GoreMaster goes to the land down under to visit with Makeup Special Effects Artist Kiana Jones of Freakmo SFX
GM: When did you make the decision to enter the field?
KJ: I always liked putting a lot of time and effort into costumes for parties, which lead to an interest in learning makeup effects. I was invited to a Zombie Crawl at my university in August 2012, and I put some time into learning how to use latex and fake blood on Youtube. My costume and makeup got a lot of attention at the zombie crawl, so I posted it onto Reddit. It made the front page, and I got a lot of praise and encouragement, and since then I’ve been practicing makeup consistently. Around Halloween that year, I started a Youtube channel which is the main area I practice makeup in currently.
GM: Who inspired you to start – who was your influence?
KJ: Stuart Bray has been my strongest influence from the early days until now. He works in the industry (including working on Game of Thrones!) but also has a Youtube channel, posts makeup tutorials to instructables, and has online e-courses, and DVD’s available for sale. It’s great seeing someone with a lot of experience still take the time to teach others techniques, and to see the magic happen.
GM: What is your Favorite Special Effects memory (from a TV show, Movie or Book)?
KJ: It has to be from The Walking Dead. Greg Nicotero just pushes the makeup to limits and has these disgusting practical makeup ideas, then works them into the storyline. In particular, I think it’s in the second season, there’s a car crash, and a zombie tries to stick its face through the broken windshield, which rips and pulls back the flesh on their cheeks.
GM: How did you get started working in the industry?
KJ: I went into a store here in Perth called Kirkside Products which supplies a lot of the mold-making materials, and started talking to a really nice guy called Will Huntly who works there. Will was a makeup artist back in LA before he moved to Australia, and I excitedly showed him some of the makeup I’d been working on for Halloween. He wanted to introduce me to another MUA in Perth, called Kate Anderson. Kate Anderson called me shortly afterwards asking if I’d like some experience doing makeup on set for an indie film being made in Perth (Fallout: Lanius). Since then she’s been kind enough to invite me onto a few other projects of hers, include a John Butler music video, some private events, and a new TV show being made for our ABC.
GM: What current projects are you working on or excited about?
KJ: I really want to create the makeup of someone who’s whole face has been degloved – to have it as a single piece which you can hold in your hand, and then to create the muscles and bone structure behind that. This is what I’m most excited about currently.
I just finished work on a show for ABC 2 here in Australia, which involved my first assistance with bald cap application, and learning how to use an air brush, which was really fun.
GM: What was your toughest job?
KJ: When I first learned how to encapsulate silicone, I made a large piece to go onto my own face. It went quite far around the side of my head to my ears, and that eye was mostly covered. I didn’t consider how I’d be able to see what I was doing or blend the sides out, so that ended up being quite difficult.
GM: What was your favorite job?
KJ: My favorite job was a look I did on myself for the Warm Bodies premiere. I worked out how to create a gouged eye, with an arrow coming out of it.
GM: What was the best advice or training you ever received?
KJ: It was from a Stuart Bray DVD – how to apply blood more realistically, or how to create a messy look which doesn’t look too carefully placed, while not hiding your makeup underneath the blood. But basically he uses tissues to smudge and remove a lot of the blood, while leaving hints of it, and shows where to place splatter or drips to get a maximum effect with minimal blood.
GM: How do you pick your makeup for a project? Do you make your own?
KJ: A lot of it is having used the products before and knowing their qualities and how easy they are to apply. If it’s something I want to do quickly and cheaply, and doesn’t have to withstand a lot of time or movement, then I could use something as simple as nose and scar wax. If it has to last a long time and be flexible, I will use silicone (Sculpt Gel). And just considering exactly how the injury was made – how old the blood will be (whether to use fresh or aged blood) how old the bruise would be (whether to include yellows and greens), etc. The only thing I’ve made so far is gelatine, and the experience was… interesting. It smelt very strongly of parmesan cheese and vomit.
GM: Are there brands you recommend?
KJ: I really like all the products that Mouldlife makes; they’ve all been great quality. I have their sculpt gel, baldiez, super baldiez, silicone pigments, flocking powder, platsil gel-10 and deadener, and their Kensington Gore blood is fantastic.
GM: How do you envision the future of makeup effects? Do you think that CG is hurting the industry?
KJ: I don’t think so. I think they work well together. If it can be created with makeup effects, I think it’s easier for the actors to respond to it, and it involves a lot less post-production, and will usually look more realistic than the CGI stuff (if you’re looking for it). But there are situations where you need to have a whole part missing from a face or body, which can only be achieved with CGI, but with makeup surrounding those parts, it’s perfect.
GM: Are there any breakthroughs in the industry that excite you?
KJ: It’s not a recent breakthrough, but boy I’m glad I’m learning this while encapsulated silicone is a thing. Melting away cap plastic for seamless edges is exciting, and the movement and feel of silicone is just amazing. The most comfortable and realistic makeup that I’ve worn was encapsulated silicone.
GM: Is there someone new to the industry that you like? Someone we should watch for?
KJ: Kate Anderson. I have been able to work under her for most of my makeup jobs in Perth, and on top of being a cinephile/film geek, she’s an amazing makeup artist; I’ve never seen someone get so excited over makeup products, her passion shows through, and she’s also one of the loveliest people to work with. She’s been making an impression in Perth’s film sphere, and has begun assisting in makeup departments on feature films, and being the head of makeup for music videos.
GM: Whose current work do you admire?
KJ: As mentioned before, Stuart Bray, and Neill Gorton, and also Greg Nicotero, these are my current favorites.
GM: Do you have advice for the beginner or someone just getting started in the business?
KJ: Practice as often as you can, learn as much as you can. If you’re passionate enough to always be investigating makeup tutorials, learning about new products and techniques, and practicing whenever you get the urge to be creative, I think these things help the most. If you’re not the kind of person to be self motivating, then schools can help, but so many in the industry are self taught. Lastly, make sure you know the safety requirements of all of the materials that you’re working with; it’s really important.
GM:: What are your top five special effects movies? (The movies can have practical or visual effects).
KJ: Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, Any Lord of the Rings movie, Gravity, and Pan’s Labyrinth.
Visit Kiana’s sensational Youtube channel Freakmo SFX to see video demos of her amazing special effects work!