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'Face Off' finale interviews: 'I feel like I tripped at the finish line'

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Image Credit: Nicole Wilder/Syfy

The newbies came prepared to conquer, but it was the vets who ultimately battled it out in Tuesday night’s season finale of Face Off. Tate Steinsiek (season one), Laura Tyler (season three), and Roy Wooley (season three) were the last three standing… each one seeking redemption.

Host McKenzie Westmore introduced the finalists to dancers from the Los Angeles Ballet who proceeded to perform a routine from Swan Lake. Naturally, their performance was the inspiration for this season’s final challenge. The trio learned they were to create a swan princess and evil sorcerer… and that their make-up better be sweat proof. From there, each artist was paired with a different era–from the Industrial Revolution, Ming Dynasty, or Italian Renaissance–and with a team of familiar assistants.

Because the project was a huge undertaking, the final three were reunited with this season’s previous contestants. The group broke apart and got straight to work.

Wooley acknowledged he felt outside of his comfort zone, but Frank Ippolito and Scott Ramp helped him along. Tyler had a few concepts–and with Eddie Holecko and Miranda Jory on her team–the trio moved quickly forward. Meanwhile, Steinsiek worked with Alana Schiro and Lyma Millot on his avian sculpture, but it didn’t initially turn out quite as he’d hoped and the trio lost some time backtracking. Each team was forced to troubleshoot one minor crisis after another until judgement day finally arrived.

Only one last live ballet performance stood between the artists and the series outcome. The Los Angeles Ballet routine went swimmingly, but, of course, it was the judges who would have the final word. After carefully reviewing each contestant’s work, the judges made their–admittedly very difficult–decision.

Ultimately, Tyler was declared winner for her Italian renaissance-inspired swan-sorcerer while Steinsiek and Wooley–ever the good sports–hugged and congratulated her.

EW spoke with Tyler, Steinsiek, and Wooley about the show’s big finish and what they’ve been working on since filming wrapped. Read more after the jump.

Q&A with season 5 winner

Entertainment Weekly: Congratulations!
Laura Tyler: Thank you! It was a very exciting night!

How does it feel?
It feels wonderful. I could not ask for better circumstances. I’m glad it all worked out–especially coming back from season three, having been in the finals and being so close yet so far away. It was great being able to come back and take what lessons I learned from the first season I was on and apply them this season. It goes to show what the show can do for you. If you’re willing to grow, you can grow as an artist within a year.

How was your approach different this second time around? What did you learn last time that you applied this time?
I feel like I tripped at the finish line [last time] because I was taking all of the notes that the judges were giving me through out season three and trying to apply them to my final make-up, but the most important thing I forgot was that–at the end of the day, I’ve got to be true to myself and I’ve got to be happy with what I produce. That was one thing I felt like I messed up on the finale of season three. I did what I thought the judges wanted to see, but I didn’t do what I wanted to do. This time, my approach was, “No matter what I want to be proud of my make-up and whether I win or lose, it’ll be win-win because I’ll be proud of my make-up.”

What was your initial reaction to the finale’s challenge?
We had just gotten off that bird challenge and then they said, “Swan Lake” and we were all thinking to ourselves, “We just got done with feathers and you’re asking us to do more feathers?” But a girl turning into a bird and being a princess, then having the option of doing a sorcerer who was responsible for turning her into a bird… I felt like there were more fantasy elements that we could bring to the table. This one definitely needed a touch of elegance and fantasy that I don’t think we were able to get beforehand with that bird challenge.

What was it like working with the previous contestants?
It was unbelievable. I don’t know if they’re going to show this, but… They always take the finalists and they’ll have a moment with the judges. Each judge will take five or ten minutes to talk to each contestant and say a few words of encouragement. One thing Glenn [Hetrick] told me was that he was going to make it very simple for me this time around. He said, “Pick people you can depend on and people you don’t have to worry about.” That’s why I picked Miranda and Eddie. I knew if I had them on my team, then I wouldn’t have to constantly check up on them. I knew I could give them something and that they could execute it without me having to constantly look over their shoulder. You need to be able to depend on your teammates and believe in them 100% and that’s exactly what I got. I think we worked very well together.

