Gorgeous makeup isn’t always about long lashes and ruby red lips. Tonight, Syfy premieres its new makeup artist competition show, Face Off, a *Top Chef *for the special effects-obsessed. (Coincidentally, the two shows air at the exact same time, 10PM.) Contestants range from a recent art school grad to owners of special effects companies. A mentor and protege are even among those “facing off” for the final prize, $100,000 and a year’s supply of FX makeup. In the first episode’s Foundation Challenge (think Top Chef‘s Quickfires), the artists have to use the supplies at their welcome party to make monsters and beauties. For the Spotlight Challenge, contestants got three days to create a human/animal hybrid based on a beetle, an ostrich, or an elephant—and the results are both horrifying and high-fashion.
We spoke to Face Off judge Ve Neill, a three time Academy Award-winning makeup artist, who has worked on Beetle Juice, Ed Wood, and Mrs. Doubtfire, among many, many others. She’s currently on the set of the next installment of the Spiderman movies (“We’re shooting exteriors, so the hours are 4PM until the sun comes up,” she says.), but she took a break to chat with us about her new show.
As a judge, what are you looking for in this competition?
I’m looking for artistry, use of color, and how they follow the directions they were given. I’m more about the artistic end of it than the guys [Glenn Hetrick, of Optic Nerve makeup effects studio (Heroes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Patrick Tatopoulos, creature designer for Underworld and 10,000 BC]; they’re more about the technical aspects.
Did you have a favorite challenge?
There were so many great ones! I really enjoyed the gender swap—some really cool stuff was done. The artists chose couples that were getting married, and friends and relatives were invited to a ceremony. Needless to say, the guests were very entertained.
The prize includes a year’s supply of makeup. Is special effects makeup more expensive than Chanel?
It’s not so much the actual makeup that costs; it’s the many components that it takes to produce the prosthetics and body parts. It’s just cumulative.
What creation of you own are you proudest of?
That’s a tough question. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve worked on. Lost Boys was great because the kids were so wonderful and it was so fresh. The look was sexy and fun—all of the things that a vampire film should be. I love* Edward Scissorhands*; I still cry everytime I watch that movie. And I do have a great affection for the Pirates of the Caribbean films. What gal doesn’t want to be a ship with a bunch of pirates?
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