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Chatting with 'Face Off' Finalist Laura Tyler

An In-Depth Q&A with Season 3 Finalist Laura Tyler


Chatting with 'Face Off' Finalist Laura Tyler

'Face Off' Season 3 finalist Laura Tyler, alongside her two creature creations (Earth Witch and Earth Demon) for the season's final challenge ("Immortal Enemies," Episode 311).

Photo by: Nicole Wilder/Syfy
Updated January 24, 2013

Season 3 of the Syfy competitive reality show "Face Off" proved to be one of its strongest to date, with an array of appealing, talented competitors who consistently showed imagination and skill when bringing their special effects makeup creations to life. With Season 4 starting in just a few weeks, each season of the show has spotlighted superb craftsmanship and imagination from its competitors, and Season 4 already looks smashing just from the previews.

The three talented finalists to make it to the end of Season 3 included Laura Tyler, Derek Garcia, and Nicole Chilelli. While Chilelli ended up being awarded the season title by audiences with her beautiful 'Water' witch and demon creations for the final "Immortal Enemies" challenge, Garcia and Tyler both produced typically beautiful work as well, and I was able to interview both recently about their Season 3 experiences via e-mail.

Laura Tyler Interview

"Face Off" viewers will remember Laura Tyler for her analytical and often thoughtful approach to makeup special effects. She then brought her creations to life with consistently exceptional sculpting skills. Laura was often the worrier or planner of the group, bringing a sense of maturity and professional poise to her work (even while the final frantic seconds ticked down before each challenge deadline), yet she was also able to use her skills to overcome obstacles on the fly, as well.

Angela Mitchell: Laura, throughout the season, the judges consistently praised your meticulous technique. Where did you get your training and when did you know you wanted to work in makeup effects?

Laura Tyler: I learned on my own, and on the job, for the most part. My first job was as an airbrush tattoo artist at a local Orlando theme park, Universal Studios.

I was still in school, Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando (which is right across the street from Universal), and at the time I needed the job. I didn't know what I wanted to be at that point career-wise -- only that I liked art and wanted to be an artist. It wasn't until a visiting FX makeup artist came to our classroom that a light bulb kinda clicked. I thought, "This job has everything, and there's so much to learn!"

I think what attracted me to FX makeup the most, was that no matter how hard you try, you can never stop learning about new techniques and materials. Here was something that was extremely multifaceted, and at the time, that was exactly what I was looking for. Something that I could never get bored with... and I get bored pretty easily. This field is ever-changing, and there was always something new to learn. I would never get bored!

I set out that same year (2001), and got my first makeup job at Universal's 'Halloween Horror Nights,' and continued as a seasonal makeup artist there for six more years (while getting my AA in Arts at Valencia) until finally getting the opportunity to go to Hong Kong (for Ocean Park's Halloween Bash with AEO Studios) and then to work 'Grinchmas' for Christmas. This was where the majority of my experience comes from - that, and of course, learning on my own between these Holiday seasons.

I bought tons of books, and asked for lots of makeup supplies for Birthdays and Christmas -- and I've been actively experimenting with them ever since I was 18. I'm 28 now -- so I've had 10 years of experience so far-- but to me that isn't even close to enough.

Angela Mitchell: It's amazing when you find your lifelong passion like that. With all that preparation, what was it like to take part in "Face Off" on Season 3?

Laura Tyler: I went, not for the money, but for the challenge -- and I got it. The challenge part, I mean! With only an average of 19 hours to make a full FX makeup from design to stage -- it's tremendously difficult -- even for someone with 30 years of experience. The cameras in front of you were always a bit odd. I'm so used to being behind the scenes, that when put in front of a camera, it was hard to know how to react. I tried to forget the cameras were there.

Angela Mitchell: Laura, I loved your "Weeper" character design for the "Dishonorable Proportions" challenge and the clever fact that it actually wept blood. (How cool was that?) So which challenge for the season was your favorite?

Laura Tyler: Well, I'll have to say that I liked the Star Wars challenge the best. You always get better work when you're passionate about something, and I can't think of any genre that I couldn't be more at ease with.

Angela Mitchell: Star Wars is iconic, and that was a pretty incredible creative challenge. Everyone's excitement the moment it was announced was just instantly palpable.

Laura Tyler: Sarah and I really knocked that one out of the park, I felt.

Angela Mitchell: I agree! I loved that challenge too, and so many of the Cantina designs were so much fun.

What was the hardest technical aspect of the "Monster Twist" challenge? I thought your one-eyed monster was so vibrant and fun (especially loved the batwing ears).

Laura Tyler: The hardest technical challenge of the monster twist, for me, was the hands and feet. They don't show most of this in the show -- there is just not enough time to go into every story, but when I'm saying 'it worked,' in that episode, I'm not just saying it because the latex cured, it's because I figured out how to slosh a soft AB foam layer on the inside of that latex layer to get them done in one-fourth of the time.

Before I had used the AB foam, I had spent about five hours trying to slosh just latex and cotton (like the dragon hooves) and it was taking too long. I was ready to give up and just paint my actors' own hands and feet green, but in the last hour, I tried the AB foam.

I only had minutes to run them the last day. Then, one of the feet I had to de-mold on application day. It was an extremely stressful challenge in the fact that I had never spent so much time on costume pieces. But, I promised Sophie alot, and luckily I was able to do it all for her.

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