Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Day At The Men In Black 3 Press Event

“When you think of garbage, think of Akeem!” And when you think of make-up, think Of Rick Baker! Or you should anyway. Including his makeup effects on Eddie Murphy’s many characters in “Coming To America” he’s worked on plenty of other movies. To name a few, “Harry And The Hendersons”, “Gorillas In The Mist”, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” and more recently “Men In Black 3”. When you think of “Men In Black 3”...you probably don’t think of the people I got to meet yesterday, but I think you should. Rick Baker was one of them. And the others were visual effects supervisors Jay Redd and Ken Ralston and animation director Spencer Cook. Without these guys the movie probably would have just been Will Smith against a green screen having a stand-still-punching-battle with Jemaine Clement with his regular face. OK, maybe not that bad, but you get the idea. For the record, if that were a movie, I’d still watch it.

Anyway, I was invited to this press event with these 4 amazing people present who I got the chance to interview! To get an opportunity such as this just because of this blog, pretty sure I didn’t deserve it but oh boy will I take the opportunity! Before the interviews Sony had some great new apps to show everyone though. The Movie Touch App and the Second Screen App. The Second Screen App was modeled to us with “The Amazing Spider-Man”. It’s available for the Tablet and the iPad and syncs up with the Blu-ray, so while you’re watching this movie you can move around on the App and check all this Behind-The-Scenes footage relevant to your spot in the movie. They got interviews and all that good stuff. They let me test it out and it was so new and fun I realized I stopped testing all the features and just started using the ones I wanted to use. I caught myself reading about the director for probably longer than I should have and had to stop myself. Oh right, I’m here to learn about this. Not just walk into Sony and started playing with gadgets. So, I could see myself loving having this guy seeing as how easily I got wrapped up in it.

The Movie Touch App, modeled to us with “Men In Black 3”, was similar in which it had some behind the scenes footage found throughout it’s timeline as you watched the movie. It also has the ability to share to social medias. Nowadays, who doesn’t need to share every moment and action of your life to Facebook, right? It’s OK I do it too. Anyway, there were some designated areas of the movie where you could edit it down as much as you want and then share the clip, straight up! Holy whoa! The wannabe video editor in me would trim a chunk of video down to the part where Boris says, “You Complete Me” and cut it right there! That’s because I’m a nerd and think that is funny and would play it over and over and over on my couch. But I could share an even longer clip if I wanted and was a normal human being. Another fantastic feature was that you could click on any actor’s face on the iPad and it would pull up their character name, bio, actor name, basically a small imdb profile. Real handy! We even tapped on The Worm Guys faces and it brought up their profiles! Did you know they each have unique names? And my favorite feature was probably the searching capability. Not only can you search keywords and be suggested scenes that relate to that, but it can also search dialogue and bring you to scenes where they actually say the keyword. Again, if it’s me, I search a swear word and find all the scenes where they say it, because I’m mature like that. And then maybe I just share all those scenes like a 5 year old. Regardless of how you use it, it’s useful!

Again, I’d like to point out how great this event was. And how great they treated me. Free breakfast when I showed up, including coffee. Dudes dressed like MIB agents cleaning up after me and telling me to eat as much food as possible. They showed us the apps, a few other things, we did a Q&A, in which I raised my hand to ask a question and the lady picking me referred to me as, The Man In Black. (Thankfully someone noticed I wore a black jacket and tie! I did it for the event!) I noticed most of the other people invited had camera equipment or microphones or fancy, expensive audio equipment or mortgages and were basically all more professional and adult than I. Here I am with just my little blog but they treated me just the same! (I think they just didn’t know) But it was great that people at all levels were invited to come and experience the same thing. They then treated us to lunch in which I was encouraged to eat a bunch and I am definitely someone who listens to suggestions. Little sample of what I dined on?

OK and now to the interview portion! My first ever! I didn’t get to do a 1 on 1 but I did get to do a lengthy interview with all 4 of these fantastic guys alongside a couple other bloggers. Let’s dive in. Mario and Sherice were the two other bloggers interviewing with me. So, we did our little introduction with Ken Ralston, Jay Redd and Spencer Cook and Rick Baker joined us part way through. (WARNING: If you haven’t seen MIB3 yet and don’t want anything ruined you may not want to read this yet. Also, this is basically 4 interviews with 4 people rolled into one...so it’s long.)

