Cinema Junkie / April 30, 2016
Monsterpalooza, a convention celebrating the art of movie monsters, has grown so big that it has moved from the Burbank Marriott to the Pasadena Convention Center. Cinema Junkie checks in with some of the people at the convention.
Beth Accomando: Welcome back to another edition of the KPBS cinema junkie podcast. I am Beth Accomando and I am at Monsterpalooza. On April 22nd, the 2016 Monsterpalooza, the art of the monster kicked off at a new venue Pasadena Convention Center. The convention was started on the east coast by Elliot Brodsky, then it was known as Maskapalooza and then it moved to west in 2009, where it became Monsterpalooza. For the past 7 years, it has been held at the Marriott Burbank Convention Center, but it's grown so much in recent years, the Brodsky decided to move it to the Pasadena convention center. I caught him on the exhibit floor and asked him how the new venue was working out.
Elliott: Moving from one city to another can at times be hard decision to make. Everybody gets comfortable in an existing location, the attendees as well as the people involved in the shop. They both look fantastic. That's what you said? Okay, what was the question? I am sorry.
Beth: No it’s okay. No worries. How is the change of venue been for you?
Elliott: I really enjoyed the previous location. It was almost like a diamond in a rough. It was almost like an exclusive club that you got in or didn't and with this change, everybody gets in and there's plenty of elbow room and opportunity to get up close and see what everybody's presenting on the tables.
Beth: And are you going to be staying with this venue?
Elliott: I believed from when I have discussed with different people who are attending as well as bending and signing, this seems to be the best location for future shows.
Beth: And will Son of Monsterpalooza be moving or will that stay in Burbank.
Elliott: I think will keep son Burbank for the fall. It's the sun, so it sort makes sense the smaller show is going to stick around for a little bit longer, like I said, I love Burbank and lot of our attendees while there was well so it's, now I'm getting a bit of both worlds.
Beth: Monsterpalooza was born out of Brodsky's love for movie monsters of all kinds. One attraction for fans has been the opportunity to share their love with other fans and also with the children of famous actors who brought those monsters to life. Usually you can find the children of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, and Vincent Price at the convention. When I approached Karloff, his father gave us the most iconic Frankenstein Monster. She was signing a photo for a young girl who looked about eight years old.
Boris: Where you have a specific place you want me to sign it?
Thank you. More than well, take one of our cards and visit our website.
Beth: You've been coming into Monsterpalooza for quite a while talking about your father, so tell me why it's important for you to come to conventions like that? Why do you feel it's important to do this?
Boris: Well, it's important to me because it's important to the fans. It's the fans who are the reason I'm invited and its fans who have persuaded my father's legacy, so fans who know more about my father's career than I could ever learn. None of this has anything to do with me. I'm a conduit for the fans to my father or the fans who wish they had an opportunity to meet him, ask him questions, and it gives me an opportunity to ask fans questions. So, this is really all about the fans, not about the families and its great opportunity for me to learn more about my father.
Beth: Really, so what kind of, do you have a favorite memory of something you learn from fans that you didn't know.
Boris: Not really. Just to learn about my father from their perspective and one of the nicest things for me as a family member is to know that from their perspective the remarkable journalist of the man himself came through the fans in all of his roles, no matter how monsters they may or may not have been. They all understood that underneath all the makeup and some of the really appalling roles, they got it, they understood that he was one of the nicest human beings that ever lived and indeed he was.
Beth: And you here in a role with Vincent Price's daughter and Bela Lugosi's son, what do you think has contributed to the legacy of these actors that has made them so popular for so long.
Boris: Well, I think of course, Vincent is of a different era, although Vincent and my dad were great friends and Bela and my father made I believe it was seven films together and my father worked with Vincent also and again I think it's some long legacies these legacies have or do the fans. This type of horror, my father preferred were two, but this type of horror is gentle, as compared to that which we see on the screen today and I think these have been all understood that the real horrors on the street, not upon the screen.
Beth: Do you have a first memory of seeing your father on the big screen and what impact that had on you?
Boris: Not really because I was really out of sync with my father's student. His iconic roles, Frankenstein and the Mummy in particular were made before I was born and they were not playing in suitors when I came of the age to go to movies and most girl persons don't go to those kind of movies anyway and I lived in San Francisco not in Hollywood and I went to private girls' school. The kind of movies we went to were not those types of movies in the first place. I first saw Frankenstein, not on the big screen, but on television when I was 19 years old. So, of course by that time, I'd had heard so much of about it and had read so much about it that I watched it rather studiously and you know I'm often asked if I was scared the first time I saw it and indeed I was not. But to this day, I do not like scary movies, so it's bad casting me as my father's daughter. I am a wuss. I left the room during murder she wrote.
Beth: Did you ever share any memories of doing roles like Frankenstein and having to be under all that make up?
Boris: He was a very, very modest man and a very self-effacing man. His humor really was at his own expense. He didn't talk about other actors, bring his work home, but in interviews, when he was asked specific questions, he would of course respond with integrity, questions asked to him about those roles, so there are many, many plenty of interviews mainly along those lines and you know it was a very arduous in Frankenstein particular and the Mummy. Very arduous roles. He lost 25 pounds showing the making of Frankenstein and he was already a starving actor and did not have 25 pounds to lose. But he has passionate about his profession and he you know, he would have done anything to remain a working actor at that point, but indeed the fact that he was able to work, he would have done anything, later not that much later in 1933, actually Frankenstein was made in 1931.
