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The Making of SEEK

Back in May, I was contacted by an old friend of mine. Julie, my Krav Maga partner, was acting in a short film and wanted to know if I could provide the special effects makeup. I've been itching for the opportunity to do more special effects and to get into film work, so I jumped at it. Now the 3-minute film, SEEK, is available and submitted to the My Rode Reel Short Film Competition - the largest of its kind in the world. Read on for some details about the makeup and an exclusive interview with director Jacob Cipriano Mendez.

To see the full film and VOTE for SEEK, click here.

As a makeup artist, SEEK was a great way to enter the world of on-screen makeup. The schedule wasn't overly demanding and the effects were simplistic, yet important. I try to keep things realistic and help progress the story with the way characters look - I found myself asking questions about their journeys and incorporating them into the looks we chose. My focus is always realism, so this was a great way to test some realistic wounds and techniques.

My favorite part of this makeup by far is Julie's bloodied knuckles. While smearing blood on Sean's face was fun, bloody knuckles can be tricky to get right - too much or too little causes them to look very fake. I stippled on some creme paint from my Mehron Bruise wheel to simulate broken blood vessels, then smeared on two kinds of fake blood (for variations in color, which gives blood its depth. You'll notice the same thing under Sean's nose.)

The big joke on set was the lube - yeah, you read that right. I used silicone-based lubricant as a stand in for sweat, as it doesn't really evaporate, allowing for a consistent look throughout filming. Watch the behind-the-scenes footage below to see it in action!

The director and producer of SEEK, Jacob Cipriano Mendez, has been making films for years and has found a creative outlet in his production company, ironark films. I asked him a few questions about his perspective on the project.

What was your biggest challenge in making SEEK?

JCM: By far, it was time. It seems like it always comes down to that for a film. We shot over the course of two days and with most of the shots that we needed being extremely action packed and focused on physical features, we didn't always get it right the first time.

Telling a story in only 3 minutes is hard. What elements do you think contributed most to conveying that story in such a short time?

JCM: With a limited time frame like three minutes, a lot of people are going to immediately say that you can't make a story in that amount of time, but for those of us who aren't in the film industry, we forget that we watch stories unfold in little as 30 seconds everyday. Whether it's television, Hulu, or YouTube, you see ads with a story at least once a day. And if you haven't, you either pay a lot of money, or need to tell me your secret. The idea here to tell such a short story is honestly a strong writer or writing team, actors who have great chemistry to show relationships or lack thereof, and just the right amount of action or dialogue. Sometimes no one needs to speak to convey something, but it's important to look at the story from an outside perspective and ask yourself, "If someone came into this blind, would they understand?". Sometimes the answer will be "no" and in that case it means you should change something. Which we did along the way. There also has to be world building, art is so important here, and it's the subtle things you don't pay attention to at first that really support the vision as a whole.

If you were to make a longer version, what’s one thing you’d want to add?

JCM: Funny enough we have a slightly longer version coming out within the next month or so. After shooting this, my AD and I agreed that this could have been a 15 minute film. So I suppose I would have liked to show more background of the characters, maybe not necessarily why they're doing what they're doing, but fully flesh out their M.O. and push the stakes with Julie's character further. I think that'd be a lot of fun, and some people have already asked questions about that.

What’s your favorite scene in SEEK?

JCM: That's a spoiler. You'll find my favorite moment in the last shot where everything should finally make sense. Between what you see, what you've just heard, and what you imagine will come next, it's a scary feeling. Especially being that it could happen in real life.

Where can people go to view more of your work?

JCM: If you're looking for films, youtube.com/ironarkfilms is the place to go. I also have my own vlogging channel where I break down films like Seek and other projects, teach filming techniques, and shell out the random fun video from time to time. That channel can be found here.

Remember, this is a contest!

To see the full film and VOTE for SEEK, click here.

Voting will be open until Sept. 8th, 2018. You can vote once a day and your friends can too, so please share to support all our hard work!