At the beginning of my career, I worked in the film industry designing and making makeup effects for various projects. Some of those projects were big and flashy and some, well, let's say they were lower budget. While some of these productions had considerably smaller budgets, they were never the less fun projects to be a part of and have left me with fond memories. In those early days, I did a lot of work with Troma Entertainment. You may be familiar with Troma from their cult classic, The Toxic Avenger, which I worked on and appear in the franchise's fourth installment. But Troma has done so much more, like the nearly forgotten anthology Tales from the Crapper. Tales from the Crapper (2004) was not always a single movie by that name. In fact, it was initially meant to be several standalone movies with titles like Soul Stripper and Free Ride. I worked on both of these other movies in 2000, with Soul Stipper being the one I focused most on because I got to design, sculpt, mold, cast, and paint the monsters for the movie. I am speaking, of course, of the might Tromantis.
One of the best things about working on lower budget productions, and in general Troma productions, is the people you get to meet and work with. And with Troma, I was able to work events as the Toxic Avenger that allowed me even more opportunities to meet a wide range of people. One of those people that I got to meet and work with was Julie Strain. I crossed paths with Julie many times in those early Los Angeles days. I first met her working on the Toxic Avenger 4, but then ended up at many conventions and events where she worked as herself, and I was Toxie. Finally, we worked directly together on Soul Stripper and Ticket to Ride (AKA Tales from the Crapper). I had been at shoots at her and her husband at the time Kevin Eastman's house. And yes, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kevin Eastman. On a couple occasions, we ran around in silly outfits at conventions and events. And so finally, when we were working on Tales from the Crapper, we were on a first-name basis, and we would chat between takes.
Of the many actors and celebrities that I met in LA, Julie was the nicest and most friendly. We would joke that I wanted back some of that Ninja Turtle money, but she had already spent it all on shoes. This was on set between shots, I was working the monsters and sitting on the side of a bed on set, and she was there sitting next to me, completely naked. Julie performed a lot of the time completely naked. It seemed really natural for her, and her confidence was incredible. If you were wondering, I was around her plenty of times when she was dressed.
It may sound weird, but I was always amazed by how nice she was to me. If you worked or lived in LA, and I am sure in other similar places in the world, you will know that some people are friendly to you only if they need something from you or can gain something through you. I saw it plenty of times out there, and I was on both sides of it. People being friendly to me to gain access to the industry, and people being horrible to me because I offered them nothing. Julie was a nice person and gracious to those around her. I would not say I knew her completely, but I knew her well enough. We worked together, we hung out after work events, I went to her house, and we crossed paths enough for me to get a good read on her. She was a gracious friendly person with a smile always on her face, or a snarl for the cameras. Julie passed away in Janurary of this year. I had heard she had not been well for a while, and there was even a false report of her death last year. I had not seen her in years, and she likely had no memory of me, but I have many fun memories of her, and she is very much missed. She was part of my LA adventures and will always be charished.
While another actress wore the full Tromantis maks and arms, Julie wore a gelatine makeup that I designed and sculpted. It was way bigger and bulkier than it should have ever been, and once it was cast in gelatine, it was a cumbersome appliance. Her eyesight was limited, and the makeup was constantly slowly sliding down her face from the weight and the heat on set. She was not happy with the makeup or us that night, but she was a professional and made it work and did her part. I felt so bad for her on set, but it was far too late to do anything about the makeup by then. There were no hard feelings in the end, and the movie was eventually released. The Tromanits even made the cover of the DVD.
That's all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog. See you back here on Friday! Until then...
Post a Comment