It takes a village to make a movie, and Lorna Reid (Scrubs, The Middle) and Amy Sparks (Perry Mason, The Mick) were two villagers who helped get Broken Lizard‘s new comedy Quasi over the hump.
Reid and Sparks have been part of the Broken Lizard family since 2019 when they worked together on the comedy troupe’s truTV show Tacoma FD. Reid came on board as Hair Department Head, while Sparks started out as Makeup Department Key and later took over as Makeup Department Head. Between Season 3 and the upcoming fourth season of the show, Broken Lizard’s Kevin Hefferman and Steve Lemme got Quasi, the group’s latest film, off the ground.
Set in the medieval era, Quasi — now streaming on Hulu — shines the spotlight on Quasimodo (Lemme), and it’s based very, very loosely on Victor Hugo‘s famously disfigured peasant from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Here, Quasi works as a torturer for King Guy of France (Jay Chandrasekhar) and finds himself torn between his liege and the Pope, each of whom wants him to kill the other. And, wait, are those sparks between Quasi and the Queen (Adrianne Palicki)?
Cue, well… you name it: period costumes, hairstyles, and wigs; a blood-spurting hump; actors playing multiple roles; and a supremely stretchy scrotum. Reid and Sparks, along with the rest of the Quasi crew — many of them fellow Broken Lizard veterans — had to work fast and frugally on the modestly budgeted 30-day shoot.
During an exclusive joint Zoom conversation with Below the Line, Reid and Sparks recounted the early days of their careers and discussed how they met as well as the evolution of their collaborations with each other and Broken Lizard. They also shared stories about the making of Quasi, including that sure-to-be-memorable scrotum scene. Here’s what they had to say:
Below the Line: How and why did you get into the business?
Amy Sparks: How, was through my friend. I grew up with a friend whose mom was a well-known makeup artist. I didn’t have any desire to be a makeup artist, but I went to college. I graduated and I got a desk job. I was like, ‘This is not my jam.’ I had a dream that I was doing makeup. I called my friend and I said, ‘I just had a dream that I was a makeup artist.’ My long-term friend, she’s like, ‘Oh my God! You should go to makeup school and become a makeup artist.’ I said, ‘I don’t know if my parents are going to do that, since I just spent four years in college.’
I don’t know what I did, but I convinced them to have me go to makeup school. I was in makeup school, got a job, and it’s been going from there. It’s not an interesting story. I fell into it and enjoyed it. I liked the fact that you can meet different people and you don’t have to stay in one place, go to the same place, and open the same door. It’s just creative. That’s basically it.
Lorna Reid: I flunked out of college and I decided to go to beauty school in Gainesville, Florida. I went to beauty school at a tiny little beauty college, Powell’s Beauty Academy. I learned how to do all the things that you do for a cosmetology license. Fast forward, working in all kinds of salons in Florida — in Miami — occasionally I would see people who were doing editorial stuff and I thought, “That looks really cool.” But I didn’t know how to get into it. I decided to go back to school and learn about the theater. I did a stage makeup course at Broward Community College, and I was already still a hairdresser working in the salon, so I had that under my belt. I went to the stage makeup course and I loved it.
We did all kinds of casts, to learn how to do prosthetics, masks, and all kinds of stuff. I was like, “You know what? I don’t want to keep doing hair in a salon. I want to be able to learn more about the film industry.” A girlfriend that worked in editorial, she was a makeup artist in Miami and she had told me about this makeup school in Burbank called Mud. I ended up going out to Mud and learning about it. One thing led to another and I ended up teaching at Mud for about four years; the character hair class and the period hair class. Then I jumped off. I got my first TV show, I got a couple of indie movies. And from then on — it’s been about 20 years — I just got one TV show after the next. Fast forward to working with these guys on Tacoma FD and Quasi.
BTL: What would you describe as your most formative early experience on a show or a movie?
Reid: Well, my very first TV show was Scrubs. I say this to Kevin and Steve all the time… I started off in slapstick comedy and I’m hoping to finish my career with these guys [doing] slapstick comedy, goofy satire. It was Scrubs. It was a fun atmosphere, very much like how we work on Tacoma FD. We’re a family. It was one of those things where I learned as I was doing, because I didn’t really know.
I was very lucky to get Scrubs because a friend of mine recommended me as the Hair Department Head, but I didn’t know much. I had only done indie features at that point, so I didn’t know about call sheets. I was like, “Oh, what the hell?” Still, I’m a little… Amy helps with that. It’s daunting. I learned. I’ve always been, “I’m an only child, so learn on your feet. Just do it.”
Sparks: I started off in soap operas and I feel it was a great learning experience because you were thrown into the fire every day. It moved really fast and you had to get things done quickly. You had to think on your feet. Like Lorna, I didn’t know what I was doing. I never worked on a show before and — to be honest – I faked it until I made it. Every day I was like, “10 makeups in 2 hours? Okay!” I wasn’t a department head, but there still was this level of quickness in changing people over and head-to-toe makeup in half an hour.
