KATY PERRY: Birthday - Behind the Scenes: 90 Years in 30 Seconds

Katy Perry: Birthday - Behind the Scenes: 90 Years in 30 Seconds


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DREAD CENTRAL: Cult of Chucky – FX Designer Tony Gardner Speaks!

Cult of Chucky – FX Designer Tony Gardner Speaks! Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Video and Images!

Tony Gardner is one of the most accomplished special effects designers in the biz. He has designed and created effects for Zombieland, 127 Hours, Smokin’ Aces, Hairspray, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, The Addams Family, Shallow Hal and many more. Not the least of which are the last three Child’s Play movies. With the newest one, Cult of Chucky (review), out now we caught up with Gardner at his studio, Alterian Ghost Factory, and picked his brain about all that went into the latest installment.

Dread Central: When did you first get to work on a Chucky movie?

Tony Gardner: We had met David Kirschner (producer of the Child’s Play franchise) on Hocus Pocus; we did Billy Butcherson and the animatronic cat. When he was going to pitch Bride of Chucky to the studio, he wanted to go in with a display presentation. So he had us build Chucky carrying Tiffany, sort of like the classic bride and groom over the threshold kind of pose. And we built an arch, they were full size, and did a presentation piece for that. And that was sort of our first taste of Chucky. It wasn’t until Seed of Chucky – it wasn’t until three months before they were supposed to pack everything to ship to Romania, that I was contacted and asked if I’d be interested in doing some animatronic characters for a film. It was so vague at first, because I think they were trying to work stuff out still, and then three months prior to them needing to ship out, they were like, ‘okay, we need three animatronic characters that need to be able to do full dialogue, get in fights with each other, throw things,’ and I don’t know what I was thinking but I said ‘sure, that sounds great, let’s go for it,’ and we did. So my first professional experience I didn’t really even have time to think about what we doing. We just had to do it. We were matching photos and trying to be as accurate to photos as possible. There were no physical items to be had. So it was just a constant scramble and literally throwing things into boxes and getting on a plane. Then sorting it out for a week or so before filming in Romania.

DC: Chucky’s gone through a few different incarnations.

TG: Yeah, it’s interesting because when we did Seed, we were trying to match everything to Bride, but at the same time they wanted to reference the characters had a little bit of a Hollywood makeover because this was a film inside of a film. So there was a slight shift there and some things were sort of tweaked or cleaned up in a way. And then when we came to Curse, the idea was that the Good Guy doll face was actually a fake face stretched over the scarred Chucky in disguise and I think we took it a little too literally and I think that wasn’t such a great idea on my part….. But then when we went into do Cult, I was really adamant that we got everything really right, one hundred percent accurate – like start over and start with the Good Guy doll, let’s start with the original and go back to what everybody wants to see. So I was really sort of a little obsessed with hand size and body proportion and the face, even the eyes. And the eyes change a bit in the first three films and I really got analysing the first three films and the scenes that Don [Mancini, director] liked the most and trying to mirror his look there but then there were a couple concessions to the location this time. Where because there was such a white stark background the idea was to amp up the color of his hair, so that it popped a little bit more against the white. So, it wasn’t quite so auburn but it was a little more vibrant. So that’s why his hair is a little bit more intense than it should be. And then there was the idea here with him being able to go back and forth between the Good Guy doll and an evil version in kind of, an instant. The question was, he’s not turning human so what can we do to mix it up a bit and get a little bit more of the humanity of Brad Dourif into it. One of the ideas was sort of a sense of eye bags underneath the eyes, which goes against what to doll has, so that’s something people found interesting. So that also allowed us to be able to have the eye lids track more with the eye balls when he looked around so we could make them a bit more human and a little less doll like. So, he’s sort of evolving as time goes and a lot of times it’s kind of, at least lately, what serves the story better.

DC: Which Chucky is your favorite?