My father became one of the founding members of the screen actor skill and his card was number 9 and one he was in a position; I mean actually became an overnight star after 20 years in business. Once he gained a position, having a voice in his profession, he felt it was extremely important to get back to that profession via formation or helping to form the screen actors’ guild and give upon coming actors of vice in their wellbeing in that profession, because he had indeed suffered at the hands of tyrannical directors and studios and 19-hour work days and 4 hours to put in makeup on and 3 hours in taking it off and that's before the 19 hours shooting day started. So, he had paid his dues certainly before his overnight success started at age 44.
Beth: All right. Thank you.
Doris: More than welcome. My pleasure.
Bill Lugosi: My name is Bill Lugosi. I am the son of the deceased actor Bela Lugosi. We have a booth here at the Monsterpalooza show. Showcasing, photographs, and other items depicting my dad. Really we are keeping his memory alive this way and the man of people here at this convention. A lot of people have come by and it's really a good experience because everyone really says such nice things about my dad. My dad never would have believed that he had this outpouring of interest.
Beth: And you have been coming in the Monsterpalooza for quite a few years, correct?
Bill Lugosi: I've been coming for several years to Monsterpalooza and you know a lot of the same people I see from year to year which is always very nice. Really if it weren’t for all the fans this phenomenon would have not taken place.
Beth: Do you think your father ever thought that his legacy would last this long and that people would be creating Dracula would be so iconic like this?
Bill Lugosi: My dad never would have believed that he would be remembered. He thought he was forgotten. And so you know, he loved the fans, so this would be a wonderful experience for him to see the outpouring praise for him this many years, you know after his death.
Beth: What about you remember most about your dad in his filmmaking career and where you ever on the set with him or watch him act?
Bill Lugosi: Yeah. I have gone to set.
Beth: What was it like as a kid? What do you remember of that?
Bill Lugosi: I was on the set of the motion picture Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein and I’ll never forget the experience because it was very unique we had Frankenstein masters with work band and I go to the commissary with all these people, made up in their costumes. So, it was unforgettable experience.
Beth: You had Monsterpalooza in his role where there is also Vincent Price's daughter and Boris Karloff's daughter. What do you think about these characters that your parents created that has created this lasting legacy? What is that you think people are connecting with decades after they made these films?
Bill Lugosi: This kind of resurgence and attention, these many years after they died, only as been bestowed on a few people and these are people who have for some reason become part of the popular culture of the country and become iconic and so I think now those that you just mentioned will live on forever.
Beth: What do you remember of seeing your father on film for the first time, like going to a theater and seeing him on the big screen?
Bill Lugosi: I remember seeing my dad for the first time in a movie, when I went to the theater with some of my contemporaries, you know little kids actually, they were all frightened and hiding behind the seats, course up on the screen to me, I was just dad, so I was not frightened.
Beth: Were there are any role of his they did frighten you?
Bill Lugosi: No.
Beth: What kind of a father was he growing up?
Bill Lugosi: Dad was a good father. He tried always to teach me things and hard work be consider it.
Beth: Okay. Thank you.
Victoria Price: Hi. This is Victoria Price. I am Vincent Price's daughter.
Beth: You just saw some shirts of very young people. What kind of interactions are you having and are you surprised by the age range of people who are interested in your dad?
Victoria Price: My dad always wanted to stay relevant to young people. He loved young people, he thought of himself as a big kid, so was really important in his career that he do that and I think because of that he did a lot of things that young people love. He did that when I was a kid doing Batman and Get Smart and Mod Squad and the Brady Bunch, but I also think that it's that kids now are hungering for something authentic and I think there's something really real about my dad.
Beth: So you're here at Monsterpalooza. I had met you at Avatar, the horror film festivals, so what's Monsterpalooza like for you?
Victoria Price: You know this year is really fun because I love the new space. It's in the Pasadena Convention Center, which is much roomier, the lighting is excellent and lighting at these conventions makes a big difference and very high ceilings and a good climate control. I know those are all silly things, but when you spend a lot of time at a convention, when all those things happen it allows the people to have a lot more fun and it seems like everybody is having a great time here. So consequently, I'm having a great time with them here and I'm glad to be here.
Beth: You're here in a row with Bela Lugosi's son and Boris Karloff's daughter. What is it about these stars that you think had such a lasting legacy?
Victoria Price: I think they were stars at a time where they were creating the molds. Now stars are either following the same molds or trying to break them. But these were stars who really were at the beginnings of Hollywood and so I think in a funny way, they were sure to themselves because they were not trying to be like someone else and as a result, who they were and they were not caught up in the whole publicity machine. They were really genuinely interesting, interested kind, talented people. I think that comes through in their performances and I think there is a hunger for that in the celebrity world.
Beth: Do you feel things like this and conventions like Monsterpalooza that also help keep your dad's memory alive?
Victoria Price: Absolutely I think the horror conventions are a wonderful thing because they bring all kinds of people together. Families, people who maybe in their own lives don't feel like they're able to connect with people with similar interests, people who enjoy dressing up. Very creative people and I always enjoy it.
Beth: Thank you very much.
Victoria Price: Thank you.
Beth Accomando: Victoria Price and Sarah Karloff are both on the board of directors for proposed Hollywood Horror museum. It's the dream project of Houston Huddleston. He had the opening panel for this year's Monsterpalooza and is trying to raise funds for the museum. I asked him some of what he discussed at the panel.
Houston Huddleston: It was about our brand new museum called the Hollywood Horror museum that spawned out of the other museum that we're doing called the Hollywood science fiction museum.
Beth: What is important about having a museum dedicated to horror films?
