STAN WINSTON SCHOOL: Double Tap - Bringing Back the Infected Zombie Hordes at Alterian, Inc.

ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP - BRINGING BACK THE INFECTED ZOMBIE HORDES AT ALTERIAN, INC.

By Michael Martin


A ZOMBIE MOVIE WITH ATTITUDE

It has been ten years since the original Zombieland was released. An irreverent tongue-in-cheek film that took a fresh look at what the survivors of a zombie holocaust (including Bill Murray playing…Bill Murray!) could get up to.

Now the original cast has returned in Zombieland: Double Tap. Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin, and Jessie Eisenberg are all there. Plus there are some new characters and a fan favorite. Also returning are original writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Deadpool) along with original director Ruben Fleischer (Venom). What more could you want? How about some more zombies created by original Zombieland makeup and effects artist Tony Gardner and his Alterian, Inc. crew? Check!

 (Alterian, Inc. founder Tony Gardner at work on actress Zoey Deutch for Zombieland: Double Tap. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

With a career that spans from the classic AliensThe Blob, and Darkman to the more recent 127 HoursBad Grandpa, and his ongoing work with Daft Punk, Tony sat down at his Alterian, Inc. studio with SWSCA to speak about Zombieland: Double Tap.

IT’S TEN YEARS LATER

According to Tony, the film looked like a lot of fun from the start. The script was similar to the original, “…it was definitely one of those laugh out loud kind of reads…” The dialogue is sprinkled with what are sure to be new catchphrases, and the film delivers on bizarro doppelgängers, and an explosive finale.

SLO-MO ORGY OF KILLING

 (Jessie Eisenberg, as Columbus, and Woody Harrelson, as Tallahassee, blast zombies in front of the White House. Image courtesy Columbia Pictures.)

Our favorite zombie hunters, Tallahassee, Wichita, Columbus, and Little Rock, are reintroduced in a hilarious slow-motion orgy of zombie killing outside a dilapidated White House. Tony says the complex scene was accomplished on the first day of the shoot. Three camera units rolled as the four heroes blasted several different groups of zombies that spew blood and vomit everywhere.

 (Emma Stone, as Wichita, and Abigail Breslin, as Little Rock, reload in front of the White House. Image courtesy Columbia Pictures.)

In order to simultaneously handle the different groups of zombies as the filmmakers tried to stay ahead of the moving sunlight, Gardner broke his makeup crew into several small teams. There were groups of zombies interacting with the lead actors, as well as the “second” and “splinter” units. Tony says that it was a schizophrenic way to start a movie but that it was, “…really good ‘cause it kinda set the tone.”

ZOMBIE INSPIRATION

 (A zombie makeup test on Alterian crew member Meghan Reilly with a bloody silicone cheek appliance and mismatched eyes. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

The zombie designs created for the original film were drawn from real life. References used included actual diseases such as hoof-and-mouth and skin conditions like bed sores. “There had to be a genuine horror to the experience,” said Tony. These afflictions reflected an infected, decaying situation where the skin and tissue appeared to be melting and leaking. The zombie wounds would be abscessed, leaking puss with white and yellow colors mixed in.  “A sort of hot, sweaty, drippy mess.”

THAT SIGNATURE ZOMBIE LOOK

For the sequel, ten years later, Tony and the artists at Alterian, Inc. would follow a similar approach. At first though, they considered giving the zombies a more desiccated look as an alternative to the wet look developed for the original.

The Alterian team did makeup tests right off the bat, taking the zombie looks from the first film and projecting them out ten years into the future imagining that all of their juices would have leaked out. The dried-out looks would highlight skin pulled back over the teeth, a tighter bone structure underneath the taut skin and sun-dried flesh. The skin tones would feature more reds and browns with a little blistering thrown in, or, as Tony called it, “…not quite barbecue chicken.”

Yet in the end, it was Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer who insisted on bringing back the juice. Though he agreed that the dried-out look made logical sense, he noted that there was a signature Zombieland look, “…and these things need to be true to that look.” That ‘Zombieland look’ consisted of open wounds, discolored and caved-in skin, plus mismatched eyes with brown and black fluids leaking from every hole.

 (Makeup test bust of a ‘T-800’ zombie played by Ari Loeb. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

A WORLD OF ZOMBIES

The Alterian crew created a wide array of zombies. Including one variety who our heroes, in a delightful reference to the Terminator films, call the ‘T-800s’. These zombies are fast-moving and can take a lot of damage. They may be missing limbs or part of their heads, but they just keep on coming.