TG: Wow, tough one. I like him in almost every film in different scenes for different reasons, and I know that sounds kind of weird. Child’s Play Two he’s on a dresser, completely inanimate and his body posture and everything looks like a doll and when he comes to life and he straitens up and he suddenly possesses an attitude, the performance in that to me, is just as inspiring as the animatronics – like that’s the kind of stuff that we’re trying to push him to now, albeit on a budget one fifth of what all those original films had but that’s a challenge as well in and of itself. But I have to say I think I like – I honestly like him in all his incarnations. I think the scar Chucky was pretty fascinating just from the sort of Frankenstein perspective, you know, I really enjoyed that. I feel that in the new film now that we have multiple versions within the same film, I have to say my favorite at the moment, is really the new Chucky, buzz-cut Chucky, the guy with the haircut. Because he’s new to all of it but he’s so excited by everything and the idea of putting that enthusiasm in his face, in his mannerisms and then Brad actually having his voice crack when he does that character. I mean that was the most enjoyable of all of them to do. And there’s a lot of stuff buzz cut does that isn’t in the film that – maybe it’s in the deleted scenes, I don’t know, but it’s a very humorous character – so he’s my favorite right now.

DC: What’s it like to collaborate with Don Mancini?

TG: It’s interesting working with Don, because essentially Don is the franchise. He’s written all of them, he’s directed the last three, he knows the cannon, he knows how everyone’s story fits, he’s followed everything tonally, he’s directed it on paper tonally for seven films, he’s actually directed the last three. So you go to Don with a question and you get an answer that’s immediate and specific and he’s not hemming or hawing or wondering about options. He knows all of this stuff inside and out. And that is so rare and it’s kind of what makes this whole thing amazing and what gives this whole franchise it’s longevity is the fact that Don is behind it and he steers the boat with the big picture all the time. Every character motivation, every bit of dialogue, every angle choice, he’s just really amazing.

DC: What’s it like watching Cult of Chucky with an audience?

TG: The first time the film screened was Fright Fest in London. It was over a thousand people and they’re all horror fans so all the reactions and responses were huge. So it was interesting to watch it and see where the audience was willing to go and then also how extreme their responses were to some of the stuff and how much they actually really enjoyed it. And what was nice there was were able to talk to a lot of people beforehand and then afterwards and hear their feedback and how positive everything was and how much they enjoyed that it wasn’t re-hashing stuff. It was keeping things fresh, incorporating new characters and that was exciting to hear because you don’t know how people are going to respond to a lot of that stuff. And the end itself, the end of the movie is such a huge surprise with suddenly the ability to sort of, do the split your soul up and spread it out to a couple of different places. It just opens up so many doors for the future as far as possibilities of what could be done. How many story lines could go on at the same time in different places, how many off shoots could you do. Could you take the Star Wars universe idea and you’ve got one through line with the main characters and then every other film that comes out, is somebody shipped a box off to Japan or to Germany or to a specific person that was referenced in another film. It seems like there actually really is a Chucky universe, in and of itself, that could be tapped into and I think this film made that really obvious.

Written and directed by Don Mancini, Cult of Chucky stars Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Michael Therriault, and Elisabeth Rosen. Cult of Chucky is available NOW!

Confined to an asylum for the criminally insane for the past four years, Nica (Dourif) is wrongly convinced that she, not Chucky, murdered her entire family. But when her psychiatrist introduces a new group therapy tool — a “Good Guy” doll — a string of grisly deaths plague the asylum and Nica starts to wonder if maybe she isn’t crazy after all.

Andy (Vincent), Chucky’s now-grown up nemesis from the original Child’s Play, races to Nica’s aid. But to save her he’ll have to get past Tiffany (Tilly), Chucky’s long-ago bride, who will do anything, no matter how deadly or depraved, to help her beloved devil doll.

Special Features:

  • Inside the Insanity of Cult of Chucky — Viewers will discover what it was like to film inside an insane asylum and the challenges production faced on set. They’ll also hear from the cast and filmmakers as they discuss why they were attracted to this story and how the filmmakers’ vision brought this fun-filled horror film together.
  • Good Guy Gone Bad: The Incarnations of Chucky — This featurette offers a peek into Alterian’s workshop, the studio behind Chucky’s puppeteering, to see how the magic is created and focuses on how the look of Chucky has evolved over the years.
  • Feature Commentary with Director and Writer Don Mancini and Head Puppeteer Tony Gardner.


Original Article

DREAD CENTRAL: Exclusive: Tony Gardner on The Dollhouse, the Horror Family, and Happy Death Day

Exclusive: Tony Gardner on The Dollhouse, the Horror Family, and Happy Death Day

Tony Gardner is the man behind the doll – sometimes literally, as he puppeteers Chucky! Of course, he has a great team of folks to do most of the heavy lifting (and heavy stabbing), but Gardner is the mastermind and certainly one of the most talented effects guys in the biz. You can see his handiwork in the brand-new horror flick Cult of Chucky(review) – we caught up with him in his studio to talk to him about working on that movie specifically, but there’s a lot more to the tale so we delved in a bit deeper, looking into the past (Michael Jackson’s Thriller) and the future (Kyra Elise Gardner’s “The Dollhouse”). Read on!

