Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Binge Watching SyFy's Face Off

Posted by: Veronica Scott
This was supposed to be science fiction romance week and I'll share an excerpt below, I promise, but lately I've been obsessed with the SyFy reality show "Face Off."

Here's what the SyFy website says about the program: “In this competition/elimination series, special effects make-up artists participate in elaborate challenges for a grand prize and the honor of being Hollywood's next great effects artist.”

How in ten years have I NOT watched this? I love reality shows like “Project Runway” and “Top Chef” – the ones where you have to have a skill set to win. I’m a huge fan of science fiction obviously and many of the challenges on this program skew in that direction. Aliens. Zombies. Post apocalyptic fairy tales. Toys come to life. Creating alien beings from a fragment of their speech, or from a ‘found artifact.’ Many other types of challenges as well, of course! The series judges are top notch experts in their fields, with a slew of awards (the Oscar, Emmy, more) and don't pull their punches on substandard work. The guest judges are amazing – Gale Anne Hurd for example. I hyperventilate, so you can imagine how the contestants react, getting feedback from their idols.

And currently the mentor is Michael Westmore of the famous Hollywood makeup Westmore Dynasty. His daughter McKenzie is the host. It’s amazing to me how Mr. Westmore can take one look at someone’s fledgling effort and with a few well chosen words take it to a new level. Or tell them they probably want to start over.

I’m riveted by the mad skills of the contestants, able to create all these sculpted face and body pieces, do the face painting, assemble costumes, know things (how to make blood that looks realistic for example – it’s said at one point every makeup artist has their own recipe for blood)…and all in a short, intense time frame. I’m in awe and I love seeing how these things are done for movies, TV, cosplay and more.

HOW do the models stay so patient and how do they keep their skin from being permanently inflamed by all that glue and paint?

I chewed through the episodes of this season so far and then went to Season One to start catching up.

It’s mildly fascinating to watch the show evolve. So far I’ve binge watched my way through only a couple of the older seasons so my remarks shouldn’t be construed to be about any one season, person or episode. Although it has been interesting watching Ms. Westmore’s dresses for the finale evolve from the kind of everyday simplicity of Season One to the more Vanna-like (but short) blinged out garb she wears in Season Ten. Hey, I’d love a job where I could wear binged out dresses!

I have NO sympathy for a reality show contestant who isn’t ready for surprises and twists in the challenges. Have they never WATCHED the program they’re trying to win? (OK, Season One people get a pass on this.)

Why is there always one person in a season who takes it upon themselves to be wayyy too helpful to someone who’s struggling? The struggler inevitably wins that challenge with the idea or concept or actual results the ‘helpful’ person gave them, no credit to Helpful One, and then sometimes Helpful One even gets eliminated! I’m not talking about the genuinely-nice but quick moments when someone gives an opinion if asked (too symmetrical, too out there, too much foam, too little paint) or helps with opening a balky mold. I mean when the Helpful One actually does stuff for the struggler, or gives them the entire idea for the challenge. This is a contest, people! $100K is at stake! You don’t even know this person you’re screwing yourself over to help!

And no judges on any reality show ANYWHERE want to listen to you either make excuses or throw your teammates under the bus. You will not win or save yourself. Or look good.

Don’t aim for being safe, being in the middle or trying to coast.  If you didn’t come with your A game, why are you there? Someone else didn’t get picked and you did so we don’t want to see you phone it in.

There will be team challenges and there will be incredibly annoying people nobody wants to be teamed with. Get over it!

In Season One they had wayyyy too much of the personal drama back at the contestant house. That seems to be diminishing slowly in the later seasons, and there’s none in Season Ten that I saw. I prefer it that way. I like the focus to be on the challenges. People will reveal their true self over time through their work.

So, I’m having fun. Is there a reality show you can’t get enough of?

Here’s a quick excerpt from Star Cruise: Marooned, where the enemy aliens have captured the hero, Red, and some of the passengers. I’d love to see the Face Off contestants create my alien pirates! I’ll be releasing the sequel Star Cruise: Outbreak in late April 2016:

“What are the pirates doing?” Callina asked, breaking into his thoughts.
                Stretching, Red stood to see how their captors were passing their leisure time. The beach was literally crawling with Shemdylann now. Some were engaged in mock battles, cheered on by throngs of their comrades. Others were splashing in the lake. A fire pit had been dug and a crew of five aliens was doing some serious cooking, as if catering a banquet. Many of the aliens were basking in the sun, extended neck frills pulsing in the heat. And a few were entwined in clusters of four to six, tentacles and other sinuous organs busily at work.
                “I think the pirates are on shore leave,” he said, hardly believing it. There’d never been any record of such activity, but what other conclusion could he draw? “Hey, pal,” he yelled at the guard standing by their cage. “What brings you guys here?”
                The guard was watching the cluster of copulating Shemdylann, his neck frill extended and pulsing red. Apparently, no one had told him not to talk to the prisoners because he said, “We’ve been in heavy combat, penetrating this Sector. Our officers said this planet was a fabled human resort and he would bring us here for a day or two of reward, if we defeated the enemy ships. We’ll regain energy for the next assault, on your Sector Hub, to be launched when we receive further orders from the Mawreg.”
                Red affected astonishment. “You brought everybody here to party, leaving your ship uncrewed?”
                “Fool, of course not.” The coarse spines covering the alien’s carapace bristled and he stood taller. “You ask too many questions.” He sidestepped, pivoting in the sand to watch his fellow pirates cavorting. In Shemdylann, he grumbled to himself. “Five ships and a battle cruiser full of troops, lots drawn across the fleet for who would be lucky enough to enjoy the day on the planet. I pay a hefty bribe to win a spot and now I must stand here, watching over vermin, while my fellow soldiers shi tangor dunac midtahnn.”
                Red gave no outward sign of comprehension, although he spoke fluent Shemdylann. Leaving the increasingly agitated guard alone, he retreated to the rear of the cage and pondered the intel he’d gathered. Not that there was any way for him to pass the information to the Sectors’ military authorities.
                “Please, isn’t there something you can do to help us?” Eyes wide, Callina pleaded with him. “Isn’t there some way we can escape? Can’t you get us out of here?”
                He tried to be polite. “Lady, these are the Shemdylann, in case you haven’t noticed. They only respond to overwhelming force, or heaps of credits.

The Story:
Meg Antille works long hours on the charter cruise ship Far Horizon so she can send credits home to her family. Working hard to earn a promotion to a better post (and better pay), Meg has no time for romance.

Former Special Forces soldier Red Thomsill only took the berth on the Far Horizon in hopes of getting to know Meg better, but so far she’s kept him at a polite distance. A scheduled stopover on the idyllic beach of a nature preserve planet may be his last chance to impress the girl.

But when one of the passengers is attacked by a wild animal it becomes clear that conditions on the lushly forested Dantaralon aren’t as advertised – the ranger station is deserted, the defensive perimeter is down…and then the Far Horizon’s shuttle abruptly leaves without any of them.

Marooned on the dangerous outback world, romance is the least of their concerns, and yet Meg and Red cannot help being drawn to each other once they see how well they work together. But can they survive long enough to see their romance through? Or will the wild alien planet defeat them, ending their romance and their lives before anything can really begin?

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  1. I don't watch much TV, but I did see a few of the show and was also fascinated. I liked it far more than project runway due to the fabulous creatures they make.

    1. I like both but yes, it's fascinating to me how the contestants come up with these amazing, entire creatures! I'm addicted to the show now.


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