My journey into special effects

My first ever special effects work!
My first ever special effects work!

Some little girls dream of princesses and weddings fairies – but not me! Even as a child I was never into Barbie dolls or anything else girlie. I’m not sure exactly when my obsession with horror started but my love of horror films definitely took hold when I made my first visit to Universal Studios in Orlando when I was eleven years of age.

The highlight of the trip was a behind the scenes look at the making of Psycho, I was enthralled! The real Bates motel model was onsite (be still my beating heart)! Hitchcock films were a large part of the theme park in the early 90’s.

One of the shows was to show us how the infamous shower scene was filmed. I couldn’t believe my luck to see some secrets of the trade! The blood was actually chocolate syrup – the consistency was perfect and in black and white film looked exactly like the real thing! That and the sound of a knife stabbing a melon are my main memories from the making of Psycho!

The other highlights were the shark from Jaws and seeing scenes from Hitchcock’s The Birds in 3D! That might explain my fear of birds! Since then I’ve devoured every scary story, book and film I can get my hands on! The gorier and creeper the better!

When a course came up in Tiger Training Academy (Find their website here) in Cork I couldn’t believe my luck! I might be able to learn some more tricks of the trade! The course was being taught by Dave Darko, his amazing work speaks for itself below:

Dave Darko as the Joker, edits by Victor Kurzweil
Dave Darko as the Joker, edits by Victor Kurzweil

Dave has an impressive career on both sides of the camera as can be seen here: Dave Darko’s IMDB profile.

To say I was nervous and hesitant to sign up for the course is an understatement! It’s scary putting yourself out there into something totally outside your comfort zone. The co-owner of Tiger Training Academy gave me the little push I needed to sign up for the course even though I was only going to be able to go to two days of the three day course.

I’m so glad I took a chance and signed up and didn’t let nerves and worry get the better of me. Walking into the course was one of the scariest things I’d done in years. All the other students were sure to have more experience than me and already had the first day down, I was petrified!

Again Sinead Egan stepped into help,personally welcoming me to the Training Academy and introducing me to Dave and his partner in crime the gorgeous Megan Biffin (For Megan’s IMBD profile click here

Megan Biffin Darkworkz Studios, edits by Victor Kurzweil
Megan Biffin Darkworkz Studios, edits by Victor Kurzweil

Even though I jumped in on day two of the course the other students and both tutors made me feel unbelievably welcome and my nerves vanished in no time.

Within a couple of hours I’d managed to create a special effects piece on the lovely Kate’s arm (Kate is the owner of Blink by Kate Lewis).  The realistic wounds were created from cheap materials and I was so proud that I’d managed to make something gory and bloody, obviously nowhere near the standard of Dave Darko but impressive all the same!

First attempt!
First attempt!

By the end of day two I’d already made firm friends with the tutors and the other students! All three other students are amazing MUA’S in their own rights –

Niamh – MUA and blogger at Makeupology by Niamh

Kate – MUA and owner of Blink by Kate Lewis

Aimee -MUA and owner at Deadly Divas

They made me so welcome despite the fact that I had no previous makeup experience whatsoever. We were all so excited for the next and final day of the course.

Day three of the course was the creation of a full character and a photoshoot. Everyone had completely different ideas and plenty of help came from Dave and Megan on our group chat that night.

Sunday arrived as did our models. The nerves kicked in again. Doubts raced through my mind – What if my character was rubbish? What if I couldn’t produce anything? What if I hurt my model?!

We got to work on our models and the hours flew by! My model Katie was so patient and encouraging. I started the gorier parts of my Corpse Bride character but then it came to making her beautiful also! I had a mini-meltdown but Dave, Megan and Sinead came to my rescue! I might love gore but creating prettiness was not my forte, despite a fantastic model!

By the time our final characters were ready for the photoshoot we were all delighted with the final outcome – we even appeared on the Evening Echo!

Evening Echo coverage of the course
Evening Echo coverage of the course

After only two days we’d all managed to make our individual creatures!! Epic as Dave himself would say! To top this all Victor Kurzweil did amazing edits of all our creatures!!! Amazing!

That was only the start of my journey and already have course 2 with Dave under my belt!!

My orc/ fiancé from Fantasy special Effects course in Jan 16

This time I had gained confidence and there were no meltdowns! At the end of our second three day course our characters took part in a fashion show organised by Sinead from Tiger Training Academy and made the newspapers again!!!

Our models in Evening Echo Jan 16
Our models in Evening Echo Jan 16

An amazing end to a fantasy FX makeup course with Dave and Megan helping every step of the way!!

The guys will return in June 16 for a movie zombie makeup course!! This Corpse Bride may have to dig into the wedding fund!

24 Hours Later

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