Is that what set you apart on this? What do you owe the win to?
I wasn’t worried. I was actually having a lot of fun because I didn’t need to worry about anything. I knew the sculptures were going to be beautiful. Miranda and I blocked out and detailed each of them. Our aesthetics are very similar. We both do a lot of fantasy and intricate design work with our sculptures. It was nice being able to talk to someone who speaks my language.

How did you celebrate last night? And how have you been celebrating?
No one knew. I made it a point not to tell anybody. I think my husband kind of knew a little bit. He can just look at me. I don’t have to say anything and he just knows, but nobody else knew. I was trying to keep a poker face the entire time. Sometimes better than others. I originally had only planned for maybe 15 people of my closest family and friends, but 90 people ended up coming to the party [we planned]. We had it at a local bar–Buffalo Wild Wings [in Orlando, FL]. All the TVs were on. It was a very loud roar when it was announced. I think we bothered a couple of the patrons in the bar next to us. It was overwhelming the support I got–on the internet, Twitter, and in real life too. I’ve been blessed and humbled by the experience.

What are you working on now that filming has wrapped?
I’m working on a few things. I just got done working on Halloween Horror Night. Simultaneously, I was also working at Sea World–they have a Halloween event there too. So I did Sea World in the morning and Halloween Horror Night at night. Then during the week days, I work at Ripley’s Believe It or Not–their international warehouse where they make all of their plastic figurines and wax figures for all of their museums around the world–that’s all based out of here in Orlando, FL. And between all of that, I filmed [something] for the Katie Couric Show in October. They flew me up to NY. We filmed that and I had to come right back. Then the week before that I was working on a major motion picture because a month before that I just got into the make-up union. It’s important as a make-up artist to get into the make-up union, so that you can work on million dollar features. As soon as I got done filming, it’s been non-stop–crazy make-up, make-up, make-up! I’m very happy and in my element.

What is your ultimate goal in the industry?
Film application has always been the goal. I love my sculpting and my painting, but to work with performers and to see them transformed into a character. Make-up isn’t always the star of the show in a major motion picture. We’re just supporting cast. We’re supporting the overall movie and as a team we come together and we create this amazing work of art. As a team member, I want to see the project fulfilled.

Q&A with finalist Roy Wooley

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Image Credit: Nicole Wilder/Syfy

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you approach this season differently than your first time on the show?
Roy Wooley: It was a lot harder of a season. The last time I did this was almost a year ago. It was so much the last time. I don’t think I’d recovered from being on the show for season three, then I went on to do season five. It was a creative drain. I hadn’t recovered from the previous season. I had several things I wasn’t happy with. I just tried to do what I did in season three, which is do things I wanted to see. I spent a lot of time in season five trying to make the judges happy. At times, I created things I thought they would want to see out of me. In season three, I did a lot of fabrication, but not enough make-up. This time I wanted to focus more on make-up and I think my pieces overall suffered because of it.

What was your initial reaction to this final challenge?
Shock and disappointment. Because I’m not a ballet person. I don’t have anything against ballet. I just don’t think it lends itself well to the special effects industry. It’s hard enough doing these make-ups without having that extra thing–like having them dance or dive into water or set them on fire. It makes it more difficult, which is fine. That’s part of the competition, but I think you lose a lot of quality pieces [that way]. We all wanted to do something big for the finale, but the fact that they had to dance and spin and twirl in them, it prevents you from doing a really beautiful piece.

Going into this challenge, did you already have an inkling that maybe things wouldn’t go the way you wanted?
In all honesty, after making it to the final three, it didn’t matter. I wanted to win, but winning wasn’t the priority for me. At that point, I just wanted to have fun. That’s why I picked Frank and Scott because I knew those two guys that I could count on and that they would have fun too. We didn’t have any issues whatsoever. That last challenge was for us to have fun and turn out some nice pieces, which I think we did. I think ours hit the ballet probably better than Laura and Tate–as for the overall look.

