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Voice Of The Crew - Since 2002

Los Angeles, California

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Global Effects

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Chris Gilman was ready for
the fast pace of the film industry
from an early age. That’s because
while growing up in Connecticut,
his parents’ hobby was sports-car
racing, and among their friends
was actor/racer Paul Newman.
Through Newman’s son Scott, a
stuntman, Gilman got hooked on
the idea of moving to Hollywood
and launching his own actionpacked
career.
Once he moved here, though,
Gilman found the field of special
effects makeup and props more
intriguing. In 1986 he started
Global Effects and established a
reputation as the place to go for
specialty items such as spacesuits
and even invented the biohazard
suits used throughout the industry
today.
“I’ve studied arms and armor
for 20 years, and we realized early
on that there wasn’t a solution for
costumers to get a specialty costume
without going through two
or three vendors,” recalls Gilman.
“We reconfigured the company to
do specialty wardrobe, and found
our main challenge is making costume
designers comfortable with
materials they don’t know such as
plastic, fiberglass and silicon.”
Global Effects’ first projects
included The Witches of Eastwick,
Masters of the Universe, and the
remake of The Blob, but while the
company ran smoothly from the
start, it really revved its engines
in 1994 when Gilman received
the assignment to work on the
scientific thriller Outbreak.
Working with the film’s costume
designer, Erica Phillips, Gilman
developed biohazard suits which
have since become the industry
standard for every TV show with a
biological disaster in its plotline—
including such hits as The X-Files
and 24. Growing into a 20,000-
square-foot facility with a core staff
of 10 people that greatly expands as
necessary, Global Effects has also
become known for its vast rental
selection including robots, and scifi
and horror products.
“We cover a lot of our overhead
with the rentals, and when a client
comes in with very large costume
requests, we offer lease options as
well as the chance for us to share
in the production costs by investing
some of our profits in the
show,” explains Gilman. “Movies
like Space Cowboys and Haunted
Mansion saved a huge amount of
money because we already had
many items in stock and could
package them together.”
Global Effects also designs
numerous spacesuit projects for
museums, but its most impressive
assignment came straight from
NASA itself—when the company
was hired to redesign the upper
torso section of the current spacesuit
to fit women. Contemplating
the incredibly broad range of work
he’s taken on in nearly two decades
of business, Gilman says the most
enjoyable challenge is “making a
costume, prop or makeup effect
in a way that’s interesting for the
designer but still enables an actor
to work in it.”
“You can hire a guy who has
studied all the great martial artists
in the world but if you want
to do it right you have to hire
somebody who does the arts, like
I have for 20 years,” says Gilman.
“I’ll want to wear a prototype of
suits because I’ve spent a lot of
time in suits, and that’s another
advantage we have. A couple of
pounds in a helmet can make a
huge difference to an actor, but
you’ll only know that if you’ve
actually worn them.”

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