Mario: How is it to work on Men In Black 3 VS. Movies you worked on at the beginning of your careers because things have changed so much?

Ken: Well, you know some ways I would say shooting on set is sort of the same. You still have to put some sort of blue or green screen behind somebody half the time. All the new stuff is what happens pre-production is in post for the most part. The nature of what you can do with the world of digital and the amount of subtleties if needed, some movies, like Men In Black didn’t always need subtleties, but some of the nuances you can use in creating a shot that you couldn’t do, especially if you go back to the really early stuff I used to do with models on blue sticks in front of a blue screen. But, that was more fun!

Jay: I think it’s like, Would we have attempted building a fully digital New York 10 years ago?

Ken: I don’t think so.

Jay: Not to the level we did. Way back you could build miniatures to do that but to get the immersive quality, get the quality of light, get cameras to as close as where you need them, speed and all of that, it just let’s you build more. You almost feel like, Well we can do anything now.

Ken: I think the big plus to what you can do now against what we used to do is it opens up more versions or more ideas of what kind of a shot you can do. The Time Jump is filled with stuff you definitely could not have done 10 years ago and it frees up the director and us to start being as inventive as we can. And we still have limitations. But still we can create scenes we never would have gotten near 10 years ago and that part I think is great.

Spencer: Yeah, one of the things I’ve noticed that definitely in the last 10 years is that with character animation we don’t talk so much about the technical side of it anymore. When I’m talking with my animators on my team, we’re usually just talking about performance and how things have to integrate. How this shot’s going to cut. How this action’s going to segway into the next shot and it used to be like, 8 or 10 years ago or whatever, a big part of that conversation was the technical difficulties we had to get over. That kind of stuff that was a big part of it. That was in a way an impediment to the spontaneity of the performance.

Sherice: Now, are there any things that you guys worked on for Men In Black 3, or anything, that didn’t make it, or the studio didn’t approve of, or something that they didn’t like?

At this point they all had a good chuckle, which was a pretty good answer in itself.

Ken: Wait a minute, ummm...

More laughter.

Ken: That’s a good question. You know, I’ll try to be as delicate as I can about this. What happens is, is there’s a big juggling act going on, on the Men In Black film because it’s such a big movie, different people at the top, whoever that might be. And Rick Baker and I always wanted to, because they’ve established this character Boris, to be more monstrous, to be more, what you want to see in a Men In Black film. Not just a biker shooting quills at you. So, we started doing some designs. I took some of what Rick did on early stuff. Very early on he had already designed this big chest thing opening up on this guy. Original script had him eating people! Pulling them in and eating them. “Get rid of that!” OK...it wasn’t our idea...but it was more monstrous. So, we kept fighting to try and get more of that in it and it kept getting whittled down, then at the last second, the director and us still developed and designed this monster Boris that ended up in one shot at the end of the movie. Our hope would have been that maybe had we been able to rebuild more, we wanted to rebuild up on the characters. So, things can change and shift constantly. And it’s not just people being frightened or how terrifying it might be or out of place but it’s also, as a movie it makes our job a little harder sometimes and it never ends until you release it. It changes. So, if you sit down while your working on the movie and you see a cut 6 months before, that’s not the same movie 3 months before the release. And that’s not for everything, but the times things happen you realize, you know we gotta hold back on this, change this, soften this, we need a new couple of shots in the monocycle scene, so we created totally digitally from what we had out of our library, that goes on all the time.

Jay: There’s a whole character...

Ken: Oh I forgot about that!

Jay: That’s what I thought you were being coy about. Yeah, there’s a character in the first teaser trailer, it’s a kind of graffiti character that lives in the wall and comes to life.

Spencer: When the teaser trailer came out, that charcater was an integral part of the movie.

Ken: Yeah, Flaco!

Jay: And Ken has done probably 5,000 drawings of him. So, there was a lot of development for that.

