Keven Talks with Makeup and Special FX Artist Rachele Drum
Published: November 21, 2010 - 5:48pm
EXCLUSIVE: I recently caught up with Makeup Supervisor Rachele Drum during promotion for the indie-zombie horror film One Last Sunset and spoke with her on gore effects, zombie kids and what it's like working in the horror movie business.
Keven: You are the Makeup and Effects Supervisor on One Last Sunset – what was your experience like working on the film and how tough was it to handle 400 extras playing the zombies?
Rachele: Working on the set of One Last Sunset was a wonderful chaos. On the sets with the larger numbers of extras-to-be-turned-zombies, the energy was intense and very inspiring. We would work for hours straight and not really tire until the day was done. The hardest part was ‘herding’ the extras into a controlled assembly-line process. I truly believe that every zombie extra there was as passionate about the genre as I have always been. We love zombies. We want to see them, be them, and we love to watch them being created. Right? That being said, they all wanted to hover and watch others being made-up. I completely understand the interest, but it was a little difficult to work in the suffocated space. The end result, seeing them all in great numbers in one, big, walking dead mob was truly breath-taking.
Keven: Did you work with Addy Miller (The Walking Dead) or any of the other zombie children? What was it like seeing these tiny people transformed into such horrific versions of their former selves?
Rachele: Yes, I worked with many of the zombie youth and very much enjoyed their intensity, focus and their beautiful skin – they really have the best canvas for makeup (it just glides over their smooth skin and has better staying power through long sets). With Addy in particular, for a scene taking place in a school nurse’s office just at the onset of the outbreak, she had contracted the virus and her symptoms were worsening. She has naturally glorious pale, translucent skin, so I used deep reds, purples and pinks to recess her eyes and cheeks a bit, as well as makeup pencils to create a 3D exaggerated vein-look on her neck face and arms. It turned out quite lovely.
Keven: You said you specialize in the horror genre, what prompted you to follow a career in the world of make-up and effects?
Rachele: Great question. If I really sit back and analyze the what/why, I’d have to say that my life has kind of made me/molded me for this. I grew up on a farm. We raised all our own beef, goat, sheep, hog, geese, etc…and I could field dress a deer or skin a coon from around age 8 or 9.
Blood and innards never did bother me at all, and anatomy has always been fascinating to me.
My mother and I also had to doctor up wounds on horses fairly frequently. I remember one time, lightning had struck one of our mares and blown out one side of her. This must have scared the rest of the herd as they ran through barbed wire and who knows what else. We had returned home from a horse show to torn horse flesh on several mares as well as the dead mare carnage. We proceeded to clean and dress all those wounds - puss, crust and all.
Like I said, this kind of thing was fairly frequent. I also lived in constant fear from ages 7-17. My mother married a monster and let’s just say that I survived ten years of Hell on earth. I witnessed and personally experienced some of the things that the horror film industry makes millions on every day. I understand fear.
I have also always been and artistic, creative person, drawing, painting, sculpting, with a focus on realism, and have assisted several professional artists with lighting for photography, stretching canvas’s, welding armatures for sculptures, building clay forms, modeling…etc…I also have years of experience in theater, both in makeup and in costume construction.
Keven: Do you have any favorite horror films or anyone in the industry that inspires you?
Rachele: That’s an easy one. Tom Savini. He is my hero. I’ve had a mad crush on him and his work(s) for years. I have his books (Grande Illusions I & II) and refer to them often for inspiration and direction. He is a master hands on problem solver and true illusionist, creating hundreds of believable effects without relying on CGI. A creator of pure, honest effects, with limitless passion and drive and easy on the eyes to boot! I adore all his works, and rate Creepshow, Dawn of the Dead and Maniac as featuring my favorite of his effects. I also appreciate his acting parts and appearances in many films, including From Dusk till Dawn, Spy Kids, Grindhouse presents-Planet Terror and Fantastic Flesh.
I also appreciate Dick Smith’s work (duh), especially his aging techniques. True genius, and the father of the best artists in the industry.
