Creating a Mystical World: A Conversation with Special Effects guru Justin Raleigh
Get ready for big swords, big battles and big action as Vin Diesel stars in this year’s most action-packed film, THE LAST WITCH HUNTER. From visionary Director Breck Eisner (Sahara, The Crazies) and the producers of 300, Riddick and the Fast & Furious franchise, don’t miss THE LAST WITCH HUNTER, available on digital download from 29th February 2016 and on Blu-rayTM and DVD from 7th March 2016, courtesy of Entertainment One.
Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious franchise, xXx, Riddick) heads up THE LAST WITCH HUNTER as Kaulder, the eponymous protagonist, alongside an acclaimed and mighty cast including; Oscar Winner© Michael Caine (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Kingsman: The Secret Service), a priest and Kaulder’s keeper, also known as the 36th ‘Dolan’; Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Sin City The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) is a young priest, who is chosen as the 37th Dolan; and Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, Luther) plays Chloe, a young witch.
Hundreds of years ago, the mighty warrior Kaulder (Diesel) vanquished the all-powerful Witch Queen, thus defeating the witches who had wreaked bloodshed on the world for centuries once and for all. But in moments before her death the Witch Queen cursed Kaulder with immortality, forever separating him from his beloved family. ￼
￼￼Today, Kaulder is THE LAST WITCH HUNTER – the only one of his kind remaining and the only thing standing between humanity and the witches that secretly still live in our midst. When the Witch Queen is resurrected, Kaulder is drawn into an epic battle that will determine the survival of the human race.
To mark the release, The Fan Carpet’s Jessen Aroonachellum spoke to Justin Raleigh, the Head of the Make Up and Special Effects and the CEO of Fractured FX, he tells us about getting into the industry, the inspiration behind The Last Witch Hunter and the challenges he faced when bringing this world to life…
Was there a defining moment for you to get into the film industry, was there a special effect you wanted to do?
I was always a fan of artists as a child and fan of b-movies. So growing up with the Exorcist and RoboCop, all of Rick Baker early films and Stan Wilson projects like Terminator, Aliens. Yeah, I was drawn to living breathing pieces of art so was a natural progression to be part of this industry.
Can you talk about the inspiration behind the look of the “The Last Witch Hunter”?
Yeah, sure. One of my first meeting with Breck Eisner (Director of The Last Witch Hunter) we went into this room and we had all these pictures of witches on the wall. So, we began to think of the world they lived in. Julie Berghoff (Production Designer) gave it a very feral look. Camouflage with the leaves etc, the Queen was hidden. We didn’t want them to be grotesque but feral in a human form.
Did you get inspiration from films featuring witches or historical books?
Nothing really was inspired other films it was driven by the production art work. That was inspired by trees and by the artist Beksinski. He has a very interesting way of drawing things, very webby. A lot of his style was incorporated in the film.
Can you talk about the challenges of bringing this world to life?
The Witch Queen was an incredible challenge with the action. She had to be beautiful and still be scary. The environment was a challenge; they had to film in fire, smoke, rain and snow. You name it. That can degrade the prosthetics and long days of shooting. We had a good amount of time to design the characters and was happy with the work.
What was your experience working with the cast and crew?
Yeah, Breck was great and he had a great DOP. The rest of the team was lovely. The regular make artists were wonderful. Working with Michael Caine was awesome to say the least. An 80 year of man who knows his lines, who is an awesome character. He’s a bit of jokester, so he was great to work with. He’s got such a long history and lucid and spot on, spot on.
How long was the shoot?
About four months but in total six months.
Was that your longest shoot?
No, I think Watchmen was longer, Zack Snyder is great director and great personality.
How was working on True Blood and American Horror Story comparison to The Last Witch Hunter?
Working on TV and working on films are very different worlds; with TV you have a couple of weeks to design and with America Horror Story we were making props in a two week time scale. Coming up with new characters. With film you get months, there is more time to develop and sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes that’s a bad thing. (Jessen: sometimes having the pressure helps…) Yeah, sometimes, we had to figure out Loster Boy in American Horror Story. One of the other show we worked on called The Knick starring Clive Owen and that show is a TV show but treated like a movie. So, we get ten scripts and we have to design the medical designs. TV and commercials are the tightest time frames.
You work on a lot of horror, is there any other genre you would like to work in?
Yeah, I’ve done a lot of monsters and superheroes like Watchmen and TRON. I would like to do more realistic characters, young to old. That stuff inspired me more than the horror work. Horror is fun and unique but realistic prosthetics is more challenging.
THE LAST WITCH HUNTER is out on Blu-ray™ and DVD on the 7th March, courtesy of Entertainment One