Face Off is an original reality competition on the SyFy Channel which explores the world of special effects make-up and taps into the unlimited imagination of the competitors. It utilizes the same formula as other successful predecessors such as Project Runway. First there is a Spotlight Challenge. This challenge is designed to give the winner a perk or advantage into the main challenge and usually is an indication of what the main challenge will involve.
For example, in episode six of Season one, the Spotlight challenge was how to mix blood so that it the right consistency and color. The winner received a perk of being able to choose their model first. The challenge was to create a believable Zombie.
The series has a lot of high profile individuals involved with the project. The host is none other than the legendary Michael Westmore’s daughter McKenzie Westmore. She started acting at the age of three in Raging Bull as Robert DeNero’s daughter. She also had roles in Weird Science, Star Trek: Voyager as well as the feature film Star Trek: Insurrection. Mr. Westmore was also a guest judge for one of the episodes.
The regular judges were also impressive. Ve Niell is an Emmy and Oscar winning artist for her work on Edward Scissorhands, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Mrs. Doubtfire. You may recognize Glenn Hetricks work in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Heroes, and The X-Files. Patrick Tatopoulos is known for the stellar Underworld series, Resident Evil series, and Independence Day. These judges are giants in the industry. Each week a guest judge who is also well respected in their specialized field is featured.
You have your usual drama and quirks. Some people you wonder how they make through life with the work ethic they have. One guy, Frank, was contemplating forfeiting a challenge because he was uncomfortable working with a nude male. To have such an opportunity and squander it, you have to wonder. Most of the contestants looked at it for what it was a chance to show what they could do and to add to their portfolio.
What I love about shows like these is the insane creative energy that comes out of this type of environment. There is something about putting time constraints and limited resources that make some contestants shine and others falter. The ones I enjoy the most and what I personally enjoy doing myself is utilizing found items. The first challenge had the contestants create a creature using whatever they found in the hotel reception and what was in their tool kits they had been given. They had two hours to complete their look.
The other aspect that I enjoyed was seeing how certain looks were achieved, when certain materials were more appropriate than others, and the thought process behind the design. The thought behind the process was just as important as the execution. Sometimes a good concept is what saved a contestant from elimination when the execution wasn’t there.
The Season One marathon was in preparation for the launch of Season Two on Wednesday January 11th 10/9c. This time there are 13 contestants between the ages of 21 and 43. Some are formally trained and others have little to no training at all and have learned their skills “on the job”. One guy lived out of his car. Another was born in Germany and bounced around. Another has a business degree from Loyola, but felt that this was her calling.
If you haven’t had a chance to see the first season you can see Episodes 4-8 free on Hulu.com or you if you subscribe to SyFy rewind you can see the entire first season.
I’m excited to see what the next season brings. I’m hoping that it will take it to the next level. The first one was very impressive and I think the SyFy Channel hit on something big with this show.