Houston Huddleston: It's obviously a huge part of our culture for over 100 years in films, but also in literature and there's much more to horror than what people consider to be the obvious on the level is so it's a movie to scare someone. But the thing most people don't realize were they're not for horror in films, there would be no such thing as what have them with the boom of max factor and what we now call modern prosthetics and makeup FX’s and special effects. They were created for horror films, not for beauty as much, but it's also saved numerous studios, numerous times including Universal, Warner, Paramount. Lionsgate is recently is that, so for to still be the bastard stepchild is really inappropriate, I think.
Beth: What kind of things would you want to have in this museum? What would people be able to see or do there?
Houston Huddleston: There will be two entrances. There will be the classic monsters, which will start with Nosteratu 1925 version or it's a 22, I cannot remember now, I think it's 25 and there will go on through 1965, which is the hammer films the Dracula Frankenstein with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and then from the other side of the museum will be the gore and the not family friendly side, which will be the 14 years old and over, which will have a gore and sexuality of starting with not Night of the living dead and go on through most recent hostile film saw and anything else that Blume house happens to do that we can get props for.
Beth: Well I heard that the panel too, I think one of your panels mentioned that she had been involved in some readings of unproduced horror scripts and that sounded interesting?
Houston Huddleston: That was a brilliant idea. I hadn't heard that and we always intended to have a theater and to have live presentations with the Cast Crew directors, writers, all these brilliant people who need these films and to find out the things that never got off the ground. I think that's genius and I definitely want to do that. So hopefully it will be nearby Los Angeles. To do that so they don't fly or drive that far to make it happen.
Beth: So were you out in the process of getting this to be a reality?
Houston Huddleston: We're creating the ugly messy business plans and the really boring horrible stuff that you have to do to get the money. The budget, the prospectus, the overview the outlay of the concept art, how much of the figures that we want in the props we want to fit in the 40,000 square foot space that we want to have this in, do our bad. See if we can work it between a 500 and 1 million budget, so that we can start touring and once we start touring, we'll be making a lot of money. We've already got offers from Japan and from China and Dubai and Las Vegas. So if we could have two separate tours going on simultaneously, then that will be sooner and faster and more money that we can create permanent museum in Los Angeles.
Beth: And what kind of reaction have you been getting from fans about the idea of a horror museum?
Houston Huddleston: Oh, terrible. No one cares, I'm kidding. No, they absolutely adore it. This is what everybody's wanted. As me I'm a fan. All of our board members are fans. Except for possibly Sarah Karloff who would say that she doesn't like horror movies as they scare her, but everybody else they got into the business because of for Ackerman and famous monsters of film land and because of the classic horror films are used to show on television and learning about who these people are and in the next generation got from those guys and then it goes on and on and on. The fans are ecstatic, they want this to happen yesterday or five years ago or fifty years ago for Ackerman still been around. This is the same with a science fiction museum. We're doing this for the fans, this is a fan run, fan based, fan created thing and that's why I think it's going to be is as awesome and amazing as it is.
Beth: And we're talking about this here at Monsterpalooza, so what is the importance of having conventions like Monsterpalooza?
Houston Huddleston: Monsterpalooza is an industry convention. Fans come to this, but this is where you will find the creators who make the horror films and the television shows actually coming and selling their wares and showing their work, which is incredible. You don't see that anywhere else in the world, in fact Eliot who created this out of nothing is the founder of Monsterpalooza. Monsterpalooza is what in many ways inspired us to create the museum because they have this thing that they call the museum, which they bring in different artists from all different companies and they show up. These were famous people from KND, Greg Nicotero's people, all these people who do the walking dead and all these other shows. And I thought to myself, what if these were permanent.
Not necessarily the booths set up and the stars set up to sign as much, but certainly to show people, oh my god, this is 3D in front of me, this is not just on the screen, this is something that is a textile thing that you're there. You're walking into the film set. There's a feeling unlike any other when it's truly that and it's going to be like think of a wax museum, but plus it's an actual learning wax museum and you actually step into the set not just a little box that the characters there, a poorly constructed characters there. So that's what, this specific convention means to me and there's Texas fright in there, which is much more a fan convention which is also brilliant. Schiller, I hear is amazing. But there's nothing like this and it's in Hollywood where all the studios can actually come across the hill and show their wares instead of having to travel 5000 miles to 10,000 miles to do it.
Beth: And this is their first year here at the Pasadena Convention Center, how's it been changing venues?
Houston Huddleston: It's a lot more room, lot more people. It's less cramped and I think people were a bit overwhelmed for it to be as big as it is. This is like a first year in certain ways as it is so huge and it's 3 to 4 times the size of what the Burbank one was. So it's very much like a first year and there are always problems and there are always benefits. But I think it ran rather smoothly, personally. I hope they will continue to do it at this or a similarly sized building where you can get. My god we want a booth here, so there isn't even room enough for us to get a booth, but we didn't do it in time, but by the next Monsterpalooza hopefully will have a booth as well for the Hollywood horror museum.
Beth: So how long have you been working on this horror museum?
Houston Huddleston: It's only been seven months, which is astonishing. We did a kick starter for about 20,000 dollars because we were not greedy and we didn't need really any more than that to get the initial steps done which is create the 501(c)(3) the nonprofit and then I started interviewing horror directors. The first one is Tom Holland and at the end of the interview, he asked me and said, you know you're going to need a separate board of directors for this horror museum, as supposed to this sci-fi museum? I said you are absolute correct. I said you want to be on it? He said, yes. So then I started asking other horror directors and other writers and producers and also honestly there were only three people who said no. Every other one and we're talking massive names I mean the most iconic names of horror are all part of this thing. And they include Clive Barker, John Carpenter, Shaun S. Cunningham who created Friday the 13th, Joe Dante, director and Romans, Mick Garris, director of masters of horror and producer of that.
