The Dumping Ground
The BAFTA award winning CBBC series the Dumping Ground has been going for several years as a follow up show to the incredibly successful Tracy Beaker program. I have been asked over the course of three series to provide a variety of action props from the realistic to the bizarre. Props include a controllable robovac, a marble run to papier mache frogs! Below are some images of action props made for the show.
Latex/polystyrene rocks made for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Christmas special.
Sand sculpture, one of four identical sculptures used.
Safe and ‘safe cracker’. I fitted the safe with electronic lights and built the ‘safe cracker’ to look like one of the children had designed it with the ability to manipulate the dial and crack the code displayed on an electronic screen.
Miniature background locusts to pin onto cast members.
Wolfblood is into its 4th series, currently airing on CBBC. I have been fortunate to have been involved in this series since it began. The first series I was involved with creating fog effects for the special effects department and also helping the makeup department with their transformations makeups that were scaled down to claws, wolf teeth and eyes. My role was to take finger casts of our actors and under the direction of makeup designer Michael Birtley, whom I had previously worked with on Ghost Street, I assisted in building the false nails/claws to be worn by our young cast.
More recently it has been the art department who have called upon my skills to create various action props and set pieces to be used during filming.
Latex rocks for a cave in sequence.
Fracking model for school display.
Engraved ‘Wolfblood’ goblet.
Segolia laser pens, first generation.
I’ve spent the last couple of years busy freelancing for the Rowley workshop. They are a Leeds based SFX company who are currently working providing practical special effects for a whole host of television drama and feature films that include Peaky Blinders, Dads Army movie and Jonathon Strange meet Mr Norrel.
Recently we have completed providing special effects elements for ITV’s recent fantasy drama BEOWULF!
Some pictures of the extraordinary set are below:
Vampires aka Bloodless finally was released on DVD in October 2015. I re-created the vampire for model Steph Mossman to wear at the premiere. This makeup was made in silicone and lasted all day, If only I had the budget to do the original makeups in silicone too.
I thought I would have ago at making a conforming mould for this from silicone with a plaster jacket. It was reasonably successful but I did give myself a few problems when it came to filling the mould. I managed however to overcome said issues and next time I will avoid making the same mistake.
Platgel 25 was used encapsulated in super bladiez cap plastic. It gave me very thin edges.
Possibly too thin?
The appliance glued on nicely, edges disolved away and made up with alcohol palettes.
Back in February, I made a low budget demon character designed by Paul Gerrard for the forthcoming horror anthology Exhibits!
I was assisted by the extremely talented Juliette Savannah Skye to apply the make up in what turned out to be very difficult conditions..the joys of micro budgets!
However filming went smoothly under the direction of Mike Clarke and I look forward to see the results.
The short is referred to as ‘a proof of concept’ with the hope it will inspire investors to get involved, so watch this space.
In March 2015, ITV began to film one of the company’s biggest dramas in their history, the multi million pound epic family drama based on the ancient Anglo-Saxon poem, Beowulf.
The program required all the usual elements typical of a period drama, costume, makeup, production services and of course special effects.
The visual effects that include set extensions and the multitude of CGI creatures were handled by the MILK visual effects company, the practical elements handled by the Rowley FX team for whom I freelance with.
We took on a whole variety of work, the huge exterior sets built in Co Durham and Northumberland needed to be brought to life with smoke elements, braziers, smelting pits, fires and atmosphere. We also worked alongside the visual effects boys and the stunt co-ordinator to achieve other practical gags.
The studio workload was equally massive, particularly the huge interior of the Great Hall. There were dozens of sconces, braziers and other flame elements to keep on top of as well as having haze machines running too.
Filming finished in early October, the drama aired early in the New Year to mixed reviews. Too many people compared it to Game of Thrones which was a little unfair. Game of Thrones is a very intense, gorey, highly political drama for adults, Beowulf was a family drama. Perhaps too simplistic, perhaps it deviated from the original story too far? Whatever the reason, the viewing figures were not high enough for the series to be picked up for a second season. Shame, but I’m proud to have been a part of it.
Photo courtesy of Rowley Special Effects
Vampires aka Bloodless
This is a low budget film shot in the north of England during 2010. It took a while to be released as the budget was found to finish the CGI effects and to get a distributor on board. The finished film however will not disappoint fans of British horror.
My involvement began when producers Steve O’Brien and Richard Johnstone asked if I’d take a look at the script in December 2009. I read it and made notes over the festive period and really enjoyed it. The film was green lit early into the New Year and we began filming in late Feb, early March.
I put a small team together to help me get through the workload that includes Jez Hunt, Dawn Hardy and Will Steele. We had a whole load of work to do, several vampire makeups, their victims, some dummies, flame effects and a few prop builds. We had one week pre-production time then it was a case of evenings and long hours during the shoot to get the work done.
As ever with these things it was a learning curve, but I am proud of what we achieved in such a short amount of time on such a small budget.
Look out for Vampires, it’ll make a great spooky gift!
Holly….she stole the show!
One of the many wounds applied on set, straight out of the kit. forthis I used sculpt gel coloured with liquidex acrylic, stippled with pros aide and made up with creams, all in approx half an hour. Not to bad!
I’ll add some behind the scenes pics in the Blog in the near future.