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Spread the word! Rich wears women's underwear (No, not THAT word!) What I meant was, spread the word that this BLOG makes polio string cheese come out all of your orafices. And if it doesn't, lie to your friends and say it does. Rich is tired of sucking scrotum to get ahead, and he wants a real job, one that pays. So come on in! I have Hot Pockets in the fridge

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Rich Knight interviews...Rich Knight? Huh???

Hello, my name is Rich Knight. Most people who know me know that already. They’ll say, “Hey, Rich Knight, how’s the book coming along?” and I’ll say, “Good, haven’t sold it yet, but good!”

But what they DON’T know about me, though, is that I’m not the only Rich Knight I communicate with. Sure, like everybody else, I take my daily trip to the mirror and perform Rapper’s Delight with my shirt off. But there’s another Rich Knight I’m also personal and cordial with. And his name is…Rich Knight. He’s pretty famous and he’s even the first Rich Knight you find when you type his (my) name in google (No lie! Check it out). He’s a make-up artist, actor, guitar hero, shop owner, and even a black belt in Taekwondo (What the hell DOESN’T this guy do?) So here, for your eyes only (and anybody else’s who reads this interview) is my candid interview with Rich Knight, make-up artist/actor. And when you have the chance, check out Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove, which he worked on extensively. It’s camparific! Eagle Scout’s Honor. Okay, on with the carnival.

1: You recently noted on your MySpace page (http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=856683) that you stopped taking on interns. Why did you decide to take on interns in the first place?

A few years ago I thought it might be a good idea to start taking on interns to help out on film and television projects. The idea is that I would teach them the art of special effects makeup in exchange for them assisting me on my projects. This all sounds like a very good idea in theory; however, in practice, it’s another story altogether. I discovered that very few "interns" actually cared about bettering themselves as artists and were mainly interested in gaining a film credit.

Of all the interns I’ve had under my wing, only a small handful actually stuck around to learn something. I ended the internship program in frustration and have come to the conclusion that unless someone is paying for their education, they won't take it seriously. Sure there's a handful of people that are qualified for such a program, but I just don't have the time to weed through the flakey people. Another issue with the interns was that I discovered that it slowed me down. I got much less work done because I had to stop and teach...When the interns would leave for the day I would actually get some work done. Today I have one apprentice, and will only teach/train one person at a time.

2: When and why did you decide to get a black belt in Taekwondo?

My ex-wife was a martial artist and she and I studied martial arts together. I always wanted to learn karate when growing up, but for whatever reason I never pursued it. It was my ex that encouraged me to pursue Taekwondo. In fact, I believe that was the only good thing that came [out] of that marriage. When I first started, it was all just for fun and exercise, but as I got into the sport more and more, I discovered that I had some natural abilities. I never really thought that I’d become a black belt, it was all about having fun and staying fit for me, but I advanced quickly.

I became hungry to learn as much as I could, and would go to class as often as four times a week. I continue to practice martial arts to this day, on a much more casual basis, [though]. I am just now beginning to put my training back into high gear to prepare for a possible martial arts film that I may be doing next year. Either way, karate has become a part of my identity and I encourage everyone to consider learning the sport.

3: Have you ever thought of directing?

I'm not one of those people who goes around saying, "what I really want to do is direct". That is about as cliche as saying "let's do lunch,” or "I'll have my people call your people". Believe it or not, there are actually people out there who still use those lame catch phrases. It's like the corporate buzz phrase "Think outside the box.” I say, maybe if you didn't work in a box you wouldn't have to think outside of one. Seriously though, I think that directing is the natural progression of things. There will be some projects that will require my vision and will ultimately place me in the director's chair.

This however, is something that I am not dwelling on or vigilantly pursuing at all. My thing is creating characters and in some cases, even becoming the characters I create. So long as the person that takes that director's chair has a vision, I am more than happy to work with them to bring that vision to realization. 4: You've mentioned that the Hulk is one of your heroes? Why is that? Is there a method to his madness that you find you relate to? The Hulk is one of my favorite super heroes for many reasons.

First and foremost, the Hulk is a monster inspired by the Universal Studio's Frankenstein monster, and Frankie is of course my favorite monster. I think that the other thing about the Hulk that appeals to me is that I relate to the Hulk's alter ego, Bruce Banner. Bruce is a mild mannered scientist that is, for the most part, a normal guy. But when people push him too far, he becomes this rampaging monster.

I sometimes feel like Dr. Banner, a mild mannered guy just trying to make his way in the world, except that when people make me angry, I don't turn green and break things. I just get angry. It's the idea that this destructive monster lives inside the good doctor and it can escape at any time that I find so appealing.

