Back in November of 2002 the Buffy Posting Board Party Committee gathered to choose a theme for this years final gathering of fans to celebrate Joss Whedon and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater L.A. for their annual event on February 15th, 2003 in Hollywood. When CoA was brought on board to partner again, we enlisted the help of some very talented people to raise the bar just one more notch so fans and VIPs alike would have lasting memories of the best party ever, or should we say the beast party ever ! Early on we spoke to Angel’s lead makeup artist Dayne Johnson and Robert Hall, creator of Almost Human’s Special Effects Studio who agreed to offer their serves and do whatever they could to help.
The Almost Human and ANGEL crews with their bevy of Demons !
We never imagined they would bring together the worlds of Buffy and Angel in full silicon, latex, and techno color in the way they did with seven creatures from classic episodes of both series.
To give credit to the full talent, number of hours, and materials which went into the day and night (a full 12-hour experience for some) we wanted to explore those artists and victims involved ; their backgrounds, inspirations, and views of demons, vampires, and slayers. We began early on Saturday, at noon, over at the Almost Human shop in Culver City where Rob would create 5 demons including The Beast and Skip from Angel, and the Uber Vamp from Buffy. While his artists had already been working for days on some of the costume pieces, all the faces and head gear would be done in the shop while the suits would be completed over at the party hall just before doors opened at 6pm that evening. Meanwhile, 2pm was the kickoff for Dayne at the Paramount makeup trailers, where 2 more creatures would complete the package. With everyone in place, and the Hellmouth on the verge of opening, we present the creators of the monster bash !
Dayne Johnson Angel Head Makeup Supervisor
Not a stranger in helping with the PBP, he assisted at last year’s party by providing a couple of demons to mingle with the fans for the first time. That sparked this year’s beasty blowout as he explains how the idea came together, "I believe that once we heard that it was the last one and called Monster’s Ball, we thought it would be great to have a number of monsters/demons to make the final PBP a huge success. Rob was generous enough to supply all of the prosthetics. In order to produce that many Demons, we asked a few of the make-up artists from Almost Human to do some of the application." Dayne was very happy with the results at the PBP this year and he wasn’t short on making sure everyone involved got their due thanks. "Thanks to Rob for supplying all of the items needed to make the monsters of PBP 2003 a huge success. I think the fans as well as the VIP’s enjoyed seeing all of them," said Danye after the evening had come to a close. "Thanks to all of the make-up artists and the models wearing the make-ups for their time and thanks to the PBP producers and a special thank you to CoA for all of the organizing and help." To learn all about Dayne Johnson, check out the exclusive CoA feature on him, and last year’s PBP Creature Creation feature located in the News Archives.
Dalia Dokter Angel Makeup Artist/Designer
Dalia, Danny, Dayne and John from ANGEL
Dalia has worked in makeup
for film projects for a number of years including : "The Day My Parents
Ran Way" (1994) and "The Colony" (1998). She has also done costuming
design work for the film, "Top of the World" (1997), with television
credits as Head Makeup Artist for Betrayed by Love in 1994.
Most recently she worked on the film "Kiss Toledo Goodbye". But in the
Whedon-verse Dalia joined the Angel makeup artist in their nomination
for a Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guide Award for
the category of Best Period Makeup for the episode "Darla" in Season
2. She also joined Dayne for Angel’s first Emmy Award
nod for Outstanding Makeup for a Series for "The Ring". Not a bad milieu
for an exceptional woman who takes her talent seriously and enjoys creating
the beauty and the beast alike.
Danny Nero and John Wolf (Hideous Demon, Tragedy Demon)
Danny Nero, (former stand-in for David Boreanaz) and John Wolf round out the Angel crew for the evening. Danny and John offered to be victims this time around and fell prey to Dalia’s Hideous Demon and Dayne complimenting things with the Tragedy Demon from Whedon’s penned ballet classic, "Waiting in the Wings". Both enjoyed their time sneaking up on unsuspecting fans during the course of the evening and by the 11th hour, when the makeup finally came off, they also were able to enjoy the excitement of the event talking with fellow crew members and co-stars.
