Exclusive Interview With Special Effects Legend Greg Nicotero
By James Whittington, Wednesday 22nd August 2012

Greg NicoteroGreg Nicotero is a legend in the film industry. His special effects and make-up work has graced some of the most popular movies and TV shows of the last 30 years. This creative genius shows no sign of slowing down as he continues to create innovative and jaw-dropping work time after time. He is part of KNB FX and has also made the move into directing too.

Nicotero will be presented with the Variety Award on Saturday August 25th, following an on-stage interview at this year's FrightFest The 13th so we decided to have a quick chat with him about his work and what future releases he’s been working on.

HC: You had, what many would consider, a dream start to your career working alongside George A Romero and Tom Savini, how did this happen?

GN: Ironically I had met George while he was in Rome working on the script for Dawn Of The Dead and we became friends. My uncle, Sam Nicotero, was a local actor and had a part in The Crazies so we had a mutual acquaintance.

HC: How nervous were you?

GN: More in awe than nervous. It was like waking up in another world standing on set next to George and Tom. It was one of the most exciting times of my career

HC: KNB EFX has become one of the most respected effects teams in the industry, you and the other members of the group must be rightly proud of its achievements. What do you think has been its finest moment?

GN: When we started in 1988, we were able to bypass the splatter films to some degree and get a chance to do films like City Slickers and Dances With Wolves. Having the chance to be associated with more mainstream films opened a lot of doors for us. I remember always saying I didn't want the company to peak after Dances so always pushed us forward.

HC: You work across genres from horror to family fantasy to period drama; which film genre is your favourite to work in and why?

GN: I love horror and always will... something I grew up watching and still am fascinated when you react to something in a movie and the hairs stand on the back of your neck...

HC: Do you have a favourite director whom you work with?

GN: Way too many to name but immediately Frank Darabont comes to mind along with Robert Rodriguez, Quentin, Sam Raimi, George Romero, I mean I got to work with Spielberg and we talked about Jaws for crying out loud!

HC: You're a co-executive producer on the global hit The Walking Dead. The series really does strike the perfect balance between gruesome horror and heart-breaking drama. How do you constantly keep up this quality in storytelling and effects?

GN: Ironic for me to say but the acting and storytelling are very important to me. The horror works when the audience cares and for our characters and it is a balance I am always very aware of... and we try to make sure everything feels grounded... the decisions our characters make our decisions we would all make in the same situation….and then there are zombies.

HC: Have there been creature designs for the series that have been considered just too gross for TV?

GN: Never! I get to do anything I want... which is the most freedom I have ever had.

HC: Could there be a The Walking Dead movie in the future?

GN: Sure... but if you think about it... we make a movie every week... that is how we approach the series

HC: You're now a regular behind the camera, would you like to become a full-time director?

GN: I am directing 3 episodes this season and get a chance to work with this amazing cast and crew from a different perspective and that is a fantastic collaboration.

HC: You're at FrightFest to receive the Variety Award for your work; do you get nervous at such ceremonies?

GN: Ask me on Saturday. Ha!

HC: Zombies - which do you prefer; walkers or runners?

GN: Walkers (Simon Pegg and I will go to our graves defending slow zombies).

HC: What advice would you give to someone wanting to have a career in effects make-up?

GN: Photograph everything! It is the best way to learn to analyse what you do and be able to be critical of your work. I am always wanting to improve on the work we do and you always learn every day... the person that doesn't think there is anything new to learn is lost.

HC: So what projects are you working on at the moment?

GN: It is all The Walking Dead all the time right now. We just wrapped on The End Of The World comedy with Seth Rogan, Pain And Gain with Michael Bay, Machete Kills with my best pal Rodriguez, The Man With The Iron Fist with RZA, prepping Horns with Alex Aja and waiting for release on Raimi's Oz in March and Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho.

HC: Greg Nicotero, thank you very much.

GN: Anytime.

Interview with Gary J. Tunnicliffe, writer and director of Hellraiser: Judgement
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Gary J. Tunnicliffe doing SFX make-up on the set of Hellraiser Judgement

Director and long-time Hellraiser franchise SFX artist Gary John Tunnicliffe has a new entry into the Hellraiser series for us all to enjoy, Hellraiser: Judgement. Here he chats about this gritty horror.

HC: Was there one person or film which inspired you to want to be in the effects industry?

GJT: I can't remember one film that directly inspired me to be in the effects industry, it would definitely have been around 1982 (when I was 14) when The Thing AND American Werewolf in London came out (as well as a mass of FX laden movies) but more than anything it was when s...

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Director Chee Keong Cheung

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HC: Where did the idea for Redcon-1 come from and are you a fan of zombie movies?

CKC: I'm a huge fan of the zombie genre and in particular, Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later', Zak Snyder's 'Dawn of the Dead' and of course George Romero's original works which helped to pave the way for the genre and was a real inspiration for me growing up. I remember watching 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Black Hawk Down' on TV and had always been drawn to the men on a m...

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HC: How did you first become involved with Dawn of the Dead?

SR: Well, I was in New York, I was a stage actor in New York and I went to college with Christine Forrest, who later became George's wife and she asked me if I wanted to audition for this film called Dawn of the Dead, she wanted to know if I knew who George Romero was and I said, "Yeah, he was the guy who directed Night of the Living Dead". So, they sent the script over and I read it and it was pr...

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Concrete Plans poster

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Be warned this interview contains some spoilers about the movie. If in doubt watch the movie before reading. You have been warned!

HC: Was there one actor of one film you saw when you were younger that made you want to be an actor?

SS: Oh, I've never been asked that actually. When I started to get into watching films, I'd always wanted to be an actor for as long as I can ...

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HC: How much did the X-Factor change your life?

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Fried Barry

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HC: Where did Fried Barry come from?

RK: Fried Barry was born out of total frustration where I was in my career. I am known in South Africa as a music video director for doing narrative story telling within music vids and sharp visuals. Although I al...

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thumbnail_Brandon Blood

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HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to be an actor?

DT: I've definitely known my whole life I've wanted to be an actor. One of my favourite movies of all time is the original Men In Black. When I was little (about 3 or 4 years old), I would re-watch my VHS copy of that movie over and over and over again. I would re-enact every scene. Since then, my love for acting and film has just grown. I have such a love for the...

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FM: Funny fact, I grew up without a TV! So, at a young age, I never had an actor that inspired me and to this day I still don't. Acting did not become a dream of mine until 2016 and for inspiration, I like to dig deep into my own soul to find truth to bring into each character.

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HC: What inspired you to write Death Ranch?

CS: I'd always wanted to try making a movie with a 70s Grindhouse/Exploitation style and was watching old Grindhouse trailers for inspiration. I came across the movie Brotherhood of Death, where black characters fight back against the KKK for some of the film (the tagline is 'Watch these brothers stick it to the Klan!') and that conce...

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It Cuts Deep Image 2

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NS: I've been a big horror fan since I was a little kid. Some of my favourite childhood memories are seeing Event Horizon with my dad when I was in second grade, being absolutely terrified by Chucky from Child's Play at every waking moment and watching Psycho for the first time on VHS when I was 7 years old.

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Robert Woods

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Jeff Billings and Chad The Deep Ones

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