All month long Travel into parallel dimensions and let your imagination explore far-off possibilities
We asked some of our favorite filmmakers what sci-fi films they would recommend to our audience
2020 Brandon Cronenberg
Possessor follows an agent who works for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people's bodies - ultimately driving them to commit assassinations for high-paying clients
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Writer: Brandon Cronenberg
Stars: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Cinematography: Karim Hussain
2018 Claire Denis
Monte and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to the outer reaches of the solar system. They must now rely on each other to survive as they hurtle toward the oblivion of a black hole.
Director: Claire Denis
Written by: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, Mia Goth
Cinematography: Yorick Le Saux
Jennifer Reeder constructs personal fiction films about relationships, trauma and coping. Her award-winning narratives are innovative and borrow from a range of forms including after school specials, amateur music videos and magical realism.
CITY OF LOST CHILDREN
1995 Marc Caro &Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Old and decrepit Krank has lost his capacity for dreaming and is attempting to fight death by stealing the dreams of children. Krank's henchmen snatch 5-year-old Denree to subject him to the horrific dream-retrieval process. The boy's father and his precocious 9-year-old friend join forces to defeat Krank's minions and save Denree.
Director: Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writer: Gilles Adrien & Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Stars: Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Judith Vittet, Dominique Pinon
Cinematography: Eric Caro, Philippe LeSourd, Darius Khondji
1997 Vincenzo Natali
Cube is a 1997 Canadian independent science-fiction horror film. It has gained notoriety and a cult following, for its surreal atmosphere and Kafkaesque setting, and concept of industrial, cube-shaped rooms.
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Written by: André Bijelic, Graeme Manson, Vincenzo Natali
Stars: Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett
Cinematography: Derek Rogers
Julian Grant is a filmmaker, educator, and author of strange short stories plus full-length novels/ non-fiction texts and comics. A tenured Associate Professor at Columbia College Chicago
an exclusive interview with
special effects makeup artist & prop builder
Q. Give us a snapshot of what your job as a special effects makeup artist is, and what drew you to this profession?
A. I was originally drawn to the element of forgery that comes up so much in this work. Making something that is such a good copy of the original that you can fool the audience is an incredibly enjoyable challenge. I like to see how close to real life I can get.
Q. How did you learn the craft?
A. For the most part all of the skills I use on set, I learned on set. I went to Columbia College Chicago and did take a number of excellent art classes, but it turns out that a college degree was not actually as useful to me as simply learning on the job.
Q. Can you give some examples of special effects makeup that you’ve done recently?
A. I work regularly as a day player for the Special Effects Makeup department on Chicago Fire, as well as with some of the other union shows in town and on a variety independent films.
Q. Now to SCI-FI - tell us about any sci-fi projects you’ve been involved in, and what your role was in creating the illusions or looks that were needed?
A. Sci-Fi is such a captivating genre because of its willingness to bend reality. My role typically revolves around creating the creatures or injury moments that help communicate the most emotionally charged moments of these worlds, whether it's an alien planet or simply a science experiment gone wrong.
Q. What is your process when you are hired to create a creature or prosthetic?
A. This process begins with establishing what elements of the world might impact the humans or creatures living there. Is this a creature that lives underwater and needs to breathe through a set of gills? Is it something that grew up in a swamp or a laboratory? What does it eat? What are it's natural predators? These questions all help to build a monster who feels to the audience to be rooted in reality, even if the monster and the world it lives in are completely fictional.
Q. What is your favorite part of being a SPFX makeup artist?
A. I love playing with the grey area between beautiful & grotesque. Blood splatter, burn patterns, and poisonous snakes are all deeply unnerving, but also elegant in their own ways. There's an innate balance between beauty and disgust that I am absolutely fascinated by.
Q. Favorite project you’ve worked on so far (sci -fi or not - either way)
A. I don't think I could ever choose. They're all fun in different ways.
Q. What is your dream sci-fi project?
A. I would love to work on life-sized dinosaurs at some point. I used to love dinos as a kid and never really grew out of it.
Q. Suggestions for anyone interested in pursuing this craft?
A. Start wherever you're at, and with whatever resources you have available to you. There's no "right way" to do special effects makeup. The only right way is the way that works best for you. Study human anatomy & color theory as much as you can. Be willing to work for free for a while, you'll learn a ton that way. And much of what you need to learn you can find online.
Q. Any advice to filmmakers who need SPFX makeup and don’t have a huge budget?
A. Adjust how you're shooting the makeup and be willing to simplify. You can hide a lot of low cost/low quality makeups by shooting extra wide, extra tight, or by changing the angle or lighting. Ask your makeup artist how they would recommend framing the makeup. They might be able to give you a tip that helps cut costs. You don't need a dead body sawn into pieces to shock an audience, a clever woman can do it with just a spot of blood.