Dread Central: How did you get into this awesome world? I mean, you have a dream job, for sure! Where did you get your start?

Tony Gardner: My first professional job was for the music video, “Michael Jackson’s Thriller,” working for Rick Baker. I was eighteen. So my first professional job was essentially a horror film, where I even had the opportunity to build a zombie character on myself and be in the video. John Landis knew that I was interested in filmmaking and during post production he invited me to come into editorial and watch them working on the video, which was incredibly cool. So I was in the shop during all of the zombie and werewolf construction, had a hand in a little bit of everything there, including fabricating a character of my own, then be on set for the full week of filming, act in front of the cameras for a couple of shots – and then watch editorial in progress, with George Folsey, Jr., the editor, explained how they were structuring the behind the scenes footage to help explain things to an audience, visually and through the audio as well. I felt I was able to be involved in the entire process, and it was this life changing experience for me. I was a student at USC at the time, and I dropped out of school. I tried to do both for a while, school and the music video, but I realized, “I can’t do both, I can only do one of these and I know what I want to do – I want to make movies.”

DC: And being in the horror genre every now and again – you do lots of sci-fi and comedy, too – you must be showered with lots of love. The horror community really is just that, a community, wouldn’t you agree?

TG: They’re so open and so friendly. You go to a genre convention and everyone is so nice. I went to Maskfest, and this guy came up to me, a big, scary intimidating guy with his head painted like an evil skull, and he was so polite: “Hi, so nice to meet you, and I really enjoy your films.” Everybody is so nice and so genuine. It’s really a great genre to be in, everybody we meet on the periphery of it and within the studio system, is great, and sometimes it’s funny because everybody’s so normal.

We’re all eccentric in our own different ways, but everybody within this horror world seems to be a really genuine human being. Everybody’s always been super nice. I think a lot of it comes from the people on top and their attitude trickles down on set. It’s camaraderie and support for one another. Everybody’s in the trenches together. Everybody actually has a lot of passion for the subject matter and I think that makes a difference. It definitely impacts the attitude on set which just makes it easier to work.

DC: You’ve got your genre family, and your actual family. I’m kind of curious about whether you let your own kids watch horror movies when they were young, because, as you said, guys painted like skulls come up to you at conventions, and I’ve seen lots of families at those cons too.

TG: We tried to wait until they were a bit older – around ten seemed a good age, but even the ‘age appropriate’ stuff had things in it that were scary. They didn’t watch horror films at a young age, but they all have liked scary stories ever since they were little. And there’s things that we showed our kids that we didn’t think were scary, that impacted them completely differently than expected.

We were cautious, we had some friends whose kids were watching stuff at far to early an age to comprehend a lot of what they were watching, and we really paid attention to that. My wife Cindy was really aware of how this industry skews your perspective on things and how you really need to look at it through the child’s eye and make the right decisions. Now she’s the President of the School Board in our community, and is really into child development and education, so I’d say she’s the one with the healthiest perspective all around.

But all of our kids really love horror and when their friends come over to our house it seems they all enjoy watching something scary. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good horror film or a bad film – there’s fun in both of those – but it seems like horror is quite often the ‘go to’ in our house. And we didn’t push it.

A lot of the films that we were doing when they were little were more comedy based actually. So it wasn’t like we were bringing home work that was horror related. Once we moved into our house and were starting a family, we made a conscious decision to keep the work stuff at work. If I ever had to bring stuff home to work on or finish off, like a severed head or whatever, it stayed in the car until everybody was in bed, and then I’d work on it late at night.

Although, in referencing a severed head, I remember when we were working on ‘Seed of Chucky,’ I had taken the head of myself home to work on. I have to admit, there was a moment where I did wonder, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I pretended to trip upstairs and roll this head down the stairs?” Followed immediately by, “I don’t think I’ll have enough money for that kind of therapy for the rest of these kids’ lives.” The practical joker side of you thinks, this would be a funny joke and then the parent side cancels it out immediately – not a good idea! But I did tell them about it when they were older and the response was basically, “Yeah, that probably would have ruined me but it would have been funny.”