I got into more prosthetics and more character makeup. That was where I enjoyed soap operas. I worked on Passions for eight years. Think of a character, we probably did it. It was just like being thrown to the wolves and I made the best of the situation. It was a great learning experience for me because I was able to do so many makeups in a short period of time, year-round.
BTL: How did you ladies connect with Broken Lizard on Tacoma FD?
Reid: I was hired as the Hair Department Head through another person and that person brought Amy on. I had met Amy probably two years prior on Fuller House because I work with John Stamos occasionally, and I’d worked with him on Grandfathered. I remember meeting her and I was like, ‘First of all, I do a lot of redhead colors in my salon. I know that color. I want to start doing that color.’ I do her hair now, at the salon. She allows me to do that great, fiery, Bonnie Raitt-red for her. I met her on Fuller House and I knew immediately. We started chit-chatting and I was like, I want to work with her because she’s cool, normal, and she stood out. She’s just as goofy as me, if not goofier.
We have a lot of fun together when we work, and that fun adds to the levity [of] the long 72-hour weeks. That’s what kills a lot of people, especially women. I don’t mean literally, but it makes it hard emotionally and physically to do that. I’m older. I’m 55, so for me, it can be hard to endure that, but if you have a friend with you, a buddy that you can sit back in the trailer and just goof off with, and sometimes be like, “Let’s have a sing-off!” We’ll play Pat Benatar and let it go… it makes the week so easy.
Sparks: She said it all. I wasn’t Department Head when I started. I was the Key, then the Department Head left and I took over the show. It’s been one of the best experiences, not only working with her as a coworker, but in terms of all of the crew — the guys, and the actors. It’s been one of those experiences where they trust you to do what you do. They want it a certain way, but it’s been a good creative process and learning experience.
BTL: Take me through the Tacoma FD to Quasi timeline…
Sparks: They just said, ‘We’re doing this film. Do you guys want to be a part of it?’ I was actually on another show at the time, and I had to leave that show to start the movie, but I wasn’t going to miss it for anything. One thing about it… Kevin and Steve especially, because that’s who we work closely with, we’re a family, and they like to keep everybody moving from one production to the other. One show, one movie, because it makes it fluid and easy. Everybody knows how everybody works. Obviously, they saw Lorna’s talent, hopefully, my talent, and my team’s. We just have fun. It was an easy transition going from the TV show to Quasi because the TV show requires us — every episode — to do these crazy makeups and character themes. This was what Quasi was going to be, one 30-day period of, “Let’s make it work every day!”
BTL: What was the challenge that they gave you on Quasi?
Reid: For me, it was almost every main actor playing two to three characters. We’re talking [about] the medieval period, which meant lots of wigs and lots of wigs for the overs, on the stand-ins… Photo doubles, actually, is the proper term. I had, I believe, two and a half, three weeks prior of prep time. I had a little bit more than Amy because I had to do wig fittings on all the guys. Also, it wasn’t an uber-budget like a Marvel movie. I had to make it work with off-the-rack. Luckily, I have a great girlfriend that owns a wig company. She used to work in the film industry here. I flew her in, we hung out, and she stayed at my house, so it was cost-effective. She came to my salon, we did all the wig fittings, and we were able to use all her in-stock wigs. So, I didn’t have to do any custom, which was great, and made it work from a smaller budget.
On big projects, one wig can cost $10,000. Not including the background wigs, I probably had at least 15 main-cast wigs. Not including the photo doubles, because I had to have the same wigs for the overs; 40 to 50 wigs and pieces that we used on the background for the scenes where they’re in the courtyard. There are all those people and they don’t have appropriate hair, even though we give constraints: people with long hair, curly hair, no highlights. They still send background people with all that stuff, so you have to adjust it to make it look proper for the period.
Sparks: When I was still on another show, I was having meetings with the guys. We had a prosthetic hump. a prosthetic ball sack, and facial hair. Like Lorna said, not only did every actor that we had play two to three characters, but we were always having to do their lookalike. So, it was four sets of facial hair. We had stunt doubles and stuff like that, at a time when the industry was so busy. Facial hair and manpower were hard to get. Like she was saying, the background that we got. For me, they were pretty okay, but the town was booming, so we got what we could get.
My thing was that the hump was a big deal. We had to have live casts and it’s a process to get everybody to sign on when there are so many cooks in the kitchen. Searchlight came back and they were like, ‘Oh, it’s too gruesome,’ and we had to start all over.
It’s the same with Lorna. We had a budget to stay in, but we had to get our job done. It’s not like we were just throwing dirt on people, or putting hair in a ponytail. It was an undertaking. When it was happening, Lorna and I were doing changes in the middle of the freaking mud on our main actor, who was [also] the director. It’s a testament to how well Lorna and I work together because it’s a dance that she and I do with each other. We know how each other works, and it just makes our life in and out of the trailer so much easier.
Reid: It was hard because of Kevin playing the two roles, directing, not wanting to go back to the trailer to get ready at night, and him saying, ‘Well, you’ve just got to do it right here.”’ And I’d have a flashlight in my mouth!
