First-year student Sophie Stark can transform anyone into a completely new character with the power of special effects makeup. A hobby she picked up during her sophomore year of high school, she honed her skills through hours of individual practice and observation.
The Hustler was able to talk with Sophie in the midst of festive preparation for Crawford’s Halloween haunted house on Friday night. This year’s theme was Current Status: Fear, which featured the general chemistry exam, an ER during a pandemic, the purge, a zoo break and a clown forest.
Sophie was hard at work on turning the faculty head of house, Catherine McTamaney, into a zombified Frank Crawford. In a choreographed flurry of careful brush strokes and work with prosthetics, she made a masterpiece all while discussing her experience with this impressive skill.
Her favorite aspect of special effects makeup is the power to turn someone into an entirely different person or even a fantastic, imaginative character.
“It’s difficult, but when the effect is right, it’s addicting to be able to feel like you can be whoever you want,” Sophie said.
Originally for a Halloween costume, Sophie started out working with body paint. Her friends’ positive response to her first creation sparked an interest that has developed into a full-blown skill with an arsenal of prosthetics, chemicals and specialized makeup.
Working individually on her own face has been the key to improving, but she also finds inspiration from action and older horror movies like The Terminator, Mad Max: Fury Road, John Carpenter’s The Thing and David Cronenberg’s The Fly. Along with watching the movies themselves, seeing interviews from movies like The Revenant helps to get an in-depth understanding.
A finished product can take up to five hours, and Sophie feels her most challenging events have been ones involving a time crunch. While she found it difficult to pinpoint her best work, her hope is to be an expert at gore. She aims not just to create gore, but also to convey a message.
As an artist, she tends to always look for ways to perfect her craft. She sees all her past creations in a critical yet fond lens. “They’re like ugly children. You love all of them, but they’re not really right,” she jokingly said of her works so far.
She often posts pictures on Instagram displaying her work and is always looking for models that want special effect makeup done. Although Sophie is undecided in her future path, a dream would be doing this professionally if the opportunity arose.
Photography by Ziyi Liu, Multimedia Director