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07.20.2017
Jason Hiltz
Special Effects Artist
Horror Interview by The Gravedigger
11.10.10

Q: What got you interested in creating special effects? Was it a particular movie?

I was just a kid when I became interested in FX. My family went on a vacation to Uni-versal Studios in Florida when I was 12, they had a show there where this guy showed different props and FX pieces from films like The Fly and Creep Show. He did a general description of techniques, and then he blew up a head. I was fascinated, on the way out of the auditorium you had to go thru the gift shop which was filled with Cinema Se-crets and Woochie products. I spent every dime I had in that shop.

Q: How did you learn the art of special effects? Did you study somewhere or have a mentor?

I am self taught, ever since that trip I have been studying and learning everything I can think of. We had a small library in my hometown but it had some great books on stage and theater makeup as well as books on practical and environmental FX. I probably kept them out for a year straight. I managed to find some great videos on basic FX makeup and prosthetics that helped me a lot too. Of course the years of trial and error helped. I never had an official mentor but I learned so much from Tom Savini and all of the behind the scenes footage he shot. I could go on for ever with the list of artists who helped to guide and inspire me but Tom was always my favorite. He may not like it but the gore FX will always be dear to me.

Q: What was the weirdest effect you've ever been asked to do?

The weirdest effect, thats one to think about. There was a scene in a film were a girl has a guys testicles stuck to her shoulder, well they were more like hairy balls. They were blown off and splattered on her. When we shot it the director wanted her to try to brush them off and then the balls get stuck so she fumbles them for a while. He had her drag it out for a long time, the whole time he had me slinging blood in her face. Its a good thing we didn't record audio because the entire crew was laughing like crazy. The actress was mortified, she hated the balls.

Q: And the oddest experience you had working on a film?

The oddest experience would have to also be my most frustrating. I was given the smallest budget I have ever received for a feature length horror film, we wont say what film but it was barely $200. One of the effects was someone getting run down by a truck. I came up with a dummy that was made almost completely from salvaged mate-rial. It looked like hell and I had my fingers crossed that it would even stay standing. The DP had pretty much taken control of the set, he had these high expectations that this dummy was going to react like a real person and do this elaborate roll off the hood and land on a mark. I hit this thing with the truck (which was really fun by the way) the dummy went flying, and missed the mark. No matter how I said it the DP did not want to hear "it isnt going to do what you want" We rebuilt this damn dummy 6 times, when I pulled it mangled from under the wheel well of the truck and he wanted it to stand up again.... I knew it was time for me to go home.

Q: What was the best effect you've done?

I do a lot of different effects, makeup, pyro, physical, environmental, mechanical etc. I love doing the makeup FX because I was a traditional art student first and I love the sculpture involved in prosthetics but I really love blowing shit up and doing bullet hits too. If I had to pick something it would be one of my makeups, since every new makeup becomes my favorite we will have to see what is coming up in the next feature I am working on.

Q: Talk about some of the shows you've worked on, like THE MIDNIGHT HOUR....

Lee Martins The Midnight Hour was the first project I worked on that actually became a finished product. I started with the crew in the first season on episode 6. Its a dra-matic/horror series that plays on a few local channels around Michigan. Each month we shoot a new episode. This season Lee has been writing more gore scenes in the show, we have done some pretty nasty stuff these past couple episodes. Over my time with the show I have created eyeless ghouls, demons, flaming altars, fire breathing birthday cakes, numerous murders, mutated farm girls, countless zombies, a cannibal scare-crow, and self mutilations with a sander and an iron just to name a few. The Midnight Hour is one of those projects that I do not only out of loyalty to Lee but also because its a good time, they are great people, and I love what I do.

Q: You're also doing the effects for the upcoming movie, THE APOTHECARY, for Coil Studios. You're making a monster for that?

Yup, THE APOTHECARY is my next feature length project. The monster is a very in-volved piece, it has a lot going on with it. It isn't the only effect in this one, however. The monster takes revenge on some folks so in turn I get to emulate some very graphic and interesting death scenes. This film should keep me busy for quite a while, I was toying with the idea of taking on an assistant but I keep really odd hours. It would be almost impossible for someone to work with me. Not to mention I would loose sleep if I gave someone else control over my art work. I am very excited to put this one together and bring these FX to life. Thats how I look at it, I turn your nightmares into breathing three dimensional art.

Q: How can people contact you?

I am most easily accessible thru Facebook, on there you can see what Howling Mad Studios is up to, check out pics of the latest work, and find my E-mail and phone num-ber. I am pretty laid back about talking to aspiring artists and I always talk to people about new projects.


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