Tom Holland, Fright Night and Child's play. Sarah Karloff, Boris Karloff's daughter, Victoria Price is Vincent Price's daughter. Tim Lucas who's a writer for video watchdog. Jennifer Lynch, Hollywood director and crazy person. Greg Nicotero who founded KNB and also director Bruce in Walking Dead, and Josh Brener. I can't think of all of the brilliant people but lot of them are here at Monsterpalooza with their own booths, but that they would trust this project enough to think because these are very wealthy, very famous people who are not going to associate their names with some schlocky piece of garbage and for them to trust me of all people to be a part of this and to see all of these. We did have a business plan and we did have a formula that is making the sci-fi museum work and we're using that same formula to certain degree to create the horror museum.
If it were not for that, it would just be pie in the sky. Oh yeah man, I want to do this, you look so cool. Yeah ok. In my mind, Little Houston's thinking that but I had to be first professional in business and think in terms of financial terms and what's the timeline. How can this be done? What are the restrictions and by golly it's working.
Beth: So with all those people behind you on the board, that give you the confidence that this is going to be a reality fairly soon?
Houston Huddleston: Well. Fairly soon meaning next year, yes, because there are touring companies that do like the Harry Potter exhibit and the stars wars exhibit and the king tut exhibit, these sort of things Star Trek, who travel from museum to museum into these amphitheaters and do this sort of thing walking with dinosaurs another. They want this thing because it's a studio neutral project. It's not just one studio saying ok this is a Star Trek thing, this is Star Wars thing, this is all of everything and that's what makes this incredible because it is fair use because it is educational and nonprofit and so studios are coming to me.
Universal Lionsgate and they see the potential to promote past, present and future, specifically future projects. Because they want to pump that stuff out, that's now coming out presently on television. And there are over 20 different horror television shows presently being produced on the air right now, which I don't think we ever come to this. It's because of Walking Dead and because of the Emmy winning American horror story. If it weren't for those shows, horror would not be appreciated as it is now and by god we need a museum to show this stuff. This is the perfect time for that.
Beth: All right. Thank you.
Houston Huddleston: No problem. Thank you.
Beth Accomando: Monsterpalooza also provides the perfect meeting space for fans and professionals. Eric Heim premiere products brought in academy award winning makeup artist to do demonstrations at their craft in booth. They were also available to answer all questions from fans. I asked him what he felt that was important for him and his company to be at Monsterpalooza, year after year.
Eric Heim: Well. We are an FDA licensed cosmetic manufacturer and so we make a lot of the special effects products that are used in all the horror films and just general TV as well, movies and TV. So, this is a fan show for people that celebrates this and since it's so heavily makeup based, we make those products. That's why we're here, is because everybody uses this stuff. Yeah. That's why we're here, is just because we make all of these products that are used in the film industry. So we have 5 academy award winning mega products that are here in this booth doing demos and being available for one on one instruction or just product intros. So, all of these guys, Greg Cannon is a 3-time academy award winning makeup artist. He did Dracula, he did Mrs. Doubtfire, Benjamin Button, and Hannibal.
He's sitting there in the booth and he uses all the stuff and has over the course of his career and so it's a really great way for people that are fans of this genre to meet the people that actually did the behind of scenes special effects.
Beth: Well, it seems that Monsterpalooza are nice mix of fans and professionals?
Eric Heim: It's become that. It used to be just fans and if you see you know you've got those the autograph people that are standing outside. I mean, if people love seeing that and they may not care about this end of it. They just like a nice scary movie or they like, you know something, some side fire representation and then I want to meet the star, but I don't care how they did it, I don't care what it takes, then you have this element and as well this element has grown. We were the only makeup company that is here. Now there are several makeup companies, several brush companies, several special effects shops that are here, so the representation is really growing.
Beth: Do you find that there are more people who are just getting into this for fun or hobbies or for Halloween?
Eric Heim: Absolutely. They're called weekend warriors right. It's you're a lawyer that rides a Harley on the weekend. There are a lot of people who are like that. You know those are called horns. Those shows where people go and get together and they want a spooky Halloween and they want to run a haunted house and they want to be able to dress people up. You can do that with this makeup as well. So, this it does cross a lot of lines.
Beth: So in the years you have been coming to Monsterpalooza, really has grown quite a lot.
Eric Heim: 5 years, yeah. I mean this is the biggest show that they've ever had. So, it's very cool.
Beth: And do you like this new venue at Pasadena Convention Center.
Eric Heim: I do. I do. I also like the Burbank one. It's very cool. It's smaller and more intimate and this is a lot, lot bigger. They have a great success so it’s awesome.
Beth: Do you enjoy doing a convention like this?
Eric Heim: Yeah. Absolutely. You get a chance to meet a lot of people that really appreciate the work, a lot of new people you get. It's really, it's like a high school reunion, a lot of times because you see people you haven't seen in years and people that you want to see is always there. There are more makeup artists, more union makeup artists here than ever before. So it's very, very cool.
Beth: Because this is for radio and I cannot show people what's going on in your booth. Tell me about your having like demonstrations, so you came in the morning and saw something you might see that make a fuller point or a finish point later in the day that how it goes?
