Advent Calender 2013 – Dec 13th: Face Off

13 Face Off

The 2013 Advent Calender: For the 25 days of Christmas, I will be blogging each day about a miscellaneous thing I love. Not necessarily a big thing, not necessarily a small thing and not in any order. 

I don’t exactly approve of reality series, especially ones like The X Factor where the ‘best twelve in the country’ is essentially an arbitrary selection of sob stories. That doesn’t stop me watching them. Outside of the usual raft of reality shows, I have two favourites, both relatively obscure. One is Platinum Hit, a complete flop that never returned for a second series, in which song-writers competed to compose songs in a day. The second is Face Off, which thankfully has been very successful, and currently churns out about three series a year.

In Face Off, the twelve contestants are professional or semi-professional special effects make-up artists, whose task every week it to create a full prosthetic character. They have around about three days, and design the concept, the sculpt, the prosthetic, the costume and props, and paint it. There’s usually a theme every week–quite often its a combination of genres, enabling the contestants to create new twists on old ideas. As the show moves towards the finale, this often gets more elaborate–the finale of Season 4 involved creating costumes for a Cirque-du-Soleil-style water acrobatic team, and their makeups had to withstand a full routine.

What makes Face Off (and Platinum Hit) so fantastic is that the entire thing so clearly underlines the unbelievable talent of these people. This is not an amateur face-painting club: the things they produce is unbelievable, and even the worst of the contestants can produce stuff I’d have no idea how to even start. Watching them develop their ideas, the sheer display of imagination is staggering–and simultaneously intimidating and inspiring. It really does seem like the judges know what they’re talking about. They’re all Oscar-winners or contenders, and I’d quite like Ve Neill (who designed Beetlejuice) to adopt me. And along the way some jaw-dropping characters, and stories, are created. TV needs more shows that puts the emphasis on creativity and talent, especially a niche area that isn’t, y’know, singing pretty.

Sadly, there isn’t a complete collection of all the makeups, so I couldn’t select my specific favourites. This gallery should give you a pretty good idea of what they produce, every week. Though, for my money, the first makeup, with the living cello, is probably the highlight of five seasons.

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