DG: At least one of your kids, Kyra, is following in your footsteps in that she’s making horror movies too. Her short documentary “The Dollhouse” is a special feature on the Cult of Chucky Blu-ray. How awesome is that? Can you give us a little backstory on that?

TG: Sure. So my daughter Kyra is a film student in Florida State. And part of the curriculum for the first year of film school is a short form documentary. The film has to be seven minutes long and you have to pitch your ideas to the faculty. So my daughter went into her meeting with a lot of different ideas to discuss: we had just done makeup effects for Ana Lily Amirpour on ‘The Bad Batch,’ which Kyra had been involved with, taking photos for Lily, and one of her ideas was to interview Lily on the gender bias in this industry among other things.

During Kyra’s pitch meeting, one of the professors heard that her dad works on Chucky and said – in trying to help each student find their own unique voice: “If you do seven minutes on Chucky, I’d watch that.” I think it was an offhand comment but at the same time they keep telling the students: Look what’s in your own backyard. Talk about what you know. What sort of resources do you have? So she took a few steps back and realized that she’s had this family, this sort of extension of our own family through work that’s been connected to us for over fifteen years.

She’s nineteen so she’s heard David Kirschner and Don Mancini’s names for most of her life, heard all about them, and had only ever really known these people from a distance. To make a film about this group was a chance to kind of get to know everyone face to face – to sit them down and interview them. So she decided to make her documentary just as much about the process of meeting them as well as the shared experience that we all have, this community, this extended family. And she really wanted to talk to Fiona because Fiona’s dad is the killer doll and I’m the guy who builds the doll. And then Fiona’s dad kills her own dad – and there’s all these layers to it that made it kind of funny. She ended up with a ton of material actually.

She asked Brad and Fiona to sit down together, talk father/daughter, and then she and I sat down the same way, and then she also sat down separately with David Kirschner and Don Mancini – interviewing everyone in their own homes – it was very casual, none of us were really ‘at work.’ There was a bit of a debate at Florida State Film School about the structure of a documentary and should the documentarian be in the film themselves in the context of a student film, but she finally put together something she liked that was true to her original idea after debating the different options, and was really happy.

She sent a link to the finished film to all of us who had been interviewed, an e-mail that thanked everyone for being in it, basically saying ‘here’s a link, I hope you like it.’ Well, David Kirschner watched it and got on the phone with Universal and told them that he felt that this documentary should be on the ‘Cult of Chucky’ DVD, and that he thought the fans would really like it. And Don Mancini had the same opinion and did the same. So there ended up being around six or seven weeks of paperwork and legal hell for Kyra because her film wasn’t put together with the intent of being anything other than a student film. She had already gone through a lot of paperwork to get the rights to some of the music and clips from the Chucky films to use on a student film level, and now all of a sudden Universal wanted to use her film as part of their own product. So it turned into another whole series of contracts and negotiations that went on literally down to the wire. I think she learned a lot about film-making and learned a lot about working with a major film studio above and beyond what she expected. She had to deal with the merchandising department and the legal department and the home video department – it was so great that Florida State’s Film School is so supportive of their students, I don’t know how it would have happened without them. So this one little experience gave her such a great opportunity to learn and to grow.

As all of the Universal paperwork was wrapping up, FSU had also started sending her documentary out to different film festivals. Meanwhile Fright Fest contacted Don Mancini and asked if he would like to premiere ‘Cult’ in London like he had done with ‘Curse’ five years ago, which thrilled Don and all of us to no end. Not long after that Don received another e-mail from Fright Fest stating basically ‘hey, we received this fab documentary about your films through our regular channels and we think you’ll really like it. You’re in it and it’s called ‘The Dollhouse,’ by Kyra Gardner. We’re thinking it would be really cool to screen it before the world premiere Cult of Chucky because it would give the audience a taste for who you are before they watch the film.’ Don responded back, ‘of course,’ and then I got to tell Kyra.

It was really kind of overwhelming because she had been a bit hesitant to talk about this stuff and then the film and even the process opened up all these doors for her, resulting in her student film world premiering in London before the ‘Cult of Chucky’ world premiere. She went for the screening, and the festival organizers invited her to go up and speak before the film. She went up in front of over a thousand people and literally winged it, and did an amazing job, thanking her mom and the crew and everybody that had been in it. And then it premiered.

