Face Off: Covert Characters – Mission Impossible Meets Gale Anne Hurd (Review)

Last week on Face Off, Yvonne won and Ant was sent home. This week with the Covert Character focus challenge a new standard is set on the reality competition series where Mission Impossible meets Gale Anne Hurd.

Face Off - Season 10

Last week on Face Off, Yvonne won and Ant was sent home. This week with the Covert Character focus challenge a new standard is set on the reality competition series where Mission Impossible meets Gale Anne Hurd. The contestants had to create characters for a challenge inspired by Hurd’s new SyFy show Hunters.

Michael Westmore appeared outside of his usual role of guidance provider and revealed that in his career as makeup guru and icon that he created disguises for real life covert operations. The challenge was for the artists to disguise their agents enough that they could not  be recognized.

The main issue this week was for the hopefuls to design and apply realistic looking makeup that could pass scrutiny in real life versus on camera.

Face Off - Season 10
The contestants and the “Agents of HUNTER” Challenge…

On this Face Off  challenge the contestants met their models before they began the sculpting and molding process.  While there was a certain amount of creativity in the products that were designed, each one had to  hide the identity of the model.

To anyone who has watched Mission Impossible where characters were “made up” to look like real people, this challenge will strike a chord. While the artists were not duplicating another person’s look, they did have to hide the model’s face well enough that they could not be recognized and have their “cover blown.”

Michael Westmore and McKenzie came around during the sculpting process to dispense wisdom and guidance.  This particular challenge brought out strengths and weakness of all the contestants. It also brought to the fore at least one’s  sense of misplaced confidence.

The covert makeup created by the competitors ranged from gender change to race transference and in one case, both. Another contestant, Melanie Licata, played  the gender change card with an added element of old age makeup.

Face Off - Season 10
Samuel “Njoroge” Karumba setting the bar way too high.

While all the artists recognized that the focus challenge had to be perfect, by the end of the episode, with last looks and then final judging, not everyone was up to the problems that realistic makeup brings about. Interestingly, the one competitor who went on to win, clearly had it together throughout the entire process and was the only one who really “got” the challenge.

Rob Seal’s creation, as pointed out by all the judges, was nothing spectacular and Neville Page went so far as to call the makeup boring. This was, however, the point of the disguises that the contestants were meant to create. Something that would pass unnoticed in a crowd and not stand out.

Face Off - Season 10
Rob Seal in the middle of “nailing” this challenge.

Interestingly, all the judges, including Gale Anne Hurd who sat on the  panel this week, gazed at the creations with stoic expressions that revealed nothing in the way of initial impressions. It was not until the panel members took a closer look that anyone actually reacted to the disguises.

Clearly the realism required escaped many of the competitors, with a number of creations suffering poor paint application and edges being too rough. At the end of the judging,  Robert, Njoroge, Rob, Melissa, Kaleb and Katie were the best and the worst. The rest of the competitors were s allowed to go back stage being safe from expulsion this week.

At this point none of the contestants have been given the immunity card.

Face Off - Season 10
Robert Lindsay, the other “Rob” to knock the challenge out of the park this week.

Njoroge was the hopeful  sent home this week after failing to understand just why his creation did not work. Once again the judges expressed their usual brand of compassion for the winners and the loser in the competition.

Face Off provided a great  tie in to The Walking Dead‘s Gale Anne Hurd with her new SyFy show Hunters and offered a brilliant deviation from the usual challenge on the reality competition show. The series airs Wednesdays on SyFy, tune in and watch the work behind the magic.

Face Off: Child’s Play – Paul Reubens & Touchy Team-Work

Last week on Face Off the contestants created alien bounty hunters and this episode; Child’s Play marks a distinct change of theme and pace

Face Off - Season 10

Last week on Face Off the contestants created alien bounty hunters and this episode/challenge; Child’s Play marks a distinct change of theme and pace. Guest Judge Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee Herman, had  pulses racing amongst the hopefuls and when they all arrived at the iconic Culver Studios, McKenzie Westmore dropped the group a hint when she mentioned “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”

The competitors, after walking through the studio lot, end up on a soundstage packed with giant toys, McKenzie and Ve Neill.  The setting is perfect for this week’s Spotlight Challenge, to create a “wacky larger than life character” inspired by one of the inanimate objects on the set.

Like last week’s challenge, the group was separated into teams. Ve, who won an Emmy for working on Pee-wee’s Playhouse (back in the day) picked the teams and dispensed some advice. Melissa, who won last week’s challenge, was allowed to pick which team she wanted to join and she decided to work with Rob and Jonny.

