Sunday, May 13, 2012

To Korea and back: A makeup artist's story.

So last June I received and email from a then recent student of mine Jonghee Song. In it Jonghee asked me if I would be able to lend her advice on silicone prosthetics for the upcoming film Eungyo (A Muse) she would be working on where she had to age the main actor from 35 to 70. She also threw out the idea of me even coming there to work with her and help her in person..

That idea soon became reality. After talking back and forth for over a week Jonghee quickly realized she wanted me there to lead the way in the little shop she was putting together, I also realized I very much wanted to go there as well! 

After we broke down the makeup(s) she had in mind for the film, we quickly began to make lists of all the materials we would need and started ordering them right away. Since there isn't a supply of materials needed close to South Korea, we had to order most of our materials from the US and have them shipped over seas. This was not easy or cheap to do, how ever I had a good friend Delfino living in the L.A. area, whom just happened to be an effects artist himself as well as Korean! This made communication incredibly easy as Jonghee talked directly to Delfino and got him to order and ship everything to her. This worked out really well and I am still very grateful for all the help Delfino provided!

So as materials were being shipped and delivered I was also on my way to Seoul. After a 13 hour connecting flight I had arrived on the other side of the world!! This experience was may firsts for me. I had never been outside of North America before, I had never travel on my own.. it was some what scary but also amazing at the same time. I arrived and quickly went through customs, they seem to love us Canadians there! Then in the arrivals was Jonghee waiting for me, my flight was slightly delayed, by an hour or so but she was still very happy to see me arrive!

From there she took me to the apartment where I would be sleeping for the next 2 months. It was small and cozy and suited me just fine. I had a shower and soon went for dinner where I met the rest of the shop crew. This included Mikyong Choi, the one who I would be working with the closest. After a great meal and a decent sleep we were literally on the job.

The first task at hand was to go shopping for all the materials we needed and could get locally. After they were bought  we had hauled it up four flights of stairs..not fun. Once everything was bought we set up shop and got everything in order. The next day would be the first real day of work, the life cast.

The actor Hae-il Park arrived about 2 hours late, this was due to a skin irritation and a trip to the doctors to see what was up. Once he was there it was on though. The actor walked in and it was almost a surreal moment, as this is where it all starts.. He walked up to me and immediately hugged me.. it is not common at all in Korea to have such physical contact when meeting someone new for the first time or anytime I think for that matter. This affection caught me off guard but it was the beginning of a 2 month working relationship that was amazing to say the least.

After doing a baldcap and wig measurement we did a full head cast with Body Double silicone, we also did arm castings as well. We set them aside and clean up the actor, the first day of work was complete. The next day consisted of making 4 plaster copies of the Hae-il head to sculpt the various stages of makeup on as well as copies of his hands.

The first few days of work were over and I had a nice Sunday to relax. Sculpting would begin on Monday!

Monday came and I got right into it, I spent about 3-4 days sculpting and refining the head and arm sculpts. The director had a lot of ideas with what he wanted for the aged look of the actor. Somethings were not very conventional in the rules of makeup, and a lot of discussions took place about what would and would not work. In the end the director was happy with the original finished sculpt you can see below. From there I soaked the sculpt and floated it off..or at least I tried! I actually had a really difficult time getting the head sculpt to remove from the plaster. You would have been amazed what the clay look liked removed, it literally looked like they were completely ruined! How ever I worked my magic and was able to clean up and fix all the pieces and return them to their original glory.

After they were all re mounted on their new separate positives, we made the negatives. I actually had a lot of issues with the Repro One urethane I chose to use for the molds for this project. I had many issues with surface bubbles due to reactions with release when making the molds, also got some slight warping. I don't know what went wrong, but the first time around (on 0000) I loved using Repro, but I think from now on I'll just stick with the very reliable 1630!

So molds were made and we had a successful run of all the appliances (after working out many issues with moisture in the air lines of the spray guns used for spraying the cap plastic). The prosthetics were made of out of Platsil-Gel 10 deadened at 180%. I used regular Baldies as the encapsulator.

I applied the first test makeup, assisted by Jonghee.  This where she would star her learning on the silicone application process. Hae-il was incredibly still and actually slept through most of the application. The first application actually took a grueling 9 hours (which I was not happy at all with)... it was a big makeup and I more or less applied and colored it myself. Not an easy task at all.

