These days I run a small shop out of my home. I hire people only when a project demands so, this allows me to continue to pursue low budget independent films without a heavy overhead. There is much less responsibility as an employee than as a shop owner, but for the shop owner the rewards are far greater. In the end it is the shop that gets the glory not the employee.

LMC: Do you stick with the same core crew, or do you hire new people?  How might someone reading this work for you?

RK: I prefer to continue working with people that I know can handle the job. I am not always lucky enough to have the same crew all the time. I commonly bring my brother Robert Wesley Knight on board. He has been there assisting me from the very beginning. He was my makeup model when I was in school, he was my business partner with RK Industries, my assistant on Fear Runs Silent, etc. I think that Robert will always be a permanent crew member, because I know that I can count on him no matter what the job might be. My crew for "Frankenstein Vs The Creature from Blood Cove" is perhaps the best team I have ever assembled, and I really hope to work with those same members once again. I am hoping that in the near future, as my shop grows I can have a core crew of twelve or more people. Until then I usually ask my special effects friends first if they are available, and from there I search other avenues for talent. The best advice that I can give anyone that is interested in working with me on future projects is to first make contact. My email is on my website, send me an email and introduce yourself. Send me photos of your work, and stay in contact. The way it usually works is a job will come up and if the job requires assistants I will usually go to the people that are fresh in my mind. That is to say, I offer work to those that are already working with me or are in communication with me. In other words, I go to my friends first, much like everyone else will do. So I guess the best way to get in to my shop, or anyone else's is to become a friend.

 

LMC: How do you land jobs on movies? Is your website one of your most important advertising mediums?

RK: Yes, my website is a very important asset, but what really has always been the key factor in getting jobs is referrals. Most of the best jobs I have worked on were referred to me by fellow makeup artists or friends. That is why it is so important to network and not make enemies with other FX artists or be too competitive. This is such a small industry and word goes around fast so you should never burn your bridges either. In the beginning of my career I made a lot of mistakes because I was in competition with other FX artists and this allowed my ego get in the way. I soon learned that it is better to be friends with other artists whatever their skill level. By embracing this philosophy I not only made new friends in the makeup industry, but I also learned a lot more, and best of all I gained more work. Another source of finding work is through publications like Back Stage West or via websites like Mandy.com or Craigslist, but I try to stay away from them these days as the majority of work listed there is now for volunteer or very low pay.

LMC: How did you get the job for 'Frankenstein Vs. the Creature from Blood Cove"                           

RK: I was contacted by the director of "Frankenstein Vs the Creature from Blood Cove" about two years ago. He found my website and called upon my services to create four classic wolf men for the sequel to his first feature, "the Double D Avenger". The sequel was postponed, but the director had another movie he planned to make, that being Frankenstein. The director and I corresponded via phone and email for a period of two years working out all the details of the project. I would make a design of a monster based on his descriptions and then scan it and email it to him, then he'd give me more input and in turn I sent him more designs based on that input. The director later offered me a supporting role in the film as "Salisbury" an evil scientist that was attacked by the amphibious creature a year prior to the story and was left badly scarred. I wore rigid collodion scar makeup and a blind eye contact lens. This would mark my feature debut as an actor.

LMC: so, any plans to be on the other end of the camera permanently?

RK: No, not permanently. My first love is special effects. Nothing has proven to be more rewarding to me than the art of special effects makeup. I enjoy creating characters - acting is merely an extension of that character creation. By becoming a character actor it allows me to not only create the characters but to become one of my very creations. It is sort of like being a kid and having Halloween everyday. I do hope to pursue acting more in the future, but even still, I'd prefer those acting jobs that allow me to wear both hats: one as an actor, the other as an effects artist. I do have many plans in the works, for instance I am self-producing my own puppet show. In this case I will be creating the puppets as well as acting as a puppeteer. I will also be writing and performing much of the music, which allows me to add my musical skills to the production. I have also written the scripts for the show and it is likely that I will try my hand at directing at some point, but what I really want to do is special effects makeup, that is what I love doing the most.

 

LMC: What did you think of the film after you heard about it and your thoughts about the creatures?


RK: Being a long time Frankenstein fan I was thrilled to be a part of this project. The director wanted these creatures to be reminiscent of the classic monsters of the 30's and 40's. This was especially appealing to me because I have always thought that the modern versions of Frankenstein have never seemed to capture the essence of the originals from which they were inspired. The biggest challenge for me was to design a character that had been done hundreds if not thousands of times already. I chose to make the designs more cartoony, sort of like a caricature of the classic monsters. I really think that we captured the feel of an old monster movie with our designs. I only wish we had more time and money to make them even better.

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