Is there anything you’d do different if you could the challenge again?
No, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d do it the same way and I would do it with the same people. I have no regrets whatsoever about anything this season. Even the barriers that I had, I learned from them. The whole point of doing all this is to never stop learning and not being afraid to mess up. Take accountability from your [mistakes] and learn from them.

What are you working on now that filming has wrapped?
I’m doing some second unit make-up on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay [Part 1] in Atlanta. I’m happy to be part of it. I’m just making people dirty, but there are so many incredible make-up artists working on this film. [Judge] Ve Neill is one of the heads of the department. She’s started so many incredible artists–like Conor [McCullagh] from season one. It’s incredible to meet these people and to get to work with them. I’m also doing some work on The Vampire Diaries series. A lot of good things have been happening because of the show. I want to thank everybody involved for allowing me to be on the show. It’s all thanks to the show. The show has given me exposure. It put me out there. It’s definitely because of the show.

Q&A with finalist Tate Steinsiek

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Image Credit: Nicole Wilder/Syfy

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like being on Face Off for the second time around? How did you approach it differently?
Tate Steinsiek: I approached it differently–knowing how important it is to harness your thoughts and remain calm regardless of whatever happens to you. Obviously losing your composure in moments of tough things really doesn’t benefit you in that situation or anywhere for that matter. I had a calmness about the second season. I was able to collect my thoughts a lot better. I had a better idea of what I can do in this constrained timeframe. That was the big advantage. I had a much clearer view of what I could pull off in under 20 hours versus the newbies, where it was completely new to them.

What will you take away from your experience on the show?
What I’ll take away most from this experience is honestly my swan. I’ve never had to create something like that. I’ve never been forced [to]. I don’t go out for jobs like that. People know that I’m horror guy, so the fact that I had the opportunity where I had to make something more feminine and more beautiful and graceful, it really flipped my lid, but as the design process furthered, I realized I was doing something that I genuinely really loved. Watching last night and seeing her perform again, I’m really proud of the fact that I was able to step outside of my common design zone and make something that gorgeous. Overall, [I'm thrilled] that I was able to put my work on a world platform again and successfully create some really memorable characters this season–more so than I did in the first season. I’ve had a good response from people.

When it came to the final challenge, is there anything you’d do differently if you could?
Absolutely. I would have bribed the producers not to randomly draw my name third in the pick for my [assistants]. {laughs} If I could do anything differently, I would have made sure that my team was on more of a common page and had a common goal, way earlier in the challenge. That was my fault as team leader, so I’ll take that.

What are you working on now that filming has wrapped?
I’m directing my first feature. I’m in New York directing a film about a true story. It’s an early 1970’s period piece about a man battling drug addiction who works for the mob. It’s amazing. We have a ridiculous cast put together–a lot of really well-known indie actors and some all-around well-known names. It’s currently titled Untouchable. Right now, I can only release a couple of the names because we’re doing a big press release, but… We’re working with Brendan Sexton III from Boys Don’t Cry and The Killing. We’re also working with some cast from Dexter. I can vaguely mention that we have some extremely talented people cast. We’re going into principal photography on December 2nd.

Is this the direction you want to move in? Directing?
Absolutely. That’s always been my goal. I don’t want to step away from make-up. I still want to own and manage and conceptualize an effects company, but I like to tell stories. I don’t just want to create the characters in the world. I want to create the world around them. This initial film, it’s not a horror film–which I’m grateful for–because as a director you don’t want to be typecast as just the horror guy, but… That being said, for my next film that I’m directing immediately after this… I’m working in conjunction with Clive Barker and his company Seraphim Films to produce this. It’s one after the next. I’m jumping right into the middle of horror. Clive Barker is about as close to horror royalty as you can get.

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