Friday the 13th Special Effects
Published January 20, 2009
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Exclusively for Interview, Hollywood makeup artist Scott Stoddard demonstrates on Friday star Travis Van Winkle how he created Jason’s handiwork for the 2009 remake of the all-time slasher classic.
In a dark warehouse in West Hollywood, 26-year-old actor Travis Van Winkle is slumped shirtless in a chair, his head tossed back and the right side of his face pummeled beyond repair. Van Winkle’s blond hair is matted with blood, and one eye is a swollen mound of purple flesh. Most distressing, however, is the vicious slash across his throat. A man dressed in black gently dabs at the jugular wound with a Q-tip. That man is Scott Stoddard, the 37-year-old makeup artist responsible for the visual effects on the blood-soaked set of the Friday the 13th remake. Here, he’s recreating some of the horror he unleashed on one of the Friday actors. In the film, Van Winkle plays Trent, one of the latest teenage victims to stumble upon Camp Crystal Lake. Directed by Marcus Nispel—who terrified audiences with another recent remake, 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—the film is a reverent revival of the 1980s slasher series, returning its mutilated undead hockey-masked killer, Jason Voorhees, to the campground of his prime. Stoddard, who spent three months last spring on location at a camp in Texas while working on the film, explains, “The makeup artist is absolutely the closest person to the actors on the set.” Especially in the case of Friday where “someone is getting hacked up every day.”
Stoddard, whose credits include A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) and Sin City (2005), has been obsessed with the blood and guts of cinema since he was a kid growing up in New Jersey. “The first film that really affected me was An American Werewolf in London ,” he says. “I saw that transformation from man to wolf, and I was blown away at the prospect of doing that for a living.” Stoddard eventually attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia to hone his skills but left for Hollywood before graduating. There he found work assisting the legendary effects master Stan Winston—of The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986) fame—before going out on his own. Even though Stoddard still considers himself a horror fan, he was skeptical about the Friday assignment. “I wanted to make sure Jason wasn’t in outer space anymore,” he says. “They let me read the script, and I saw that they wanted to make a good, solid horror film.” The greatest challenge proved to be the highly secretive redesign of Jason’s actual face, which took an estimated four hours of work in the makeup chair. It’s still top secret but Stoddard can say that when Jason’s face is finally revealed, it’s “frightening, yet sympathetic.”
One actor who didn’t mind all the time spent in Stoddard’s chair was Van Winkle. Before being cast in Friday, the handsome young actor found his looks to be limiting his choices of roles. “I play the asshole a lot,” he admits, “so I was so excited to be part of something as iconic as Friday the 13th.”
Stoddard understands the thrill of transformation. “It’s the excitement I used to feel when I was a kid doing makeup on myself,” he says. “When you look in the mirror, it’s not you anymore. Sometimes people get freaked out, but more often I see people open up and become somebody they weren’t.” Makeup must have done wonders for the man playing Jason.