Lessons Learned From Face Off Part VIII

Producer Brian Grazer joined the show as a guest judge, immediately ratcheting up the stakes. Every contestant looked intense and hungry, but none more so than this week’s winner.  The judges commented that they loved seeing the fight in this contestant.  She clearly stood out from her competition.  On the other hand, the contestant sent home seemed lost without her buddy who was eliminated the week before.  She let her low spirit affect her work and the inevitable happened.  Judges told her she spent her time worrying over the wrong things, her inability to settle on a concept cost her, and she made critical errors causing her character to fail.  Ouch!  Here’s the who:


Syfy Channel Face Off Episode 8

Who’s The New Who (Episode 8 )

  1. Don’t let makeup distract from the character.  (Substitute “makeup” for whatever your craft makes use of).  In other words, don’t let anything distract from the character!
  2. Own your destiny. Don’t pin your success on someone else.
  3. Keep your eye on the prize and stay focused even when you aren’t at your best.
  4. Time management is crucial so you can add the details that give your work pop.
  5. Don’t get overconfident. Stay hungry.
  6. You don’t ever want to be sent packing because “ you didn’t work hard enough or your work isn’t good enough”.

Click to read lessons from episode 2

Click to read lessons from episode 9

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Lessons Learned From Face Off Part VII

Okay, my favorite purple-haired contestant won the privilege to return to the show!!  She, along with five other eliminated contestants, was allowed to compete in a Day of the Dead challenge. (I love Day of the Day skeletons)!  I wonder if Face Off has been reading my blog?  Anyway, here’s what I picked up from this episode:


Face Off Monster Twist

Monster Twist (Episode 7)

1)   Lesson number one about Hollywood: Once in a blue moon, you get a second chance!  If you do, make the most of it.

2)   The returned eliminated contestants were asked to take Day of the Dead further than the typical skeleton.  Further than what we know and have seen before.  I think that is the mantra for special effects make-up artists and anyone in the filmmaking business whether writers, directors, DPs, and costume or set designers.

3)   Help your clients (the person paying you) clarify what they want, BUT add your perspective to it.  If you went solely on what they wanted and followed that to the letter, then they could have hired anybody to do it.

4)   Sometimes, giving the client exactly what he asked for isn’t a good move.  See item #3 above.

5)   It is possible for a person to be highly talented but not creative.

6)   Words from a judge, “It needs texture, it’s not polished, it’s not finished. This piece is not camera ready.”  These words can apply to scripts, too.

7)   The person who challenged herself creatively won, and the person who didn’t was sent home.  The winner produced something original, which as I said before, Hollywood rewards.

8)   Something else I learned this episode that really pertains to episode 4, is that sometimes the wrong person is let go.  And when the person who let you go realizes their mistake, isn’t it great that you went out with class, as I suggested you do, so you can come back to work without animosity?


Click to read lessons from episode 1

Click to read lessons from episode 8

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Lessons Learned From Face Off Part VI

I think I’m still bummed about one of my favorites being let go in episode 4.  There were still some lessons to be learned, though not as many new points that haven’t been covered previously.  Here’s the best insight of this episode:


Dishonorable Proportions (Episode 6)

  1. Your creation might be good and it might be usable, but in this competitive environment, you can be sent home if your final piece is not over the top enough.
  2. If things don’t go as you planned, improvise.
  3. Split-second decisions can make or break your project.
  4. L-I-S-T-E-N to the elements of the challenge and incorporate them.
  5. When you have several tasks to complete and limited time and there’s a lot of decisions to be made, it’s vital that you do not lose your vision.  You may have to make adjustments, but once you lose that vision, you’ve lost the assignment.


Click to read lessons from episode 1

Click to read lessons from episode 7


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Lessons Learned From Face Off Part V

When you’re in a situation where experts are offering you advice, the best thing to do is LISTEN!! How often will a special effects makeup artist or filmmaker have an Academy Award-winning judge look at their work and offer feedback? After you listen, consider the suggestions and make necessary changes. One contestant appeared to listen but then went ahead with his project as if he hadn’t heard a word that was said. He created the same old face he had created for prior episodes!  Here’s top tips from this week.


