Sneak Preview of @TIFF_net’s ‘X-Men Master Gordon Smith Exhibition’
In the magical world of moviemaking, there are plenty who are quite satisfied with simply enjoying the films as they are presented, allowing the illusion that unfolds onscreen to remain intact. Others prefer to try to figure out just how the magician did it. This particular exhibition is showcasing one of the primer talents in creating the effects that make movie come alive, Gordon J. Smith.
Smith has spent the last 30 years in the movie industry as special makeup effects, prosthetic makeup artist, special effects designer, and general special effects. Taking his time to research and properly prepare the effects that are to be used is evident by the directors who seek him out and the projects he has been involved with. A perfectionist who understands the limitations and needs of the actors as well as the camera, he has made many fans within the industry. He has worked on films as diverse as Platoon, Jacob’s Ladder, Nixon and most notably, X-Men and X-Men 2. It is these last two films that the exhibit focuses on and features both props and film explanations of them in one setting.
Upon entering the exhibit, you are greeted by a panel of the various X-Men comics. The panels run from early artwork to some of the most current, showing both differences in artistic style as well as evolution of the characters. From here it extends to final drawings of four of the characters from the first and second X-Men films. They are quite well done and very accurately portray the actors in character as seen in the films. The room then opens to a wide display of the props and pieces used to create the heroes and villains of the films.
From Wolverine’s blades to Sabretooth’s claws and hair, Nightcrawler’s strange tail and on through to how Senator Kelly managed to push his head through the bars. One can see the time and effort put into the simplest, and briefest, of the movie’s characters abilities, many that the viewer takes for granted. The real showcase, though, is how Mystique’s interesting blue scales were created and applied. Instead of relying on CGI, as has become the standard practice, Smith chooses to use self adhering prosthetics. While the initial application took over 10 hours to get on, repetition made the subsequent applications much easier. There is much more to see and witness at this exhibition, telling all would ruin the surprise.
Having perfected his art and been responsible for so many innovations, it would seem as if Gordon J. Smith was in a position to fully decide the course of his life as a Hollywood effects creator. Unfortunately, some of the less scrupulous members of the industry made the ongoing effort too much for him to deal with, so he is basically giving away his secrets to any and all who would listen. Hollywood did, and much of what he created has had a positive impact on makeup effects.
The exhibition, X-Men Master: Gordon Smith, is on display at the TIFF Bell Lightbox from August 17, 2012 until March 31, 2013.