We are all sort of alike, you see. We all have this raging monster inside of us. We all have the capacity for violence and destruction and we are all challenged to cage the beast. For Dr. Banner, a blast of gamma radiation freed the monster despite his best efforts to suppress it. There's just something that is very liberating in seeing the beast be unleashed—it expresses true freedom.

It also demonstrates the importance of keeping a cool head. In reality, we all have to take responsibility for our actions and we can't just lose our tops when we are mad or start breaking things. What is most interesting about the Hulk is that, despite the anger and the destruction, there’s a child like innocence about him. The real question is, should Bruce Banner be responsible for the actions of his alter ego? I am thinking yes, because he allowed himself to lose his cool. The story of the Hulk is a constant reminder for me that cooler heads prevail. Just once, it would be nice to be able to grow huge muscles, turn green and smash things, though.

5: What did you think of Christopher Nolan's Batman starring Christian Bale? You've mentioned that the original Batman feature directed by Tim Burton was one of your greatest inspirations.

I loved Batman Begins! I think that Christopher Nolan hit on what made Tim Burton's Batman so successful . . . He made us believe that it was actually possible for a guy to put on a bat suit and fight crime. The other sequels tried too much to be like a comic book. That's where filmmakers fall short with superhero movies. I think they try too hard to make a comic book movie.

When Bob Kane originally created Batman, it was a very dark tale. It was not a colorful and campy comic book. It was a dark story of a boy who lost his parents and became a man who swore to avenge his parents by confronting evil—and that is the same story that we saw in Burton's and Nolan's Batman.

I still like the simplicity of the original Bat suit much more than the newer incarnations. Today's superhero suit designs are all way too over produced. The Tim Burton Batman had a very raw look to it, it was like eye candy... Sure, the newer suits moved much better and were probably more comfortable for the actor, but I dunno, I just prefer to see the human anatomy and form as they’re drawn in the comics as opposed to a bunch of meaningless lines and shapes added to fill space. One of these days, I would like to see a filmmaker do a comic book movie without changing everything and instead staying true to the original. I will bet that super hero movie will make more than any other before it.

6: You've done work for big pictures like X:Men: The Last Stand, and Rocky Balboa, but also a great deal of smaller films. What do you find more satisfying to work on?

Actually, although X-3 and Rocky are indeed bigger films, my involvement was minimal in the grand scheme of things. On X-3, I worked in the mold department and was brought on to the project near the end.

Same thing with Rocky Balboa, I worked on that for one day as an assistant. I did much more work on the upcoming films Beowulf, The Flock, and Seraphim Falls, as well as the recently released Omen picture. Although it is great to work on such high profile projects, the reality is that you get to do way more on the smaller films. On low budget indie, there's usually little time, little money and very little help which puts the responsibility all on my shoulders. I like it that way because I have the final say on how the effects play out. I also get to do more of the work myself rather than farming out to a shop full of lab techs.

In my experience, independent films are way more challenging than working for the studios anyways. In truth, the big studios can't seem to make a good movie these days. I mean, how many times have you gone to the theaters and spent ten bucks (or more) only to leave feeling ripped off? You would think that with a 100 Million Dollar budget, that something good could come of it, but it just doesn't seem to work that way.

I think that many of today’s mainstream films are over produced and lack the true art which makes a movie worth watching. Sure, the studios have all the money to make the effects perfect, but along the way, they lose the art and everything becomes too over the top, and too over polished. The end result is a pretty movie to look at with no substance. If you can get past the obvious lack of budget, I think that you will enjoy independent films much more than the cookie cutter movies that go straight to the theaters and to the DVD shelf exactly three months later. The real passion and art for film making is in Indy films.

7: Your biography on imdb comments on how you were born on the same day Neil Armstrong walked on the moon (July, 1969). Do you think that somehow cosmically played a role in your ultimate career choice?

That's a funny question that I never really thought about [before]. I mean, everyone feels in one way or another that they are destined for something, right? I think that there's something interesting and trivial about it. Being born in July makes my astrological sign Cancer, the symbol for cancer is a diagonal 69... I was born in 1969. The ruling planet for Cancer is the Moon, I was born the day they landed there. I don't know if there is any cosmic significance here except that it is all very fascinating and has lent itself towards many a night gazing into the stars and dreaming of other worlds.