Eric Heim: Yeah. Well we have high level mega bars to come and do something we had Mike Mekash, who is part of American horror story and they came in did a character from an American horror story that's pepper from American horror story that was done in our booth at a previous year and Bill Corso is academy award winning makeup artist who's doing something on his wife, everyone Richard Elson just to the phantom of the opera, he's on a twin peaks right now. It's the. Louise Carrion who is the makeup department head for Saturday Night Life for 22 years, just did a Cone head, so you get to see a lot of fun stuff and it's a great representation. And then the characters walk around and so you can see them, it's lot of fun.
Beth: Thank you very much.
Eric Heim: You're welcome.
Beth Accomando: Schools also have booths at Monsterpalooza were students get to demonstrate what they're learning. I spoke with Martha Torres, the admissions representative for EI School of professional makeup.
Martha Torres: We are a professional makeup school based out of Hollywood California. The school is one of the first makeup schools that ever existed. We were founded in 1966 by a group of professional makeup artists and we feel that there is quite the interest in becoming professional makeup artists, so we offer a very comprehensive year long program for anybody wanting to pursue it professionally. The program does cover distinct different disciplines within makeup, starting off with beauty, which would be your first course. The second course is theater and performance makeup. Third one is going to be high fashion and photography. Fourth is high definition television makeup.
The fifth is going to be the tech lab where people actually learn how to make prosthetics, a lot of the pieces that you're seeing here were made in the tech lab. And then the last one the final is make up for film where everything comes together. Comes full circle, everything that they've learned throughout the year, all comes together in this one last class.
Beth: Because this is only audio and I cannot show people. Describe what's going on in your booths?
Martha: Yes, we have faculty and students putting together a few different looks. Everything is made out of prosthetics. It's been a quite the labor of love. It came into conception in early January and they've been working nonstop since then. Today we have two separate demonstrations going on. On one side of the booth, we have little trio family of sea people and on the other side it continuing with the theme of like sea. We're having a female, sea creature on the other side as well. Takes about I don't know; I want to say 6 hours to put the looks together. Just actually applying the prosthetics on to the people, adding all the makeup, all the detailed work that goes into it, all the airbrushing, but the actual making of the prosthetics like I said was starting in early January, so a lot of work goes into it and it all culminates in event like this. We are very, very, very, very proud of our students and our faculty.
Beth: So someone coming to Monsterpalooza can stop by your booth like in the morning and see it just starting and then stop by the end and see something completed.
Martha: Absolutely. We actually encourage everybody to stop by in the morning, so you can see the pieces without any detail just the raw, the raw prosthetics. Come back around a few times, because it does take a lot of layering of color and makeup and then definitely at the end that's when you get to see the finished look and yeah, we highly encourage people to stroll back around periodically throughout the day.
Beth: Some people may not realize when we're talking about this prosthetics. They're just plain white or beige or flesh colored or something, but there's no detail, there's no color there's no depth, or you know design?
Martha: Nothing at all. It's just imagine. Just a piece of foam, in a shape of the mass. If you will and then what adds all the dimension and makes that look as realistic as possible is that the layers and layers and layers and layers of makeup that these artists add, very, very detailed work.
Beth: Have you noticed the increase in people that are interested in this kind of work?
Martha: Definitely. I think social media plays a huge part in that. It's so assessable to everybody thought your fingertips, so Instagram, face-pack, and you name it. Just social media has such a power and people maybe had an interest in something like this before didn't know what to do, where to go, now with that they have the information at that fingertips and they're able to come to events like this, see for themselves and then hopefully be able to pursue whatever their passions are.
Beth: And do conventions like Monsterpalooza make people more aware of what that craft is?
Martha: Yes, to an extent yes. Because they do get this especially if they come a few times during the day to check out what the demos are, as the demos are progressing. Yes, but they're not going to get the in-depth knowledge obviously that in classrooms studying what give you. But, that's what we're here for in the admissions office to give them a little brief overview as to what we have to offer, some of the things that they can expect should they decide to pursue the program, but yeah it's really exciting to see the progress our students make for sure.
Beth: You hear a lot about CGI becoming more dominant. How does that affect the kind of work you do? Are you teaching students how to do work that can work in hand in hand with CGI or how to help with the future of that looking like?
Martha: Well for CGI, it wouldn't be able to speak to in depth about that because we don't cover that in our program. Definitely it does any type of technology. It definitely affects the film industry. The difference between the things that we do here and CGI. CGI as it is you're not going to be doing anything close ups. If you're going to be doing a little bit from further away like the angles are a little bit further away. If you're going to see a character and you want to see the detail in that character, you're going to want to have a natural prosthetic. But yeah things are changing. Things are evolving. We definitely keep up with whatever is happening in the industry.
Beth: And if people want more information where can they go?
Martha: They can definitely visit us at ei.edu.
Beth: All right. Thank you.
Martha: Thank you very much.
Beth Accomando: But with the internet, some fans are discovering that they can up their game just by going online and finding YouTube videos and other fans who are willing to share tips. Nikki Okamoto are Monsterpalooza with their family. Her and her husband created predator and alien costumes for their small daughters. Their work was amazing.
Beth: I am standing with Nikki who has fabricated a brilliant alien costume for her daughter's. So tell me what this is?
Nikki: This is the xenomorphic queen from the second movie aliens.
Beth: And what inspired you to make this for your daughter as a costume?
Nikki: Well actually started with her sister who is now 5. Two years ago we made a baby predator costume for her and ever since then we've been wondering how are we going to beat that and my husband suggested that we do an alien queen and he originally wanted me to do the alien queen because it be perfect for portions with our little 5 year old, but Zoe wanted something epic, so her older sister Zoe and we decided to make her the alien queen.
Beth: So Zoe, you are in this alien costume. How does it feel to walk around in this costume?
Beth: Do you like the people keep stopping and asking for your picture.