(Ari Loeb as a ‘T-800’ zombie in the makeup trailer with Thom Floutz and Tony Gardner. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

Other zombies included the heavy-set, slow-witted ‘Homer,’ a cleaner-looking, smarter zombie called ‘The Hawking,’ and the super-fast, nearly impossible to see ‘Ninjas.’

(John Dixon as one of the ‘Homer’ zombies on-set.  Note the comb over and ‘exploding cornea’ contact lenses. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

ZOMBIELAND APPLIANCES

Though many shows have stuck to the tried and true foam latex for their zombies, the prosthetics in Zombieland: Double Tap were primarily run in silicone. This choice made it easier to achieve the depth to the skin that they were looking for and to give it, “a sick sort of translucency,” said Tony. The zombie appliances ran the gamut from little blister appliances to big jagged wounds, many of them layered all together. A minimal number of Pros-Aide appliances were also used for some of the zombie makeups.

(Zombies! Images courtesy Columbia Pictures and Alterian, Inc.)

Playing one of the primary ‘T-800’ zombies, performer Ari Loeb would have more than twenty appliances applied, including little blisters on his ears, inside his ears, and even inside his nose.

(Ari Loeb made up as a ‘T-800’ zombie with over 20 appliances. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

To add depth, so that they didn’t just look like Halloween makeups, several of the performers playing zombies had sections of their beards or hair shaved off. Wounds would then be applied to these open areas.

(A nice look at the details on a ‘T-800’ zombie makeup on Tony Gardner’s daughter Kyra. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

The main exceptions to the silicone rule were the exploding heads. These were made from rigid foam with a foam latex skin.  As Tony explained, the positions in which the heads were required to be supported, with the skin and skull underneath, would have been too heavy if constructed from silicone.

(‘T-800’ zombie Ari Loeb sandwiched between foam latex copies of his head built for smashing. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

(Sequential shots of Ari Loeb’s head getting stomped on. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

THE JUICY DETAILS

What would a zombie movie be without a bunch of blood and goo?  Tony revealed that there were some cold and sticky nights on the set for the fluid-soaked actors portraying zombies so heated tents were provided, with the lead actor zombies provided with showers.

(Makeup artist Bart Mixon touches up a zombified Robert Shavers in one of the large tents used to keep cast and crew warm. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

The makeup crew used Skin Illustrator for the foundation colors, sometimes applying the airbrush colors with a brush so that the drips running down the performers’ faces, arms and legs would stay in place. Hair gel was used to keep the zombies’ hair looking wet and spray bottles filled with watered-down Methocel were kept on hand for slimy touch-ups.

(Bill Corso and Thom Floutz apply a zombie makeup to Kevin King. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

The blood and goo covering the Zombieland: Double Tap zombies came in all types of colors, viscosities, and flavors.  For blood, there were several combinations including coffee, chocolate sauce and Karo syrup in different proportions. Each concoction would be used for specific shots and effects. Makeup artists applied the blood and slime in layers, with the darker stuff leaking from the nose, mouth, and ears while lighter colors were used around the eyes to avoid a ‘raccoon’ look.

(Andre Freitas details the eye area of a shredded zombie makeup on William Greenfield. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

Working with the wardrobe team, Alterian artists smeared and splattered their blood and goo concoctions all over the zombies’ clothing to create the illusion of bodily fluids leaking out everywhere, making them as gross as possible. The performers had “no way out,” Tony laughs. “If you were going to be a zombie, there was no way not to be gooey.”

 (Sue LaPrelle adds depth to a forehead wound on a zombie security guard played by Troy Butler. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

Because of the large number of zombies required for the film, many of those in the background were created with the help of tattoo transfers derived from flat artwork. According to Tony, “drawing all of the blistering, especially on the ‘T-800’ zombies, would’ve just been horrendous.”

(Alterian crew member Meghan Reilly in one of the zombie makeup tests. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

VOMIT APPROVAL

According to Tony, all the returning Zombieland: Double Tap stars had script approval. But actor Woody Harrelson also had vomit approval! In the scene where Zoey Deutch gets sick, Harrelson requested a chunkier spew. The Alterian crew happily obliged by mixing up a delicious blend of vanilla pudding, a little honey, some almond milk, and hunks of granola for bulk.

FIGHTING ZOMBIES

(Actors Thomas Middleditch and Luke Wilson stir things up with our favorite zombie hunters. Image courtesy Columbia Pictures.)

