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Style & Design

'Face Off' exit Q&A: 'I was never 100 percent satisfied with anything I did'

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Image Credit: Nicole Wilder/Syfy

The word “ghost,” doesn’t normally elicit peals of laughter but on Tuesday night’s episode of Face Off, the contestants were asked to make a joke out of the horror genre by mixing spook with spoof.

First up was the Foundation Challenge, where contestants had to envision what the Grim Reaper might look like under that hood. The scythe-wielding harbinger of death is usually seen without a face (or simply as a skeleton), so each artist tackled the blank canvas differently. Laura Tyler (season three) used facial prosthetics in unexpected areas — the brow bones on the chin, for example — and the move won her a ticket to safety, as guest judge special effects makeup artist Patrick Tatopoulos (Resident Evil: Extinction, I Am Legend) said he was impressed with her detailed creation.

Next came the Spotlight Challenge, which took the contestants on a field trip to the Laugh Factory, where they learned they’d have to create “comedy ghosts” — creatures that looked frightening, but could make viewers laugh out loud. Newcomer Eddie Holecko struggled with his concept, scrapping his original idea for a new one — a baseball player who died after being hit by his own bat, and fell three hours behind the other contestants. Meanwhile, fellow newcomer Laney Parkhurst scrambled to finish her wig, and Miranda Jory (season two) got a last-minute scare when air pockets appeared in her work.

When it came time to face the judges, Roy Wooley (season 3) was crowned the winner, erasing the memory of his disappointing performance last week. “You’re gonna see big,” Wooley had promised before last night’s challenges, and he kept his word, presenting the judges with a vaudeville-inspired costume that depicted two small performers, one sitting on top of the other, working together to form the ghost. Judges Glenn Hetrick, Ve Neill, and Neville Page applauded Wooley’s work. “I’m happy to see this Roy back this week,” Page said.

The newcomers ended up at the bottom, as the judges found Holecko’s ghost unfunny and Parkhurst’s concept — an electrocuted punk rock girl — confusing. But in the end, Holecko was sent home for his inexplicably strange aesthetic choices, including his character’s “artichoke head” and “KISS eyes.” “It doesn’t look funny, it just looks weird,” Neill told Holecko. Still, Page reassured him as he left the stage, telling the eliminated contestant that he has “a bold aesthetic.”

Read on to see what Holecko had to say about being on the show, what he regrets about the creation that got him eliminated, and what he’s been up to since filming wrapped. 

Entertainment Weekly: What was the experience of being a contestant on Face Off like for you?
Eddie Holecko: It was everything I hoped and dreamed. Being a part of Face Off was just an incredible experience, being able to share your art with the world is the coolest thing. But also, it was insanely intense with the extreme pressures and deadlines we had to create these characters. Overall, it was just a great experience.

You were a newcomer this season. Were you intimidated by the veterans?
Being one of the younger contestants, I kind of knew that there would be a lot more people with several more years of experience, so I was expecting that, but I had no idea that the veterans would be back. Initially, that was very intimidating because they’re experienced under the pressures and deadlines, but ultimately after the first few episodes, I just tried to do my own thing and focus on the work that I was doing. It was also very motivating to work with people with such great experience, because even if you’re not working with someone, being in the same room, seeing what they do, seeing how they use different techniques, was very beneficial. I learned so much just from watching some of the veterans do their thing.

Would you be open to returning for a future season as a veteran?
I would do it again in a heartbeat. Of course, it depends on where I’m at and what I’m doing at the time, but I think if the opportunity presented itself, I would go for it.

Let’s talk about this week’s challenges. How did you feel about the Foundation Challenge with the Grim Reaper?
Oh, I loved it. It was very, very exciting to see Patrick Tatopoulos, because I’m a huge fan of his work, and it’s kind of disappointing that he’s no longer a judge on the show. It was great having him there and also, the Grim Reaper is such an iconic character. It was fun to create a character because typically, it’s just a skeleton or a dark shadow, so it allowed everyone to be creative within a certain restriction. It was difficult but it was a lot of fun.