Ken: Yeah, we had some great scenes with him and it just kept, I don’t know, getting taken out.

Jay: And so we were all kind of waiting like, “It’s gonna get cut today.” “No, it’s gonna be in!” “No it’ll be cut!” Then it was in and then out.

Ken: I did a ton of work for that.

Spencer: Yeah and there were some final scenes for that and we were blocking out the sequence that was going to be in the movie with that character and for myself, I had put a lot of thought into what this character was. Because at first I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Like, OK this is an organic being that is flat on a wall. How is that happening? And then I kind of had this idea of little particles and little nano ants and stuff. So there was a lot of work put into it. A lot of consensual ideas.

Ken: I think I had just put it out of my memory because there was so much pain involved!

But luckily they all were able to laugh through the pain here.

Spencer: I went to a therapist.

Jay: He should have his own little featurette on the film.

Ken: Or maybe he’ll be in Men In Black.....4....

Jay: So, yeah. It happens a lot. A lot of stuff gets worked on and never sees the light of day.

Spencer: It’s quite an evolutionary process.

Me: So, you guys have worked on a lot of different franchises before. Like Ken, you were on the Back To The Future movies, Jay you were on the Stuart Little movies and Spencer worked on the Spiderman movies and they’re all different universes and for you to have to work on Men In Black 3 being a separate universe, is it ever hard to get into the mindset of the particular universe of how things appear and how characters move?

Ken: I don’t know if it’s, for me I don’t think it’s terribly hard. The job on each movie is basically to become the director’s eyes and how he thinks if you can. So, if you have material to be able to see that...we were lucky being on Men In Black because there’s two movies before this one. So, you can start to feel what that’s like. And just being around the director and talking to him and seeing where he’s going you’ll start to realize where he’s going to go...he’ll never go here...it helps you figure out where you’re at. In some cases, I’m lucky, like on “Alice In Wonderland” prior to this, with Tim Burton, and with Barry [Sonnenfeld] everything seemed very natural for me, making decisions with stuff. And for all of us I think. It locked in with Barry. I don’t know why some people you meet just have sort of like minds and it makes it so simple. Other people, although I can’t think of anyone in particular...yet...

Jay: Or that you want to say...

Ken: That it’s not easy to do and you can always just be guessing. And you’re like, “I don’t know what you want!”

Jay: Yeah, hopefully you’ll develop a little shorthand over time. And you get to finish each other’s sentences and stuff.

Ken: And with Barry that was happening.

Spencer: Yeah and usually in the beginning of a project, from an animation standpoint, I’ll start by doing some really rough animations and block out some ideas. Just sketch animation and start to get an idea of what the director’s thinking about. What he likes and what he doesn’t like. Because a ton of that stuff is going to get thrown away.

Ken: Like Flaco!

This is when Rick Baker walked up to the table and joined us, not before declaring during Spencer’s answer “Don’t listen to a word this guy says!” We continue to mainly interview the Visual Effects guys as we only have them for a little longer and then will be getting to Rick more once they leave.

I would also like to take this time to note that, at this time, sitting across from me are 4 guys who collectively have worked on over 110 different movies, 4 TV series and have pulled in 11 Oscars. That’s compared to my side of the table, and not to discredit the other bloggers I was with, which cannot claim even one thing nearly as significant as all that. I’m pretty sure anyway, otherwise I think I would have recognized one of us from somewhere. Regardless, it was truly astonishing to wrap my mind around all the wisdom and talent on the other side of the table.

Rick: Hey look I got my gift bag, did you guys get yours?

Ken: No!

Yet, with all their accomplishments they're still just humans wanting gift bags like all of us.

Mario: Another question I had was just wondering were there any funny stories that happened while on set or anywhere working on this movie?

Ken: Well, I will say an odd...a quirkiness about our director...he sits on a saddle on set. A horse saddle.

Jay: Seriously.

Ken: It’s on top of an apple box. And he wears a cowboy hat. And he’s very stylish this way. And then they made it a little better, they put wheels on it so he could roll around while he was sitting on it. For the movie, I think they put a horse tail on the back...and what that’s about, I don’t know! But we saw it a lot of times.