Fiona, Jennifer and I had gone to England with Don for the premiere. And Adam Hertig – who is in the film – was there from Canada as well. We realized then that our little film family has started to like, stretch out a bit, with Adam being in the last two Chucky films and Jennifer being in the last three.

The Dollhouse has gone on to screen at a lot more film festivals, and will be showing at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival next month before they screen Cult of Chucky. Kyra’s going to go. Florida State’s going to let her disappear for a couple of days. So she’ll get to meet the rest of the Canadian side of the family.

The Chucky connection keeps on going, though. FSU was evacuated due to Hurricane Irma, so Kyra ended up back home with us for a week. The Monday of that week we shot Chucky for an “Entertainment Weekly” spread for their Halloween issue, so we had Kyra onboard as a Chucky puppeteer on that. Friday of that week was the opening of Halloween Horror Nights, and Kyra had helped puppeteer Chucky on the footage that we shot for that a month ago, so she went to the opening and finally met Jennifer Tilly. And Jennifer was willing to come early and sit down with Kyra and do an interview with her. That very next day Don, Fjona, and I were on a ‘Cult of Chucky’ panel at Son of Monsterpalooza [a horror con], and Fiona sat down with Kyra after and spoke with her some more about her own experiences as opposed to her shared experiences with her father. Now Kyra’s wondering if she should interview Adam Hertig when they’re both in Toronto. It’s just really cool to see Jennifer and everybody be so supportive of her. And, it is real is kind of a family. They’re all kind of protective. It’s just really sweet. I didn’t realize until recently, how rare that is in general, but in this industry how extremely rare it is, so it’s nice to have my family get pulled into it.

DC: Are your other kids in the industry, too?

TG: All three of them have been involved in different ways through the years. My oldest daughter Brianna was in the movie “Shallow Hal” when she was seven, and both she and Kyra played the same character at different ages for a Daft Punk music video a long while back. My son Austin gets involved occasionally as well. When we were filming Chucky here at Alterian recently for a lot of the online promo and the footage for the Terror Tram ride at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, Austin was one of the puppeteers. He’s a med student in Irvine now, so we can’t involve him as often anymore. Brianna was home for a week from England – she’s at grad school in England – and she helped puppeteered on another promo shoot while she was home. And Brianna also actually worked on the film itself. She painted in our shop for all of pre-production before we shipped off to Canada. So, there’s definitely a whole family dynamic thing – and it keeps extending out. It’s a really solid group of people and it’s really nice. There’s no drama and there’s a lot of support.

DC: Happy Death Day is coming out soon. What did you do on that film?

TG: Well, it’s a Canadian production, so we couldn’t really be on set for any of it, but Chris [director, Christopher Landon] wanted us to design the mask for the killer. He wanted some sort of iconic face. We had created a mask here at Alterian that became the Scream mask, way back when. We did the Ghost-Maker kits and other Halloween masks in the past, then more recently the masks – or helmets – for Daft Punk. Chris said that he liked our sense of design aesthetic, and that it would be interesting to see what our take on his character would be. Production had two different ideas. Two extremely different ideas. We actually ended up just sculpting both designs full size for them. You can talk and sketch ideas to death but you actually have to see it in 3D to think about how you’re going to light it and how it’s going to move. So we just did two sculptures on a head and shoulders bust so he could see the proportions of the head in relationship to the neck length and shoulder height. And as soon as he saw it he was very decisive: “I want that design, and if you could move this tooth over there. Done.” We were taking photos of the sculptures on their busts, wrapping them in black fabric to represent a hood – figuring the classic grim reaper look. In the end, the final look decided on was actually a black hoodie. So the design process was fun. We really wished we could have gone on set but it being a non-local film – that’s part of the understanding going into it – didn’t make that possible. I’m really looking forward to seeing it because it was a really fun script.

Happy Death Day is directed by Christopher Landon, who co-wrote the film with Scott Lobdell. Jessica Rothe headlines the film, which comes out Friday, October 13th.

Original Article

MOVIE MAKER: How They Did It: Designing the Amputee Protagonist of Ana Lily Amirpour’s Dystopian Desert Trip, The Bad Batch

How They Did It: Designing the Amputee Protagonist of Ana Lily Amirpour’s Dystopian Desert Trip, The Bad Batch

There were quite a few visual effects challenges I had to tackle in making my second feature, The Bad Batch: multiple matte paintings, a massive wall made out of shipping containers, a simulated LSD trip, sand storms, trained crows.