After getting some pointers from Ve, the teams all entered the set of giant toys and brainstormed, the first part of the creative process. Once the hopefuls chose their object for inspiration a template was developed and the next stage started.

Face Off - Season 10
Samuel “Njoroge” Karumba & Jennifer Bowden begin the process…

Prior to the moulding phase, McKenzie brought her father Michael down to look over the efforts and as usual he offered advice and guidance to the competitors.  After the contestants took  in his suggestions the process moved on. At least one team improved their relationship after Mr. Westmore’s interaction.  Melanie Licata and Anna Cali had been butting heads over their “watch” character until the master offered some needed encouragement.

After a touchy, and sometimes very awkward, start the teams got it together. Unfortunately for Walter Welsh and  Greg Schrantz, teamwork could sort out their moulding problems.  (Fortunately for the pair, their creation was voted “safe” at the end of the show.) When they opened up the apparatus and inspected the end results they found the foam pieces shot through with holes and rough versus the necessary smooth finish they were expecting.

Robert Lindsay and Yvonne Cox had issues with a disconnect between styles of application. Robert’s leisurely approach to a painting the cowl got on Yvonne’s nerves. Finally she retrieved  the unfinished piece and put it on the model for application.

The contestants finished up and went to meet the judges, after all the hopefuls being blown away by Paul Reubens’ presence, and an unabashed plug for the actor’s latest project; the TV movie Pee-wee’s Big Holidaythe judges took  an in-depth look at the creations.

Face Off - Season 10
Close but no cigar as Lollipop comes in second.

While Melissa, Rob and Jonny along with Anna and Mel were the top two teams, it was the latter whose creation won and Mel got the gong for best makeup. As in any challenge on Face Off, there was loser and the Crayon creation by Samuel “Njoroge” Karumba and Jennifer Bowden was hand’s down the bottom of all the characters and Jennifer was sent home.

Face Off - Season 10
Irony; the touchy team pull it together to become “Top Team.”

Reubens was effusive with his praise for both the “winning” teams this week. One amusing moment had Paul saying the word “nipple” a number of times and then apologizing, Neville Page joked that it worked for him.

The judges were a tad more descriptive in their praise and guidance this week, oddly contrasting the “childish” theme of the creations, with Glenn Hetrick winning the “most graphic description” with his pronouncement that “Njoroge” and Jennifer “kneecapped” themselves by opting for all one colour on their crayon creation.

Face Off continues to prove just why it is the critic’s choice and an award winning reality competition show. The series airs Wednesdays on SyFy. Tune in and watch the magic unfold.

Face Off: Wanted Dead or Alive – A Bountiful Start (Review)

Season 10 for Face Off started on Wednesday with Wanted Dead or Alive and 14 contestants began their first steps into what looked to be a “bountiful” start to the newest series of the award winning reality competition program.

Face Off - Season 10

Season 10 for Face Off started on Wednesday with Wanted Dead or Alive and 14 contestants began their first steps into what looked to be a “bountiful” start to the newest series of the award winning reality competition program.  McKenzie Westmore returned as the host/presenter, along with her iconic father Michael who, once again, offered advice and guidance to the competitors.

The theme for the opening segment was  based on alien bounty hunters and the hopefuls had to create a “hunter” to match the spaceships pictured. They were placed into teams by McKenzie and it was the first “double” challenge faced by the contestants. Not only did they have to come up with a character but they had to work with a stranger who shared the same assertive traits.

Some teams worked well together and others clearly did not fit at all. One thing that still worked perfectly was the team of judges, Hetrick, Neill and Page. As usual the three offered insight into what worked and what does not. The trio are full of compassion for the contestants and at the end, when one must go home, works of encouragement are offered.

Face Off - Season 10
Glenn Hetrick Ve Neill, Neville Page, Judges three…

After the first stage, where teams were formed and plans made, the audience learned more about the contestants, their passions, training, goals and a bit of backstory.  Rather interestingly, at least two of the hopefuls are graduates of the Savini school of makeup.  Tom Savini is another iconic name in Hollywood special effects (FX) makeup and it was nice to hear his school mentioned by a couple of alumni.

Michael Westmore as mentor offered advice to the competitors and the two contestants who really have failed to mesh;  Anthony Canonica Jr and Johnny Leftwich change their plans but still could work together effectively as a team.

