Christopher GoodmanFrom: London, UK

Chris completed a ‘Prosthetics and Special Makeup FX’ module at Gorton Studio as part of his National Film and Television School diploma course in 2009. He has been working for Millennium FX for the past four years and since writing this, has produced concept art and designs for a large number of productions including Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Class, Critical, Ludus and 20th Century Fox movie Victor Frankenstein. See Chris' complete career history here.

Chris what was your background before doing the NFTS course?

I studied Fine Art painting at University with the intention of becoming a painter, but during those three years gravitated more and more towards working in film and video. I experimented with miniatures and simple prosthetic effects, designing and scripting my own work. Now committed to working in film I worked as a storyboard and concept artist in London, as well as continuing my own art practice - including a group show in LA. I decided to join the NFTS SFX/VFX course so that I could complement my traditional art experience with the specific skills required for film effects work.

What was the basis of the short film your group made as the culmination of your prosthetics module, and how did the project go?

The short film we made, entitled Flesh Art centred on the story of an insane self-taught artist making macabre art works out of zombie body parts – something that I thought hadn’t been seen before in a film! As a team I believe we were all very pleased that the film came out as well as it did. It looked professional and benefitted massively from a beautiful set designed by two production design students at the NFTS. It was a real challenge, but our Gorton Studio tutor Pete Tindall helped us pull off some ambitious effects which were much more difficult than we had imagined! It was the first project we completed as a team and stood as an excellent showreel piece to represent what we were capable of. Directing a short film for the first time as well as completing my first character make-up was a massive learning curve, but I couldn’t ask for a better introduction to the industry.

What did you get out of the module and how have you used the skills in your subsequent career?

This module was notable in the wide range of skills that it covered. At it’s very most basic level it gave me a good understanding of all the central areas of prosthetics from life casting, sculpting, moulding and make-up appliances. But the module really came into its own in the way it allowed those things to become part of a genuine filmmaking process. I benefitted massively from being able to develop an actual script and storyboard out the effects scenes; preparing me for the professional film world. After I left the film school, this experience has given me the confidence to take on a variety of art department roles that I would not have attempted before. My 2D art practice now utilizes digital media, which has aided me in doing several commissions on film projects. And the work I have done in the practical side of make-up effects has allowed me to undertake projects doing effects on several feature film projects and with Millennium FX.

What have you worked on since finishing you studies?

Since finishing the course I started with a job creating specially made props on a sci-fi feature called Dreck that required me to build futuristic handsets, consoles and a handgun. This was followed by some make-up work on a low budget feature called Passengers and concept design for several film projects in the development stage for director Axelle Carolyn and Producer Neil Marshall. I returned to the NFTS to help students with their 3D VFX Maya module as a visiting tutor and gained work back at Millennium installing a large animatronic character for the new BBC television series Wizards Vs Aliens. Later I helped puppeteer the character for several key scenes. On top of this I have spread my wings into art direction, designing a series of horror shorts by a filmmaking collective called ‘Bloody Cuts’, who are sponsored by Millennium FX. Much of the experience on Flesh Art has been invaluable in working on these films.

What have your career highlights been so far?

Highlights for me must include seeing our finished film Flesh Art debut on the giant Empire cinema screen as part of FrightFest 2011’s short film selection. It was a thrilling and scary experience to show it to so many people. Working as a puppeteer on a major creature effect for Wizards vs Aliens fulfilled a life-long dream to be a part of a character like the ones I grew up watching in films like Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal. And finally working as art director on the zombie short Mother Died with make-up by Millennium FX was a real thrill. Seeing a horde of beautifully made-up zombies lurching around a barricaded house was a genre fan’s dream!

What advice would you give anyone aiming for a career in the film industry?

I found that being surrounded by other driven people is the best way to make progress in the film industry. My time at the NFTS has given me professional experience but also a network of people that keep me informed and motivated. There are a lot of myths about all areas of filmmaking and knowing exactly what is required in any given department is a must. I would also recommend staying true to your vision of what you want your career to be about. Although it’s important to learn the realities of life in film effects, determination to do what you love despite the difficulties may be the number one requirement to final success.

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Mag issue 13
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