In general, some of my favorite horror films, besides those already mentioned, include (not in any particular order, but favorites in bold) Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, The Exorcist, Poltergeist, 28 Days/Weeks Later, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Cell, American Werewolf in London, Dance of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Dead Snow, The Ring, Aliens, The Fog, The Mist, The Stand, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, the Resident Evil series, Army of Darkness, Doomsday, Night of the Comet, Fright Night, The Hitcher, 13 Ghosts, Ghosts of Mars, Feast, The Omen, 30 Days of Night, Suck, Underworld Trilogy, The Howling, Hellraiser, The Hunger, Teeth, They Live, From Hell.
Keven: Is there a special effect that you are most proud of in One Last Sunset?
Rachele: I would say the delicate veining of those who had newly contracted the virus. It was tedious and intimate and at close-up, made a very realistic effect. It was beautiful. The photo does not do the effect justice.
Also, I prepared edible intestines for a school hallway scene in which four zombies feast on the intestines of the coach/gym teacher.
The intestines looked good and were actually pretty tasty (dough, whole peeled crushed tomatoes, syrup and fruit roll ups).
They were visually striking placed on the torso of the coach, but the best effect was actually the sounds produced as the zombies gulped, slurped and gorged on these guts.
I actually gagged several times on set, which several extras and Director Kevin Richmond found hilarious!
Keven: You mentioned you worked on another horror flick called In The Devil’s Courthouse, what kinds of make-up/effects did you do for that film? What can horror fans look forward to in that movie?
Rachele: For Director Ken Comito’s film, In the Devil’s Courthouse, I worked on several effects including a severed head (that is thrown over an SUV and rolls down a mountain path to land at the feet of and facing two of the film’s leading ladies), a headless corpse (featured approx. thirty feet, strung up in a tree and pumping blood from the neck cavity), and many gory wounds on young girls for a camp carnage scene. Some photos attached. I really enjoyed working with Ken, the cast and the crew. Be sure to check out his trailer and footage on Facebook.
Keven: Do you have a favorite scene in One Last Sunset?
Rachele: The scenes that moved me the most were three actually, all for different reasons:
1) Humor: In a scene following the woods-action scene, back at Deidre’s ‘camp’, she asks Nita for a extra snack (“…Got any more of that…”). Nita hands her a pack of crackers and Deidre tosses them over her shoulder to “Kathy”, her imaginary friend. The look that Brigot cuts back to her sister Nita is truly comedic, like an unsaid…’did you catch that?...this bitch is CRAZY!!’…
2) Drama/Intensity: After Nita’s death, Brigot is holding her corpse, head in her lap, braiding her hair. I cried a little on set. I have sisters, and I could not imagine losing one of them. Brigot is an incredible actress, and that was not the only scene of hers that brought a tear to my eye.
3) Action/Force/Intensity: This is featured in the trailer but not the feature – After Brigot buries her sister in a field, she sits atop the mound and some time/thoughts spoken passes, the zombies start to appear in increasing numbers. Brigot stands and runs, seemingly rushing/crashing straight into the line of zombies, all her rage and anger and grief being swallowed up by the zombie mob. That is actually my favorite moment in the entire film. It gives me chills.
Keven: What would you say was the hardest effect to achieve in One Last Sunset considering it's an independent film?
Rachele: Due to time and budget constraints, we did not get to feature many of the gags/effects we wanted to include in the film. I wanted to have more specific prop wounds on the zombies, like a high heel shoe stuck in a zombie’s neck or shoulder (as if a victim was fighting off the zombie with the only weapon she could find and it remained stuck in the zombie long after her demise)… you know, clever/thoughtful little eye-catchers…some props I had actually prepared in advance and then during the chaos of makeup application on a hundred or more zombies between 4-5 makeup artists, well, the props were neglected. These are just some of the many examples of ideas we did not get to bring to the film due mainly to time constraints. So, the hardest part was working in so many ideas in so little time.
Keven: Any other future projects we can look forward to from you Rachele?
Rachele: Currently, I am working on a screenplay, zombie-flavored of course. It features a female lead and the story pulls from Native American legend, with a sprinkling of archaeology, psychedelics and dreams.
Oh, and the last photo attached is me, made up for a wrap party and screening of One Last Sunset on Saturday, August 28th in Hickory, NC.