Sparks: Facial hair, cleaning him up, getting him back to the other look, or vice versa. On top of that, having all of his body doubles done and switching them around. When you look at the film, it was a lot of work in 30 days that we did to make sure that it was seamless.
BTL: The ballsack sequence is hysterical and disturbing…
Sparks: We can’t wait to see it. We haven’t even seen it! When I was working with Jason Collins and Autonomous FX, we had to have three different ballsacks, one to just be on, one to stretch, and one to do this. It was like, “How much hair should we have on it?” Again, these are questions that I had to get approved through everybody. The day that it was happening — Lorna remembers this — Searchlight was there visiting and that ballsack was like its own entity, with pictures being taken. Searchlight had so much fun with it, because typically they had the most depressing movies out there, and they were on a set where this is so much fun. It was a lot of fun. Regardless of the work that we had to do between the story and the boys, it was fun.
BTL: Well, I can tell you that the camera doesn’t cut away. They pushed it as far as they could go… or pulled it as far as they could go. Literally.
Sparks: I was afraid it was going to break.
BTL: Fill us in on your team. Who helped you pull off so much in such a short window of time?
Reid: I couldn’t have done without every person that I hired. Unfortunately, my person, Vanessa Bragdon, who works with me as my Key normally, because of COVID restrictions, she was still breastfeeding her baby. It was a mandatory vaccination and you couldn’t come to work, so I couldn’t have my person. I had to bring in people I’d never worked with before, which made it a lot harder, but the people I did bring in brought a lot to the table.
The person that came in for background… it was so freaking busy in Hollywood, and it was hard to get people to do background. We had days where we had 100 background [actors] that had to go through everything to be medieval, including the hair. Obviously, we had lots of pieces already prepped. Once they came for the first time, we knew them and we knew exactly how to put the pieces in, but I could never get consistency and/or find people to even come to do background.
I was hustling my ass off, which was great because it had been a long time since I had done a movie. You’ve got to just do it on the fly. When you do stuff on the fly, it reinjects and hones that sense of, “Oh, I do know how to make a mountain out of nothing.” That’s what I loved about it. I had a girl named Ann Marie [Luddy] and a girl named Jamie [Amadio] that were there, people I never worked with before, but everybody came together. They had fun, but it was hard work.
Sparks: First of all, Lorna’s my go-to for everything. Without her, I know I wouldn’t have been able to do the movie. Second, every person I hired was essential. We’re not a one-man show. Lorna was, though, a lot, I have to say. But I can’t do all the makeup. I take care of one and two, which are Kevin and Steve. We created all the looks, but you have to hand it over and let the talent do their work.
My Key, Marina Proctor, did the Queen and the King. I had special effects and a team of people to help me with that. There was not one person that was involved that wasn’t important. My background people — the people who came in and did background — were so essential because I didn’t have time to think about it. Neither did Lorna. We just had to know that they were doing it and they were going to do it right.
BTL: Lorna, there’s a funny blooper during the end credits in which…
Reid: I bet I know what it is!
BTL: …the King’s wig falls off. When that happens, do you want it in the movie? Could you laugh at that now, but maybe not in the moment?
Reid: In the moment, I didn’t react very well.
Sparks: I know a backstory about it, so I’m laughing at the whole thing. It’s not just that moment.
Reid: I was not happy at the time. I knew when it was going on. When it happened, I just ran into action and went to fix it, but I will tell you a little secret. The secret is [that] when they all came to do their wig fitting — and Stephanie did the molds — I looked at them all. If I could show you the photographs of all the molds of the heads, Jay is known as the guy that has the largest cranium, even though Kevin will say he has a very big cranium. He has a large-circumference cranium, but Jay has a large cranium and it was very difficult to find a wig that would fit him properly that was an off-the-rack wig. [In] that scene, they’re wrestling and falling. Take after take after take, the wig finally gave way and flipped off.
Sparks: We can laugh at it now!
BTL: What else are both of you working on at the moment? Super Troopers 3?
Sparks: In terms of Broken Lizard, we did Tacoma FD last year and it’s supposed to come out in July. I’m excited about that. We hear about Super Troopers 3 possibly starting up in the fall or the beginning of next year, but I don’t want to make any assumptions. I assume that we would be part of it, but you never know until you’re asked to do it. That would be amazing and fun. I would love to do it.
In terms of what I’ve been doing since January, I’ve just been helping out on people’s shows. I wrapped a movie last year called Atlas for Netflix, starring Jennifer Lopez, and that was fun. It was a lot of work, too. Since that wrapped, I’m just helping people out with their shows. Sometimes it’s a long time, sometimes it’s a short time. I’m not a department heading or anything now. Other people have the reins and I’m helping them. With the writer’s strike, who knows?
Reid: For the last 13 years, I’ve still had a salon here in Los Angeles. I do out-calls with my private clients — actors [who] I’ve worked with in the past — doing hair cutting and color at their homes, but I also have a lot of actors and clients that still come to the salon. I’m focusing on that.
Quasi is now streaming on Hulu.