TV Connection: Syfy's Face Off - by guest writer Relda Viviers

Face Off is a competition/elimination series where special effects make-up artist take part in elaborate challenges for a grand prize of 100 000 US dollars and the honour of being Hollywood’s next great make-up effects artist. The series is currently in its 8th season. The competition comprises of two parts – The Foundation Challenge and the Spotlight Challenge.


The Foundation challenge:

During this challenge – which is an individual challenge – the artists are required to do a make-up or make-under where they have to incorporate elements like flowers, beards, etc. The foundation challenges have a time limit of 2 hours. There are normally about 4 foundation challenges during a season.

TheThe foundation challenges are judged by either of the series judges or a guest judge. The winner of the foundation challenge receives immunity and cannot be voted off during the next Spotlight challenge.


The Spotlight Challenge:

The spotlight challenge can either be an individual challenge or a team challenge. When it is a team challenge, the producers randomly choose the contestants, or the contestants choose their own partners. During the spotlight challenge, the contestants are required to create a creature specific to a theme, for example, a fear of something, a villain, or even an animal/human hybrid. The contestants have 3 days to complete the challenge. During the 2nd day of the challenge, the series mentor – Michael Westmore – will visit each of the contestants to give advice on their creatures. During some challenges, other well-known artists may also visit the contestants to give some input and advice.

On the last day of the challenge, the contestant’s creatures are revealed – one by one – to the series judges – Glenn Hetrick, Ve Neill and Neville Page. Sometimes a guest judge will join the judges – they include actors, creature designers, producers and other well known celebrities.

Once all the creatures are on stage the judges go to each creation to have a closer look. They particularly pay attention to application of the make –up, painting of the creature, wardrobe and whether the creature designs meets the criteria of the challenge.

The judges then decide who is safe and who has the top and bottom looks.  The contestants that are safe can leave the stage with their creatures. The judges now speak to each of the contestants who have the top and bottom looks. The contestants have to explain their concept, colour choices, etc. This is a grueling time for the contestants, as the judges say in no uncertain terms what they think of their make-ups. They then sent the contestants back to the make-up room whilst the judges deliberate who is the winner of the challenge and who will be sent home.

Face Off - Season 7

Once the judges have made their final decisions, the contestants are called back to the stage and Glenn will announce the top looks and the winner of the challenge. The 3 contestants whose creations are at the bottom are called to the front and Glenn will tell them why their creations are at the bottom and one contestant is sent home.

This process will continue until there are only 3 contestants left to battle it out as the champion. For the last challenge, the contestants will be required to create 2 or 3 creatures in 3 days. They do, however, have help to achieve this enormous task. They each can choose 2 of the previously eliminated contestants to assist them in the ultimate challenge. The last challenge normally involves a huge event, which spans from Ballet to Sword Fighting.


The Series Judges:


Glenn Hetrick:

He is the CEO of Optic Nerve Studios and is known for his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Pitch Black – Chronicles of Riddick and The Hunger Games – Catching Fire. He was also responsible for hundreds of forensically accurate make-ups and corpses on CSI: NY, the head and body replicas of Hugh Jackman in Prestige, to just name a few. He also is a custom designer for Lady Gaga.

Ve Neill:

Well known for the excellent make-up done in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Mrs. Doubtfire and The Hunger Games – Catching Fire and Mockinjay, and Thor and The Host. She has won 3 Academy Awards and 2 Emmy Awards, to name just a few.

Neville Page:

He is known for his work on Promethues, Avatar, The Amazing Spider Man, Green Lantern, TRON Legacy, X-Men 2 and 3, He is known for his work on Prometheus, Avatar, The Amazing Spider Man, Green Lantern, TRON Legacy, X-Men 2 and 3, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Most of his work is Sci-Fi based. He is currently developing his own line of educational art products. He also teaches art from time to time.


The Series Host:

McKenzie Westmore:

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McKenzie Westmore, who brings a rich history and passion to the show hosts the series. Her great-grandfather – George Westmore – has set the bar for film and television make-up back in 1917. McKenzie started acting at age 3 when she played Robert de Niro’s daughter in Raging Bull. She played Sheridan Crane Lopez-Fitzgerald on the television soap opera Passions from 1999 to 2008. Her father is the well-known Michael Westmore, who is also the series mentor.


The Series Mentor:

Michael Westmore:

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The highly acclaimed Michael Westmore is the mentor for the contestants on the show. The contestants could not have asked for someone with more experience and knowledge than Michael Westmore. During his rich career in the industry, he received 42 Emmy nominations and has won 9 statuettes. Westmore won an Academy Award for makeup for the 1985 Cher film, Mask, and has been nominated three other times, for 2010 (1984), The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986), and Star Trek: First Contact (1996). He has been involved in the makeup and supervision of the Star Trek franchise for the past 18 years. The Westmore family received a STAR at the Hollywood Boulevard’s famous Walk of Fame in 2008.

The series also has an array of well known artists, actors and other celebrities who act as guest judges on the show.


Brian Grazer:

His work includes Parenthood, Backdraft, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, 8 Mile, Frost/Nixon, Boomerang, The Nutty Professor, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons. He was nominated for 43 Academy Awards and 131 Emmy Awards.

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Greg Cannom:

His work includes The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Big Momma’s House 2, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Van Helsing, Pirates of the Caribbean, A Beautiful Mind – to name a few. He has been nominated for 9 Academy Awards and has won 3.

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Tom Savini:

He is known for his award-winning make-up on films such as Martin, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Friday the 13th, The Burning and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. He is also known as a director – Night of the Living Dead. As an actor and stuntman, he appeared in several films, such as Dawn of the Dead, From Dusk till Dawn and Planet Terror.

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John Rhys-Davies:

He is best known for playing the dwarf Gimli in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Arab excavator Salah in the Indiana Jones films. He has been the voice of several Disney characters, such as Cassiem – Aladdin and the King of Thieves and Man Ray in SpongeBob SquarePants.


Jordu Schell

He is a sculptor and concept artist who has been working in the film and television industries for over 20 years. His work includes: Predator 2, The X-Files, Patch Adams, Hulk, Hell boy, Blade: Trinity, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Avatar, 300 and Dragon ball Evolution.


Sean S Cunningham:

He is a film director, producer, and writer. The films of which he was the producer includes The Last House on the Left, Friday the 13th, Freddy vs. Jason, The New Kids. The films of which he was director includes Friday the 13th, Case of the Full Moon Murders, Trapped Ashes.


Patrick Tatopoulos:

He is a production designer for various films, which include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Stargate, Se7en,Independance Day, Godzilla, Stuart Little, Pitch Black, Underworld, Van Helsing, Alien vs. Predator, Eragon, Resident Evil: Extinction, 10 000 BC, Total Recall, 300: Rise of an Empire, Batman vs. Superman. He made his directorial debut with the 2009 film Underworld; Rise of the Lycans.

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Josh Hutcherson:

He plays the leading role of Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games film series, which consists of 4 films: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay part 1 and Mockingjay part 2.

This show is a definite MUST watch for all geek-, sci fi, fantasy and make-up effects lovers!