INTERVIEW: Daniel Phillips SFX Make-Up

By Machete Von Kill

Daniel beginning the JokerOn July 30, 2015, the small town of Grayling, Michigan, welcomed Hollywood make-up artist and SYFY Face Off season 6 competitor Daniel Phillips as part of the Crawford County Library Summer Reading Program. Phillips entertained and informed the large crowd with a short history of special effects make-up in cinema, complete with slide show, and then a live demonstration in which he transformed his son into The Joker from DC Comics' Batman. After the demonstration, Phillips participated in a meet and greet.

During the meet and greet, he was asked to review a make-up portfolio by 15-year-old Kali Kochiss of nearby Gaylord. I spoke to Kali about her SFX make-up and her conversation with Philips. Remember her name because you will see it in the future.


House of Tortured Souls: How did you get into the world of SFX make-up, and how long have you been learning your craft?

Kali Kochiss: I was 14, and I got into it because I've always loved make-up. I was watching make-up videos, and I came across this girl who made herself into monsters with make-up. So I was like "wow, I can do this", you know? The whole thing was so fascinating to me.


HoTS: Are you totally self-taught? Or have you had any formal training?

KK: Nope. I just started experimenting.


HoTS: Are you planning on formal training after high school?

KK: Yes, I plan on going to cosmetology school and then from there to FX make-up.



HoTS: Tell me a little about your meeting and conversation with Daniel Phillips. Do you feel it gave you a push to continue?

KK: He told me not to doubt myself and to keep pushing forward. He inspired me, but not as much as my pepa, who is an artist. He (Phillips) gave me his personal email address so I can send my work for his critique. He also offers different classes that I plan on attending.


HoTS: Who in the business do you look up to? Any favorite monsters?

KK: I love Frankenstein, the Boris Karloff version, and I really like Rick Baker.

Kali's work can be viewed on her Facebook page Rustic Tulips Make-up and Special Effects.


With the help of a friend from high school (Hollywood sound guy extraordinaire Michael Amman, who worked with Phillips on the 2013 John Rhys-Davies drama Return to the Hiding Place) and social media, your girl, Machete was able to speak to Daniel and ask a few questions.

Daniel Zombie

House of Tortured Souls: Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I was at your presentation for the Crawford County Library, so I have to ask, how did you get involved with the library and had you been to Grayling before? Do you do a lot of appearances?

Daniel Phillips: I got got involved by one of the staff contacting me and asking if I would be interested in coming up for their program, and of course I said yes! I was in Grayling years ago but had not been there in many years. So it was nice to reacquaint myself with the cool little town. Because of the show Face Off I have been asked to do a lot of comic cons and such. It's kinda funny to get asked. I still feel it's weird. Heck, I'm just a little Detroit make-up artist who is very fortunate to be able to do this crazy stuff for a living.


HoTS: Are you very involved in the pop-culture/convention scene?

DP: I am becoming more involved in the scene because of Face Off. If they keep inviting me, I'll keep coming back. Lol, we will see.


HoTS: What are you working on/involved with right now?

DP: Well I am actually working on something outside of the film industry. I hooked up with the folks over at ORR Prosthetics and I'm helping with some actual prosthetic fabrication for amputees. It's been very rewarding so far. I am also in talks to start pre-production on another film. I just can't talk too much about it right now, but it's gonna be great with a lot of very cool character makeups.


HoTS: How did you get into SFX make-up?

DP: I always had a love for horror films. As a kid, they never scared me, I just wondered how'd they do that? So I started researching and trying to figure out on my own...yep before the Internet, I actually had to read books. LOL.


HoTS: Who in the industry do you look up to? Anyone you'd really love to work with?

DP: My influences are many, but a few of the people that I respect are guys like Howard Berger, Rick Baker, Kevin Haney, guys like that. These guys are innovators and will always remain in my mind, the best. I would love to work with Rick Baker someday.

Filling in the shadows and definition lines

HoTS: Do you have a favorite genre of film to work?

DP: I love doing character type movies. Movies without a good story really do not do it for me anymore.


HoTS: Which is your favorite make-up you've done so far? Any favorites from others in the industry?

DP: I really like sculpting old age make-up, so probably an old age makeup I have done..they are very hard to do. Rick Baker's apes from Greystoke remain a favorite of mine and also old age make-up from Dick Smith on David Bowie from The Hunger...just groundbreaking for its time. Plus I'm a little partial because I trained under Dick's guidance.


HoTS: Since House of Tortured Souls is a horror website, I have to ask what's your favorite horror movie make-up?

DP: Dick Smith's work on The Exorcist.


HoTS: Favorite movie monster?

DP: I'm a big fan of werewolves when done right, such as Rick Baker's Wolf-man.


HoTS: Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees?

DP: Pinhead would kick both of their asses!


HoTS: Thanks so much for your time! How can people keep up with your work?

DP: People can keep up with my work via Facebook or my website.

Posted by Alan Smithee

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