Once I’d written the script, though, it was clear that the first, most important question was: “How am I going to have my main character, Arlen—played by Suki Waterhouse and in pretty much every scene of the movie—lose an arm and a leg in the first 10 minutes of the film?”

Given the CG tools available, creating the effect isn’t actually that difficult—but I’m a practical-FX girl. A lot of the big-budget, FX-driven studio films we get right now have this chemical synthetic look—they’re two-hour long video games. I like the real world to be mixed organically with CG. I’m excited by filmmakers who use a mix of practical and digital FX, like Guillermo Del Toro, Darren Aronofsky, J. J. Abrams, Ridley Scott. They harness the beauty of the real world first and foremost, and then use the CG to amplify that beauty. I wanted that living, organic feeling in the frame. I wanted the tactile, tangible sense of light hitting the sets and objects and flesh. I want it to feel real. I’m a magician, after all.

The first person I talked to about the challenge of getting rid of limbs was Tony Gardner, who with his company, Alterian, Inc., is the mastermind behind things like the Chucky doll from Child’s Play, the iconic Daft Punk helmets, Darkman and the Oscar-nominated makeup (including the old-man balls) of Bad Grandpa. He is one of the greats in practical FX. Spike Jonze mentioned my film to him (they had worked together on Adaptation) and suggested we meet. Normally, Tony would be out of my reach, given my budget of only approximate $5 million, but he loved the story and world I was building, and he vibed on the fact that I was trying to get the effect without digital tools—not an approach most people take nowadays.

Ana Lily Amirpour on the set of The Bad Batch, which won the special jury prize at the 2016 Venice Film Festival. Photograph by Merrick Morton

The film that Tony had worked on that was most relevant to what I wanted to do was Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. I was really impressed with how natural the arm prosthetics on James Franco, trapped under that rock, were. With hardly any digital FX, Tony created a prosthetic arm which Franco wore (his own arm was tucked behind him). That seemed like a strategy that could work for us. Tony would design a prosthetic shoulder nub for Arlen, molded from Suki’s body, that she would wear throughout the shoot, so that there would always be a real-life element on her of what she was supposed to look like. That meant that nothing was 100-percent created in CG; it was always a mix of practical and visual FX.

Which is not to say we didn’t still require extensive digital VFX work to sell that effect. We would still need to remove Suki’s actual arm from every single shot. No matter how I approached it, there would be a considerable amount of CG work. Anything we built would then need to be cleaned up and accentuated. So the next critical partner I had to find was a VFX supervisor who would come in and bring to life whatever Tony had started with his prosthetics. He would help me come up with a shooting strategy on set, for every scene, to make sure we were shooting to facilitate the ideal results in post-production.

One of the great resources for moviemakers is DVD bonus features of other films. I was checking out other directors who had removed limbs in movies. Two films in particular were my references: Rust and Bone and Soul Surfer. The bonus features of Rust and Bone—a film about a girl missing her legs—revealed what director Jacques Audiard had done with handheld camera work, elaborate CG work and a much bigger budget. In Soul Surfer, director Sean McNamara got rid of AnnaSophia Robb’s arm by creating a prosthetic nub that she wore for most of the movie—the way we wanted to go. Dan Schmit was one of the VFX supervisors on that film, so we got in touch with him and his company Engine Room. Since he’d already done the arm-removal effect before, hiring him made us ahead of the curve.

Keep in mind, Soul Surfer too was made on a bigger budget, with more than 700 VFX shots. I had to get the same effect with around 150 shots on my budget. Dan pointed out that we would also need Tony to build one complete prosthetic arm and bust of Arlen, just for shooting photos for 3-D rebuilding. This would serve as a model of what she was supposed to look like and Dan’s team could use this to recreate her body from side angles, when the viewer would see everything.

The Bad Batch was shot around Bombay Beach and the Salton Sea in California. Photograph by Merrick Morton

So we began, building one prosthetic nub for Suki’s front-facing shots and a different one when I was shooting her from the back, and sometimes a “double nub” with prosthetics on both sides. Her own arm was always somewhere behind or in front of her, painted green. Dan would remove that real arm for all of the shots, and sometimes animate the nub to give it life. And when there was not enough information for Dan to recreate the CG, he could use the bust of her body to fill in those gaps.

