By April MacIntyre
Visual effects, special creature effects and makeup have been crucial to the success of many recent releases, including The Passion of the Christ, Van Helsing, White Chicks, Son of the Mask, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Pirates of the Caribbean and even Russell Crowe’s scars in Master and Commander. And one company—Captive Audience Productions—is responsible for many of the effects in those films.
Keith Vanderlaan founded Captive Audience with artist Greg Cannom in the late 1990’s after the two had worked together for years at Cannom Creations. The Captive Audience team includes a number of artists who had also previously worked at Cannom. They specialize in such areas as designing and fabricating creatures, costumes, special makeup and suits, animatronics, models, and matte paintings. And they’ve had years of experience in providing on-set operation of miniatures, weapons, props, prosthetics, armor, and physical effects to the film and television industry.
Chief among them is Captive Audience technician, supervisor and makeup artist Todd Tucker—who is a member of Local 706. “We had about 150 visual effects scenes alone in The Passion, recalls Tucker. “It was really amazing.” In the spirit of his role models—Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Jim Henson—Tucker had always wanted to make his own horror and fantasy films. It took time, tenacity and much professional collaboration with industry colleagues for Tucker to begin to establish, develop and produce projects for his own Wonderworld Entertainment production company alongside his firmly embedded career at Captive Audience.
Before earning his stripes as a renaissance makeup and effects man, Tucker was a San Jose musician with a heavy interest in animation and horror flicks. His curiosity was nurtured by local friends and special effects artists Matt Rose and Steve Wang. Tucker underwent self-tutelage for five years in the arts of sculpting, modeling, painting and puppeteering original creatures before moving to Los Angeles. He reconnected with Wang and Rose, who were already established and working with Cannom on high-profile projects such as Predator. Cannom liked the versatility he saw in Tucker’s portfolio and hired him. Over time, Tucker acquired his SAG card, amassing a respectable reel of feature and television work that showcases the range of his acting versatility, in addition to his portfolio as a special effects artist.
Fascinated with designing his own original characters and producing his own work, Tucker is currently developing several separate projects–stories intended for different audiences. Some are more adult-oriented, like Wolvy, described as Teen Werewolf meets son of The Beach with endearing politically incorrect characters. Some for younger viewers, like DarkWorld, a Harry Potter meets an army of demons, are rife with visual and special creature effects designed and built by Tucker and his core WonderWorld production team.
Not content to be career typecast, Tucker believes in constantly continuing his filmmaking education, especially in the visual effects and makeup crafts. He recommends to those interested in a full career to keep learning and not limit themselves to just one discipline. Like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, Tucker has demonstrated that, these days, if you have the drive and the talent, you can successfully wear many creative hats.
By April MacIntyre