Steve Newburn's credit list is pretty extraordinary. A quick glance reveals titles like The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Hereditary, Pacific Rim, and more. He's at home on sci-fi films, horror projects, comic book adaptations, and dramas.

Why not throw Bigfoot into the mix?

Newburn did just that when he joined the Zellner brothers' latest project, a film starring Jesse Eisenberg and Riley Keough in quite unrecognizable roles. That's because they're dressed fully as sasquatches for the entire film, and have no spoken dialogue. The film premiered in January at Sundance and is now in wide release.

Newburn was responsible for the remarkable creature effects and costumes in the film, which had to hold up in a grueling outdoor shoot that took place roughly over a month. We touched base with the effects artist to learn his inspirations and what was most challenging about this project.

Put your (big) feet up and enjoy the read.

Sasquatch Sunset | :30 Cutdown - In Select Theaters April 12, Nationwide April 19 | Bleecker

Editor's note: The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

No Film School: You've worked on some pretty major films and TV shows. What attracted you to this one in particular?

Steve Newburn: This one is, it's funny because I've had a relationship with Ari Aster and Lars and Tyler since Hereditary, which we had done. And it's been such a nice working relationship with them that it's like anytime they call, I just automatically say yes, regardless. But this one came along, and it was funny because I look at my top 10 movies and my top couple kind of creatures in movies over the years, and one of them has always been Harry and the Hendersons, the Harry sasquatch that Rick Baker did. It was something I'd always thought, "Oh my God, that would be amazing to do a good sasquatch and not a beef jerky commercial sasquatch that looks like it was bought at the Halloween store half the time."

That was always kind of one of those things on my bucket list that everybody in my industry has, is their little shortlist of what would you like to do in your career before you retire? One of them was always going to be a good, solid sasquatch, and we got to do four of them here, five with the baby.

But when Tyler [Campellone] from Square Peg called me about it was just kind of like, "This is exactly the project I've always wanted." He sent me the little lookbook of what it was at the time and the script, and he's like, "Have a look at this." And I'm like, "I'm already going to say yes because, number one, it's you guys. And number two, it's a sasquatch, which is kind of on my bucket list."

And he's like, "No, it's not one. It's a family of them." And it's like, "Oh my God, even better." I kind of had said yes 10 years before I was even approached about the job, for lack of a better way of putting it.

NFS: Obviously, it sounds like you had something in mind for this, but how do you approach building out these character effects?

Newburn: Yeah. Again, Harry being my inspiration as being kind of the pinnacle of what anybody's ever done as being a sasquatch and how great that one is and how well it performs, and I had my own ideas of this is what I would want to do. And then when they called and they say, "Hey, we want you to talk to David and Nathan about their show as a sasquatch thing, whatever," so they put us together. And David and Nathan, of course, have been thinking about this stuff since they were kids and everything is in their career has been somehow, there's a sasquatch in the background of it, it seems like.

But it's the usual process. The director kind of gives you their thoughts on it and what they're thinking about, and it actually just really jibed with what I was already thinking. And so just basically, right from the first conversation, I talked to her for maybe an hour or something, and then it was hopped off and I said, "Hey, I'll get back to you in a couple days. I'm just going to do up some quick little concept stuff."

Got with my team, and we did these little 2D Photoshop renderings of Nathan's Alpha Chi, and then the female and the baby. I just sent these across and they were like, "This is exactly what we were thinking, more or less. I mean, there's just tiny little tweaks we would make but this is pretty much it. We're on the same page." And even right down to their eyes where I was like, the nature of this movie and the quick build and the budget and everything, it doesn't allow for a Harry and the Henderson's thing with a mechanical head and four puppeteers following him around through a forest. It doesn't allow for that. So it was like it has to be a makeup approach to it. And so it was one of these things where it was just, you're going to get a lot of life through your performance.

You got to have good actors, which is something that they had wanted. And I'm like, "Well, make sure they're comfortable with the idea of doing this because this is not going to be a comfortable thing for your average traditional actor." And the eyes, do not do contact lenses. This is the pitch I was coming up with in my head. We sit down on the phone and before I even say it, they're like, "We want to have real actors in this." They hadn't picked anybody yet at the time. "But we want to have real actors in this and we want to make sure that the eyes are human eyes, because so much of the emotion and everything is going to be conveyed through the eyes." I was like, "They're reading my mind." So my pitch to them was, it was just basically shooting their own ideas right back at them.