With just 150 shots, I had to figure out when it was essential for you to see Arlen as an amputee. I had to decide when I wanted to put the camera wider, in angles that really showed her body, and create shots that would require more elaborate CG work to sell the effect. Dan and I went through the script and figured out the scenes where we really wanted to do some fancier CG work, like animate the nub, really show it, and see it interacting with her and her environment. In the story of The Bad Batch, the fact that Arlen’s an amputee is almost a side-note—I just needed to show her physicality a few key times and get you to believe in who this character is, and then move on to so many other things. Any time we shot her nub, we were creating a CG shot, and even if it was an easy one, it costs money. My rule: Don’t shoot the nub if the scene doesn’t benefit from showing it. Most scenes in movies are anchored on close-ups of actors’ faces, so that’s where you invest your emotion. I’m not selling a freak show; I’m telling a story about human emotion. And that lives in the actor’s eyes.

That said, a big part of Suki’s job were the physical challenges all the FX required. This role wasn’t just hard on her as an actress; it was hard on her as a stunt person. She would have to wear heavy plastic prosthetics in a hot desert for the entire shoot and learn how to move and react with them in a way that felt natural. It was an exhausting role for an actress. She jumped right into the technical work, over many weeks of prep, casting molds of her body and testing them for camera. The tests were critical—you always wish you had more time, but any time you get is incredibly valuable. I spent many afternoons with Suki, her crawling around on the floor using only one arm and leg, trying to understand how to use her body the way this character would. I take my hat off to her and the gladiator work she put in, because she makes it look easy, and that’s why she’s remarkable.

Jason Momoa and Suki Waterhouse enter an unconventional romance as part of The Bad Batch’s wasteland community. Courtesy of Neon

The next important element for me was storyboards. I like to do them myself because I have specific ideas for framing and camera angles, and I like to over-prepare, especially for scenes that require elaborate camera movements, lighting or stunts. I often deviate from the storyboards, but with prosthetics and CG, you need everyone to have a clear plan. These blueprints were also important for my costume designer, Natalie O’Brien, who was working closely with Tony on designing Arlen’s outfits to work with the prosthetics.

I went through those storyboards with my camera team—a trifecta made up of me, my DP Lyle Vincent (who also shot my first feature, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) and our Steadicam operator, Scotty Dropkin, who also did a few scenes on Girl Walks. We three already have a shorthand, and we found a way to stay efficient and avoid creating more post work than I could afford. We also shot camera tests in all the locations so they knew the lay of the land in the extreme desert conditions. All of this preparation is so useful for showing up relaxed and ready.

Suddenly it was the first day of production, and we showed up on set. Even as prepared as you might be, your true approach reveals itself when you start shooting. We had the rare privilege of shooting this film almost in chronological order, and that helped enormously. Shooting was insane, the schedule was impossibly tight, with lots of surprises, changes, action sequences and fight scenes every other day. We had a kid and animals on set, and the desert is wild and unpredictable. All of the tricks we had devised played out in different ways depending on the scene: Sometimes we buried Suki’s leg in the sand, sometimes we cut a hole in a mattress, sometimes her real arm was in the back, sometimes in the front, and sometimes we just shot it not knowing how we were going to get rid of an arm or leg but we had to finish the scene so we had no choice. During her escape scene in the beginning, she’s in bandages, so that was an easier time in some ways. But bandages turned out to be more difficult to recreate and modify realistically in CG. That’s something we discovered months later when I was in post—cloth, it turns out, is trickier to animate. Things change on the day, the sun is hot, the latex is melting, the clock is ticking, and that’s the nature of this beast.

A few weeks in, we found our rhythm. It was a wonderful feeling: when everyone knew exactly how we were making this movie; everyone was suddenly an expert at how to shoot a girl missing an arm and leg. At the end of finishing any movie you become an expert at that particular movie. I’m now an expert on limb removal.

Amirpour with her crew on the set of The Bad Batch. Photograph by Merrick Morton

I like creating fairy tales. I like fantasy, and surrealism, and world-building, which always involved technical craftsmanship. For me, making a movie is creating a world of problems I then have to solve. And each project is a set of completely new problems, mediums, tricks, genres and techniques, but I know I’ll find a solution. It’s part of the high for me. I once did a stop-motion film called “A Little Suicide,” about a cockroach who is depressed because everyone hates him and he goes out and decides to kill himself. It was funded by the Berlinale, so I shot it in Berlin. It was six weeks of prep and a 21-day shoot to make a 10-minute-long film that was a mix of live action and stop motion. I had no actual stop motion experience before that (though I did have an arts background in sculpture and illustration). So I had to figure out how to animate. And I did.

