The Twisted World of Prosthetics – Secrets of the Trade at MCM London Comic Con

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DSCN6325Ben Fallaize gave MCM London Comic Con goers an insight into the world of a prosthetics artist during Friday’s panel. Here is a rundown on the tips, tricks and stories that were revealed by Ben and his assistant.

First tip; prepare the skin. People have many different types of skin like dry or oily so the chemicals that will be used during the make up process will react differently to each person.

Ben prefers using latex rather than silicone in many ways. Firstly it lets the skin breathe so if the actor gets a bit sweaty during action scenes it will soak through the layer of latex and be released; silicone is waterproof so it will trap the sweat next to the skin. Secondly it stretches more and moves more freely with the face. It’s not as heavy so is more comfortable for the actor to wear for hours at a time.

Second tip; disasters will always happen, improvisation is the key. The original design for Predator did not include the black pack on its back, however due to the whole costume having to be held together using black gaffatape something needed to be created to cover that. Ben reminisced about the time he made a full silicone head for an actor and was working from the early hours of the morning to make sure it was ready for the first day of the shoot. At around 4am the neck part of the prosthetic prop split, it needed to be applied to the actor at 8am. “I thought ‘Right, how am I going to fix this?‘” recalled Ben. “I decided that the character had a scar so added that to his back story.” Disaster averted with some quick thinking and a little more latex.

Ben’s preferred glue is Pros-Aide, however if the actor is going to have an underwater scene it poses a problem as it is not waterproof. A good alternative is Snappy G, which will keep any prosthetic glued, even underwater. There is one setback to this glue however; it is very expensive. According to Ben, during the filming of the summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy more than £1 million was spent on this glue just for Dave Bautista’s character Drax the Destroyer.

Third tip; make sure the edges of the prosthetic are paper thin so that it can easily blend with the skin. “It’s make or break. If people can see the edge they will think the whole costume is rubbish. The more complex you can make the makeup the better. More colours mask the seams. The best tool you have is the back of your arm. You can use it to test paint colours and practice blending.”DSCN6334

Commenting on the grimmer part of the profession Ben says, “Part of the job is you have to really study pictures of wounds. Do your research. There is a science to what we do. You need to know how the skin works and how it is broken. I can look at CSI pictures and figure out what happened.”

Ben insists that the secret to his incredible prosthetics work is that he “create(s) characters, not monsters, not demons: characters. They have their own back stories.” By understanding the characters back story and their quirks and individualities Ben can give his creations much more depth and make them believable.

If you are interested in seeing his work or asking him questions about his experiences doing prosthetics on the stars of Hollywood then drop by his stall in the South Hall; he is here all weekend at MCM London Comic Con.

 

Photos by Kpopkimi

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