CCAD to offer a summer special effects makeup class for high schoolers

person gets special effects makeup

This summer, CCAD’s Community Education program will offer special effects makeup classes for high school students in grades 9 through 12. It’s the first of its kind in Ohio, says instructor and film and video special effects makeup artist Todd Reed.

In the classes, students will learn the importance of practical special effects makeup for film and TV shoots. The course teaches how to fabricate and apply synthetic flesh wounds, cuts, and bruises just like the SFX artists do on Hollywood movie sets. Students will also research popular special effects artists, create makeup influenced by their idols, and learn to effectively use the beginner level tools of the trade.

In short: Zombie bites, Armageddon battle bruises, alien veins, and more!

And while all of that is undeniably a ton of fun, Reed points out that learning makeup artistry is an important aspect of filmmaking for students new to the craft or working on independent productions.

“When you’re starting out as a filmmaker, your main goal is to keep your budget down,” he says. “You do whatever you can do yourself as an independent filmmaker, and you start by trying to get as much knowledge in any field. Special effects makeup is just another aspect of it. It adds believability to the story you’re trying to tell.”

Little things like adding a realistic-looking scar to an evil doctor, throwing a fake burn from a chemistry accident gone bad on the side of a mad scientist’s face, or putting age spots on an octogenarian’s hands, Reed says, can deeply impact character development.

“There’s something to be said for the interaction a viewer can have with a fabricated latex character, to feel like you’d be able to reach in and touch it,” he says. “ET is a perfect example. You want to cry because you felt bad for the little thing. No matter how hokey it looks, you believe it as a character. It brings more warmth to the scene.”

person in zombie makeup in blue plaid

Even as special effects in filmmaking’s virtual space, well, explodes, the need for talented special effects makeup artists will only increase in the future too, Reed predicts.

“I like when someone can effectively use practical special effects, animatronics and mix it with CGI and find a happy medium,” he says. “When you mix those two styles some magic happens.”

His favorite examples of some old-school special effects?

“Everything George Lucas has ever touched. I would clean toilets at the Lucas Ranch. … Or when [Oscar Award winning makeup artist] Rick Baker did the werewolf change in ‘American Werewolf in London,’ there was nothing like that in film history yet. John Carpenter’s dog-to-alien transformation in ‘The Thing’ always got my imagination going,” says Reed, who often comes to class dressed as a character in special effects makeup himself. “And when I saw ‘The Dark Crystal’ for the first, I was like, ‘You can make anything happen!’”

See? Magic.                                                                                        

Register now for Intro to Special Effects Makeup classes in June or in July, then check out the rest of the summer’s Community Education offerings here.