An early experiment with an old Super-8 camera led me to realise that I loved making models, but didn't have the patience for animation; I still have the moth-eaten King Kong and Dinosaur figures lurking somewhere in my parent's loft.
A couple of years ago, however, I made a Chewbacca mask for a friend of mine, who is a Vicar, and the reception it received made me think it might be worth pursuing this line of work a little more seriously.
|Tyrannosaurus Rex model|
Having never worked in a workshop like Codsteaks before, it was something of a steep learning curve, particularly as I only had 8 days to do the model, from sculpting it in clay, to producing a plaster mould of it, to casting it in Dragon Skin, which is a 2-part silicone designed for the film and TV industry. Incredibly good fun, but also quite nerve-wracking given the very tight turnaround and the fact that I was very aware of how much of an opportunity this was.
In the end, it all worked pretty well, and the eel came in on time, and looking quite fishy. From a technical point of view, it is always interesting to try out new techniques, and one thing that did make me giggle a little was the mix of traditional skills, hi-tech chemicals and Blue-Peterism that were need to create an eel with the correct heft and feel to it: beneath its specialised silicone skin lurks an old pair of tights, stuffed with sand and knotted like a string of sausages as ballast.
|Long-finned Eel prop in publicity shot|
The eel was used for publicity shots for the Discovery Channel's "River Monsters" programme, and the resulting pictures appeared on their website: Animal Discovery, around the net and on billboards as well, which was incredibly satisfying to see.
Since then, I've helped Codsteaks make a giant sea monster for a French film, have worked on some props for the new Aardman Animations feature, and have just finished some pirates for an interactive display at the Museum Of London.
All of which, it has to be said, is a lot more fun than having a proper job! Sadly, despite promising otherwise, my friend the Vicar has yet to deliver a sermon whilst wearing the mask...