Jonathan Gording Lenses Specialist
Not to be left out for his gracious contribution was Dr. Jonathan Gording, and his techs David Baur and Gary Hoey, who supplies the custom made contact lenses for all the creatures and vampires created for both series. Gording joined in the fun by making sure every demon had his or her own specific contacts, lending to that last detail of authenticity, well, as authentic as a rat demon from the Initiative can be anyway. Fans received the unique thrill seeing what hundreds of vampire victims have seen over the centuries.
Chris Burdett Almost Human Makeup Designer (The Beast)
We begin over at the Almost Human studios with Chris who has quite a history with The Beast and was an obvious choice to don the demon suit from hell. He’s part of the design team and one of the painters who creates the multitude of costumes. "I was on set with [Vladimir Kulich] pretty much the entire 7 episodes that he filmed and know the costume and the makeup pretty well." Chris met Rob in the summer of 1999, "He happened to be working on a low-budget vampire movie in the town I was going to school and they put up signs all around the art building so I quickly removed all the signs and made the phone call to the production office, got Rob’s number in LA and started calling him, ’Please, please, please let me help you. I will give you 24-hours a day for the next 2 months, just let me in the door.’ He agreed and after the first day I was painting pieces for fake heads." While in college getting his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts, Chris didn’t exactly find the support he was hoping for, "I was trying to make monsters and costumes in school but the faculty was like, ’That’s not art, you’re wasting your time.’ "
When he finished school he moved to L.A. and worked for Rob for about a year. "Things slowed down a little (as is the way the business is), and I went back to Florida for two years then moved back out to start with Angel and Buffy again." Chris has nothing but enthusiasm for what he has to create for Buffy and Angel. "Oh I love it. It’s really what I’ve always wanted to do so it’s a good thing I’m doing it," he laughs. "Actually, I don’t watch a lot of TV. I know of the shows but not until I actually moved back out here to start working on Buffy did I start picking up the DVDs and the tapes of the episodes. My wife [Achsa Nute] and I got kind of hooked and we pretty much have watched all of Buffy. I haven’t really watched too much of Angel yet because it’s just now coming out on DVD so I’ll start watching that too."
The creation of The Beast was a complex and multi-phased, time consuming process (close to a full week) of which Chris takes us step-by-step. "It was about 2-3 days to sculpt it and another 24 hours to mold it. We had 4 people sculpting it and then we had another 4 or 5 people mold it-a huge fiberglass mold-and 6 people to clean out the mold as quickly as we could. Then we started running the foam in it and that takes about 6 hours to bake because of the size. Finally you have to cut the seam that runs down the middle and that’s another days worth of work." With all those hours that still did not include the life cast of Vladimir who would eventually have to wear the costume close to 14-hours a day. Chris goes on to explain that the suit is made to fit Vlad exactly. "He stood during the time it took to make the cast, it’s an all-day process to do ; his head, his teeth, his hands, his feet and then his body." The night before shooting was to begin on The Beast the crew was still establishing the paint scheme. Chris confesses, "This was a very big deal, the writers and the producers had a lot of input to make sure they got exactly what they were looking for. We did several different paint tests and finally established this one the night before it filmed."
Darnell Shephard Almost Human Makeup Artist
Darnell met Rob when he was working on the film "Black Scorpion" (1998) "I had just finished makeup school" she recalls, "and wanted to get more into the special effects. I went down to Roger Coreman’s Studio to go check it out and that’s when I met Rob and went to his shop and I’ve been working with him ever since." During the film "Warlock III", Darnell started learning how to do sculpting and how to make molds. "Right now I do a lot of the hair work ; ventilating all the monsters wigs ; eyebrows, eyelashes to give them that extra little lifelike look and a lot of the sewing for the suits." Even thought television doesn’t offer that intimate rapport with the camera the artists still take the time to pay attention to detail. "Oh, absolutely !" Darnell explains, "When you see it you know if you skimp on any details, you want to be proud of your work even though you’re kind of really behind the scenes it doesn’t change the quality of the work that you put into it." That quality also leads to the creative motivation that Buffy and Angel offer each week. "You try to challenge yourself and come up with even more bizarre things, and sometimes we have to tone it down - it kind of goes over the top, " she admits laughing. "They’re like, ’Okay, no we can’t quite do that for TV yet’, but hopefully it’s getting better."
