Interview With Brian Spears (2006)
One part of the Special FX makeup artist team for the reshoots of Return To Sleepaway Camp that wil hopefully result in the film being completed, Brian Spears agreed to be interviewed. He was also kind enough to supply us with some photos of their gory work. From the sound and look of things, these guys are rightfully following in the footsteps of Ed French & Splat Johnson.
Sleepaway Camp Films: Who were the original FX artists and why did the effects need to be reshot?
Brian Spears: To be completely honest I have no idea who handled the original gig. I was called and asked if I could help out with a few scenes. I am not one to ask too many questions, a job is a job and this seemed like a good opportunity. Having been familiar with the franchise I knew the flick had some legs and would see the light of day, and in this biz that’s something to jump at.
How much reshoot work did you do for RTSC and what did it entail?
Spears: I was contacted by Jerome Thelia, who had taken over the CGI FX team, if I could assist his team with several shots needed to complete and or enhance scenes previously shot. An elaborate eye gouging with a stake, pools of blood, fire gags, rats eating the insides of a chest and a skinned alive dude were all needed. Due to time and budget restraints there was little or no time to actually prep things for the shoot. Much of the gore I was supplying was going to be enhanced or compliment Jerome’s CGI work therefore I was able to use items I had lying around my place. For example there was a scene that has rats chewing on the insides of a man’s chest. I had a body with an anatomically ripped open chest and I simply dropped off the torso and let the CGI guys do their job. I only worked about 2-3 days on the project- because it was all FX we were able to get quite a lot done in that time frame.
What is your favorite death scene you worked on in for RTSC?
Spears: The highlight for me was creating the skinned alive guy. As I said before due to time there was no way to get a lifecast and sculptures done to do this “Hollywood” style so my partner, Pete Gerner, and I did it on the fly. We completely kit bashed this elaborate effect using out of the kit methods, some left over appliances from other gigs and lots of blood. Not for nothing we completely made it up on the day it was needed and even surprised ourselves. It’s surprising what you can do with rolled cotton and string. Thanks to the entire crew for giving us plenty of time we pulled it off. An added cool factor was we actually filmed the scene in my backyard; a woodsy area was needed, so I didn’t need to travel.
Was any reshooting done on the ending?
Spears: The skinned alive guy does factor into the ending but I don’t want to give away too much.
What sort of modifications did you have to do to FX to make it co-exist with CGI?
Spears: I was hired by Jerome and he was the man in charge of all the CGI re-shoots. He took what was needed from my stuff and will blend it with all his handy work. The CGI guys were way cool and wanted to base as much of there FX on practical gore as they could. Literally they were blending my props with all of their computer wizardry and matching it to scenes already in the can. It was quite a site to see. I watched them seamlessly take gore I created and digitally cut and paste it on to a scene filmed during the original shoot.
Do you think the deaths could have been done practically rather then part-CGI?
Spears: Jerome and I were both hired after principal photography so not to speak for him but I’m sure we both would have done things differently if we had the opportunity to work during the actual shoot. However I was very pleased with the way the re-shoots came out. If not for the CGI crew looking for practical gore and special fx make-up I would not have had the chance to work on the flick so I am very grateful. I was given the freedom to due some very cool “practical” make-up fx and I’m sure the CGI stuff will be just as good, and where both our talents are put together I am so looking forward to checking out. I am sure it will kick ass.
What's your personal opinion on CGI in horror films?
Spears: I am a huge fan of rubber. Hell, when I grew up it was the heyday of bad horror flicks with really cool effects sequences and everything was practical. I’ve seen some real cheesy CGI but there have also been some really crappy rubber suits. Having worked on this gig really opened my eyes to what the best of both worlds can produce. Look at HELLBOY and THE LORD OF THE RINGS where both elements can co-exist and look amazing together. Coming from a low budget film world where money is tight it is tough on both departments, but if the dedication and drive to paying attention to detail is there the possibilities are endless. I look forward to working with a digital crew in the future, shit if the can make my stuff look better I am all for it.
Is it solid that you will be returning for the next film, Reunion, if it happens?
Spears: I hope so! Tom van Dell, the producer, was real nice and very encouraging. He also seemed very pleased. Pete and I would love the chance to give the creators and the fans something they both want -a kick ass, in your face, old school gory film, like the ones we grew up on.
Be sure to visit Pete & Brian's FX Website, and Brian can be found on MySpace as well.