Special Effects Makeup - behind the scenes of Jules Verne's Mysterious Island on Syfy

The following is a really cool post from the special effects makeup guy for “Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island” which premieres on Syfy this Saturday Night on Syfy - 8pm/9pm EST.

Directed by Mark Sheppard. Starring Gina Holden, Lochlyn Munro, Caleb Michaelson, Susie Abromiet, and W. Morgan Sheppard as Captain Nemo.

I am excited about this because I helped to make it. I did a lot of the gore and SPFX makeup, including a body eaten by cannibals that required the actual actors head in the scene. I also made a few props and creatures, and helped design the Nautilus. 

We shot at the worst time and place, a small plantation outside of Baton Rouge. The weather was brutal, usually 100+ and with the usual humidity that comes form being in the south. The DP had to rig up special cooling gear for the cameras, and they had to add a weird humidifier-thingy to keep the lenses from fogging up on a few days. We also had limited power, a nasty thunderstorm, and few bathrooms. Aside from the brutal shooting conditions, I had a lot of good times on the shoot. Good crew, and good people.

I originally was going to pass on the movie, but had a change of heart at the last minute. I had no prep time, I showed up off the plane on the first day of filming. I’m glad I did it, I eventually decided to move to Louisiana because of it.

Here’s the actor (Caleb Michaelson) with some death scratches before being eaten. (I apologize for my pictures. I kept my camera in a bag, and once you took it out you only had a few moments to snap the continuity pic before the lens fogged.)

What’s great about his makeup was I did it in seven minutes. They originally were going to cut the effect due to time, but after tearing through lines they decided to add it back at the last minute. I had no time to use any kind of latex, everything is just done with gels and blood. I was racing the sun, but I got it finished in time and they got the shot.

Here is a shot of Caleb after being eaten. To counter the heavy gore, I chose a proper silly picture. I’ve worked with Caleb on a few projects, he’s a great sport and fun to work with.

In addition to the gore, bruises, cuts, scrapes and monsters, I also got to design the ship itself. 

We needed a prop to sit on the map in the bridge of the Nautilus. I made it in two hours out of clay, plastic and a cloths pin and painted it with makeup from my kit.

The Digital Effects coordinator (Scott Wheeler) loved the quick design so much, he simply scanned it and animated it! I also got to make the practical hatch for the Nautilus.

Mark Sheppard directed the film, I believe it’s the first movie he directed. He makes a cameo as young Nemo, who is played by his real life father, Morgan Sheppard. It also has Lochlyn munro, who is a hoot to work with.

I was pretty comfortable working with everyone, the previous winter I made another movie called “Xtinction” with the same production company. It even starred three of the same actors, Mark Sheppard, Lochlyn Munro and Caleb Michaelson.

I really think thats the only way I was able to get through the massive workload, it really helps to see friendly faces while shooting. Mark was already familiar with the gore I can make with Popsicle sticks and food coloring, so he pretty much told me that whatever I had on the day would work, and that if he didn’t like it he would give me time to fix it or shoot around it.

As an added bonus, I also fit into the heavy pirate boots, so I got to play a pirate!

I think you only see my feet, its for a POV scene where Susie Abromeit is hiding under the bed and I’m looking for her.

I will admit, I haven’t seen the finished cut, I haven’t even seen footage from it after we wrapped! Hopefully it doesn’t suck, or I’m gonna look more foolish then usual.

I figure if it does suck, people can at least yell directly at someone responsible!


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thanks mark!