When it comes to detailed pieces, a lot of time is spent in the maintenance process as well as the creative. "It varies, but close to a whole day ; a lot of it is layers and painting. Once you get it just right and to match everything, continuity is a big thing. Especially when you have a character and it comes back a month and a half later (you have to redo pieces) but you still want it to match it like the original." In a situation where the artists have a chance to watch the final output on TV it offers an opportunity to make corrections and to perfect something they may see as flawed. "It helps," admits Darnell, "You can see what it actually looks like and maybe punch up some things or maybe some detail that you would like to come through. It does give you an opportunity but you can’t change too much color or design that way after it’s already been established."
Special Effects is certainly a male dominated industry but the times they are a changing and more and more women are finding it’s not as gory as they thought. "I think it is a minority," Darnell admits. "There are a lot of women that are getting into it now, but there’s still mainly a lot of men that work in special effects because it’s really dirty work, and physically." She explains, "It’s a lot of heavy stuff, especially molds and doing that, and there are a lot of chemicals that you work with." So the gore factor isn’t what turns women off to the business ? "Well, maybe a little bit," she laughs, "I like the gore ; I’ve always been a fan of the gore so it doesn’t turn me off." There are obviously more females in the beauty makeup end of the spectrum (which Darnell also has a background in), but that’s not where the appeal is for her. "I don’t know, there’s just something about the special effects, there’s a lot more to do creativity wise. There’s a lot of creativity in regular makeup as well but there’s something about, ’Okay figure out how to do this, you have two days’. Then you rack your brain and it’s the pressure I like, the adrenaline rush. Hopefully there’s going to be a lot more women that will be in this."
Allan Holt Almost Human Makeup Artist (Initiative Lizard Demon)
When you work for Rob, the chances are reasonably high that one day you’ll be sitting in the chair having a lizard demon applied to your face. Allan is usually on set helping the cast ’stay alive’ for the 14-hours of shooting. "I chase the suits all day and make sure they look good. I keep the guys hydrated and make sure they’re doing okay with everything." He confesses, "It’s pretty much a constant workload for the whole day so I just thought I’d try it myself." He was looking forward to interacting with the fans and playing it up a little bit from behind the character. "Yes, I will have no problem playing it up a little bit," he said with a laugh and little evil gleam in his eye.
Allan got interested, like a lot of people, when he was a teenager. "I started reading the magazines and trying things out on my own and then it just sort of snowballed. By the time I was in film school I was doing [makeup effects] for my films and other peoples. One of my projects, I raised a bunch of money to try to get really ambitious with the effects and build some characters. It was really fun to create the stuff. Not a whole lot of people were interested in it so I had to come out here and find somebody like Rob to work with." Allen remembers, "The first time I came to L.A. was with all my possessions and I found Rob and he started out paying me in DVDs and then t-shirts and then eventually it was money," he teases, as Rob is within earshot. It may have been the DVDs that got Allen his initial gig with Rob, but it’s what Joss has offered people like Allan that keeps him here. "What I like about it, as an effects person, is there’s so much opportunity for creativity because we’ve done so many different characters. They’re one of the few opportunities to try a lot of different things and there’s not a whole lot of it on TV. The thing about TV verses features is it’s a steady diet of the stuff, there’s always something new to work on, and it’s a lot of fun," he says. "I enjoy the whole Buffy/ Angel universe."
Achsa Nute (Buffy Summers Vampire)
Marital connections do not give you demon immunity, rather it may offer you up as victim more times than not. Achsa, who is married to Rob’s designer, Chris Burdett found herself being slated as the once transformed Buffy Summers into her most feared alter ego - a vampire, from the beginnings of Season 1 in the episode "Nightmares". But Achsa’s real life profession may make her a more viable candidate, "I actually draw blood for a living for a lab, so it’s kind of fun. I’ve always wanted to be on the receiving end just to see what it was like," she admits. "I’ve not had appliances put on me before—I’ve popped in teeth, that kind of thing but nothing this large."