Grant, from Cast From Dungeon FX, has granted our inquisitive minds with answers about his creative role in Alien: Covenant and his practical effects workshop.
Clara Fei-Fei: Thank you so much Grant for taking time out to answer some questions. What got you interested in practical effects?
Grant: I was a big fan of Universal (Frankenstein, Wolfman etc) Movies, Hammer Monster Movies (Curse of the Werewolf) and of course Godzilla and Gamera and was always intrigued about the creatures and the makeup effects that went into creating them. Seeing Star Wars at the age of 12 blew me away and I was a14-year-old when Alien was released, although I wasn’t allowed to see it at the movies I read about it and I watched it as soon as I could and of course, was hooked. I had been sculpting with clay from the backyard since I was a young kid, then when I was in my twenties saw an ad on TV for Three Arts Makeup School and did the two-year Makeup Effects course with them. The rest, as they say, is history.
CF: Could you tell me how you started Cast From Dungeon FX?
G: After I finished my studies with Three Arts I became a teacher there and then started working in the movie industry. While I was always busy with work, I always had my own projects I was working on and when I had built up a few different creatures I started taking my pieces to markets/bike shows and Chiller Theatre in New Jersey to sell the pieces. So I started the company basically to sell face to face but in the last 5 years or so I took it online and now I also travel to California to sell at Son of Monsterpalooza and this April will also attend the 10th-anniversary show of Monsterpalooza.
CF: What are other TV shows, movies or things you have worked on?
G: There have been many over the amount of time I have been in the Industry but a few of them are; Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Men Tell no Tales, Gods of Egypt, Hacksaw Ridge, Pacific Rim 2, Superman Returns, Star Wars episodes 2 & 3, TV Miniseries – Childhood Ends, I Frankenstein amongst others.
CF: What’s your favourite piece you have ever made?
G: For my own company, while I absolutely enjoy creating every piece I make, I would have to say my favourite would be the Nosferatu Wall plaque; I have been making him since 1999. It has been a popular piece ever since I first made it and it is even more popular today.
Professionally there are way too many awesome pieces I have been involved with to pick a favourite.
CF: For those interested in doing what you do, where do you suggest they start?
G: Taking Art at school would definitely help as well as an interest in art and makeup fx. For after-school definite training, there are some excellent Makeup effects schools around, Google and do your homework before deciding.
CF: What’s your favourite Alien Sci-Fi movie? and why?
G: My favourite Sci-fi movie has to be the original Star Wars as that is the movie that got me interested in effects. My favourite Alien movies are the Original, Part 2 and Alien Covenant (sorry just can’t split them).
CF: If you could select a body part to robotically enhance, what would it be? what abilities would you have?
G: As I have been approx 75% hearing impaired since birth, definitely Robotic Ears that would let me not only hear normally but give me super hearing so I could hear miles away.
CF: Which character is your favourite?
G: Curse of the Werewolf, it is one of my favourite Werewolf make-ups ever. Some of the most popular items on my website are the “Curse” bust and plaque.
CF: Which variation of the xenomorph is your favourite?
The Xenomorph from Alien Covenant (probably because I worked on the movie)
CF: Could you tell us about the pieces you worked on for Alien: Covenant?
G: I had the absolute pleasure of working in the Creature Department for Odd Studios and Creatures Inc UK. The management was awesome and allowed us to work on multiple pieces throughout the production stage, many pieces we worked on mostly a team effort on each piece. Some of them were: Some Charred engineers, Moulded James Franco in the pod, Moulded creature body of Neomorph and Xenomorph, Moulded Space Jockeys, Also had the privilege of working on various pieces in David’s lab: Moulded the large egg and made multiple copies, there were many other pieces these are just a few.
CF: What does mould making entail?
G: Mould making is the process of making a copy of an item by creating a fibreglass/resin jacket with a silicon replica of the item inside, or you can make a mould with only fibreglass and no silicon. Inside of both gives you an exact copy of whatever the item is and you can reproduce a single item, or many copies at a cheaper price in more hardy materials.
CF: What sorts of technical difficulties were there in working on such pieces?
The size of the Xenomorph was a difficulty for sure but we were under such strict deadlines it made it even more so. Probably the deadlines were more challenging than anything else. It was such a privilege to work on the movie there was nothing we couldn’t live with.
CF: What did you think about the movie? If you could change anything, what would it be?
G: I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it because I didn’t know what to expect but I really enjoyed the movie. All films have faults (small or large) but I honestly don’t think I would change anything.
CF: What projects are you currently working on?
G: I am not currently working on a movie so I am working on projects of my own for the Conventions and Shows, my latest project being my Latex Zombie Masks. We have quite a few shows here in Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland and in April will be heading to Pasadena and the Monstapalooza Convention
CF: What would you like to work on in future?
G: Another Alien movie would be awesome.