As Halloween approaches, so do things that go bump in the night – at least for special effects makeup artist Roy Wooley. Tucker resident Wooley first began his stride into special effects makeup at age 17 – the quintessential moment being an underaged viewing of John Landis' An American Werewolf in London.
“I was raised in a very small town,” Wooley said. “We only had one theater. If it was an 18 and up movie, you didn't get in. We actually snuck in and got to go see that and whenever I first saw that transformation scene, I was like 'That's what I want to do! Somebody made that!' And that is how I got started in it.”
Wooley has spent the past 30 years building his knowledge and rapport in the special effects makeup industry. He's spent the past 15 crafting ghouls and ghastly creatures of the night for Netherworld Haunted House.
“I have been doing this professionally for 15 years and the first thing I did for them was a horse,” Wooley said. “They had found a taxidermy zebra and they wanted to make it into a horse from the apocalypse. So I took it and transformed it into this bloody, gory piece. That was one of the first pieces I have done for Netherworld and it is one of my best pieces, I think!”
Wooley's experiences as a special effects makeup artist at Netherworld have helped him during his time on the Syfy original series Face Off. He expressed some marked differences between the competition and the realm of working within the film and haunt industry.
“I am used to doing things really quickly thanks to [Netherworld],” Wooley said. “The difference with the show is we are given roughly twenty hours from start to finish. If you are doing a project say here or on a movie and they say you have three days to make this, you have seventy-two hours to make it. On the show, or the competition, you have five or six hours the first day, five hours the next day, and then ten hours the last day. It's not continuous so you really have to concentrate.”
Several of Wooley's creations on the show are greatly influenced by past sketches and ideas.
“Kind of like the Pirates of the Caribbean challenge that we did,” Wooley said. “Over the last thirty years, I have been drawing and sketching. It was about five to ten years ago for this character. It was basically just a skeleton with daggers in its ribcage making wings and they came out the front and whenever I got that challenge, it was like 'This is exactly what I'm going to do!' I already had the inspiration to do it. I had never just had the opportunity to do it. And that happened with a lot of characters that I created on the show.”
Wooley has won three competitions so far on the show: a foundation challenge, an avant garde beauty challenge and an Alice in Wonderland meets the zombies from Resident Evil challenge. So far, Wooley describes his performance in the competition as “Top look” and has noble designs on the $100,000 cash prize.
“I would really love to open up a shop – a large shop – to get into making props for the haunt industry plus to do movies,” Wooley says. “Also, I would take it and teach younger people how to do [special effects makeup]. There are so many kids out there who want to learn this and I am getting old so I know I have a lot of knowledge to pass on and I really wouldn't mind taking it and teaching some.”
Sadly, Wooley was eliminated from Face Off on the Oct. 23 episode, though he did make it all the way to the final four.
When asked to impart some wisdom on the younger masses interested in the field of special effects makeup design, Wooley was quick to respond.
“Just practice and never let anybody tell you that you can't do it. It may take 30 or 40 years – it took me 30 years to get here...and I did a lot of jobs I really didn't care for along the way and I did some that I did like. But, this was always what I wanted to do and I never let it stop me."