Make-up artist Patrick Magee’s goal has always been to own his own special effects shop and to work on unique projects like the ones he grew up watching. “Predator, An American Werewolf in London, Alien, and Harry and the Henderson’s were huge inspirations for me as a young artist,” says Magee.
Today, Magee has hit his goal and then some. He currently enjoys working out of his own 4,000 square foot shop and supervises Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights and Grinchmas, as well as the masks for the permanent Walking Dead attraction.
Magee also just finished his “dream job” working on Primal Rage, a film he directed, produced, co-wrote and did special make-up effects for. The film is about a not-so-friendly Bigfoot and he spent the past 12 years developing and building suits, sets, costumes, fake heads and complex make-up driven characters and gags for it.
“With a moderate budget, and time on my side, I was able to build the creature and the effects the way that older productions used to,” says Magee. “I was also fortunate enough to have several artists, who have been in the industry for quite a while, bring their talents and skill to this project.”
Magee says there is no new technology when it came to the making of the Bigfoot suit—they went old school. They used a standard muscle suit and covered it with a fur suit then used separate head, hands, feet and chest skin. “All very traditional,” he says.
“After testing it, we realized we would need quite a few hands and feet, as well as different heads that could perform different looks. Since it is a furry creature, a Bigfoot known as Oh-Mah, all of the hands, heads, feet and chests had individually punched hairs, which took a long time. Mindy Pedrick and Michelle Nyree punched all of the hairs into the multiple parts. With all of that fine detail and finishing work, the suits took quite a beating in the forests during filming. It was painful to see.”
By producing and developing this project, Magee was able to manage the time it took to develop and test the creature suit. “We actually built a complete prototype suit, drove 1,000 miles north of Los Angeles and did a two-day test shoot. From that we were able to learn, make adjustments, and build additional parts of the suit, for different functions. That being said, it came down to a long pre-production time. Which is something most, pretty much all, effects companies want. Pre-production time seems to be getting shorter and shorter.”
Magee took care to use the performers natural expressions… especially the eyes. “Even though he was in a costume, we wanted to use make-up around his eyes to blend into the mask. Due to the nature of the film, and the character, I opted to elongate the Bigfoot’s face, to give him more of a bite. Doing this, we had to add the mechanical elements. The performer was able to express through his eyes, as well as operate the jaw, making it more performer-friendly. This approach is often debated whether it is a make-up effect or a mechanical effect or a special effect or a visual effect.”
A lot of the other characters in the film were combinations of prosthetics, cutting to puppets, or re-creations of the performers, as well as including some mechanical effects and/or devices. All of which were created out of silicone skins.
Magee says most of the film’s development was based around the development of the Bigfoot creature, which in turn was influenced by the films he grew up with–during the “glory days of special monster effects.”
“I wanted to create homages and familiar moments, but give them a new twist and a new look. I wanted to make them my style, and bring something new to an already familiar subject matter.”
Magee says Primal Rage “will be given the traditional theatrical release treatment. Meaning, the film is more than an effects guy’s demo reel. It is a movie with real heart, delivers both in story and effects, and should fill the void that’s been missing in the Bigfoot genre.”
The movie will be a Fathom Event today, Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m., nationwide. The film will be featured in 500 theaters across the county, and the first 20 guests at the theater will receive a small movie poster. There is also a 20-minute making of the film, which will show in theaters directly after the film is complete.