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The art of the gruesome Special effects make-up workshop shows how to create fake wounds and more

Sunday, October 20, 2013
Sunday Arts Section writer Janine Charles-Farray gets an up-close-and-personal demonstration of special effects make-up from Steven Taylor. Photo courtesy Stephanie Matadeen

To see the artistic value in a gaping chop wound, an oozing bullet hole or the rotting face of the zombie undead is probably the most eccentric skill any person might want to gain. However, that is exactly what would be required to create believable fake wounds either for a film, to scare friends at a lime, or to impress the crowd at the numerous costume party competitions happening this Halloween. Steven Taylor’s name has become synonymous with Hollywood-style special effects make-up in T&T over the last few years. He has done professional prosthetic and special effects make-up work in movies, music videos and commercials. This month, Taylor hosts a Movie Makeup Mania workshop at the UWI Film Building, Carmody Road, St Augustine, with two sessions every Saturday from October 12-26. Each two-hour session has a different focus, incorporating lecture-tutorials on fake bullet and chop wounds, bruises and burns, as well as an introduction to the application of prosthetics. The final Saturday will be a full Zombie Day, with zombie make-up session in both the morning and afternoon. 



During the first session on October 12, Taylor established an easy camaraderie with workshop participants and set the tone of the session by emphasising the importance of looking beyond the superficial, gruesome appearance of a cut or a wound to find its artistic elements. “One needs to understand what makes reality look the way it does and to be able to translate that for the screen. Anyone can purchase a bottle of fake blood or even some liquid latex, but these are just tools. A trained [person] can use these tools to create a swollen eye,” he said. Taylor’s workshop also encouraged participants to see colour variations in a whole new way and to have a wide array of interests from which inspiration could be garnered. Topics covered included blood splatter analysis and techniques, the importance of seeing variant bone and flesh tissue colouration, understanding bullet trajectory, asymmetrical shapes in organic wounds and even facial reconstruction and prosthetics. Taylor also shared different techniques for working with light and dark skin tones, make-up etiquette and professionalism, make-up tool hygiene, client face cleansing care and local supplier tips and sources for make-up kit materials. 


“You have to be able to objectify real wounds and assess them for their artistic value,” said Taylor as he answered a participant’s question about why he did not choose to be a medical doctor or mortician. “Now, it might surprise you, but I am extremely squeamish, so I have to take myself out of that realness of the situation. I have to look at wounds like a piece of art […]; I still prefer to stick to the fake.” A filmmaker and make-up artist, Taylor is a recent graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI) BA in film programme. He was trained in make-up special effects at the Complections College of Makeup Art & Design in Toronto, Canada, specialising in make-up for film, television, theatre, special effects/casualty make-up, prosthetics and animatronics. Taylor’s work for his company Dream/Reality Make-up Artist includes characters from music videos for Trinidad James’ Females Welcomed, Machel Montano’s Bottle of Rum and Shurwayne Winchester’s You (Energy).


Taylor also worked on the films Home Again, God Loves the Fighter and Jab in the Dark, as well as on an episode of National Geographic’s Locked Up Abroad series. Additionally, he created the animatronic title character for his own award-winning film Buck the Man Spirit. Taylor said he had always dreamed of returning to T&T to share his knowledge. His plans include pursuing a master’s in cinematic art in the US and, therefore, he will be out of T&T for the next three years. “I know that there are a lot of people with an interest in special effects make-up but not everyone would have the opportunity to travel abroad to learn this specialty art form. So, I am bringing it back home to narrow the gap between dreams and reality for some make-up/film enthusiasts,” he said.


More info: 494-3588 or e-mail [email protected]


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