New creature-driven drama is packed with make-up effects

Grimm, a spooky new drama from NBC, will debut just in time for Halloween this year. Loosely based on fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and others, and shot in Portland, Oregon, Grimm concerns a police officer who’s able to spot monsters walking among regular people—it’s a special talent that runs in his family.

The show is a treasure trove of make-up effects. Creative Character Engineering founder Andrew Clement’s work is featured in the pilot, airing Friday, Oct. 28. Almost Human owner Rob Hall worked on the second episode, and B2FX Artistic Director Barney Burman has done episodes three through nine. At press time, Burman was prepping the tenth episode. JoJo Proud is the show’s department head.

Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, Hulda creature
Hulda creature Photo by Andrew Clement/Creative Character Engineering

For the pilot, Clement and his team created a Hulda (a troll-like creature, left), which required a cowl piece covering the actor’s forehead, a separate face piece, contact lenses and a lower-lip appliance. Monroe, a sort of reformed werewolf, got full prosthetic make-up, a one-piece face piece, a lower lip, a full neck, ears and wig. A postman turned werewolf got a full face that went into the hairline, dentures, ears, a full neck piece and a wig. “We did extensive hair punching into the silicone for both werewolves,” Clement said. “When we put [the make-up] on, we would lay down the silicone piece, comb the hair forward, lay the wig down, glue down the lace and comb the punched hair over.”

Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, Marie character
Kate Burton as Marie Photo by Andrew Clement/Creative Character Engineering

For the character Marie, Clement did transfer scars to simulate injuries and a bald cap to suggest that she was undergoing chemotherapy. “Steven Anderson handled bald caps for me and did a fantastic job,” he said. 

Clement’s team had two and a half weeks to prepare everything for the pilot; some of the make-ups that are seen just in passing were done digitally. “They really held off on casting for so long, which everyone seems to do now, that some of these make-ups were done on other people—two stuntmen—to save shooting time,” he said. “I wanted to make the make-up thin enough so that you could see who was underneath, but I never got to put on who it was intended for—they digitally dropped it in, which was a drag.” Still, he said, he had a great crew of about 10 or 15 people, and he called the experience fun. (continued below)

Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, Hulda cowl, Clement
Painted Hulda cowl, courtesy of Andrew Clement
Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, Hulda cowl with hair, Clement
Hulda cowl with hair, courtesy of Andrew Clement
Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, Monroe design by Andrew Clement
Monroe make-up design by Andrew Clement
Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, Postman design by Andrew Clement
Blutbad make-up design by Andrew Clement
Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, tying Monroe wig, Clement
Tying hair in the Monroe wig. Photo courtesy of Andrew Clement

Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, Monroe appliances, Clement
Monroe appliances with hair punched in. Photo courtesy of Andrew Clement
Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, creation by Rob Hall
Grimm, creation by Rob Hall

Rob Hall said he came in between films to help get the series’ make-up effects off the ground. “I did Episode Two, called ‘Bears will be Bears,'” he said. He and the Almost Human team did a lead character’s bald cap and three “Were-Bears” in just under a week. “We had four days to create the prosthetics and hair pieces in Los Angeles and have them on set in Portland,” he said. “I had three make-up artists with me on set to help achieve this: Bart Mixon, Mark Nieman and Alex Noble. It involved silicone facial pieces, foam cowls and dental extensions. 

”The most challenging thing besides the time frame was that we did not have lifecasts of the actors wearing the make-ups, because they were cast too late, so we had to retrofit the appliances and teeth in the trailer in Portland. That said, my small team at Almost Human and on set did a tremendous job under unfavorable circumstances.”

As for what viewers can expect from the rest of the season, Burman said, “The most popular characters are the Blutbads—there are several of those throughout. Basically, they’re a modern take on the Big Bad Wolf and his clan. Rather than literal wolves, they’re more wolf-like creatures.” Burman’s team has also worked on the Three Little Pigs, the Pied Piper and an ogre, among others.

”There was a guy who was eaten by rats, a woman injected with the venom of a thousand bees, broken necks, people hit by cars—it’s a pretty grim and dark show,” he said. “It pleases me, because they’re really pushing the envelope of what they can get away with on TV. Cable TV has had all these wonderful shows, like True Blood, so it’s great to see a network show competing on that level.

Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, Burman crew
Kelly O’Neill, Michelle Nyree Collins, Kandice Rae, Nick Reisinger, Afton Adams punching hair in rat-eaten body
Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, Stevie Bettles touching up actor
Stevie Bettles touching up actor Photo courtesy of Barney Burman
Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, Kelly O'Neill working on face
Grimm, Kelly O’Neill working on face. Photo courtesy of Barney Burman

“When we came on, Constantine Sekeris and Jerad Marantz were doing design work—I’m not going to compete with them, they’re the best in the business. They have a design they send my way and I use it as a guide for what to do on the actor. It’s been a wonderfully collaborative working experience in that regard,” he said, adding, “I just got a new design from them that I’m excited to make—it’s part vulture man.”

According to Burman, the biggest challenge is time constraints. “We have literally eight days to prep a show, so I pretty much keep going back and forth to Portland once a week,” he said. “Stevie Bettles is staying longer—he’s my key on-set guy. He also helps out with straight make-up when they need it.” An additional challenge is space. “We’re working out of a very small shop—it’s 1,000 square feet. We’re stumbling all over each other. But I have a great crew that works very well and very cleanly. The challenge now is that we have to move into bigger space while we’re in production.” The new space will be 5,000 square feet. 

The size of the crew Burman works with “fluctuates a little—it’s anywhere from three to seven people per day, depending on the episode,” he said. “My main crew is Nick Reisinger, Dave Perteet and Afton Adams. The lead hair puncher is Kelly O’Neill (left). I feel like I shot myself in the foot right off the bat by doing a lot of hair punching—now they expect that. I could lay hair, but it wouldn’t look as good, so I have to keep bringing the hair punchers in to do hair, mustaches, goatees, hairlines, all of that.”

Despite the various challenges, Burman says he’s proud to be part of Grimm. “I think it’s a really cool show; it gives me a lot of opportunities,” he said. “And this is one of the best crews I’ve ever worked with, not just in my shop but outside. Very nice people, organized.”

Grimm airs Oct. 28 on NBC. Check local listings for showtimes.

Make-Up Artist magazine Web exclusive: Grimm, Lufeng Qu touching up dead girl
Lufeng Qu touching up dead girl, played by Areana Cirina. Photo courtesy of Barney Burman