I would like to believe that it also means that I am special in a cosmic sort of way, but then again, we are special and unique in our own way. As for it playing a role in my career choice? The only significance I can see is that I would like a stab at acting in the role of Marc Spectre aka Moon Knight. In fact, I want to at some point do my own fan film of the Moon Knight... I can hear it now... "Rich Knight is…The Moon Knight". That would be a kick!

8: You're a big Star Wars fan. So what was it like being in the movie Comic Book: The Movie as Vampire fan? It was directed by none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.

Comic Book: The Movie was just another day at the San Diego Comic Con for me. I was attending the convention with friends whilst wearing a pair of vampire fangs and FX contact lenses. I was minding my own business seeking out Hulk stuff, when I was approached by the crew of Comic Book and asked if they could film me. They asked a lot of people at the convention to be filmed so it wasn't really any sort of big deal.

What I think is sort of neat is that in the final cut, I sort of share a scene with Mark. It’s the scene when Mr. Hamill dissolves and my scene fades in. For a Star Wars geek like myself, that was a great honor (as silly as that may sound). I also recently worked on a Star Wars fan film titled Star Wars: Forced Alliance. That was a really fun gig because they went all out to do justice to the Star Wars universe. There were several R2 units and a full sized Chewabaca on set which really made you feel as though you were immersed in the Star Wars universe. Sadly, it may be the closest I’ll ever get to being able to work a SW film since the prequel has already come and gone. There is still the upcoming TV show, so there may yet be (bad pun alert!) a new hope!

9: Would you ever give up being a special effects and make-up artist to be a full-fledged actor?

Last year, I would have said "no.” However, this time around, I am going to have to say a resounding "yes".

I will always be creating monsters and effects, that's a given. But recently, my acting has turned from a casual thing to a real passion. I worked on a movie last year called Thirty Thousand Dollars. I played the lead.

This was the most lines I’ve ever had. It was my biggest part. I was not sure how well I would be received or even if I could pull it off. You might say that this was my test to see if acting is in fact a true calling for me or merely a fluke. But something happened on that set that I can’t explain. My acting skills improved a hundred times over and I realized that this was something that I can do.

I have been told that I am a natural at acting and I’m still trying to understand what that means. I seem to be really good at cold readings. In fact, I really like to read a script cold. It reminds me of oral communication class in school when you had to read to the classroom. I always enjoyed reading for people and have always been pretty good at story telling because of that. I feel like I am in my own element with acting. I mean, after all, I have been acting all my life... only recently has someone put a camera in front of me.

I don't know where all this will lead to, but I am not going to worry about any of that. I am having fun, playing a cowboy, or a monster, or a bad guy. If I never become rich and famous, that's fine, at least I still have all these great memories and captured my work on film to pass down to future generations.

10: When you were a kid, you created a villain to go up against Wonder Woman for a contest and won a free bike. So if you had success with such a contest, why didn't you ever pursue a career in comics?

That is a very good question. I actually still have some interest in working in comic books, but I think that I would prefer writing rather than penciling. As I have grown as an artist, I have learned what it is that compels and motivates me to create. And it’s not the story telling aspect that artists deal with in creating comic books, but rather the actual character creation. I really enjoy creating unique and original characters. In a sense I am still doing what I did all those years ago when I won second place in the Post Cereals Create a Super Villian Contest—I am creating characters.

11: What's your favorite Planet of the Apes movie and why?

My favorite is the first and original version of Planet of the Apes. I truly love the entire saga. Part of me even likes that horrible remake they did not so long ago. What can I say, I have been affected by those "damn dirty apes" since I was a kid. I am not alone either, as a lot of us FX artists share the same influences. What is most interesting about that, though, is how so many artists share the same influences, yet there still remains so much diversity in artistic style.

12: What responsibilities do you have as owner of your own make-up shop, Creatures By Knight?

As a shop owner, you are responsible for everything from hiring and firing people to paying the rent and everything in between. I do what I can to keep my overhead low, which means, I only open up a large warehouse facility if the work calls for it. I also will hire independent contractors as opposed to employees.

In this day and age, it has become increasingly difficult to find and maintain steady work in this business. I am one of the few lucky ones who can manage to stay afloat despite all the competition. I think that because I tend to work outside of Hollywood and not directly in the middle of the slums of North Hollywood (like most of the major FX shops), I am able to keep things running. I don't have to pay super high rent or deal with homeless people living right behind my shop or with the general Hollywood BS. I have always gone against the grain. I am like a salmon swimming upstream in the mighty river that is show business. A lot of my colleagues just can't figure out how I am able to get so much work consistently.

