2 posts tagged close encounters
2 posts tagged close encounters
For Barney Burman, it made sense to go into the family business. In fact, one of his earliest memories is of helping his father, Tom, on a job. By working as a model to make giant rats for a movie called The Food of the Gods. (OK, so it’s not your typical family business.) “And then he used me again as a model for making the alien heads for the little aliens in Close Encounters, which is the first time I ever got paid by a production. I got $75 to have those aliens modeled over the top of me.” Now, Barney Burman gets paid to use makeup and prosthetics to turn people into big, bad (and not-so-bad) wolves and other supernatural creatures for Grimm, an NBC series about a Portland detective whose life is no fairytale.
“I was so excited when Grimm came along because it seemed like most of the shows that are being done in the States now are medical-oriented shows, and what I love to do is make creatures and monsters and change people around, and Grimm allows me to do that.”
It looks magical. And, to Burman, it feels that way too: “I feel kind of like Oz sometimes, which is an extreme, but kind of like the guy behind the curtain. And then there’s that big face out there in the front that represents him and his work.”
We got a chance recently to ask Burman about the work he’s done, and how someone who wants to create makeup and effects can get their start (a parent in the biz is not a requirement).
Q: What are the particular challenges that come with bringing characters to life that have a lot of built-in expectations? Whether it’s Grimm Fairy Tales that people have imagery of in their minds, or Star Trek? [Burman won an Oscar for his work on the 2009 movie.]
Burman: Well, good question. I’d say Star Trek definitely had built-in expectations, and we really did not want to disappoint the fans of the old series or the old films at all. So we really wanted to stay very true to the look of those older characters.
And conversely, we decided we also want to bring a newer element into the world so that we’re upgrading both technique and material, and the sort of artistic aesthetic of what had been established before. So I felt like I was standing on the shoulders of giants in a way and just sort of reaching to that next level.
With Grimm, it’s kind of been a fresh new take on an old world that I don’t know if we need to worry about the establishment of what fans expect, and we can kind of create and give them something new that they haven’t seen before, and that’s equally exciting.
Q: I’d love to hear about work that has inspired you. I’m guessing your father’s on the list.
Burman: Well yes, it’s certainly my father’s work in things like Cat People and (The Island of) Dr. Moreau and Invasion of the Body Snatchers was all you know, certainly inspirational. His more recent work — he’s done a lot of medical shows like Nip/Tuck and Grey’s Anatomy, and they’ve did some amazing flawless work on that that — things that look absolutely lifelike, and that’s what inspires me too. I always try and make something as — and take on as much of its own life as I can possibly make it.
Otherwise, you know certainly respect the work of like Rick Baker and (Rob Oaten) for design alone. (Rob Oaten) was a brilliant mind. There’s been other stuff like from a multitude of many artists. Maybe like Kevin Yeager and many artists that probably people have never heard of that I just find — if you look online, look on Facebook, there’s so much beautiful work being done out there. A lot of stuff in the UK and in Italy, and everywhere all around the world I keep finding these really imaginative, wonderful ideas.
Q: What advice do you have for people who want to do the kind of work that you are doing now?
Barney Burman: Do it. Just start doing it you know. I mean, find out — there’s plenty of information online. There’s plenty of videos. Plenty of books out there that can be gotten through Amazon or what have you. And so it’s not a big kept secret, you just got to look in the right areas and find out what are the materials people are using and just start doing it. Find some clay. Get some sculpting tools.
If you want to do makeup per se, then start making people up — making up your friends. If you want to be a sculpture, start sculpting. I would say that if anybody puts in even half the amount of time into something like this that say a doctor or a lawyer would put into becoming a doctor or a lawyer, then you can’t fail.