Q&A With Camera Obscura's FX Maestro Jeff Farley
DC: When you’re coming up with new creature designs, where does the inspiration come from?
Jeff: That's a real tough answer as I seem to get inspired from different sources. Sometimes Drew will throw something at me in the way of a description or rough sketch which then I refine. Or it's from an outside source like John U. Abrahamson and the Mama’s Baby creature. Or I'll throw on a movie and dig through reference materials to get some ideas. I'll also do a few pencil and Photoshop sketches and maybe a maquette or two. The weirdest thing is that I don't really have nightmares and I spend most of my time watching Spaghetti Westerns these days.
DC: Let’s talk about the monsters in "Camera Obscura" - can you walk me through your process in coming up with the concept designs for the monsters to fabricating them (and working with the actors inside of them) up until they make it on screen?
Jeff: With the exception of Corpulence, Drew had made some cut and paste designs which had a very unnerving effect in that though all of these images were taken from different sources, when they were combined, they made a new image of a demonic vision. My job then became how to translate these images into three dimensions while still retaining a distorted effect. That was accomplished by sculpting the characters in a different way than was expected by Drew.
For example, Drew thought Magoria would just be accomplished with white contact lenses, a bald cap and white makeup. My concept included a prosthetic covering the top half of Azure Parson's face, which I sculpted using Michaelangelo's “Dawn” as a reference because I thought that the eyes should reflect a cold, impassionate feeling in the character and let Azure's expressions and body language do the rest. As a matter of fact, all of the creature performers were incredibly professional and a joy to work with.
While most of the characters were sculpted, molded and run in foam latex, Splinter was constructed out of various different foam appliances to give a "patchwork" effect. His mask was then turned into a hand-puppet for the scenes with the tongue. Corpulence had no preliminary deign phase, just a vague concept. I went right into the sculpt on him and nailed down the look almost immediately. "Corp" was the most elaborate character in the show as he not only had a full-body suit, I also included some mechanics in the face for the bird-beak-eyes and other points of movement.
Even though I wasn't "re-inventing the wheel" on this one, I had to use just about every technique I knew. I also had a great crew headed up by Dirk von Besser. Without all of them, I never could have done the project and I thank them all.
DC: I know you work a lot with Drew; can you talk a bit about your collaboration with him on "Camera Obscura"?
Jeff: When Drew first told me about "Camera Obscura", he wasn't offering me the show, but when he showed me the designs that he had worked up, I instantly knew I had to be involved. He turned out to be the most meticulous and detail-oriented director I had worked with for a long time, and I have a lot of respect for him for that. He knows exactly what he wants to shoot and cuts right “to-the-bone” when on set. It saves us so much time. It doesn't hurt that he is also the nicest guy you would ever want to know. Since "Camera Obscura" we have been working together as co-producers on his films.
DC: With "Camera Obscura" out for the fans to enjoy now, what’s next for you guys?
Jeff: We have so many films in various stages of pre-production, production and post-production. We are always busy doing what we love. Upcoming films include Mama’s Baby, The Kindred, Polydeus, Bad Cookie, The Old Chair, My Name Is Chris Kringle, Room 19, Naked and I think a few more. This is all through January so this is going to be a very busy holiday season for us!
Big thanks to Jeff for hanging with us. Check out some cool behind-the-scenes stills below and make sure to dig on Daily Motion's "Camera Obscura" page to watch this bone-chilling new web series!
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