Jay: Well he’s also scared of heights. Very scared. So imagine when we went to do location scouting in Cape Canaveral. On the top of the launch tower. And we’d go with him and we’d have the cameras and he’d be like holding onto our shoulders, trying to just look over the edge. So, getting up on the saddle is big.

Rick: Barry’s scared of pretty much anything.

Jay: But he’s not afraid to admit it! I think that’s one of the thing about Barry is that there’s not any shame. Totally shameless.

Ken: There’s a great shot of Barry, I wasn’t around when they did this, and he wanted to do it. It was a gag shot. One of his favorite movies is “Dr. Strangelove”. So, that big ridiculous, giant neuralizer that’s in the past that they stick Will in and is spinning around...well he got up on it...Wilson, our great still photographer, got a shot of him up there. With his cowboy hat, doing the slim pickins moment. It’s a great shot, But getting him to do that, it seems strange when you’re off on the side because he’s so freaked out about heights. Some people are. I understand.

Jay: And Barry’s in the movie a couple times too. Little Easter Eggs. He is one of the stockbrokers jumping off the building. And he and his wife are in one of the shots during the launch, during the push-in of the couple drinking coffee, he’s in that.

Ken: And the reason he ended up in the Cape Canaveral scene too, is because they thought most of the Time Jump, at one point, was cut out of the movie. It was gonna be like “pff” like that. And so they shot the other one. And then the whole thing came back later on, which was hard to get done.

Jay: Just in case, he was going to be in that movie no matter what. Very Hitchcockian.

Spencer: There was a funny moment with Will Smith. When I first came onto the production, I went to New York, they had production offices set up in the Astoria Studios in Queens. And I was working with the previs guys. And we were in this tiny little office, there was 4 of us and we all had desks and computers and they were blocking out some of the action. And Barry came in with Will Smith and we were talking about the Time Jump scene. And Will starts acting the whole thing out in this tiny little room. And Will is a big guy, really tall, and very boisterous. And in this little, tiny room, Will is moving around, “Oh I could do this! And I could do this!” And then he gets on his back on the floor and he puts his foot up and he puts a little post-it on his foot and he’s reaching for it, showing us how he’d be reaching for the time device and how all of that could happen and we’re all against the wall, trying to make room!

Jay: Yeah, Will Smith’s hands on. Very interactive.

Rick: And he’s good in the movie too.

Jay: And he doesn’t just sit in his trailer waiting for stuff. He’s good.........but that’s all we got.

Ken: (sarcastically) The rest wasn’t funny!

They all laugh some more. Can you tell these guys are awesome and love to make jokes yet? Here’s a picture of half the team I’m interviewing and another one of their friends. From left to right, Ken Ralston, Rick Baker, Alien Bust. (One Rick made for the movie)

Sherice: Now I know that the production had stopped and started again. Was the Time Jump scene one that you said you had to stop during and then start up production again?

Ken: Well, we didn’t really stop. There’s certain things you have to take a chance on. You know what’s gonna happen on a “hiatus”...whatever that is...so we already started work on things we knew in some form was gonna be in, even if that meant some shots were gonna get cut out. We still needed New York, so we kept working on what we could because time was short. As long as we’re on these movies, they’re so hard, it takes every second of what you’re doing. So, we had a couple of things going on. Boris, I think. Some of the digital models of our actors we continued working on.

Jay: Yeah, props, and even some pieces of New York we kept working on. Yeah, on the hiatus I think we heard reports of “They were down for months!” And it’s like, no. We worked. It wasn’t like that.

Rick: And we were all working during that time and I used that time to catch up because I had to make more aliens.

Me: So, the scene, the very first scene, when they’re on the moon and in the prison there, when you guys did that, how early on in the production was that? Or was it one of the last things that you did?

Ken: Well, I guess it was relatively earlyish, it kind of came in pieces. I think they had to hold on to some of the prison during the “hiatus”.

Jay: Yeah, there was some talk of some new stunts.  This is during that discussion of how, I’ll say it, Badass Boris became. The first cut was kind of like, well he marches around and does some stuff but like, shit that’s it. And we wanted it to be way more crazy. And we ended up doing a bunch of days of cablework, of him jumping across [the prison] and throwing bodies down and that kind of stuff. And you don’t see all of it...

