Around here we are big fans of the effects work of Vincent Guastini. We’re also fans of the flick The Taking of Deborah Logan (review) so when we got the opportunity to share some shots of Vincent’s creepy effects work on the flick, we jumped at the chance.
He also took the time to give us the skinny on what we were looking at.
- Being a long time co-worker and friend to Adam Robitel for many years he approached me about doing the effects for some time for the film The Taking of Deborah Logan. I was handed two designs one that showed Debra character with a hyper extended jaw swallowing the camera and then another stage of her swallowing a little girl. That pretty much showed me where the film could go tone wise and effects wise. The designs were by Jacob Hair, a long time collaborator and who has designed on and off for my company over the years. From those designs as our foundation, I got long time friend and co worker William Basso Jr., (Edward Scissorhands Terminator 2, Jurassic Park) to come in and do some enhanced and anatomically more advanced redesigns of the final transformation of old lady into snake. He was also responsible for designing the makeup stages of Jill Larson’s transformation and added a nice homage in the design to the make-up I created for Requiem for a Dream. Since actress Jill Larson’s features were not too far off from the make-up and look I did on actress Ellen Burstyn, based on those designs we went further to show her jaw unhinging and did even more stages that were not used. Bill sculpted the hyper jaw puppet seen very briefly in the movie.
After these first designs both Adam and Bryan Singer signed off on them from the first pass, Bryan said that the design should be the poster for the film. After the blessing from the Bad Hat Harry team, Adam cast their star Jill Larson (Shutter Island). We were off to the starting line running, we could finally start our build. Which to begin with had limited time and money which changed even more in both areas dramatically, due to casting her later in our build schedule and other budgetary constraints we had even less time and less money to do the very elaborate effects. Even with this happening I wanted to take it on, since these was with my friend’s, namely Adam and his partner Gavin Hefferman, as well as other factors, Bryan Singer was producing it and I have not been on show with him since we talked about doing “Battlestar Galactica” the movie together, the other major factor and the most important one for me as well was the excellent script that Adam and Gavin had written. So different, so original from the usual horror stuff I read. I had to do the film.
There was also the added bonus of getting to work with long time buddy, actress and producer Christian Campbell. We worked in the trenches over the years together, and now she was producing this film with the Bad Hat Harry gang and she has since risen as a serious producer of some A-list stuff. So it’s was awesome to work with her and my friends which was a big factor in taking on such a challenging project.
Working with Adam Robitel was truly a collaborative effort, his vision was clear and really gave me a clear cut directions of exactly what he wanted. We had many meetings and in the short amount of time I had to do a lot of R&D while we built the stuff in my studio. I sent out Gage Hubbard of “Face-Off” fame to be my on-set rep on location in North Carolina I first contacted Gage and sought him out after seeing him on the show and hired him on The Devils Carnival to also apply make-ups for me. I asked him to the do the same on The Taking Of Deborah Logan, and this time had him do most of the make-up applications that me and my studio created. We shipped the effects out to him while I stayed in LA to supervise all the Prosthetics and victims along with trying to accomplish some major puppet and Animatronics stuff that has never been done or seen in quit this way. We made full silicone puppets and constructions that had to move and stretch in ways that this stuff is not made to do. We had every kind of silicone you can possible imagine on this show, and made them all plasticized in pretty amazing ways to behold. Most of those duties was handled by make-up effects artist Jeff Farley in the studio with Josh Wasylink assisting in that area.
While Joshua Ballze designed and figured out some of the Animatronics that he built and a rig that I built for the big swallow scene at the end. We had artist Mickey Rotella sculpt a pretty amazing body of a little boy which is seen very briefly in the film being burned, that to was made of silicone. While artist Greg Smith was sculpting a full rubber suit of Jill Larson’s transformation which was later cut out of the film. I hired Eric De La Vega to come in and supervise all the paint work on the project.
We also did a great number of transfer make-ups which was sculpted by Mike Dell A Rosa. It was a fine balance as to what stages or how far Adam was going to take the film, and kept telling me throughout our build we were still trying to figure out how much of the effects was either not going to make it in or change. In the end the films effects wise did change, a great deal of the effects either were cut down, changed or cut out, most of all the make-up in the film however did survive the editing axe. For one stage of a puppet that was cut out that was designed to swallow the camera, we made a hyper extended jaw that swallows the camera lens. It seems producer Bryan Singer was pretty pleased with that stage of puppet since he told Adam to leave more of our puppet in the film.
I feel most of Adam’s choices namely seeing very little was the way to go, since it added a more believability and truth in the more extreme changes to Jill Larson’s character. I am very happy with the effects because there almost invisible in a realistic and totally believable way, nobody will know or really see how many make-up stages Jill Larson went through since there pretty seamless and are edited into the final film beautifully.
Either way I’m pretty stoked about the film, I feel like I was working on a new take on the Exorcist and thought the film had some pretty solid scares and performances.
I am hoping to recreate and display a great deal of the constructions for the upcoming Monsterpalooza,, or for Son of Monsterpalooza, be like a bizarre art show. It would be great to have the public finally see what was not in the film and how crazy the ending could have possibly gotten, if I have time since I have been contracted to work on a project that has some of the largest collection of Aliens that have not been seen in quite some time.
Directed by Adam Robitel, the spine-chiller stars Jill Larson (ABC’s “All My Children,” Shutter Island), Anne Ramsay (Planet of the Apes, A League of Their Own, NBC’s “Mad About You,” ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”), Michelle Ang (My Wedding and Other Secrets, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son), and Ryan Cutrona (Fox’s “24,” AMC’s “Mad Men”).
Mia Medina (Ang) has finally found the perfect subject for her PhD thesis film on Alzheimer’s Disease. For the next several months, cameras will record the everyday life of mother Deborah Logan (Larson) and her daughter, Sarah (Ramsay). But as the days progress, strange things begin to happen around Deborah that are not consistent with any findings about Alzheimer’s. It becomes apparent that there’s something besides Alzheimer’s that has taken control of Deborah’s life. It’s an evil that is far worse than the debilitating disease with which she was first diagnosed.