Face Off – Living the Dream
The Face Off season finale is an acrobatic, aquatic affair that brings out the best in the final three contestants.
There’s no nonsense in setting up the challenge – each finalist has to create a pair of creatures for Le Rêve – The Dream, a pretentiously titled Vegas show. It’s basically a slightly damp version of Cirque du Soleil. To help them, they get to pick two teammates from some of the eliminated contestants. Teams are picked schoolyard style. Guess who’s picked last.
The creatures are a hunter-prey pair, a dream stealer and its victim. Not only do they need to fit into the show’s theme, they have to actually participate in the show, so all the make-ups, prosthetics, and paint must be waterproof. Not just, “Oh, it got a little wet,” waterproof. We’re talking, “Multiple dives from 30 feet up,” waterproof.
This requires a certain amount of innovation, since some finalists have never done waterproof work before. There’s a lot of testing to ensure the designs and paint will hold up, which leads to Meagan exclaiming, “Eric Fox is hosing me down!”
That doesn’t manage to be the best quote of the night, though. That honor goes to Foxy himself, as Alam works on a female chest piece. “I’m just watching you sculpt boobs, that’s all.”
Michael Westmore makes another great appearance and seems to feel the urgency in the studio. Wayne laments that this will be his last mentoring session. “I’m bummed out that Mr. Westmore won’t be there for the rest of my life to tell me how to manage time.’
In true Face Off fashion, the finale has mold drama. Mold drama! And it’s even Autumn mold drama! She felt bad about it, though, and it all ended well.
Before I evaluate the designs, let’s talk about the performance. I’m not sure I’d pay to see a show with a bunch of people flailing around in a well-lit pool, but it did have some cool moments and breathtaking high dives. There’s a lot of kinetic water flinging. I wonder if the audience gets a tarp. It was very cool to see the creatures in action, and this makes me feel even more strongly about my, “shoot the final designs on sound stages with moody lighting” idea for season five (which starts at the end of August, by the by).
It goes without saying that all three finalists did amazing work. They’re ridiculously talented guys. Anyone could have won.
Kris had the most uneven results. His silver ethereal dream stealer was the best design by far. One of the best I’ve ever seen, really. He created amazing shapes and made that guy look like a truly otherworldly being, yet it felt “right.” And the silver/blue color scheme was the perfect accent. But his female fish woman was a disappointment. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but the paint job was too intense, and something caused her to have a mottled, sloppy look. I think all the problems came from the paint – the sculpt looked solid, though unremarkable.
Wayne failed to finish painting again, and the judges let him slide on it again. They even praised his vein painting, never noticing that the creature’s chest horns were unpainted. Going light on paint was a valid strategy for dealing with the water challenge, but those creatures could have looked a lot more impressive and distinctive with some contrasting patterns. Still, Wayne’s sculpting is absolutely top shelf. Like Ve, I loved the in-grown horns. The angel’s latent wings were a cool touch as well.
I said weeks ago (around when he won five challenges in a row) that this competition was Anthony’s to lose. While other contestants were learning on the job, Anthony has basically been doing pro quality work since day one. His designs this week didn’t wow me the way an Eric Fox design does, but Anthony is quietly competent. He does incredible work in subtle ways that you might not even notice. He is able to capture a mood, a theme, or an expression with his brilliant sculpting.
Imagine that you’re working with Anthony, and he’s sculpted a demon. You might say, “Make it look angrier, but also slightly haunted.” He would know just what to change and what to add to bring out those elements. Or if you said, “Make it look less like an ape and more like a lizard,” he could sculpt the mouth and brow and nose just so, and capture exactly what you had in mind.
So when you look at his designs, he doesn’t come up with incredibly original or off the wall ideas, but the things he creates, he does them so well. It’s been amazing to watch him, and his gargoyle-ish demon and oddly beautiful alien woman were so fully realized and flawlessly executed that of course he had to win. Congratulations Anthony!
As in seasons past, I have little doubt that the top five or so contestants have just completed a very public, very difficult job interview, and I’m fairly sure they’ll be getting plenty of make up and design work as a result.
Long live practical effects.