When two new characters, doppelgängers of Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg played by actors Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch, succumb to the infection, director Fleischer wanted them to transform from human to zombie right in front of our eyes. Both actors were made up with prosthetics and had, as Tony says, “all of this stuff leaking out of them.” With each cut, the characters move further along in their zombification. Stunt doubles were also made up to match the two actors as they changed, sometimes switching out as the camera moved past during a take. “The good part,” says Tony, “is that we had two actors (Wilson and Middleditch) that were really gung-ho about doing all of it and wearing the lenses and just spitting up junk and having no problems doing it.”

AN ARMY OF ARTISTS

(A few of the Alterian, Inc. crew assemble between takes on set, from left to right: Lens Tech Sean Kinney, Matt Sprunger, Kaylee Kehne-Swisher, Barney Burman, Ralis Kahn, Mark Nieman, Sue LaPrelle, Bart Mixon, Tony Gardner, Andre Freitas, Thom Floutz. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

Zombieland: Double Tap would require an army of artists both in L.A. and in Atlanta where the film was shot. There were trailers full of people and for the big finale, Tony was able to bring in even more makeup artists from Los Angeles for the last two weeks of the shoot.

(Left to Right: Barney Burman applies “infected” makeup to Katie Eischen, Bill Corso gives Jordan Salmon an undead makeover, Laura Dandridge and Barney Burman zombify Tony Gardner’s daughter Brianna.  Images courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

(Alterian, Inc. makeup artists applying zombie makeups for Zombieland: Double Tap. Images courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

ZOMBIELAND 3?

Tony Gardner clearly loves what he does. Reuniting with many of the cast and crew from the original Zombieland created a real comfort zone. “We had the same writers, the same director, same producer, same visual effects, same makeup effects,” said Tony. “You know everybody’s name.”

Thinking about the future of makeup effects, Tony has noticed a return to practical effects and makeup effects live on-set, both in film and television. “It’s refreshing to have something that could have been done digitally go the practical route,” said Tony. “Having live makeup on-set for the actors to interact with lets the actors go nuts and express how great it is to actually work with a creature.”

As to prospects for another return to Zombieland in the future? Tony told us that Emma Stone suggested that they make a new Zombieland movie every ten years to see where these people are every decade. Tony agrees with her, “I think that’s a pretty great idea.”

(Zombieland: Double Tap‘s head zombie maker, Tony Gardner. Image courtesy Alterian, Inc.)

ALTERIAN, INC.  ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP  CREW

LOS ANGELES

ALTERIAN, INC. PRODUCTION COORDINATOR: Bryan Christensen

ALTERIAN, INC. PRODUCTION MANAGER: Jack Santry

  • SCULPTORS:
  • Lilo Tauvao
  • David Smith
  • Barney Burman
  • FX TECHNICIANS:
  • Andre Freitas
  • Vance Hartwell
  • MOLD MAKERS:
  • Ken Banks
  • J. Michael O’Brien
  • HAIR WORK:
  • Denise Baer
  • Justin Stafford
  • SILICONE SPECIALISTS
  • Aaron Romero
  • James Issacson
  • Meghan Riley
  • EYES:
  • Cristina Patterson
  • Jessica Nelson
  • SEAMING:
  • Alison Kellerman
  • PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS:
  • Brianna Gardner
  • Austin McCormack

ATLANTA

MAKEUP EFFECTS DEPARTMENT HEAD: Tony Gardner

MAKEUP EFFECTS LEAD ARTIST: Thomas Floutz

MAKEUP EFFECTS KEY: Andre Freitas

MAKEUP EFFECTS THIRD: Laura Dandridge

  • MAKEUP EFFECTS ARTISTS (alphabetical order):
  • Barney Burman
  • Bill Corso
  • Jessica Gambradella
  • Eric Garcia
  • Tim Hays
  • Ralis Kahn
  • Kaylee Kehne-Swisher
  • Sue LaPrelle
  • Bill McCoy
  • Bart Mixon
  • Devin Morales
  • Mark Nieman
  • Mark Ross
  • Duane Saylor
  • Greg Solomon
  • Matt Sprunger
  • Adam Walls
  • Kyle Yaklin
  • BACKGROUND MAKEUP EFFECTS ARTISTS:
  • Stephanie Anderson
  • Heather Benson
  • Tara Dipetillo
  • Andy Fowler
  • Jason Hodges
  • Brie Puneky
  • Kate Marlette
  • Missy Nyberg
  • Jan Rooney
  • Isabella Scuffle
  • Andrew Valentine
  • Deryk Wehrley
  • Roy Wooley
  • Darla Wigley

original article: https://www.stanwinstonschool.com/blog/zombieland-double-tap-zombie-makeup-effects-behind-the-scenes-with-alterian-inc-tony-gardner