Q&A With Camera Obscura's FX Maestro Jeff Farley
Part of what makes the horror genre so much fun is all the creatures lurking in the shadows. One man who knows that in particular is special effects creator Jeff Farley, whose work has recently been featured in "Camera Obscura", a new web series by Drew Daywalt that is currently being featured on Daily Motion as well as right here on Dread Central.
Farley, who grew up in Southern California, has made a name for himself over the last 25 years in the industry, working on such classics like The Serpent & The Rainbow, Shocker and Freddy’s Dead as well as modern cult faves like Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys, Evil Bong, and Parasomnia. We recently had a chance to catch up with Farley to chat about how he got his start working in special effects and his collaboration with Daywalt on "Camera Obscura".
Dread Central: Can you talk about how you got interested in FX work and your start in the industry? Did you have industry heroes when you were starting out?
Jeff: Being born and growing up in Glendale during the 60's and '70's, I happened to be in the hub of the effects industry. By the time I was a teenager, I was hanging out every weekend at Forrest J. Ackerman's and meeting all of these incredible people like Ray Harryhausen and John Landis. It was through Forry that I met Douglas Barrett Jones, who had worked for the Burmans, and he brought me onto my first film, Kingdom of the Spiders. It was a lowly job of making background spiders, but my two friends, Skip Torvinen and Mike Schulte, and I dove in and helped for a couple of weeks.
One of my neighbors was a guy named Richard Chew, and it turned out the he was one of the editors of Star Wars and Wolfen, and I'll never forget holding his Oscar.
I also spent a lot of time bugging guys like David Allen, Jim Danforth, Dennis Muren and Mark McGee because of their involvement in Equinox. It turns out that they had shot that film around the area where I lived, and I realized then that it was possible for me to work in this field as a career. They were incredibly generous and helped me develop my interest into a skill. I'll never be able to thank them enough.
It seems strange to me now that I realize I had a very privileged childhood. Looking back to the time that I was given the opportunity to play with an original Mighty Joe Young armature is a very surrealistic yet satisfying experience considering what I ended up doing. I try now to pass on to others what was passed on to me from those before by way of encouragement.
DC: How did you get involved with Drew Daywalt originally?
Jeff: I had answered an ad he put out looking for a monster for one of his films. It turns out it was for these guys called Fewdio. I had no idea who they were, but I knew when I saw the samples they brought that this was something special so I agreed to do a puppet for what ended up as Breach. Over the next few months he would contact me for projects that I wasn't available for, but he would continue to call. Working with Drew has wound up being the best move I've made in my career as he has not only been absolutely the best person I've worked with, he, his family and friends have become good friends also. I can never thank him enough for including me.