NFS: Yeah, I actually just spoke with them, and they brought up the expressiveness and the naturalness that they wanted to capture. What was the biggest challenge for you on this project?

Newburn: As a whole, it was honestly just getting through the shoot, because it's an unheard-of way to shoot something like this. I mean, if you look back at the big creatures stuff, the ones that come to mind automatically are things like The Grinch, for example. But that whole movie is done on a soundstage under ideal circumstances with nice temperature control. And when we're done, he gets to go sit in his trailer and take care of himself, and there's doubles standing in for him.

Cat in the Hat, which I worked on with Mike Myers, half the movie isn't him, it's other people like his stand-in, his double and his stunt double. And you go, "There's no stunt doubles here."

And so the actors are not only familiar with this kind of physical abuse, I guess you could say, but they're being put out into the real world and the weather. One day, it's nice, and the next day, it's freezing rain in a blizzard. And the day after that, we're going to throw you in a river that's 37 degrees Fahrenheit ...

And so for us, the hardest thing with my team was just keeping the suits together long enough to actually shoot the movie. I mean, again, it's an independent, it doesn't have unlimited resources. We couldn't have 20 backup suits. We had one backup suit for the entire movie for each character.

In Riley's case, we didn't have a backup because one of her suits was the pregnant version and one was the not pregnant version. And that was just the time constraints and the budgetary allowance of it. The hardest thing for us really was, because you go into something like this, and you're like, "Be careful and don't do this and do this and be careful."

And we didn't have that luxury, we did the exact opposite. We abused the heck out of the suits, and then we would take care of them and patch them and maintain them and re-punch the hair that got pulled out, and etc, etc. That was every free moment we had. So we worked seven days a week for a month and a bit, five weeks, six weeks, something like that, and were probably doing 16 hours a day. And every free moment we had was just trying to keep the suits in this pristine kind of shooting condition, functionally and cosmetically speaking.

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NFS: I love that they let those suits have close-ups and you got really close and they looked awesome.

Newburn: Thank you.

NFS: I even paused it at a couple points, being like, "These details."

Newburn: I didn't see it until Sundance for the first time. I was a bit taken aback at some of the close-ups, like, "Oh dear, what are we going to see?" All our efforts paid off. There's only, I can count on one hand the number of minor flaws I saw throughout the entire movie.

NFS: That's pretty good. A lot of our readers are going to be working at more the indie space, lower-budget space. Do you have any advice for making effects look good at a lower budget?

Newburn: We're bringing a lot of years of experience to it and knowing where to cut corners and stuff like that. I mean, this was very much for me from a business standpoint, it was very much a break even movie. Again, it was something that when the opportunity presented itself, it was like, not only do I want to do this, but so often what we do is you're in a shot of a TV episode, you're an alien in a Star Trek thing or whatever, and you come and go and that's it. The fact that we have to carry every frame the movie, that's kind of unheard of in itself. So the only advice I can give is you got to bring your passion to the table in this case.

I usually don't like to say that in the sense that, I mean, it's great to love what you do, but I mean, ultimately, we still have to pay our bills. Where I normally wouldn't, but I mean, this one was one of those things where they didn't have the resources from a business standpoint to make it worthwhile, but again, it was like that bucket list project. It's like, "We got to do this, we got to do this." And it's like, "If we're going to do it, we got to do it right because if we don't do it right, the movie's going to fail no matter how good the actors are." Because no one's going to... You're going to be distracted by the rubber sasquatch guys running around on screen.

Yeah, bring your passion to the table. That's the best advice I can give for the low-budget stuff.

NFS: Do you have any other advice on getting into your line of work or about the film?

Newburn: You know what? It's just a lot of people, and this is what I noticed with a lot of younger people trying to get into it, is they don't have ... It goes back to my last answer, bring your passion to the table. A lot of them seem to be caught up in the perceived glamour of the industry. Anybody who works in the industry can tell you it's not a glamorous industry a lot of the time. I mean, 5% of it is and the other 95% is hard work and long hours and all that sort of thing.

To that end, I would say know what you're getting into. But specifically for our line of work, it's like you can't walk into this and not bring your A-game because you just won't make it.

You've got to have that drive and take that initiative to really succeed in it. And there's low-budget stuff out there that you can find, but the projects that are truly rewarding, I guess you could say, I look back at my career, and it's like the ones that I've truly found rewarding, this is in the top five, and it's just because we made it about the art of it, rather than the, "Oh, we're just doing something cool," kind of thing, whatever. It was like again, brought the passion to the table.