What buried treasures would you find if you raided a practical effects artist's workshop? Lots of blood and skin, prosthetic limbs, the lifeless faces of famous actors, and at least a few penises, to start.
In the first episode of a new video series from Little White Lies profiling below-the-line talent, practical effects artist Dan Martin, sporting an on-brand Night of the Living Dead T-shirt, takes us through what could be called his mad scientist lab, where he designs special effects, props, makeup, life casts, and figurative effects (prosthetics, but not for people) for productions such as Ben Wheatley's High-Rise and The Human Centipede 2.
Growing up, Martin was enamored with magic tricks. Given the "correlation between magic and special effects," Martin turned his passion into a career. But when he started, Martin describes practical effects as "kind of a thief industry," due to the lack of specific innovations in the field; many practical effects artists borrowed from other industries. Now that the craft is more established, Martin notices overarching trends in the demand for certain props or effects. "There's a peculiar zeitgeist in the industry," he said, "and right now, we make far too many genitals."
For Martin, the (literal) blood, sweat, and tears that go into his craft are worthwhile for the reactions they elicit. "I really like the reaction I get from a director when I turn up with something that they have imagined," he says.