Continuing on with our Women in Horror Month, The Creeping Craig spoke with FX creator and makeup artist Haylee Detroit about what it's like to create FX designs for haunts and films as well as the launch of her female-run FX company, Coven FX.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Haylee! Thanks so much for speaking with us today. To start things off, what does women in horror month mean to you?
Haylee Detroit: Women in Horror Month is a chance for women in the FX industry to get recognized for their talent, bringing their work to a wider audience with the use of social media. The FX industry, like so many parts of entertainment, is really dominated by male voices and it can be difficult for women to break in. I think this is a wonderful way to help those of us working in the industry to find each other, as well as inspire future female FX artists!
NC: For those who may be unfamiliar, how did you get your start in FX?
HD: I started working in FX make-up two years ago when I moved to LA from Detroit. In Detroit I was working as a cosmetic artist, where I learned quite a lot, but I wanted to do something different. My first job in the industry was as a part-time airbrush artist at Six Flag's Magic Mountain's Fright Fest, which was led by Scott Ramp, the owner of the Scream Team. That experience was a real life changer for me. Being surrounded by all that talent and so many great artists like Mike Spatola and Rod Maxwell, watching all those actors get completely transformed... I was hooked. I HAD to learn as much as I could so I could move up to a prosthetics position for the next season, which took a lot of work. I took on several internships at FX shops to gain more experience, and after working with Erick Rodriguez's Imaginerick Studio and KC Mussman's Nocturnal Designz Studio, I came back the next year to Fright Fest as a full-time Prosthetic Artist and I was in LOVE. Scott Ramp is an amazing mentor and without his direction, I wouldn't be where I am today. The next year I moved to Orange County which gave me the opportunity to work at The 17th Door Haunted House in Tustin as the Makeup Department Head, and now I am planning the opening of my own FX shop!
NC: What inspired you to start an all female makeup and special effects company?
HD: Being surrounded by so many talented women in the FX Industry is what gave me the idea to open Coven FX. Realizing that I have so many talented friends who struggle to get FX work in a male dominated industry, I started talking to Cassandra Byers about the idea of opening up my own shop. With her beauty makeup and YouTube/Social Media Marketing background, adding Cass to the equation was a no brainer. I knew we needed a strong sculptor, and when I saw Melissa Coulter's work, I had to have her on the team. With the help of some other amazing women, our combined talents give us the ability to take on any job that comes. Along the way, we've become a family, a coven, and we're all very excited to open Coven FX this summer!
NC: What has been the main difference between working on haunts and working on films?
HD: The biggest difference for me is time and detail. With a haunt, you have to get every actor done in a really short period of time and you can't spend as much time detailing out a piece. The makeup has to be more dramatic than you would typically make it for a film. The haunts are closer to theater, and with the dim lights, the more subtle details will go unnoticed. On a film, you get more time, you're responsible for less makeup, and it allows you to really perfect the look and add all the details that really pop on screen.
NC: How collaborative has the process been with each of the different special effects departments?
HD: My first two years at Fright Fest allowed me to hone my skills while taking direction from my mentor and fellow artists. This last year, as Department Head for one of SoCal's most extreme haunts, taught me how to lead a team. I was in charge of ordering makeup, teaching newer artists on the team how to properly apply prosthetics, and keeping everyone on track, turning out high quality makeup in a very short period of time. Now, as a soon-to-be shop owner, I'm learning the business side of the haunt industry. Every year I grow as an artist and as an industry professional and I look forward to what the future of Coven FX holds.
NC: Are there any different aspects of the special effects world that you are looking forward to learning more about?
HD: Coven FX will be designing a line of specialty masks geared towards women. With my partner Melissa Couter taking the lead on that team, I look forward to developing my sculpting and mask making skills! While Melissa focuses on original concepts, I'll be tackling a line of classic monsters with a direction towards women. First up is the Creature Lady (or Gill Lady I haven't decided yet)! I've started the sculpting process and it is so nice to have a seasoned professional on board to teach me as I go!
NC: If you were given free reign to design any type of mythical monster, which one would you be most interested in trying out?
HD: As far as Mythical Monsters go, I think Medusa would be a really fun character for the ladies at Coven FX and I to tackle. I love characters that require multiple methods of special effects to create. With Medusa, we could go a few directions and either make a really beautiful mask or a headpiece and custom prosthetics, foam fabricate a tail, and tie it together with body paint. It would be a great way to put all our skills to use and show what we can do as a team!
NC: Of all of your makeup creations, which has been your favorite so far?
HD: I'm really proud of the Fiji Mermaid I created for Midsummer Scream 2016. That was my first prosthetic sculpt and first foam fab mermaid tail. I had some amazing help behind the scenes with the life casting, mold making, and foam running of the piece. It was a lot of work and I learned a great deal from that project. Sadly, at conventions it's not always possible to get nice professional images of a makeup. I would love to be able to re-shoot that makeup one day.
NC: Last but not least, what upcoming projects are you excited to be a part of?
HD: We just shot Coven FX's GoFundMe EXCLUSIVE "Lucretia" Mask with award winning photographer Chad Michael Ward over the weekend! I wanted to make sure that our first shoot displayed both the beautiful mask that Melissa made, but also highlighted our make-up FX skills. We worked together as a team, each with a different task, and I couldn't have hoped for a better outcome! We had a wonderful time as our first group project at Coven FX and we're really looking forward to releasing the reveal image on Valentine's Day! We'll be offering the image as a Glossy or Metal gift with a donation from either the Sage or Shaman tiers of our fundraising campaign. Visit www.gofundme.com/covenfx to view some of our other donation perks!