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INT: Bart Mixon

04.16.2004by: The Arrow

The Arrow interviews Bart Mixon

Bart Mixon has an endless "genre friendly" resume, having tackled pretty much every position that exists within the world of Special Effects. I'm talking makeup effects, special effects, visual effects and more! His work can be seen in groovy films' like "Nightmare on Elm Street 2", "Pet Semetary", "The Ring", "House of 1000 Corpses", "MIB 2" and the upcoming "Hellboy". I had the chance to talk shop with the lad and here's what came out of it.

ARROW: What's your favorite horror movie?

BART: That's a tricky one. The 1933 KING KONG is my all-time favorite movie, but is it really a "horror film." The 1960's HAUNTING and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN are close seconds.

ARROW: How did you get into the art of makeup, visual and special effects? Was it a long time dream or did you stumble into it by fluke.

BART: It was something that I had wanted to do for a long time. Growing up, I either wanted to be a comic book artist, a stop-motion animator, or a make-up effects artist. I had done all three on a fan level in the late '60's and early '70's, but make-up effects won out. Movies like THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LOA and PLANET OF THE APES made huge impressions, but reading about Rick Baker in "Famous Monsters" when he did SCHLOCK made the biggest. At 18 years old, I met Rick at a Houston Con in 1977 [the same con Steve Johnson, another "Houston native," met him at] and kept in touch over the years via the mail. While still living in Texas, a friend, Ernie Farino, got me a job at Roger Corman's New World Pictures in 1981 on FORBIDDEN WORLD. 

On that show, I met Mark Shostrom, and we became friends, working together on shows like RAW COURAGE, THE SUPERNATURALS, and ELM STREET TWO. While waiting for THE SUPERNATURALS to start, I worked a little with Ernie Farino and my brother, Bret, at Fantasy II Film Effects on THE TERMINATOR. Here I met the owner, Gene Warren, for whom I would run the creature effects shop for on such shows as FRIGHT NIGHT PART TWO, STEPHEN KING'S IT, etc. After working on ROBOCOP in Texas in 1986, I moved to L.A. in early 1987 to work on films full time.

ARROW: Your filmography is quite impressive with so many stellar titles on hand such as Terminator 2, Pet Sematary 2, The Ring, House of 1000 Corpses etc. But the title that caught my attention the most was Nightmare on Elm Street 2, which is a guilty favorite of mine. What effects did you perform on that show?

BART: I was a key member of Mark Shostrom's [small] crew, and we created all the effects involving the boy who Freddy bursts out of. I did all types of lab work from sculpting dummy heads and finger appliances, to building the mechanics for the long tongue that he has while making out with his girl friend. I did the story boards for the transformation sequence, and suggested the gag with Freddy's eye in the back of the boy's throat.

ARROW: Looking back, how was the Nightmare on Elm Street 2 experience? Was it a relaxed and pleasant set?

BART: It was GREAT! I was a fan of the first one, so, of course, working on the sequel was a thrill in itself. I was still living in Texas, and came out to L.A. for 11 weeks or so to work on it with Mark. I cannot say it was relaxed, as we had a lot to do in those 11 weeks, working 12 to 16 hour days, sometimes 7 days a week!  We worked 40 hours non-stop getting everything read and shooting our first [of two days on the transformation! The set was pleasant enough, and I think everyone was happy with what we created.

ARROW: What is your opinion of the film itself?

BART: Truthfully, I was disappointed. We tried to get the production to do more creative, visual effects type sequences, and they would not. Of course, part three was loaded with these types of visuals, and a better film, I thought, because of them. Also, part two was so dark [photographically] to the point of not being able to see the new and improved Freddy make-up. I do not think the producers really understood what made the first one work; in fact they came VERY close to not casting Robert England as Freddy, but using a stunt man, ala the FRIDAY films.

ARROW: You seem to have touched upon pretty much every field of the Special Effects and Makeup world. Which one fulfills you the most as an artist? 

BART: By far, the make-up effects. There's something very cool about gluing a nice prosthetic onto a good actor and seeing a new character born. HELLBOY is probably the best example of this, but also something as simple as my Pennywise in IT, or my deformed ear on the Scottish bully in RUSHMORE are very satisfying. Of course, I have done some effects animation and/or miniature work for other films, and that was fun, too.

ARROW: Is there one visual effect you've accomplished or helped create, of which you are particularly most proud? Which one and why?

BART: Of my own, personal work, I think Pennywise the clown, is the one of which I am the proudest. I think Tim Curry did a fantastic job bringing that make-up to life. It has been over ten years since I created that make-up, and I still have people come up to me and tell me how much if frightened them in their youth. Likewise, I am such a HELLBOY fan that I HAD to be a part of that movie, and I think we will not be disappointed by the results.

ARROW: What horror franchise would you love to contribute to that you haven't yet?

BART: At the time, I was probably most disappointed that circumstances did not permit me to be involved with EVIL DEAD 2 with Mark Shostrom. Also, when I had my shop, ME*FX, we were bidding on FREDDY VS. JASON [this was the 1997 version] and I would have liked to have done that one.

ARROW: You just finished working on Hellboy. Which effect do you think is going to knock our fanboy sox off in that picture?

BART: EVERYTHING in HELLBOY is so fantastic, but I think by far, HELLBOY is one of the most amazing make-ups ever! Matt Rose did a fantastic job translating Mike Mignola's 2-D style into a believable, flesh and blood character. Every inch of Ron Perlman is covered, but it looks SO natural and real. He IS Hellboy!

ARROW: What's next for you in terms of effects gigs?

BART: Looking into a few things, but nothing I can talk about at this time. I hope HELLBOY 2 happens soon.

ARROW: Any advice for the budding effect artist out there?

BART: Someone asked Rick Baker this question at the con I met him at in 1977.  He said, "don't." We all had a good laugh, but now, some 20 years later, I can see what he meant. I LOVE doing this work, and would not want to do anything else, but it can be a major pain in the ass! It is such a competitive field, with less and less work to go around these days; bidding on jobs is a pain; and while you work with some great people, you also run into your share of jerks. But, hey, follow that dream!  With magazines like CINEFEX, MAKE-UP ARTIST MAGAZINE, etc., you have all the information you need to know how to do it, you just have to do it. If some guy from Texas can make it, you can to. And embrace those damn computers, they are here to help you, they can be your friend.

Thanks a lot, Bart for dropping in and giving us some insight as to the world behind the latex. Keep kicking butt my friend!

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