Interview with Dan Adams, Writer/Director of A Complicated Love Story

4749584By Jason Godbey, Creative Director of Behind the Rabbit Productions

Last week I caught up with Dan Adams, a writer/director who is currently crowdfunding his first feature film, A Complicated Love Story through Indiegogo. The film is a romance about creative people caught in a love triangle.

Dan is a passionate artist, and when we spoke about his motivations for making the film, he told me his mission was “to provide the content that’s the answer to negative stereotypes, stigmas, and inaccurate portrayals of people of color and minorities in TV and film.” He explained to me that his purpose was to educate the public. “I’m a strong believer in the notion that we’re better than that… All of us don’t act how certain images portray us [in the media]. I want to show we have class. We have dignity. We have style. We have grace. And that’s what I want to portray in my film.”

The Script for A Complicated Love Story is currently an official selection the Houston Black Film Festival and the National Black Film Festival and is set to star Tobias Truvillion (Empire, Hitch, Brooklyn’s Finest), Brave Williams (RnB Divas LA, Bad Dad Rehab) , and Dennis L.A. White (Notorious, Atlanta) and will be filmed on location in New York City later this year.

Advertisements

Dick Smith-The Godfather of Movie Makeup

dick-smith

4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

A creative genius, an ingénieur, an innovator, a teacher: these words describe a man who has inspired and influenced generations of filmmakers. He is the Godfather of modern movie makeup, Dick Smith. His year film career spanned 50 years includes some of the greatest films ever made including: The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, The Exorcist, Marathon Man, The Deer Hunter, Amadeus.

Aging Stars

For The Godfather, Smith designed the makeup for Marlon Brando’s Vito Corleone. He aged Brando significantly for the part and help create the iconic character.  In Little Big Man, he turned a 30-something Dustin Hoffman into a 121-year-old Jack Crabb. He managed to age Walter Matthau for the Sunshine Boys so well that critics commented on how old Matthau looked and how he was losing his hair even though this was all the work of Smith.  

Age makeup isn’t easy. It’s a delicate balance of artistry and realism. Dick Smith created realistic makeups that still hold up today. Max Von Sydow  was only in his mid-40s when Smith turned him into the elderly Father Merrin in The Exorcist. In Amadeus, where Smith made a young F. Murray Abraham into an elderly Salieri, Abraham would later credit Smith’s amazing makeup for aiding his performance. He said it was 50% of why he won the Oscar for Best Actor.

Grace in Violence

In Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle shoots up a cheap hotel full of low-lives, blood flows from bullet wounds, and hands are stabbed or completely blown off.  Dick Smith gave the film the realistic brutality the story required. He also was able to give Robert DeNiro his signature mohawk haircut without shaving his head. And for The Exorcist, he made lovely Linda Blair into a horrifying demon.

Smith the Ingenieur

One of the most amazing aspects of his work was the fact that he created his own makeup apparatus. For instance, when a sweet-faced Linda Blair had to projectile vomit green spew at the priests attempting to expel demons from her body in The Exorcist, Smith created a special device that fit around her mouth connecting to a system of tubes that shot pea soup several feet. It was incredibly effective, enough to create one of the most iconic scenes in horror cinema and convincing enough to shock audiences the world over.

Professor Smith

People who worked with Dick Smith described him as generous. Like all great artists, Smith shared the knowledge of his craft, and he would often explain what he was doing step by step to anyone who wished to learn. Later in his career, he taught his techniques to up and coming special effects artists who wanted to follow in his footsteps.  He taught classes and inspired his fellow artists.  As a result both the practitioners of the art and film fans benefited. 

***

Smith died in 2014 at the age of 92, but his legacy lives on in his work. Either directly or indirectly, any makeup artist who works in film has been influenced by him.  He didn’t just create movie makeups. He helped great actors create characters that would become icons of American film and culture.

Artist Profiles-Feathers and Toast

Feathers and Toast, a web series created by Mhari Morrison and Holly Payberg. The show is about Tallulah Grace, a Scottish Mime with a cooking show. The series follows her in the kitchen as she tries to “save the world, one sandwich at a time.”

Mhairi Morrison stars as Tallulah and Holly Payberg produces the show and plays Tallulah’s producer in the show. We caught up with the Mhairi and Holly on their recent trip to New York City.

Lon Chaney Sr.-The Man of a Thousand Faces

lon-chaney-sr

4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

When I was a senior in high school, I had to write a term paper. There were a number of topics to chose from, and I chose to write my paper on special effects in movies. In my research I read about one of the earliest special effects makeup artists, the Man of a Thousand Faces, the actor Lon Chaney.

Chaney had come from the theatre where actors did their own makeup. At the time, the position of special effects makeup artist didn’t exist as we know it today, so Chaney took it upon himself to design and devise all of his own makeup for characters such as: Mr. Wu, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Phantom of the Opera.

Because he didn’t have the materials we have today, he used ordinary household items and his imagination to create his makeups. He shoved bits of a cigar cases in his nostrils to broaden his nose. He used fishing line to pull his skin back around his eyes. He cut a ping-pong ball in half and placed it over his eye then covered with mortician’s wax to create the face of Quasimodo.

If it wasn’t for the fact that Chaney worked mainly in silent pictures, one could not conceive of a more complete performer. He was a true artist who sacrificed his body and his comfort to create these characters. All of his creations were built by him from the makeup, to the posture, to the walk and mannerisms. Even though some of his characters are considered to be monsters or villains, he brought a humanity made them sympathetic.

Chaney’s son, Lon Chaney Jr., would later take up the acting mantle and carry on the tradition of playing creature characters like the Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, and the role he was most famous for, the Wolfman.

For actors and makeup artists alike, Chaney is an inspiration. He was a truly transformative actor and an innovator, and his presence is still felt today over one hundred after he began acting in films. We see his influence in the creations of Stan Winston, Greg Cannom, and Rob Bottin and in the performances of actors like Doug Jones, Ron Perlman, and Brian Steele.

If you’re a horror movie fan or just a fan of classic film, an actor, or a filmmaker seeking inspiration, the films of Lon Chaney Sr. are a must-see.

Watch This Film-His Girl Friday

4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director of Behind the Rabbit Productions

His Girl Friday is the 24th feature film directed by Howard Hawks, one of the most prolific and versatile directors in Hollywood history. It’s based on the play The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur and stars Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell

Cary Grant stars as Walter Burns along side Rosalind Russell’s Hildy Johnson. Originally the character of Hildy was  a man, but after Howard Hawks heard a woman read the part, he had the brilliant idea to change Hildy’s gender which brought a whole new dimension to the film. His Girl Friday is a masterpiece, and you should definitely Watch This Film.