What matters is that you have smart, solution-oriented collaborators and problem-solvers sitting next to you, helping you get where you’re going. It’s a lot like Apollo 13: that scene where they have to figure out how to get the carbon dioxide levels down in the spaceship, and there are only a certain number of tools to do it with. That was Tony and Dan and their teams: Here’s what they have available on the spaceship, and we have to figure out some way to make this happen with just those tools, and get home safely. MM

The Bad Batch opens in theaters June 23, 2017, courtesy of Neon.


Original Article

ROLLING STONE: Johnny Knoxville on 'Bad Grandpa' Oscar Nomination

Johnny Knoxville on 'Bad Grandpa' Oscar Nomination: 'What an Honor'

Jokes he's 'stunned' it didn't get a Best Picture nod too

Johnny Knoxville Brad Hunter/Newspix/Getty Images

Amid the many surprising Oscar nominations this morning – U2, Karen O and Christian Bale – one stood above the rest: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa could win an Academy Award in March, as lead makeup effects artist Stephen Prouty was nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. In the category, the elderly transformation he and his team gave Johnny Knoxville is up against the teams behind Dallas Buyers Club and The Lone Ranger.

"What an honor that Stephen Prouty got nominated for best makeup and hairstyling for Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa," Knoxville said in a statement.  "Am I as stunned as everyone else we didn't get the nod for Best Picture? Well, of course, duh. But I won't let that take away from my happiness for Steve, Tony Gardner and our whole makeup team. Wahoo!"

When Bad Grandpa came out in October, it knocked Gravity out of the top spot on the box office, raking in an estimated $32 million in its first week. Since the movie's release, Bad Grandpa director Jeff Tremaine has moved onto another project: Mötley Crüe's biopic The Dirt. "I've been careful to make this a natural progression," Tremaine said at the time. "I've been offered a lot of scripts, but Dirt is something I pursued with everything I had. I've wanted to make this going back to 2001, when we were just planning the first Jackass movie and I found out that David Gale at MTV Films had just optioned the book."

Knoxville and the gang will find out if the movie wins an Academy Award at the ceremony on March 2nd. The show will be broadcast on ABC beginning at 7 p.m. EST.

Original Article

SPIN MAGAZINE: Kanye West + Daft Punk

Spin Magazine Featuring Daft Punk










THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: "127 HOURS," What James Franco's Severed Arm Taught Me

What James Franco’s Severed Arm Taught Me

Tony Gardner, special effects artist, on how his “127 Hours” handiwork is saving sick babies.

I thought some of the stories were hyped about people fainting during 127 Hours. Then one producer called me and said, “I went to the movies last night to check out your work, and it was quite an experience.” It turned out that somebody had passed out. I felt proud and then really guilty.

We designed about 10 different arms, each one worth about $10,000. We also designed bloodshot contact lenses and dental “plumpers” for James Franco’s face because he had lost all the weight before filming — we had to do something so his face could change. Before anything, we did a body cast and then built a couple different harnesses and could attach any of the multitude of arms to the shoulder depending on the scene. He actually had on a three-sleeve shirt because the fake arm had to come out in front of his real arm.

The main surgery arm [for the amputation scene] was loose-jointed and the one that had all the blood in it — different muscle groups and everything. It was made of aluminum and steel, then there’s foam, latex and silicone muscles. It had fibers embedded in the silicone so it would cut like muscle tissue, instead of cutting into other stuff that looks like Jell-O. It’s an arm, so you know where the veins and arteries are and where the blood will come through. Aron Ralston was so dehydrated, his blood was thicker — so it was a fairly clean process.

I got a lot of great feedback from doctors about my work in the film. So I started a business making neonatal training aids for intensive care doctors. Some kids are born with their intestines inside of their umbilical cord … and all other sorts of issues. We made a kit where you can put these prosthetic pieces on medical dummies, so doctors in training can practice in a real-life scenario. It feels good to be doing something helpful other than just entertainment.

HAIRSPRAY: Special Thanks

Alterian Inc. thanking all of the talented artists responsible for bringing Edna to life.


 Fangoria Featuring Zombieland








DREAD CENTRAL: Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse – Exclusive Interview from the Set: Tony Gardner

Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse – Exclusive Interview from the Set: Tony Gardner