They did a test shoot of the makeup, we watched the makeup on screen and thus began the feedback. I was slightly irritated that everyone (literally everyone) on the crew was sharing their critiques with the director about what they thought. I think this flooded his brain and he become more and more concerned with the look and believability of the work. I feel it should be discussed with the makeup team and him and the producers. I don't think PAs or grips really need to give any of their input..but that's just me I guess!

The director soon realized he was unhappy with the neck cords and the cheek shape. I was also unhappy with the neck, and also the neck mold. I originally created a full neck with collapsible positive, but after running it once, I realized running it 60 (yes we needed 60 days of this makeup!!!) more times was not feasible as it took 3 hours or more for every run. So I re sculpted the neck as a wrap appliance, I also much preferred the new neck sculpt. I felt it was far superior to the original. I also did a clay press of the original cheeks, tweaked the sculpt then remolded. We ran new pieces and Jonghee now applied the second test assisted by Mikyong.

Again there were critiques, but expected this time. I end up re sculpting the chin, and tweaking the eyelid area on the forehead appliance. Jonghee and Mikyong did a final and very much approved third test. At this point they were happy with the look.

From here I had to do a re sculpt of the cheek area again to create a sick look on the actor, as his character gets ill near the end of the film. This look was accompanied by a silicone baldcap that had hand punched thinned hair. Another test of this look was done and approved.

My original schedule was to have me there for 2 months, in this 2 months I as suppose to sculpt all the makeups, mold all the sculpts, then run as many appliances as I could before I my time was up. In the end though due to all the re sculpts and other curve balls thrown our way I was only able to run appliances for a few days, maybe a week. In these few days I also had to make sure Mikyong had a strong handle on the running the pieces herself as she would be taking over for me once I left. After a few days she had it down 150%, she did an incredible job!  I saw pictures posted a few months later of rooms filled with silicone appliances, in seeing those pictures I felt a huge sense of pride for them as they had achieved so much! I was very proud of all of them and what they were able to accomplish.

In the end, due mostly to time constraints on set, the makeup was reduced to only the forehead and cheek appliances as well as the arm appliances. This means the neck, nose/upper lip, chin and ears were all unused. A sad but sometimes common thing in the world of makeup and film. After learning this I do wish I could go back and do it all over again and create a makeup that would only be these appliances. But I can't though time machines do not exist...so the makeup would be what it was!

After seeing the trailer for the film I felt the makeup actually still worked out really well and was very happy for Jonghee and her crew and the makeups they applied. I hope to see the film soon myself and hope it does well in Korea and the rest of the world. 

 I will always have memories of Korea, good and bad.I will never forget my time there and all that we accomplished.Now please enjoy the the process of the work...

                      This is the original finished aging sculpt.                       

 These are some of the finished broken down sculpts on their respective corrected positives. (Note: here you see the full original neck on its collapsible positive)
   
These are some of the Repro One urethane molds made by me. They were made with 2 layers of Repro back with ultra-cal stone. The ear and chin molds, as well as the bald cap mold were solid Repro though. The ear molds have a Smoothsil 940 negative to avoid all the craziness of the ear shape. The prosthetics came out very well! (Note: the neck and back of neck molds were the re sculpted neck I had to do, the original neck mold was a full neck sculpt with collapsible positive)

Test one applied by me, assisted by Jonghee Song. This was the first original sculpt, with full arm appliances.
  
This was the second test done, applied by Jonghee Song, assisted by Mikyong Choi. This has the re sculpted neck and cheek appliances.

 This was the third test done, applied by Jonghee Song, assisted by Mikyong Choi. This has the new neck and cheeks as well as re sculpted chin and forehead (eyelid area only).


This was the sick stage, this has different cheeks again, though hardly noticeable, as well as a full silicone bald cap with had punched hair. More hair would be hand laid to blend the forehead into the pre punched hair line. This was again applied by Jonghee and Mikyong. 

Finally here's the trailer for the film!

5 comments:

Sian Jeffries-Jones said...

beautiful work, i found your blog via effectslab and glad i did.

thanks for the great post

Michael said...

Thanks so much! :D

Brandon Allen said...

God Michael, this is absolutely incredible!! What an experience and well deserved. Beautiful work by you and your team. It truly is inspiring as always. I can't wait to see what your next adventure brings.

Brandon
(TokyoRose)

Michael said...

Thanks Brandon! A lot of hard work when into making this happen. Was very happy with what we accomplished. If I could do it all over again there would be a million things I would change, but I am very proud if the work I did.

beautifyou said...

What is the title of the movie? Great work!!! I'm doing makeup for bridal work, but I can also appreciate the makeup work for special effects, it looks wayyyy harder!