Each stage revealed more about the artists and their personalities and levels of assertiveness versus their ability to be a team player.  Some, like the former dental technician Robert Lindsay,  were a seemingly perfect combination of confident performance and a willingness to compromise.

His partner in this challenge, Katie Kinney was revealed to be good in the assertive but not so great in the team work;  wanting to do everything and getting stressed when Robert uses techniques and materials that she was not familiar with to glue on “mandibles.”

Missing  in this season, thus far,  is the “adorable” factor that is present in previous contests. There is no Meg Wilbur (Season Nine) or Keaghlan Ashley (Season 7) or Alana Rose Schiro (Season 5) to fulfill that role, although Canadian contestant Yvonne Cox comes close with her quiet determination and self confidence.

Face Off - Season 10
The new “bunch.”

In terms of teams, or perhaps more accurately partners, that worked well together, Melissa Abbe (she goes on to win) and Anna Call made a perfect match and could also be competitors for that “adorable” contestant role. These two meshed from the first moment they sat down to go over ideas for their creation.

Face Off - Season 10
Melissa and Anna work in perfect harmony

After each stage the teams either came together  or did not.  By the end of the show, the contestants learned about the “one time immunity” vote which could save an artist from expulsion and who the best and worst contestant was for the first episode.

Melissa went on to win for her efforts and, sadly, Gregg was sent home. As usual, Neville Page sent the hopeful away with words of encouragement.

Greg Schrantz the first to be sent home.
Greg Schrantz the first to be sent home.

This season of Face Off still has the Twitter voting process; viewers can head over to @FaceOffSyFy to vote for their favorites (On the night.)  and to see what the “players” (Judges, host, et al.) have to “tweet” about the show.

Face Off is a must for anyone who love the processes behind the magic onscreen and the creativity is involves from a personal level. The series airs Wednesdays on SyFy, tune in and get carried away by the magic-makers as they compete for the “big win.”

Face Off: SyFy Series Season 10 Premieres January 13

This award winning “reality” series will begin its 10th season by premiering January 13 on the SyFy channel and this season of Face Off will include 14 contestants and some high calibre Guest Judges.

Face Off - Season 10

This award winning “reality” series will begin its 10th season by premiering January 13 on the SyFy channel and this season of  Face Off will include 14 contestants and some high calibre Guest Judges. The special guest’s will be from across the spectrum of the entertainment business, from Film, Gaming and FX.

McKenzie Westmore resumes hosting duties and throughout the entire run of the series thus far, Ms Westmore always manages to convey intense enthusiasm, compassion and interest in each of the contestants who compete for the grand prize of $100,000, a 2016 Fiat 500 and a VIP trip courtesy of Kryolan Professional Make-Up to one of their 85 international locations.

Face Off was named the Critic’s Choice Award winner of 2015  and has been nominated for the Best Reality Show (Competition) in 2016. The reality show  follows the same formula as previous seasons;  the episodes match the amount of contestants, 14. Each episode brings fresh challenges and allows the viewer to learn about the creative process (including the sweat and stress) behind the magic created by FX artists for the screen.

This season’s contestants are from the US and Canada and they are:

Anna Cali (31) Chicago, IL
Anthony Canonica Jr. (21), Jersey City, NJ
Gregory (Greg) Schrantz (21), Allentown, PA
Jennifer Bowden (36), Allegan, MI
John (Johnny) Leftwich (28), Los Angeles, CA
Kaleb Lewis (22), Los Angeles, CA
Katherine (Katie) Kinney (24), Litchfield, IL
Melanie (Mel) Licata (26), Jersey City, NJ
Melissa Ebbe (36), Milwaukee, WI
Njoroge (Samuel) Karumba (49), Atlanta, GA
Robert (Rob) Seal (20), Lake View, Terrance, CA
Robert Lindsay (45), Glendale, CA
Walter Welsh (26), Martinez, CA
Yvonne Cox (28), Alberta, Canada

*List of names, ages and locations provided by NBCUniversal Media Village*

Ms Westmore’s legendary father Michael Westmore will return to dispense advice and guidance and the three  Face Off judges will also return. Award winning and, similar to McKenzie, these series judges are some of the most compassionate and “caring” on any reality competition show. Ve Neill (The Hunger Games, Pirates of the Caribbean), Glenn Hetrick (Heroes, Legion) and Neville Page (Avatar, Prometheus) will all be back. These three not only judge the creations, as well as the artists strengths and weaknesses, but also pass on words of advice and encouragement.

