When it comes to special-effects wizardry, Rick Prince knows how to rock your Face Off!
Nashville-native Rick Prince is an artist, sculptor and special-effects expert who recently appeared on the Syfy Channel reality TV show, Face Off. I caught up with him at the haunted attraction, Nashville Nightmare, where he currently presides as the Special Effects Coordinator, moments before operating a giant 7-foot Crocosaurus that had to be seen to be believed. Rick discusses competing on Face Off, creating haunting creations and celebrating the 30th Anniversary of The Transformers by building a full-scale replica of Bumblebee.
You’ve been a busy, busy man, since last we spoke.
– “Since last we spoke, I’ve been on Face Off, on the Syfy Channel, competing in that reality show, with Glenn, Ve and Neville as the judges, there with McKenzie and a whole host of veterans and the newcomers. That’s been an absolute and incredible ride. Over the arc of the past year, things have been really moving in leaps and bounds, for me. It’s been like a rocket-rollercoaster ride, straight to the top. Depending on how you perceive the show, straight off the tracks and all that kind of stuff. I had the great fortune of having a good run, on the show, regardless and have had nothing but great fan support and a big outcry from people across the world. It’s really been overwhelming to see how many people appreciated what I was able to do in the three episodes I was on.”
Has your appearance on Face Off led to any new projects?
– “It has. You and I are both seated here on the facility of Nashville Nightmare. That opened up, right as I got back from shooting. As soon as I finished on Face Off, before it even aired on the Syfy Channel, I got contacted by the owner of Nashville Nightmare, Brad Webb. He said he had a great thing going, here. I came and checked it out and verified that it very much was an incredible thing he has brewing here, in Nashville. I had just been so busy and preoccupied with bigger contracts from other companies that I didn’t have a chance to really look around town, here at home. So, he reached out to me and I came over here and signed on to be the Special Effects Coordinator at Nashville Nightmare, about one mile north of Briley Parkway, in Madison, TN. It’s great.”
What are some aspects of your job, as the Special Effects Coordinator?
– “Right now, as we speak, I’m in between breaks. Earlier today, it was recovery from Friday night. We’re open on Friday and Saturday until we start next weekend, then we’re open the whole weekend: Friday, Saturday, Sunday. In the first part of the morning, it’s prep and clean. Get everything prepped ready. Pour silicone if we need to have positives that haven’t been yielded already, from our molds. Make sure all of our stations are stocked. Make sure all of our makeup supplies are in position and ready to go; all the airbrushes are cleaned, because we have about 70 actors that come through here, any given evening who play an incredible range of roles that require a full-prosthetic makeup or all the way down to just a regular background-character mask. Blackouts for people who will operate. Some of the animatronic equipment doesn’t need to be fully suited up, because it won’t be seen.”
“So, we have this range of duties, in the makeup department, specifically. And that’s where I come in. I wrangle everyone who comes in the door, stage the makeups, make sure that everyone has their supplies. Make sure that all 70 people are assigned the right makeup artist for their character. I also do makeup, each night. As we’re in between, I help the actors break, ask if anyone needs anything. It just depends on what comes up at any given night, but by and large, I’m the coordinator for the makeup and the makeup department.”
What’s the theme, this year?
– “We have two attractions onsite, here at Nashville Nightmare. We have Night Terrors, which is the larger of the two. I think it has around 60,000 square feet. Pardon me, but I don’t have any numbers around me. But you can go to Nashville Nightmare and it’ll tell you all about it. Night Terrors is a huge, huge event. There are 13 different types of events that go on there. It takes about 40 minutes to get through, on average. You start in the manor, in the front of the house. There are actors who are scattered throughout. There are animatronics everywhere you look. The environments are fully built out by the incredible artists and props builders who work in our scenery departments and then we do our job in makeup, to give the talent what they need, to really scare the wits out of people.”
“Also on the facility, we have Dark Descent, which is about 8,000 square feet, I believe. It’s an entirely dark event that you walk through with your own lighting element. Parts of it look like you’re walking through Aliens. It’s kind of this post-Chernobyl event, where everything’s gone haywire in this research facility and there are left-over creatures from what had happened and scientists who were there before this meltdown had occurred. There’s a bulk pass, where you can buy both houses, or you can go to each one, individually.”
I’m guessing your goal is to have the top attraction in the country?
– “We really do a bang-up job, each night, of making sure that Nashville gets the No. 1 haunted attraction in the nation. We’ve made the Top 31 List for one of the haunted attraction magazines, so we’re climbing up into a national level, for that recognition. We’re going over just being the best around. We’re trying to get national recognition, at this point.”
You’re also teaching makeup classes, aren’t you?
– “I do. I’m offering a prosthetic class, right now. I do airbrush instruction. I teach application. I teach sculpting, mold-making… everything that it takes to do what we’re doing on Face Off, for instance. I have a class running right now, that takes students from A-Z, right through facial prosthetic sculpting, mold-making and application, so they have their own wearable mask that they’ve created for this Halloween that they know how to apply, how to fix, how to replicate themselves. They take these skills away with them. I offer lectures.”
“I offer demonstrations where I talk while I give an application of makeup. These are really hands-on, very-involved classes. This is a five-week class that I’m teaching right now. I’ve got a couple of students in here, doing a great job. I’m really impressed with what they’ve been able to create. Frank Ippolito got a chance to stop by and visit with the class, on his way from Vegas to Toronto, I believe. You sign up for the class and all these things may happen, you know what I mean? It’s great to be so well-connected now, through the Face Off family. They’ve really just opened the world up, to all of us. It’s been great.”
What’s the status of your full-scale Transformer, Bumblebee?
– “Bumblebee is mid-paint, still. It’s a fan-supported thing. He actually had to take a little bit of a hiatus, while all of the show’s activity. He became a little bit of a backburner, but he still exists. I’ve got him in my storage, with some other Transformer goodies, that are in the process of getting going. I don’t know if you know, but 2014 is the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Transformers. Back in my youth, I used to run home from school and catch Transformers, in 1984. There’s a lot of big things coming from Hasbro, including the feature film. They’re already gearing up that celebration. Us, along with them. Sparks should ignite, again. We’ll get his circuits going and see what we can put up, now that we’ve got so many more followers and so much more support.”
“Talking with some of the people in the house of Face Off, there’s a lot of interest from some of the other players, there. So, stay tuned. It might re-launch on Kickstarter. There have been a lot of really well-supported practical special-effects campaigns. This is one of those: By the fans, for the fans. We have a lot more to show than we did, the last time we made a big step forward. We went from a concept, to having a vehicle, to deconstructing the vehicle. You can see some of these things on the social-media side, as they happen. We’re posting videos of us taking the car apart and where we had it assembled and put in the gallery in the middle of downtown Nashville. He definitely has momentum. It’s something people want to see. So, he’s just waiting for his time to shine, probably in the first quarter of 2014.”