What did you think of the Spotlight Challenge, where you were asked to combine the genres of comedy and horror?
I absolutely love the movie Beetlejuice, it’s just an honor to be in the presence of Ve Neill, the creator of that character. I was very, very excited, [but] comedy is not necessarily my forte, so trying to combine creepy and funny was quite a challenge. And I regret creating a makeup that was hyper-stylized. If I were to do it again, I would have done something more realistic but still quirky and comedic. I think I would stick with my backstory, but the design of the character would be different.

What exactly didn’t work out for you with this design?
I think there were a lot of things that didn’t work out. I mean technically, the only makeup I was 100 percent happy with was the Mrs. Man on the Moon character [I created] with Scott [Ramp]. Every other makeup, there were always so many technical things that I was unhappy with. The paint jobs are always so rushed. It’s always frustrating to send your makeup out in front of the judges with such short time constraints, and I guess this character fell short partially because I didn’t have a design established soon enough. When you have such limited time, you can’t waste any or else you’re in trouble. I think overall, I drifted away from the parameters of the challenge by making my character too stylized. I think Ve mentioned a really good point about, if I were to do that same character again, to create him with his eyes bulging out of his head. It’s kind of silly but still a little bit realistic.

Did you get the feeling that you were in trouble while you were working on your character?
I think I was just a little indecisive, and that spiraled out of control. Confidence is really important… it’s good to have a strong grasp on what you’re doing, and I think that indecision led me to rush decisions, because the time was running out, which became decisions I eventually regretted.

Over the course of this season, how have you grown as an artist?
I definitely gained quite a bit of confidence, and I still feel, like I said earlier, I was never 100 percent satisfied with anything I did on the show, so I guess you could say that I felt more confident towards the end of the show, but with such tight time restraints it was hard to feel completely satisfied. Da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned,” and on the show, we abandoned art pieces way too early.

What would you say is your biggest takeaway from being on Face Off?
That’s a tough one, ’cause there are so many little things that I picked up. I think putting your work in front of three very credible judges kind of builds your ability to come up with concepts and know that everything in your design has to have a purpose. I learned a lot about concept development and design.

And how much did the judges’ opinions matter to you?
All three judges are very very credible, and I honestly like being on bottom just to hear a critique. (Laughs) Being safe was nice, but it’s very beneficial to hear what the judges are looking for. Even watching other contestants stand in front of the judges allowed me and allowed other contestants to pick up little things here and there. And one thing I noticed throughout the season was, they would pick up on things that each contestant would consistently do and encourage us to go different routes and expand our horizons.

Any predictions about who will win this season?
I think that this is very competitive with the top five contestants left. I think it’s anyone’s game. It’s interesting that there are four veterans and only one newcomer, but Laney is a very talented artist and her application and painting abilities are very strong, so I think that can carry her through. But I’d say it depends on what challenges are next. I’m not pulling for any individual; I think it’s anyone’s game. All five are very talented. All five have completely different styles and are stronger in different parts of the game.

What are you working on now?
I returned to the Savannah College of Art and Design to finish my degree in digital effects, which is primarily computer-generated artwork. I plan on just continuing to be the best artist that I can be. I just want to learn as many techniques as possible, both digitally and practically, basically just enhance my overall ability.

What is your ultimate goal?
That’s a tough question, because technically, visual effects and special effects are two different worlds, but I’d like to do work on both. There are a lot of avenues and routes I’d like to go, but I think ultimately, it would be very satisfying to contribute to the industry in a way that would benefit other people, like coming up with some industry innovation that helps people generations after me. I think that would be the most satisfying to me, like creating a new material. That would be something to be proud of.

Face Off airs Tuesday’s on the Syfy channel at 9/8c.


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