Zoe: Never like.
Beth: Do you like being dressed up like that.
Zoe: Yeah. It's so uncomfortable.
Nikki: She goes through spurts where sometimes she loves the attention and she really craves it and other times she just like, leave me alone, I want to have a water and a cookie so, you know typical eight year old behavior, you know.
Beth: This costume looks fabulous.
Nikki: Thank you.
Beth: How did you get the skills for this. Is there something that you do in your regular job also?
Nikki: Well I started cosplay myself, it was not called cosplay at that time, but costume wearing in 1989 and I've just been doing it for myself. For real job, I used to design and make patterns for dance costumes for a local company called mercia.com, so every year we would have an annual catalog and elsewhere I did for a real job but we kind got out of the costume play when we first had Zoe and now they're old enough and they kind of showing the interest, so we've been making them costumes and kind of. It's a way of us developing our skills.
We like to challenge ourselves and doing something different or learning a new technique of costume making and so we're actually really enjoying making these really elaborate costumes for children. You know, they like it. I mean everyone thinks that's she is miserable, but there are moments where she really itching to put the costume on and be epic. Right Zoe.
Beth: Tell me little bit about what went into this costume because it is very elaborate but what kind of materials did you use and how did you put this together?
Nikki: Actually the only thing in this whole costume is made out of is craft foam, which is a little thin foam that you find in prop stores and hot glue, lots and lots of hot glue. That's pretty much in and a lot of it was just experimental. I never made anything this complicated before out of crap from, so it was a learning experience for me which is you know I love it.
Beth: Do you feel more like parents doing costumes for their kids and with their kids than in the past, because it seems like I see a lot more of it at comic-con, like very elaborate. You know costumes for kids like dinosaurs and things like that.
Nikki: Well. The costume making world as far as the amateur costume making world has grown. It's just blown out. Since I first started, I mean there were a lot as many people in costume and they were not making the things you see now with armor, because people today they have YouTube to think. During my teenage, I didn’t have you-tube. It was kind of a catch a miss where you know if you knew someone in the film industry that was awesome you just kind of leach off of them and their knowledge. But now you can just go to YouTube and there's so many tutorials on how to do, make these things out of foam. I've never worked with foam before as far as heat molding it and stuff and I went on YouTube and set how to and there was and I just opened up this whole new medium for me and it's a lot easier for you know regular Joe Schmo off the street to learn how to do this, the sort of thing. Because of that more families are getting into it and I am seeing children actually wearing these elaborate costumes and get in with the parents, which is great because you know the families that cosplay together stay together.
Beth: What do you think about conventions like Monsterpalooza? How does that either help you to get better making these costumes or give you a venue to show them off?
Nikki: Well it's really inspirational because you see it's not just the people that are walking around displaying their own homemade costumes. It's the industry, I mean you're seeing the best of the industry and it's amazing seeing the life size statues and you know the makeup artists that work, you know actually putting these prosthetics on these people and airbrushing them and stuff and it is just very inspirational especially for artists is just a muse. And it's really neat for Zoe to see this sort of thing because she's able to see what's possible. She understands that you can do really great things if you work hard of it because she has watched this build from day one and she really understands and appreciates the work that I put into it, but she is able to see other people's art work and other people skill here and it's really great seeing in your eyes, you know get really wise. Oh, wow, look at that.
Beth: Well. Thank you.
Nikki: Thank you.
Beth Accomando: I also spoke with Paul Shyla, a fan who turned his love of monsters into a second job. He's the owner and sculptor of sputnik supplies. I let him explain what he does.
Paul Shyla: Sputnik supplies is my small company where we hand make artisanal toys. Different types of rare monster, small runs 30 and 40. It's vinyl like toys, all handmade, hand painted here in USA.
Beth: So what inspired you to do this?
Paul Shyla: I'm a big vinyl toy collector, Japanese toy collector and I've always wanted to make my own choice, one way or another. I've been sculpting for years. I discovered this material that I've been working with and it's got me pumped up and excited about being able to do that here in the US. So I started kicked it off, with some research kicked it off a few years ago and been having fun ever since.
Beth: Can I ask if you have a day job as well?
Paul Shyla: I absolutely do have a day job. Yes. Nights and weekends is what I do with the sputnik supply stuff and then during the day I pay the mortgage.
Beth: Now looking at the stuff you have out, it's not your typical fare. This is not like the step that you see in big toy stores or things that everybody is going to recognize immediately, so tell me some of the items that you have out and what inspired you to do these particular things.
Paul Shyla: Well, I have a very eclectic and obscure taste I feel. In my taste in movies and such and that's where I draw for ideas, so I love Mexican horror movies, Mexican wrestling movies. So I started a making a whole line of Mexican monster toys that came from these movies. So I've got the ship of monsters as one. I'm focusing on right now and I've done the ook. The cyclops and little alien brain guy and got more coming down the road and having no bear until Tara next year, so we look out for that. The new course the American movies, I love all kinds of movies Japanese and American and everything. So, yeah I created my own character. Even I sort of took big boy and I took robot monster and made roboy and he's going to take over the world, one planet at a time and take over the universe one planet at time. So that's what he's going to do there.
Beth: It is still a convention like this? Are you finding that there are a lot of kindred spirits who are interested in your toys?
Paul Shyla: Absolutely this is the show of shows the way I look at it. It's all like one big family. The customers the people are standing up to different booths, they're all seems mind set as me and then the great wonderful it's like it tastes like me and so we can blend together and in talking, I learn from them and we learn from each other and the customers are gas, the costumes, oh my gosh. Talent is just oozing out of this building it's amazing.