Some of the special guest stars this season will be, Paul Reubens, aka Pee-Wee Herman, the producer of The Walking Dead;  Gale Anne Hurd, the legendary actor Lance Henriksen,  award winning producer Jason Blum, Rob Kazinsky,  Oscar winning makeup artist Bill Corso and Lois Burwell will return as guest judge.  There will be other “surprise” guest judges as well.

SyFy made the announcement on December 18 and it has been revealed that season 10 will have another two-part series finale, split between April 6th and the 13th, 2016. Kryolan  Professional Make-Up is still the official sponsor of Face Off.

Face Off, one of the most viewed unscripted reality competition shows on television,  will premiere on SyFy  at 9PM ET/PT.  Once again, as with previous seasons, the show will utilize Twitter in order to fully immerse its audience and the contestants in the process. Yet another  group of wildly talented makeup artists will compete for the grand prize and the change to become the next bit Hollywood “FX” artist. Tune in and join the fun.


Face Off: Movie Magic Part II Season 9 Finale (Review)

Face Off - Season 9

It has to be said that Face Off, season 9 delivered a great group of artists and the finale, part two of the Movie Magic challenge saw Nora Hewitt take the prize and win for her excellent detail and hard work. Her positive attitude combined with great talent, and her total focus (sometimes so much that she got lost in herself) made this young lady a favorite from day one.

Nora says at the end of the finale that her dad will be so proud of her, he is not the only one, there cannot be many viewers who are not proud of her total professionalism and “go-to” attitude.

Last week saw the three finalists, Evan Hedges, Ben Ploughman and Nora learn about the end challenge. A two character film which they had to create character for to be shot by  director, and Jack of all trades film professional, Patrick Tatopoulos. After they had finished their characters, and had “last looks,” with Patrick doing a camera test and providing feedback, McKenzie Westmore revealed a last minute script change that included another character.

All three had to then come up with an additional creation and Evan had to redo his first two characters based upon the feedback from Tatopoulos at the screen test. The three projects were broken down as The Prey – Nora, Resurrection – Ben and Quarantine Zone – Evan.

Part Two of the Face Off season 9 finale took place initially in the workshops where the trio of finalists worked on the last minute things needed to complete the challenge. The next part of the episode took place “on set.” Filmed on location, at the Polsa Rosa Ranch,  each short film went through last minute adjustments and some creative license initiated by the director.

This was an incredibly exciting finale, filmed at the Santa Clarita Studios “ranch set” and it was easy to see that a lot of care and thought went into each film’s dressing and the scenario of the projects.  The camera work, along with Tatopoulos’ direction and editing, made the most of each contestant’s creations.

By the end of the final episode each one of the finalists were winners. All three brought something to the “table” and could leave the completion with heads held high.  While Nora took the grand prize; the trip, the money and the car, Ben and Evan took away a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. Evan was especially excited to have participated in his first film project and first time on set.

Face Off - Season 9
(l-r) Glenn Hetricks, Ve Neill, Neville Page

The show’s judges, Ve Neill, Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page, along with McKenzie and Patrick, watched the three short films and the trio of experts quizzed each artist about their film’s characters, backstory and the rational for their makeup. All the judges were also present during the filming of each project.

Face Off - Season 9
McKenzie and Patrick

As Patrick states later, after the shooting of each film, Nora was the most productive on the set and her characters were so well rounded that she was the complete package.  He did state that all the finalists went “above and beyond” but that Hewitt’s creations were the most realized of all the characters.

Face Off - Season 9
The Prey – “victim” Makeup Nora Hewitt
Face Off - Season 9
The Prey  “Predator”  Makeup Nora Hewitt
Face Off - Season 9
The Prey “uber predator” makeup Nora Hewitt

Nora’s creatures all felt like a part of their setting.  The young artist was pretty overwhelmed and got a little teary-eyed, but this confident and assertive contestant never faltered in the finale challenge. Hewitt did, after all, state that she wanted this last test to be her “b*tch.”

And it was.

While the other two finalists delivered, it was Nora’s attention to detail and her professionalism on set that gave her the win. She earned it and at the end when the verdict was read out, everyone seemed pleased for this versatile and super talented artist.  So congratulations to Nora Hewitt for taking the win for season 9.

Face Off - Season 9
Nora Hewitt Season 9 winner, cue confetti

McKenzie Westmore, who has to be the best host/presenter of any reality show on television, reminded the audience that the next season (10) will start in January 2016.  We cannot wait.