Supermobile (Episode 5)

1. Sometimes you have to start over. If a project you started isn’t feeling right, go with your gut. While you don’t want to doubt yourself, there are times when you should rethink your creation.

2. Use your imagination. Repeating yourself isn’t creative; it’s plagiarizing yourself. Hollywood expects artists to create original concepts for each project.

3. Don’t panic when the unexpected happens. Trust your skill and ingenuity to solve problems.

4. Think outside your box. Judges and Hollywood executives want to see something they haven’t seen before. They’re giddy like children when they see something special.

5. Stand up for your work, don’t cower under questioning. Hollywood types have high expectations and they want you to hold up under pressure and to have confidence. Not only do they want you to succeed, but your confidence gives them confidence in your work.

6.  Guest judge Kevin Smith had this pearl of wisdom for children’s thriller films: kill the parents early.


Click to read lessons from episode 1

Click to read lessons from episode 6

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Lessons Learned From Face Off Part IV

This was a painful episode to watch because one of my favorite contestants was eliminated.  She had enormous talent, was highly imaginative, and showed so much potential to be in the final face-off; yet at the end of the day, her creation did not have the wow factor needed.  She under-performed in this zombie challenge and in comparison to her competitor’s creations; hers was in the bottom three.  (However I didn’t think she was the worst).  It goes to show how one can’t expect to get credit for prior work.  Here’s what I got out of episode IV:


Alice in Zombieland (Episode 4)

  1. In Hollywood, one has to prove themselves over and over, day in and day out.  No matter how great your last script, or movie, or creature design was; you have to give all your energy, creativity, and talent to the project you’re working on today.
  2. In creature/character design, the concept needs to be visual.  You shouldn’t have to explain the concept.
  3. A cool idea needs to come across visually.  (In film, if one can’t ‘see’ it, then it’s not so cool).
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask a colleague for help.  One contestant asked for physical help, another asked for concept help.  Both contestants are still in the game.
  5. You can’t just throw something together.  The final product has to have unity.  Starting with a solid concept and finely executed, all your choices have to come together.
  6. When you are fired, go out with class.  Hollywood is a small town and you never want to burn your bridges.  The booted contestant had this to say, “I’m lucky to have found my passion in life.” She said she’ll continue to pursue her craft and she will be a special effects make-up artist.  Having passion, confidence and courage is what one must have in the Hollywood food chain, and in life.

Click to read lessons from episode 1

Click to read lessons from episode 5

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Lessons Learned From Face Off Part III

Follow along as multi-talented make-up artists create on-the-spot sci-fi creatures for us to marvel at.  Even if you’re not a science fiction fan or a wannabe make-up artist, if you’re a creative type at all— writer, screenwriter, producer, director, or other film people—you’ll learn tidbits they don’t teach you in film school.  How would I know—I never went to film school—you ask?  Because unlike in a classroom, these contestants are put to the test; on the job; in a highly intense, competitive environment.  If you are a science fiction filmmaker or storyteller, then Face Off is a must see.  Check out my notes on episode 3:


Year of the Dragon (Episode 3)

  1. A bad idea is a bad idea no matter how much you throw at it.
  2. Most Face Off (and Hollywood film) failures failed at the concept level.
  3. Team communication is essential.  A true collaboration is even better and it’s difficult to beat.
  4. Don’t leave your teammate out to hang; you may end up hanging together.
  5. Step it up!  You’re surrounded by hungry, creative artists who want to win.
  6. Don’t rest on your laurels.  You have to bring it every day.
  7. Give the judges (your employer) your individual take on the assignment.  That means putting your unique vision, your distinctive spin on the project.  That’s what sets you apart from others.

Click to read lessons from episode 1

Click to read lessons from episode 4


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