Beth: What gave you this love of monsters?
Paul Shyla: Oh. Alex. I was 7 years old and my brother Frank, he is my oldest brother. He came home from high school on a Friday and someone had left several issues of famous marchers of film land in one of the desks. He haven't knew who the kid was, he was going to give him back on Monday, so I looked through them and I was hooked. I was hooked. From then on I scoured the TV guide every week to find out what horror movies I could watch and I circled them and I religiously watch everything that I could get my hands on so that's where it started and from there it's escalated.
Beth: And why do you think you're drawn to some of these movies that are not quite as mainstream as others?
Paul Shyla: Well. There's a lot of more unheralded and what people don't know about them. And I want to help highlight some of the stuff the more obscure things your... Universal monster stuff is great everybody loves it. But there's a lot of other stuff. The sub-genres that are out there that people I think need to explore. They need the attention and I'm hoping to gain some of that for them.
Beth: So, do you have people who pick up a toy from the movie that they've never seen just based on like wow that's cool and I want to know more about it or have one of those?
Paul Shyla: Actually a couple of times, yeah people get sort of educated by and then they're hooked. Oh, my god. We go watch the movie and I get an e-mail like a week or two later and they go I can't believe it, that was so much one. Thank you for exposing me to that.
Beth: So what is the process of creating these toys? What do you have to do to create a vinyl toy?
Paul Shyla: Well it all starts with you know concept getting an idea and then taking the concept from a two dimensional sketches to a three dimensional form and I hand sculpt everything. So, I take time to sculpt it the way I want it and break it down for the different pieces and then I step to the next step is make the molds and clean up the molds and then I start casting. So, I cast. I get a bunch of parts done and then assemble and start painting them all.
Beth: What do you do for your real job that has given you the skill set to do this, not everyone can create their own toys?
Paul Shyla: Well my real job really doesn't give me any skills for this job alone. I am sales rep for a natural & organic food broker. So, yeah. But I went to college for Fine Arts and drawing sculpture and that was I ended up me sculpture, so I got some good basic skills from there, but then I went to the garage kit world. Was making garage kits and sculpting garage kits and that did not gave me a lot of exposure to different materials. So it's kind of been self-educated after college for different kinds of materials finding the stuff I was using right now it is about a 2 year R&D time that I had to go through to figure out what to do with it, how I could get it, where I could get the products, what the limitations of the product was.
Beth: And this is your first time at Monsterpalooza?
Paul Shyla: No. This is my two, three, four, fifth show here. Yeah.
Beth: What about the show do you like and why is it important to have a show like this?
Paul Shyla: It's every single element of the fantastic under one roof. Everything is here. I mean if it's turned to the table, we have somebody has no central figure. You know I look over here so we do these beautiful other work cross for me somebody's drawings zombies for the 10 bucks a shot. You know it's just fantastic and the people here appreciate what I do, they respect what I do and the feedback I get is wonderful. It's not just an ego boost and I'm not just here to make money, I'm here just to be with people who think the way I do.
Beth: So do you consider this more of a hobby or is it really kind of a second job?
Paul Shyla: It's a second job. It's become a second job. I'm afraid one day is going to eclipse my other job. Ready or not, it is going to happen I'm afraid, but yeah, yeah. Second job work hard.
Beth: Elliott's mom.
Paul Shyla: I drive from Denver to listen to her talk. From Denver, Colorado. Yeah.
Beth: You come along out for this?
Paul Shyla: Yes we do. Yeah. It's a long drive but wonderful wife comes with me and it makes it so much fun.
Beth: What you think makes monsters so attractive to people. This is a convention dedicated to monsters? What makes them so appealing to people?
Paul Shyla: I think in the hearts of everybody they pull for the underdog and the monster generally is one way or another is the underdog, you people trying to kill him or he's misunderstood or there or she's a misunderstood and they're always in a bad ways. I think people root for the underdog. They want the underdog to win. I think that's what it is. I think all of us have little monster inside I think.
Beth: In created a lot of these toys are based on these. Do you have any rights issues trying to get the permission to make these or do they become kind of your own work of art?
Paul Shyla: Some of them like the roboy, it’s my own work of art, but I do have licenses on some of the stuff that I sell. Most of stuff I sell I attempt to get license or have licenses for them. So I try to work within the law. You know all of the people who did the stuff and not skirt the issue, you know, pay them their due I imagine.
Beth: So what do you see as the future for sputnik?
Paul Shyla: Oh boy. Onward and upward, I got more ideas than I can handle right now, stuff that I want to make, bunch of fun stuff going to be coming out in the coming year or maybe become a full time job, fingers crossed.
Beth: If it becomes a full time job does it no longer become fun now?
Paul Shyla: I don't think so. I love to do the stuff alone making things, so that's really where my passion is. Is it hard, it's a lot of work sure, but you do the things you love because you love to do that and that's where it would for me.
Beth: All right thank you very much.
Paul Shyla: Thank you.
Beth Accomando: Finally an another monster fan turning a passion into a profession is Christina Hemiop. I met her last year at Monsterpalooza and ordered masks from her from for my home haunt. She's amazingly talented and has boundless enthusiasm. She almost tells me convinced that I can make my own tentacles, my love craft hot this year.
Christina Hemiop: Well I'm just selling my masks. On the side, I have a full time job, but on the side I make Latex masks.
Beth: Tell me what kind of work goes into creating a latex mask?
