While many people dream of getting the works from a well known Hollywood make-up artist, the expectation is to end up looking twenty years younger, writes Packet reporter Peter Johnstone.
However that was not to be, as a trip to Neill Gorton’s new studio in Falmouth left me looking at least thirty years older, and a pretty rough 30 years at that.
Neill has worked in the movie industry for 25 years, providing special effects models, prosthetics, and makeup for everything from Hollywood Blockbusters to Doctor Who, and now he is bringing his talents to a new training school, with me as his first model.
I entered the Gorton Studio and sat in a chair, completely unaware of whether I would be turned into a cyborg, some fantastic animal or, as turned out to be the case, a far older version of myself. Neill first started by trying out a wig, before checking different shades of latex skin patches to find a colour match, much like an interior decorator with wallpaper swatches.
After attaching a cap over my head and trimming it down, he started applying the patches, using a medical grade adhesive, and told me about how he has worked in the industry almost his entire life, after becoming fascinated “from a very young age”.
He said: “It started with Star Wars. When I was around nine I saw all the big movies, it was the explosion of the summer blockbuster.”
He then started making monsters and spaceships in his parents shed, and built up a portfolio. He worked with Gerry Anderson, and was in Hollywood by 18 and worked with Spielberg by the age of 26.
He found himself teaching people, both on location and at industry events, and set up a school at Chesham in Buckinghamshire because he wanted to see a training system that kept its industry relevance.
He said: “I see people teaching this work who have never worked in the industry or who quit the industry but who wanted to be industry relevant.
“I still work in the industry as well as teach, and everyone who works with us moves between the two worlds.”
After applying the latex to my face, giving me jowly cheeks and a wrinkled forehead, he started applying makeup to the skin, blending in the natural flesh colours, a process which felt deadened by the layer of fake flesh.
He then picked up a brush and a palette, to which he added a small amount of clear liquid, explaining that the pigments he is about to use are designed to work using alcohol, and I had to close my eyes as something that smelt like cheap vodka is flicked at my face, to add an impression of broken blood-vessels and sagging pores.
After adding a few finishing touches, including shading my eyebrows to match the wig, I was ready for my close-up; and what an impressively horrible sight it was.
While I could tell underneath that it was still me, it was a disturbing idea to see how quickly I had been transformed from a twenty-something to someone with cracked, wrinkly cheeks and a thinning, receding hairline. The school will also be looking for models to allow the students to practice, and as I left, it seemed like something I would be happy to do again.
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