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Style & Design

'Face Off' exit Q&A: 'We obviously missed the whimsical part.'

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Image Credit: Nicole Wilder/Syfy

There was no goofing off on this week’s episode of Face Off, just goosing off. But first, contestants were greeted by special effects make-up artist Glenn Hetrick (The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who informed them that the Foundation Challenge was inspired by the Insidious horror films. The group had just two hours to design their own original female demon using male models.

Insidious: Chapter 2 director James Wan appeared (via satellite) to reveal that the winner would attend the film’s red carpet premiere. While Roy came out on top, Rick was a close second with his monochromatic geisha.

From there, host McKenzie Westmore announced that artists would compete in pairs for the Spotlight Challenge. Each team was tasked with creating a contemporary character based on the tales of Mother Goose. Naturally, there was a catch — while the contestants were allowed to pick their own partners, both members of the losing challenge would fall victim to a double elimination.

The process was relatively drama free, as each pair seemed to work well together. With their Peter, Pumpkin Eater‘s wife-inspired creature Miranda Jory (season two) and Tate Steinsiek (season one) won the challenge. Sadly for Rick Prince (a newbie) and Eric Zapata (of season four), the judges felt their Crooked Man design lacked a whimsical feel and was too eerie. In the end, the duo was sent packing.

EW spoke with both Prince & Zapata about working together, what they would have done differently in their joint challenge, and what they’ve been working on since filming wrapped.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like being on the show? For you, Eric, this was the second time around.
Eric Zapata: Being back for the second time was way more fun this time. I was a little more free creatively. I wasn’t holding myself back like I was the first time. Not just creatively, but with my attitude. I knew what I was getting myself into this time. I was in it to enjoy myself this time more than last time. It was a big change for me and a positive experience this time around. I was definitely in the “in it to win it” mindset when I thought it was just me coming back as far as past contestants went. For a while there, I was under the impression it was just myself coming back and when I got there and I saw what was going on, I was like, “Okay, obviously I’m not the only person who’s played this game before.” As soon as I saw that, my brain switched and I started treating it as “How much fun can I have this time around? Because I didn’t know if I could hold my own against all these people who had been finalists.” I wasn’t about to put myself through that, so I decided to just have fun. The first challenge that was the most fun I’d ever had on Face Off. It was a blast.

Rick Prince: It’s something that I’ve watched from my couch at home with my friends and family and I’d been encouraged [to do it]. Being a part of the show was a fantastic experience. Being a newbie with veterans included, it was great to meet some of the people who I’d seen on the show. I had a fantastic time. It was great to meet the people I’d seen. We’re still artists and once we’re all in the same meat grinder together there’s a big camaraderie. It was great to meet Frank because my impression of him from my exposure on the show was totally different from being able to meet him in person. I was pleased to meet every single person on the show.

Rick, did you go into the Spotlight Challenge with a greater confidence after placing high in the Foundation Challenge?
Rick Prince: Every challenge is individual. You win some, you lose some. I don’t feel like I gained or lost any confidence. It’s an up and down ride based on how you execute each challenge.

What was it like working together on the Spotlight Challenge?
Eric Zapata: It was awesome actually. I’d worked with Rick on the challenge before — on the Frankenstein creatures — so we had already worked together. It was perfect actually. We did a school yard pick type of thing, so a lot of people knew who they were going to pick already. They were trying to play it safe. It was all part of the game for them. For me, it was just for fun, so I thought, “I’ve worked with Rick and Rick’s cool.” Rick is very open to [collaborating]. He’s willing to work with you. He’ll actually take your ideas and use them and [he won’t] just overpower you. I’ve had trouble with people like that in the past on the show. So we just went for it and we felt we were going to come up with something good. That’s where our team came from and we really did like our character the whole way through. I don’t remember at any point disagreeing about it or having a fuss over it. We were nervous about how whimsical it was or wasn’t, but ultimately we enjoyed making our character. We liked the end result.