Christina Hemiop: Oh boy. Okay. So you start off by, you know having your concept whatever you want to sculpt and they need to choose your clay type. I work in water clay in wet and then I basically just rough out a shape then make sure that all my forms are there and start texturing and then once the sculpture is complete, I seal it with a crystal clear finish and I make a plaster mold, it's either a one part or a two-part mold. Most of my molds are two parts, but I'm trying to switch to one part because and I don't have to seam the latex, so then what I do is that once I clean up the mold of all the clay, I pour in latex and let it dwell for 4 to 5 hours, so the stone can suck up the moisture out of the latex and it builds the skin, then I pour the latex back out and that skin remains and let that dry out for a few days and then I pull the mask out.
The mask, typically require steaming and lot of cleaning, then I put a legion promoter on it, so the paint will stick to latex, then a paint it and then I seal it with a liquid text varnish and sometimes it all need lenses, most of time it need lenses, so I do all the wacky fonts myself and I tint the wacky forms and on admiral acrylic actually has big round eyeballs. So I pour those out of clear resin and then I am proxy the graphic onto the back of it, so it looks like a fish lens kind of an eye, so that’s what I do.
Beth: So how did you get into doing this?
Christina Hemiop: I have loved makeup effects and special effects for very long time and I just loved the concept of dressing up for Halloween. I've always loved Halloween and I love Halloween masks and I love that you can just slip on a mask and become a completely different character and nobody knows who you are, but they are in love with the person that you become or the thing that you become and you can adopt that personality. So, you know not only that but I love the characters that I see in movies. So I want to sort of incorporate myself into that world by like, you know imitating, you know the imitations the highest and most sincere form of flattery so, I just imitate what I love and try to dress up as that. I love when she sings at the end of the convention, it’s so awesome.
Beth: It looks like based on what I'm seeing on your table that you are a Star Wars fan.
Christina Hemiop: It’s true. It’s correct.
Beth: So what made you decide to do this as a profession or do you also have another job to support this or how does that work?
Christina Hemiop: I definitely have another job. When I first moved to Los Angeles, though I didn't have a job and like I didn't have a job for I think a month and half and so what I did was I just had a little bit of money and bought latex and clay and stone and plaster and I made three masks as soon as I got here, just to keep busy and to sit out you know make something and stay occupied, but I do have a full time job. I work at Steve Wang’s studio in Canoga Park and I've been working for him for a little while now, but I definitely do. He loves masks, he started out making masks and so he's very nurturing. When it comes to that, he lets me use the shop whenever I'm sculpting or making molds, he will definitely time in and then tell me what he thinks, you know and he's a big fan of Star Wars as well, so it's definitely awesome to have him as a help you know.
Beth: What made you fall in love with monsters to the point that you wanted to do this kind of work?
Christina Hemiop: I just love movies. I love anything that isn’t you know science fiction and horror, mostly science fiction, I think mostly science fiction kind of a person, but I just love like you know creepy crawly things and like monstery things, things with giant, involve with heads, you know I am not really sure and I know that there's something deep inside the cast to it. I can't necessarily place it or pinpoint it or tell you like a specific moment in my life where I had an epiphany that I love this stuff. I think I always have but you know, I feel honestly that there should be more of this kind of stuff in movies that are coming out now, but unfortunately it seems like it's sort of going away, so I guess it's just want to try to keep it going you know.
Beth: What do you feel about conventions like Monsterpalooza? Why is it important to have these kinds of conventions and what you enjoy about interacting with people here?
Christina Hemiop: Well I love the camaraderie, that's probably number one. I love meeting everybody who is passionate. You know everyone who's making stuff. People give you insight on what you make, you build friendships that are lasting because you keep coming back to the same thing, people are excited to see each other's work, I am excited to see other artists, new pieces and talk about them. And it's definitely inspirational and knowing that people come into these conventions to purchase your work is just a propellant to make more. You know just keep doing it. That’s not in vain that other people love the craft as well. So, it's such a multifaceted environment and there's so many things to love about it. I just hope that I can keep coming back you know.
Beth: So there are people out there who would like to do similar kind of work, what advice do you have to kind of get into this?
Christina Hemiop: Oh man. Just start, just do it, like there's nothing to stop you. Materials are typically very cheap especially if you want to make masks. It's so easy, like all you have to do like a block of clays 15 dollars. You know, a bag of plaster 100 pound, bag of plastics are 30 bucks. Right there you can make a mask and molding. Latex is super cheap, it’s dirt cheap. So I mean if you have a concept, if you have an idea, if you want to dress up as anything or if there is a creature that you admire or a movie that cost to you that you want to draw ideas from, just start like it's so fulfilling and you can just keep doing it and the fact that there is a venue to showcase that work and that passion is, you know it's really not that expensive and if you save a little bit for a table, you'll get a lot of feedback and you'll get a lot of positive feedback which is good. You'll get both, but you definitely get people that encourage you and nurture the work.
Beth: All right thank you.
Christina Hemiop: Thank you so much for this interview. It’s really nice.
Beth: I know it’s exiting whether or not I should confess to the fact that you've made me three masks to get me through Halloween haunt of Star Wars.
Christina Hemiop: I'm so happy about that. I honestly knowing that you are going to do one, and makes me want to make more masks.
Beth: Yay and tentacles.
Beth Accomando: As Elliot's mom sings over the PA at the Pasadena Convention Center, another Monsterpalooza comes to a close. I came home with a Tingler, Volante and two gorgeous photo books of Godzilla. I also felt inspired by all the talented people who helped bring movie monsters to live. Next week, I'll have a podcast about the TCM film festival and about cinema, as a church. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or check up the web page at kpbs.org/junkie podcast. Till our next film fix, I am Beth Accomando, your residence cinema junkie.
Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando. So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place