A day with Bruce Spaulding Fuller

We at Zombie Guide Magazine knows how it is. You’re in a dark theater with your date. You’re holding hands with your date, and suddenly an oozingBruce Spaulding Fuller blood spattered zombie jumps out! Your date squeezes your hand, and you mentally high five yourself for a job well done.  Well you can’t take all the credit. The zombie helped too. To give credit where credit is due, you need to go behind the scenes to see who made that magical moment possible. We were very fortunate to catch up with Stan Winston School who got us in touch with Master Makeup FX artist & SWSCA instructor Bruce Spaulding Fuller. You’ve seen his work in movies such as: Army of Darkness, Terminator 2, and Resident Evil 3. It takes a lot of work to bring that kind of terror to your local theater, and he was gracious enough to give us some of his secrets!

1.     First off, give us a bit of background about you and the type of cosmetic work that you do?

BSF- I’ve been very fortunate to make my living for over 30 years with my first love – MONSTERS.  I have done horror comics, art, acting, and makeup effects in and around the horror genre for most of my adult life!

2.     What are some of your new projects for the Halloween season?

BSF- The Stan Winston School Youtube Space LA Zombie collaboration was specifically aimed at a Halloween, DIY audience – hopefully people were able to pick up some tips and tricks to turning themselves into zombies for the season . You can see it all on the Stan Winston School YouTube Channel! I am currently working on what might be the next big (and little, hint, hint) horror franchise character that you can look forward to in a series of films. Of course, I can say no more – yet!  Also I’ve been working on commercials for Xbox (with zombies!) Nike, and Jack’s Links and am looking forward to being a guest at the Morbido Film Fest in Mexico in Mid November.

3.    Now the hard questions! What is the best and worst thing about doing gory makeup effects?

BSF- Ha! Ha! The best is the BLOOOOOOOOOOOD!  There’s nothing quite as satisfying as throwing a cup of blood around on set – or pumping blood for a particularly nasty blood gag – the reaction you get is priceless!  The worst…The BLOOOOOOOOOD!!  It’s a sticky mess! the cleanup is almost as horrifying as the application!

4.    When you think of zombie costumes what’s the first thing that comes to mind?Bruce Spaulding Fuller Interview

BSF- The Skull.  The impression of the skin being pulled tight over the skull – the bones protruding from underneath.  That’s what the raised cheekbones and hollow eye sockets are all about! Creating living skeletons!

5.    What attracted you to working with prosthetics, and what do you think is the hardest part about working with them?

BSF- It’s the Dr. Frankenstein syndrome.  I get to create monsters from inanimate tissue!  I get to breathe life into the fantastic!  I loved Monster Movies as a kid, and Once I figured out someone actually made them – and got paid to do it – there was no other career choice for me!  The hardest part is always the deadlines – you always want more time.

6.   Where do you find the inspiration for your Stan Winston School video tutorials?

BSF- I’m just trying to pay it forward – I was inspired by the greats – Lon Chaney, Jack Pierce, John Chambers, Dick Smith – and was grateful whenever a bit of information about their techniques was revealed in a book or magazine.  Of course Dick Smith really pioneered the sharing of the secrets and led me on the path I’m on today.

7.   What is your favorite type of zombie to recreate?

BSF- I say on the behind-the-scenes features on Resident Evil Extinction that I like “zombies with jobs”.  What I mean by that is zombies who are recognizable as us.  Through their look, or details, or costuming, we can see a whole story about who they were before.  We can recognize them.

8.   What has been the most challenging makeup look to create?Bruce Spaulding Fuller Interview

BSF- The most challenging makeup is something that you are trying to fool people into believing is real.  You have a great deal of latitude in a zombie makeup, or something like Evil Ash from Army of Darkness because that is fantasy.  There are no real zombies.  You try to incorporate the skull and anatomical detail to sell that it might be real, but much more difficult makeups are something that actually IS real.  Old age for instance.  We see old folk every day.  Your eye is going to know – instinctively – when it doesn’t work.  So realism is the dream challenge for Makeup Effects people

10.What makes for a really great Zombie costume?

BSF- The little details – the things that tell the story of the afflicted person.  A uniform, glasses, tattoos, hairstyle – even the specific wounds – you can see how he/she died!  each makeup should tell it’s own little story.

11.What are some of the mistakes that you see others making when trying to create their favorite shambler?

BSF- People go too big, too broad with the skull-face.  The face has to look sunken in – not built out – it is a very fine line.  Less is more.  Also – a common mistake is black all around in the eye sockets.  You want darker above the eye to create the illusion of the overhanging brow, but let some lighter colors happen under the eyes.  The solid black ring looks like a superhero mask.

12.For those just starting out what tools would you say are essential for them to use when recreating a zombie look?

BSF- For beginners there are many things you can use besides Appliances – you can do build ups with cotton and latex – or tissues and latex.  The brow bone for original Frankenstein Monster played by Boris Karloff was made this way and it’s a time honored technique. Also there are other direct buildup techniques – Gel Effects, or Silicone buildup materials like 3rd Degree.  Many companies have similar products.  But I think first things first – master painting.  Highlight and shadow.  Check out the painting tutorials on the Stan Winston School website and there is a very cool demo for Mac Cosmetics done by the master – Rick Baker on Youtube – seek it out – study it – see what can be achieved with JUST paint and practice, practice, practice!!

13.After the makeup is done, what do you feel really finishes off a zombie costume?

BSF- Dirt, Slime and Muck!  Ha! Ha! Don’t forget the blood!   Actually, one of our finishing touches is zombie mouth rinse!!  It’s every color of food coloring mixed together to get this horrible green/black color mixed with a little mouthwash – a little squirt in the actors mouth, swish it around and you have a horrible rotting inner mouth and black tongue!  (and your actor gets to have interesting potty adventures for a day or two!)

14.When not creating zombie effects. What other makeup looks do you enjoy doing?

BSF- The Challenges – Old age, Disguise makeups, anything meant to fool you into being a real person or character.

15.Now that you’ve made it through the hard questions we’re going to go to our lightening round!

BSF- Oh Noes!

A.     Favorite Zombie Movie?

BSF- I like weird stuff like Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things – or Deathdream!  Of course the original Night of the Living Dead! Fulci’s Zombie!!  – These are the things that scared me!

B.     Look to the right. The first thing you see is your weapon in the upcoming apocalypse. What did fate give you?

BSF- EEks! An “I Love NY” King Kong ornament! – I guess I’m toast!

C.     If zombies surrounded you, what zombie move character do you want to save you?

BSF- Not strictly a zombie basher – but ASH from Army of Darkness! Who wants some?

D.    When the apocalypse hits where are you most likely going to be?

BSF- On some movie set – filling my face at craft service – the zombies will overrun and I’ll just think they changed the script again!


1209075_576643692371302_1763618892_nYou can learn to do awesome things with masks and prosthetics from Bruce Spaulding Fuller, and other talented artist at the Stan Winston School  of character arts!

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

18 − 17 =