Ken: In fact, there’s a scene where he goes in and meets Obediah. Originally, we did a test, here’s another scene that didn’t make it in, that I love! Boris walks in there, he doesn’t leave the guy there, his chest opens up, you only see it in shadow form, and he eats the guy. You don’t see much of it, you hear sounds and stuff. We actually did a test of it, trying to sell that idea, which looked pretty cool, as fast as we did it. And the camera sees Boris as he turns around and his chest is just closing up and there’s this shoe sitting here, going into his chest. And we thought it was great! Yeah because originally Boris was supposed to come to Earth to basically eat people.

Rick: Yeah and they were like, Let’s have his jaw open up really wide. And I was like, well that was cool in like 1980, so I didn’t really want to do that. So, then we decided he could be made up of all these fingers. So, we actually did numerous makeup tests and he still has an appliance on his neck that’s basically like fingers all locked together. A lot of stuff doesn’t end up making it but I’m still really happy with how the movie turned out.

Ken: Yeah, after all the insane nonsense that we went through, we still go see the movie and we’re still laughing! It still cracks us up!

Jay: It’s amazing how quickly the movie moves along and how much energy it has. It just goes one scene to the next, you barely have time to breathe, then you’re onto something else, and it’s cool. And every time I see the bowling alley scene I get cracked up.

Around this point the visual effects guy had to leave so we were all done interviewing them, but Rick stayed and now it was his turn. After a few old-man jokes between Rick and Ken, we got back to it.

Mario: I’ve been a big fan of your work since American Werewolf. I like to see that your stills are still being used, and there’s so much with the computers but that they still want physical stuff that they can use...

Rick: Well, I embrace the technology. Like I said earlier in the Q&A I made that model on my computer. And I can do my designs on the computer, for about 24 years now. But also, what I object to, is when it’s used because it’s the latest thing but it’s something I can do with my techniques the same if not better. And it’s there in the can that day. And I hate that it’s taking away from, you know, there’s a magic that happens when you have an actor in make-up and they’re looking at a mirror and the face is looking back at them. And it’s a different face and they can see what that is. That’s one of the things that fascinated me about make-up as a kid, I made myself up, and this was basically just smearing white grease paint on my face. But I could do things that I couldn’t do in my normal skin. And it showed me the power of that. And I think when you have an actor in make-up on a set and he knows what he looks like, he’s going to do something that he wouldn’t do when he has dots on his face in a motion capture stage. Though having said that, I think it’s really cool that you can do things that you can do on the computer, but I just hope that it doesn’t go away. That part of it [referring to the make-up].

Sherice: I don’t think it’ll go away because there’s something about your designs and also working with CGI, it’s important and organic because it remains in it and it’s solid and there’s something that’s very captivating about it. And I don’t know if you’ve seen “Attack The Block” there’s something about those creatures in it, there’s a bit of CGI but there’s also some puppetry, so what I wanted to know is when you’re working on a movie and you have an actor that you have to put a lot of prosthetics on or you have to transform does their face and their mannerisms help you at all with the creature design?

