How did you springboard into real movie FX?
helped Kenny on a couple of projects because he was getting into
bigger budgeted film and commercial projects and wasn’t having the
time to work on the Vault. We worked well together and I learned a
lot from him. At the time, most of the effects guys in town were
working on “Robocop” and Ken was part of that. I would hang out at
the local effects foreman’s house and watch Ken do amazing stuff
like work up silicone molds for the Robocop gun and make dupes out
of resin for stunt work. The guy that was heading up the local team
was a great effects man named Jack Bennett. (I idolized Jack because
he worked on all the Larry Buchanan monster movies of the 60s shot
in Dallas. “Mars Needs Women”, “Zontar, The Thing from Venus”,
“Creature of Destruction”, etc.) Jack’s right hand was a guy named
Larry Aeschlimann and he did a lot over at his house. (He also
helped assemble the ED-209 when Phil Tippett brought it to town for
the shoot.) I would hang out over there, sweeping up and the like,
and watch them do whatever. They had also been working on a local
short film called “Cellar Space”
directed by Tom Alexander (Which is now part of a trilogy running as
“Dark Dealer” on British TV). While working on yet another short
film, I met Tom and he said that he liked my stuff and would I like
to work on a monster movie. The other guys had started the project
but Robo came to town and snatched up everybody. I said yea…he was
shooting on film…not TV…this was real! I got to design and sculpt
the key monster for the finale of the film. When the guys finished
with Robo, they went straight back to Tom’s film and saw that the
young upstart was already to mold and run foam. At Larry’s house I
got to see and assist on all aspects of effects work. Ultracal molds
that were good solid molds…running foam rubber…silicone molds…fiber
glassing…real cable operated controls...radio controlled cable
actuators…polyfoams…dental acrylics…etc!! I got a crash course in
the business from people that were IN the business. I had stumbled
into my career goal.
Did you entertain ideas of moving out to LA?
1987 Larry was telling me to go to LA. He had Winston’s address and
Bottin’s address, and I sent them resume’s, but I didn’t pursue it.
I really wasn’t interested in going to a large pond and being a
small fish. I liked the medium to small pond that Dallas was. Here
were all the connections I had made for the past 2 years. People
were paying my day rate, they knew what I could do…my family was
here. It didn’t make sense to go. I wasn’t concerned about working
on big titled films. Commercials, industrials, stage, and TV were my
bread and butter. I just liked the work…not the bragging rights.
So you didn’t entertain thoughts of seeing your work on the big
Not really. Just making a living was
more important. It was the work that was the thing…the craft.
Do you still do work with Larry and Kenny or any of the guys from
Unfortunately, Ken died many years ago. It was a shame. If he was
alive today, I’d like to think we’d still be working on projects in
his garage. Larry moved to New York a few years ago and did some
time at Henson’s shop…but I’ve lost track of him these days. Randy
works in the video department at a local college and Richard is the
on air voice talent for the Craig Kilborn show.
Talk about the different types of makeup FX
work (stage, haunts, TV, etc). What do you prefer?
like the different types for their varying
requirements. Theatrical movies
need the really nice detail, but you can fix things in-between takes
or have another day to work on something…TV is less detail, so you
can cheat to a certain point but they are usually quicker shoots so
your work has to hold up…Stage is even lesser detail, but really has
to hold up. You can cheat your details, but it has to last the run
of a play. Haunts….you really can let any detail go…the over all
effect is mandatory and it HAS to be able to hold up for quite a
while under some major physical conditions. I like them all. Stage
and Haunts are easier because you don’t have to bust a nut trying to
get something to look perfect if you’re constrained for time. Just
get it in the mold.
LMC: How did you get into mask making?
mask was back in ’86 while assisting Larry. We made a mask for a
stuntman (Randy Fife) so he could do a full body fire gag. Larry
sculpted this horrified expression over Randy’s life cast, and
molded it, and I helped pour up the rubber. That’s when I first saw
RD 407 in action. I was trying to pour up stuff in a mold making
rubber called Paratol 706-G…and it wasn’t working. I saw how firm
the fillers made the 407 and knew instantly why it worked the way it
did. After that I started making masks of whatever. My first was of
a creature from the 60s Outer Limits series. …“The Chameleon” I used
water based clay totally out of necessity because I couldn’t afford
the large amount of Roma that was needed. Little did I know that was
not only accepted, but preferred by many artists. It’s expediency
came in handy on one short film where I needed to make 5 different
masks in 2 weeks!
you hooked into mask making at that point?
Oh yea...once I saw what can happen with the right materials, I went
crazy. I couldn’t make up my mind about what subject to do next. I’d
sketch out an idea, then come up with another one that sounded like
a killer mask idea.
did you start selling your masks?
that time, I started taking my masks to the local magic shops and
arranging for some orders, but the effects business kept me busy. I
didn’t actually sell a mask (that wasn’t for a film production)
until the 90’s.
believe it or not. I am thinking about changing that policy after
seeing all these incredible pieces that are coming out, but I know
how collecting can get. You can run out of room quickly!
style of mask appeals to you?
like the stuff I grew up with…Don Post titles…old monster stuff of
the 50s…She Creature, Teenage Frankenstein, etc.
one. Do you mean ones I’VE MADE or ones I’ve seen?
favorite mask I made has to be Tor. Don’t know why. The eyes
needed more work, etc…I just like it a lot.
created a number of classic monsters in mask form, is this a trend
hoping not to be known as the classic monster maker, believe it or
not. I’ve got a ton of original designs that I’m trying to squeeze
past all the requests for classic monsters. I love making masks…but
not always the classics, but if I were to collect any, they would be
the classics…if that makes any sense.
about creating original concepts? Some of the work you did for
first I did for Jeff was Klutch Furst and that was really just a
licensing deal. That’s a mask I did for myself for Halloween. I
hadn’t seen any Rat Fink type of mask, up to that point (besides
Jeff’s licensed Rat Fink piece) that made me think of the old hot
rod stuff of the 60s. So I knocked it out for myself and Jeff saw it
in my e-mail portfolio and wanted it. Darkside Paul is carrying it
this year. The Gravedigger was a collaboration between Jeff and I
and that was fun. He knows what the collectors want and I followed
his direction. I tried to think of an old bitter lonely man that
could “slit you up a treat” and bury you without thinking twice. I
probably spent too much time on it, but I’d still like to refine
some stuff. I’m not sure how well it’s done in sales, but people
respond to it. The Chupacabra was another piece I did for fun and
actually sold only 2 or 3 copies. Jeff is licensing that this year
from me. In the mid 80s I would look as Jeff’s catalogs and be
amazed at the originality of the designs and how at the time it left
Don Post in the dust, so I’m proud to have pieces at Death Studios.