Rick Prince: Eric has got to be one of my favorite people on the show. He’s such a vibrant personality and such a hard worker. He’s an incredibly skilled artisan. I couldn’t have been more happy to leave with someone. If I had to go out with someone, I’d go out with my partner in arms. We put blood, sweat, and tears into our challenge piece. It just wasn’t in the cards for us.

Would you have done anything differently in your challenge?
Rick Prince: Totally! So I could stay on the show! We obviously missed the whimsical part. When they explained the challenge to us, there were quite a few people who were headed another direction and then on day two all of a sudden whimsy became much more important. It felt like the twist they put on it. It felt like that for Eric and I and I think for Tate and Miranda as well because we thought we were just reinterpreting Mother Goose ideas and didn’t realize how important that whimsical factor was going to be. In hindsight, it would have been more of Tim Burton type of makeup. We had a feeling that we were at risk, but the judges are so varied in their opinions and takes from challenge to challenge that it is anyone’s game at any point.

Eric Zapata: From the beginning, if we had known just exactly how important the whimsical aspect was, we would have absolutely redesigned it in such a way that was not as scary or dark. Once we realized what was happening, we were already too far into the challenge to completely change the character. There’s definitely a point of no return where you just have to go with what you’ve got and hope for the best. That’s what hit me and Rick at the end. I would have loved to change the design and had it be more playful and whimsical, but it is what it is. The regret is definitely there. Winning redemption and having that honor of coming back was on my shoulders the whole time, between season four and season five. I was amping myself up for it, but then when I got there and realized that’s not really what was happening. There were more people coming back. That all felt like it was taken from me, so there’s that regret or that feeling, “What if it wasn’t like that? What if I was the only person?” and I had an advantage coming back. Maybe I would have done better and would have stuck around longer. There’s that whole feeling of hopefully I didn’t let anyone down because there were a lot of people who really respect me and my work and wanted to see more from me. My mom, my dad, my brothers — I’ve always said that I’ve done Face Off for my family and that’s still true. I just wanted to do better for them, but they’re proud of me no matter. I guess that’s all that matters.

What did you learn from one another?
Eric Zapata: I’ve learned how to collaborate better with people through working with Rick. He’s so for everybody’s ideas. I’m new to this still. As far as the industry goes, I’m considered a puppy still, so I’m figuring out how to work on this kind of stuff. Rick is an older guy and he’s been through this kind of thing before. He brings something to the collaborative table that I haven’t seen before. It was all very positive.

Rick Prince: Eric is an incredible sculptor and mold maker. I take pride in my abilities in those departments, but Eric is a force to be reckoned with.

What have you been working on since Face Off?
Eric Zapata: I’m working with my group again. My film group in Austin called Archimedes Media Lab, we’re a collective group of filmmakers and artists. We make music videos and short films. We’re starting to do more creature heavy stuff, more fantasy driven stories. We’re working on a music video now that I just did a full creature body suit for and I’m also working with “House of Torment,” the haunted house here in Austin. I just started working with them about a month ago. Michael Faust from season four helped me get that job actually. I’m working with Face Off alumni. We’re all a big family, so we look after each other. I see him every day at work now. We’re having a good time. I’m staying creative. I haven’t had to go get a normal job yet, so that’s a win for me.

Rick Prince: I’m actively keeping in touch [with alumni as well] through social media and cell phones. I talk with the people I’ve met on the show and greater cast of the Face Off family from other seasons as well. It’s meant a lot to me to hear from Anthony Kosar, the winner of last season. He’s been positive and encouraging…. I haven’t stopped working, except to work on the show. I own my own company, Malice in Mind FX Laboratory, here in Nashville. The second I touched back down in Nashville, my phone was ringing back off the hook already. The amount of exposure given to any artist on the show is invaluable. The contest of the show has an incredible prize, but the networking and the exposure has gone a long way. One of the top 31 haunts in the nation contacted me — that’s Nashville Nightmare — and I’m now their special effects coordinator for this season. That’s something to really look forward to in town. I didn’t have to pick up and move, which has been part of my concerns as a father. Since the show, things have really taken off. I was busy before, but the show has made a specific difference in the level of work for my business.

Face Off airs Tuesdays on the Syfy channel at 9/8c.


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