Rick: It definitely effects it, sometimes it doesn’t help. It’s one of the things that got me into the puppets and animatronics because I didn’t like the limitations that make-up have. You can only build up on a person’s face so much. Where someone has a nose like mine you can’t make a little, flat nose on them. You can on a puppet. But actors bring so much to it and it’s always really fun for me, for example with Boris in this movie, like someone changed a line and it kind of changed the way the character was. I did a bunch of designs and I actually did the make-up on myself. I actually made myself up and did a whole complete thing with the knuckle-chest and stuff. And I do that many times for two reasons. I like to see what it’s like on the other side, so if an actor complains about how uncomfortable it is, I’ll know if it’s just them being a baby or if it’s really, truly uncomfortable. I always try to make it as comfortable as possible. But for this one too I was trying to sell them on my ideas for this character. And I had this idea for his goggles and I knew they were going to hate that. I knew the first thing they were going to say was, “Well, we can’t have these goggles because we got to see his eyes.” And when I did this make-up test on myself they were actually filming a 3D test at Sony down the street here. They had Will and they were just trying these 3D cameras out. So I said, well I’m going to show up in make-up as Boris and show them what I’m talking about. And they said to me, “Well, they’re filming Will right now, you can’t go in there now. And Barry wants to see you before anybody else does. And Walter Parks wants to see you before anybody else does” and stuff like that. And I was just like, OK fuck this. I’m just going to do it. Because I really saw Boris as this bad ass guy and he wasn’t quite as bad ass as I wanted him to be. And I had a Jack Daniels bottle full of iced tea and I had a fake cigarette and I just kicked the door in and walked in. And Barry was there and he had his cowboy hat on and I was like, “What the fuck is going on in here?!” And I was just doing all this really belligerent stuff. Again, stuff I couldn’t do as my normal self. But it almost worked against me because it kind of scared them a little bit too much. Barry’s really afraid of me and he’s hiding behind Will and Will was even kind of backing up. And the firs thing they said to me was that we had to get rid of the goggles and I was saying, no that’s what’s going to make him really cool! And they said, you can’t tell where he’s looking and I told them, that’s the cool part. You don’t know if he’s looking at you or not. And they said they wanted to see his eyes and I told them, “No, you don’t!” Then they were saying since the goggles were removable you could remove the goggles and I said no that looks stupid! I widened the space between his eyes with the goggle so when the goggles are out he looks cross-eyed! It was one of those battles, and I try to choose my battles, and it’s one that I fought really hard for. I was so afraid because some of the time once the filming’s done, and that’s one of the things I think that’s bad about CG stuff is that you can change things around, and I was so afraid I was going to see a cut of Men In Black where they put eyes in the goggles. But fortunately they didn’t, and I think the goggles make him a real cool character. And there’s this whole idea, which you don’t see a lot of, that there’s all these fingers that are holding them in there. And you know I liked being part of the process, and that’s one of the things I like about Barry, he considers me a collaborator. And I’m sure he thinks I’m a major pain in the ass. I’ll fight for things and it usually turns out to be right and that’s why he has me around.

Me: So, I noticed in the movie that you have an appearance in there. And you’re the Brain Alien I believe you’re credited as. I’m assuming you did all your own make-up on that. Is it tougher doing it on yourself?

Rick: I actually didn’t apply it on myself. It was too hard on that one. I have a lot of times done that. But that one, to get to the back of my head and all that stuff, and get all the stuff blended on, I just couldn’t do it. So, there was a make-up artist I worked with a lot, Mike, that applied that on me. And that allows me to just sit there. Because it’s tiring doing the make-up! And you sound like such a wuss! But it’s a scary process when you’re doing it because you got these little, teeny thin edges you got to use and make it all seamless and if you screw it up, you screwed up that day’s filming basically! And I’m always exhausted as soon as the make-up’s done and that’s when the day starts. Then you have a 12 hour day, then I got an hour clean up time. So, on that I thought, I’m just going to sit here and let somebody else make me up.

Me: So, did you already know you were going to be doing that part beforehand?

Rick: Yeah I knew I was going to try to sneak myself in the movie somehow and we designed that make-up for me. There was actually a whole scene in it and that alien was involved with Will. And at the end of that scene, there was a lot more shtick going on and I actually had some interaction with Will. And then they trimmed the movie down and it just ended with me standing there and that was it. Shit. But at least I made it on film!

And at some point around this time another blogger mysteriously appeared (as we often do) sitting next to me. I have no idea when he got there but he then jumped in on the interview as well.

Mystery Blogger: So, with CGI getting so much advancements has it made your job easier or harder?

