‘We have buckets of entrails’

On the set of Carnival Row with creature and make-up effects supervisor Nick Dudman.

Prime Video’s Carnival Row series, which depicts a world inhabited by both humans and–unwanted–mythical creatures, took things up a level into its second season. That included for all the practical creature and make-up effects work overseen by Nick Dudman.

His team would create scores of characters and animal creatures, made up of real-world ones such as horses, and fantastical ones like centaurs and fauns and flying fae-folk. Plus, the work also included a ton of body casts and gory body parts, and the creation of stuffies and stand-in pieces for creatures that would ultimately be CG.

Here, in this excerpt from issue #10 of befores & afters magazine, Dudman talks about the make-up effects for Agreus, and the bodies they need to provide on set.

The making of Agreus

Agreus was our prototype puck. For the original season, I knew that whatever the pucks were going to be, that had to work on David Gyasi who was playing Agreus, because he was our key guy that we were representing in that race, along with Quill. When we originally did the concepting, Jack, my son, did a concept picture that was really interesting. You see, horned human beings have been done to death so we thought, let’s do something else.

Tamzin Merchant (Imogen Spurnrose), David Gyasi (Agreus).

The idea was, what if the horns literally, in terms of texture, came down and onto the face so that there was no clear point where the blend occurs? This then led us into an issue of, well, the horns have to be made of a rigid material because they mustn’t go ‘boing’ when somebody’s wearing them, but also the center of the face can’t be rigid because that’s where all the actor’s expression is, so it all has to be able to move.

So, for all the horns on all the pucks, the first part of them is silicone and part of a prosthetic application. The rear part of the horn connects to that magnetically and is the rigid part. We had to make sure that with all the different pucks that we had, with all the different horn shapes, that at the point where the prosthetic piece and the rigid horn met on anybody, the sculpt was identical so that the A section and B section would always line up, regardless of what the sculpt was down towards the eyes.

We had a production line approach to it. It also meant that to create different pucks, you could just change the horns. You could keep the same forehead on someone, change the horns, and whoa, it’s a different character, which enabled us to create the impression that there were a lot more different characters in your crowd than actually there were in terms of sculpts. Then we also had Enzo (Vincenzo Mastrantonio), who ran the straight make-up department, laying the mustache every day.

The other thing about the pucks, including Agreus, was that they had to wear weird hooves, since we were jacking up their feet. David would wear a lower half body suit, which changes the shapes of his legs so that his thigh muscles came much more forward and his calf muscles on the lower leg went much more back and caused the foot to tip. You are basically cheating the ankle up the back of the leg to try and give that reversed animal look. David had to learn to walk effectively on his toes for the entire thing.

Bodies bodies bodies

We do all the bodies, all the disembowelling, all the damage is us. We have buckets of entrails and we are endlessly life-casting cast members and producing bodies. For example, when Philo shoves his hand into that body in the tower, that’s us. It’s all there. It’s on set and he’s doing that.

Whenever we make bodies, they go to the set in a body bag because that’s the easiest way of transporting them. You can see people reacting to that awfulness. I always remember saying to somebody who was going, ‘God, you actually use body bags?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘They’re brilliant and they’re especially good because you can get them really cheap secondhand,’ and this caused an absolute wave of revulsion on the set. It was a lie, because obviously we do not buy secondhand body bags, but it just produced a wonderful reaction.

Read the full article in issue #10 of the magazine.

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