Whatever I am doing, I must be doing it right. 13: In your 14 years of work, what's your favorite project you've worked on? There are a lot of fun things that I have done, so this is a very difficult question for me. I have really great memories of my work at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights. I worked with Michael Burnett's crew for three years in a row creating fantastic monsters for the haunted attraction. Recently, I worked on two projects that were very fun and rewarding which make them fall into the "favorites" category. One of them is the film I mentioned earlier, "Thirty Thousand Dollars"—This movie is headed towards the festival circuit such as South By South West, Tribecca, etc. The other project that was so fun it should be illegal was "Welfare Bunnies". On that show, I created four human/bunny characters and I also played a lead in makeup as well. Welfare Bunnies is a comedy pilot that will be introduced as a podcast—the show is very funny and sure to gain a lot of interest.

14: What kind of projects wouldn't you take on besides tasteless horror porn?

Because the work is quite scarce, I try not to think about work I won't do. So rather then focusing on what I won't do, I'm going to instead tell you what I would really like to do. Superhero movies! I want to do a superhero movie very much, it is the superheroes that inspired me and started me in this direction so it would be like coming full circle. I would love nothing more than to get in on the upcoming Star Wars TV show.

I also want to do something really big like dinosaurs or dragons. I prefer the gigs that allow me to create fun characters as opposed to the gratuitous gore. Don't get me wrong, I love the gore... but there's just more satisfaction in creating something that doesn't require being soaked in blood or be cut off or made to explode.

15: Do you find it's easier or harder doing your line of work just outside of LA?

It is definitely more challenging working outside of LA because of the distance. It means getting up earlier than most, beating the traffic in some cases, working harder and longer hours and even paying a bit more on gas or in shipping costs for supplies and materials. What it does do for me, though, other then lower rent, is that it allows me to not have to work in a dangerous Hollywood slum.

Seriously, some of the biggest FX shops in the valley are located in the scariest neighborhoods of LA. It is hard to believe that the studios will actually send big name talent to the ghetto, but believe it or not, it happens. That is why I will never ask talent to come to a bad part of town. If it is ever inconvenient for the director, producer or actors to come to my shop, I will come to them. I just prefer to stay far away from the ghettos of Hollywood.

16: When can we expect the Ruff and Skitch Show to debut? Are there any bidders as of yet?

Because I am self producing The Ruff and Skitch Show, and by nature it is quite a big endeavor, the process is slow moving. At this point, things are in the design stage. The stories are being written and developed, and the puppets are in the prototype stage and/or in pre-pre-production. Paying jobs always take precedence, so unfortunately, the project remains on hold at the moment. I have generated much interest for The Ruff and Skitch Show. However, I want to do this in such a manner that I will maintain as much control as possible. I will soon be taking the project to potential investors and am always seeking out interested parties. I hope to get this project off the ground soon, within the next two years or less.

17: Okay, last question. How important would you consider the make-up artist in today's movie making business?

Today's makeup artist is just as important today as ever. Many people are running scared with the advent of CG effects. Yes, the computer effects are looking better and better, but they still look like cartoons. Many of today's directors prefer to shoot on 35mm film and refuse to work with digital video or HD. I believe that a lot of directors will also have a similar attitude towards CG.

Let's face it, it's a big risk doing an effect totally in CG. No matter how good it appears, the audience may still react as if it were a cartoon. A good effect should go unnoticed because it is intended to be an illusion. If your audience leaves the theaters saying "did you see that CG effect?" then you have failed miserably because the effect was noticed. The desired reaction should be "How did they do that?"
When you shoot your effects in "live action," you have based the scene in reality, and not in cartoon land. You can kid yourself all you want, but if the effect isn't live action and seen right through your camera's lens, then you are not in control of the final outcome of the scene. The director has effectively handed the scene over to a geek behind a computer.

In my opinion, CG should only be used as a tool in combination with live action effects such as makeup, miniature models, stop motion, etc. Going CG should be saved as a last result when the effect can not be done any other way. There will always be a need for basic beauty and straight makeup as long as there are actors with pale complexions and blemishes. But for the special effects artist, the landscape is constantly changing and we will forever be in competition with computer effects. Where the computers can't seem to effect us is in the realm of reality making venues such as live theater, amusement parks, Halloween Attractions, Tradeshows and Conventions, etc; this all fertile ground for the effects artist.

The other place where the FX makeup artist will dominate is independent film...we are simply faster and able to cut corners in areas that computers can not. For example—a stock hand mold can be used a million times if need be, whereas a CG artist will have to start from scratch to create a computer generated hand every time. The math is on our side for independent films. At least for now.