Rick: Uh, both. It’s taken away a lot of stuff from what I’ve done. The animatronics part of my ob has pretty much gone away. We did a little bit of animatronics stuff on Men In Black. It’s made the design process easier, I think. I used to draw or paint the designs and it’s nothing new that people want changes. And it used to mean when people wanted a change, I do a whole other painting. Digitally it’s so much easier to do that. Like I said, I kind of resent part of it, stuff being taken away, when I know we can do it on the day. But I also embrace it when it’s something that we can’t do. What happens a lot now is there’s things that they’ll do for, not just effects make-up, but if you have a beautiful actress with a big zit on her head...in the old days you make it up as much as you can but she’s still got a big lump there. There’s so much that goes on in movies now that people don’t even know where they’re getting rid of zits and smoothing out the texture in someone’s face. In the first movie I ever made, usually what happens is they’ll do the biggest close-up, the last shot of the day, after you’ve worked 12 hours. The make-up looks it’s best once it’s just finished and I always  say, “Let’s shoot close-ups now.” And they never do that because they got all this other stuff to shoot so they always shoot them last. And there’s a point where you can’t fix the make-up anymore. Sometimes you’re working with actor or actress who’s real caught up in the moment they don’t want a make-up artist touching them up. Eddie Murphy always complains that I look at him like an object. I’m always looking at the corner of his mouth. He’ll be talking to me about something and I’m looking at the corner of his mouth and then I just reach out and poke him and stuff. There’s some actors that won’t let you go in and do those touch ups. And sometimes there’s stuff that goes on film and I think, I could have fixed that. Now, it’s there forever. But now you can touch this stuff up after. It’s nice to know that that option is there.

Sherice: Are you able to say anything about Maleficent yet?

Rick: I can say I worked on it and designed Angie’s make-up. That’s about all.

Mystery Blogger: So, how different is your job when there’s a character like  Maleficent that’s well known as opposed to aliens that you created?

Rick: It is different. The problem with this Maleficent is that it is well-known, but this movie is going to be a different take on it. It’s not like doing Maleficent from the Disney movie. But I did Susan Sarandon’s make-up in “Enchanted” where she was supposed to be a Snow White witch. Which that was fun because I tried to base as much on the real source material. And it’s definitely easier in a way but it’s also harder in a way since people have these expectations. I mean, if it was totally left up to me and someone said I want you to do a Maleficent make-up, I would have done something entirely different than what I did on Angie but what we did on Angie was for this movie. But I would like to make a Maleficent movie that looks like her, like the cartoon.

Me: So, you’ve done aliens and animals and monsters and humans. Is there anything that you haven’t done that you’ve wanted to do? Or things you’d like to do more of?

Rick: Yeah, I would like to do more horror films. I would love to do a Frankenstein movie. I’ve never done Frankenstein in a film. But I got to say I’ve managed to do a lot of things in my career. You know, if I dropped dead right now which, you know, I hope I don’t, I want to be there for the star ceremony [he’s getting his own star in Hollywood] I hope I at least survive for another couple weeks, I’m planning on it, but I mean I would be very satisfied with what I’ve accomplished. I always wanted to make a really cool gorilla suit in a movie and I had a lot of opportunities to do that. I wanted to do a Wolfman movie and I got to do that. I wanted to do a big fantasy movie and I got to do the Grinch. I wanted to do a transformation and I got to do American Werewolf. And that one was amazing because considering I had a really small crew and they were all people who had never worked on films before. Average age of 18 years old. And I trained them. And we made this stuff that 30 years later, doesn’t look too bad. All without computers!

And on that note, Rick had to get going so we all said bye and thanked him. It was a pretty great day and I learned a lot about their processes and how they work. I know very little about this side of it so this was really interesting to me. And that is also why I didn’t cut much out and there was a lot to read. Plus, a lot of the stuff they said was quite funny and I’m a sucker for not editing out “the funnies”. Anyway, moral of the story, maybe next time you think of the Men In Black franchise you’ll think of all the behind the scenes work that really brings it all to life. Or maybe you’ll think of a make-up artist that holds his ground on a great idea and tries to scare people into agreeing with him (it worked!). Either way, don’t forget about these guys, they’re very important to the whole process. They even made Flaco! Who you never see!


  1. That was great! When's your next media day! We need more!

  2. Thanks Bernard! I don't know when the next one will be, whenever they ask me to go to another one I'll make time for it. I'd definitely love to do another one of these soon, though.

  3. That was awesome Steve! Looks long but the way you wrote it made it a fast read!