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For over 35 years in the special effects industry, special effects legend Robert Kurtzman has been involved in over 15 different horror film franchises, over 150 films and television projects, and s ‘is even creatively extended outside of the makeup world by creating enduring gender stories like Master of Vows and From dusk till dawn. With Black friday, the latest film to feature his incredibly imaginative FX work, Kurtzman brings life-sucking amorphous blobs to life, hordes of infected, and even an 80-foot monster to boot in the ambitious horror comedy that follows a group of toy store employees deal with the worst customers possible. It would be a tall order for many artists working in Hollywood, but for Kurtzman and his team at Robert Kurtzman MUFX, they appreciated the opportunity to enjoy some creative freedom while helping director Casey Tebo to fully realize. the vision he had for his independent horror comedy. .

“I think one of the things that turned me on the most Black friday That’s when I read the script and realized that we had a lot of leeway to come up with something original, ”Kurtzman explained. “It wasn’t going to be just another simple zombie movie. There were transformations and real creatures and an idea behind it where it wasn’t just infected people running around. There’s also these masses crashing all over the place, and then you see one of the masses turn into the giant “Mega Shopper” monster coming out of the top of the store, and I was like, “Wow, this is gonna be so crazy and so funny. And getting to do it practically was awesome – thank goodness they didn’t say, “Oh, that’s gonna be all CGI.” We were able to build a real practical costume that an actor wore and we filmed it in it against a green screen so we could make it look like there was a real 80ft tall monster. “

Kurtzman Balog and Biran Spears Artist FX

“When you do these low budget movies, what you don’t want is for your movie to look like one of those old SyFy Channel movies where the creature was still digital, and it looked like a bad drawing. animated. They never looked good. So I think a lot of these filmmakers working on the independent side of things always want to get practical because the thought is, “Why not? Why can’t I do most of this hands-on stuff? “It’s always possible if you plan well, and there’s also something the actors can interact with.”

As Kurtzman mentioned, he was delighted when he found out that the creatures he was going to bring to life (or make ‘non-alive’ might be more specific) to Black friday Weren’t going to be regular zombie creatures, but Tebo and screenwriter Andy Greskoviak were willing to take their initial ideas even further than they initially imagined. “I know Casey and Andy were always open to us coming up and going a little bit crazy with their initial ideas. Then Casey got this idea of ​​whether the creatures had these weird octopus-like beaks. We didn’t want to. not that they do. look like a bird, but we can play with all of these otherworldly elements because of what these creatures are, so where can we take that? all of these ideas turned into this that you see in the movie. “

Like many others, Kurtzman found himself sidelined during the pandemic, with Black friday being his first project back in the mix of things on set. While he was excited to return to the makeup trailer, dealing with new precautions and other limitations presented some challenges for Robert, his crew, and director Casey Tebo.

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“Because Black friday was our first movie with all these protocols and restrictions, it was a little frustrating at first for everyone, ”Kurtzman recalls. “Not only do you wear a mask, but you also have your face mask on, and every time you breathe, it gets carried away and you don’t see your actor at all. It was driving me crazy, but now we did it on four or five shows, so I got used to it. But we were basically on leave for six months until Black friday kicked off, and this was our first show with COVID protocols. We had to take COVID online training courses and things like that with our union and basically go through all the protocols. I’m a neat freak and a clean freak anyway, but in makeup we clean everything all the time anyway. So it was all obvious to us, with just a few new additions to our routines. “

“There were challenges, though. There were a few instances where we had to use a little cinematic magic to get some of those scenes bigger because we couldn’t have more than five or six people at a time. in a shot because of COVID. We all had to stay separate from each other during production, so we couldn’t have a hundred people on set. There were scenes where it seemed like a lot of people were walking through the store , but actually there were maybe about five people in each of those shots. We did a few shots outside, but even then we only had maybe ten or fifteen people. But they made these plate shots so that they could move those ten or fifteen people towards making it look like a bigger group of people. Casey had to be strategic about setting up the action, making her seem busier than we couldn’t really do it ire, which worked very well. “

While Kurtzman had only good things to say about his time working on Black friday, there was one thing that made the whole deal even more special for him – his son, Louie Kurtzman, played the role of a new salesperson who ends up having the worst first day of work in retail when he is infected and turns into one of the Infected, prowling the store in search of new victims.

“My son, Louie, plays Emmett, the guy who goes through all the transformation stages. He’s an actor too, and he’s got that kind of build, so I’ve been using him in a few different projects lately. because he’s very slim and great for doing makeup because of his body type. We basically had six design steps that we were going to showcase in Louie’s photo, and we already had his body cast and head, this which made it easy to jump in and start working on her character. “

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“But it was fun for me to work with him because I knew he was going to be amazing and he also has a really good understanding of stunts and the physical aspects of a creature. That’s why I continue to use it. I used it in that other show called First murder we just did it for Netflix. He knows how to walk like a creature would walk, and there are so many times you get an actor who doesn’t connect to that kind of work, and effects guys hate that. We love guys who are costume designers, who know how to move and make him look like a creature without making him look silly. And he’s one of those guys, so it was really cool working with him. I had so much fun working with him on this, ”Kurtzman added.

As Robert deals with the effects side of things these days, he’s hoping that one day soon he’ll be back in the director’s chair and has a few things in the works, waiting for the stars to align so that it could give horror fans more cinematic nightmares to enjoy. “I’ll definitely be directing again soon. I have a couple things in the works, but I really enjoy doing effects, so I guess I don’t put pressure on myself to just direct or not. I’m comfortable with it. the process that takes to get a movie started, even if it takes forever, so I don’t put that extra stress on myself when I feel like something has to happen now. but if I just wanted to direct now and that ‘ is all I wanted to do, and that’s all I was focusing on, and it didn’t happen as fast as I wanted it to, so it’s just extra stress. it happens, and j ‘ve got a lot going on, but I’m not gonna worry about that until it happens. And it’s about relationships too. Sometimes the person who’s going to make your movie, you don’t have it. met yet. You maybe meet them on another movie or movie down the line and then you work well together , then everything evolves from there. “


Black friday is now showing in select theaters and available on demand November 23. Check out the trailer below:

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