Today I’m welcoming special effects artist, Omar Sfreddo. Thank you, Omar for stopping by!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a single father of two beautiful little girls. My day job is at an Event company in Deerfiled beach FL, where I manage the art department. I used to work in Hollywood, CA in the special effects Industry until work became scarce. Having a baby and little work, I decided to move back home in Florida to be near family. because there’s practically no FX industry in FL, I was not able to pursue my career in my field. 10 years later, here I am trying to make a come back to special effects. What better way to get my self noticed than to plaster myself all over your TV sets, right?
What got you into special effects and body painting?
What got me interested in special effects is my love for Horror movies. My mom and I used to sit and watch Elvira Mistress of the Dark every weekend til all hours of the night. Yea, my mom’s a cool chick! I’ve always been interested in art and knew that it would be part of my career, but never knew in what capacity. I always found myself attracted to the macabre and constantly drawing the images I saw in movies like A Nightmare on Elm St. But it wasn’t until my teen years that I realized that I wanted to be part of the movie making process. So my friends and I started making our own home movies with my Dad’s camera. this was the era with no youtube, so I relied mostly on my imagination and creativity to come up with different ways to make an effect happen. That pretty much got the ball rolling and soon after graduation I left FL and drove up north to attend The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and the rest is History. I only got into body painting in 05, helping an amazing local airbrush artist Jason Fiss. I learned tons from him and I’m very grateful he got me started in that field.
What are your favorite types of creatures to create and why?
My favorite types of creatures are Aliens, Demons, and anything that looks weird! I feel that in those types of genres you can make your own rules (with out disregarding basic anatomy) I love coming up with ideas that stray from mainstream designs. That’s hard to do because there’s always another artist out there that came up with a design very similar to yours, so it forces you to stay on point and think outside the box.
You were a part of this season’s Face Off series on the Syfy Channel. What was that like?
It was an amazing experience! It was also very stressful in good and bad ways. It was my first time away from my kids for that long, so that was hard on me. Also, having cameras shoved in my face was something to get used to, but after all I did sign up for that. Overall it was a great experience. I got to share the stage with some amazing artists which I have the upmost respect for. I am happy to call these awesome group of misfits my friends and family!
What would you say would be the biggest challenge, thus far, that you’ve ever had to face during your career of being a special effects artist?
My biggest challenge in this field is trying to stand out amongst so many talented artists. Of course, I wasn’t in the Industry that long to help make that happen but I’m hoping to change that.
What inspires your creative process?
What usually gets my creative juices going is popping in a good 80’s horror movie in the DVD player or movie soundtrack on the ol ipod, and sitting at my art table with either a sketch pad or a big block of clay and let my imagination go wild. I also draw inspiration from other artists. I love sitting down next to someone who’s better than me while they’re in the middle of a beautiful sculpt and learning different ways of creating. I feel that allows me to grow as an artist.
Special effects play an important role in a lot of our favorite movies, what’s your favorite film genre to watch and why?
My favorite genre is …no surprise here, Horror. I grew up watching it from a very young age and has led me to this amazing career. But I also love crime drama (The Godfather, Casino, Goodfellas) Next to Horror, that has to be my second favorite. I’m a Cosa Nostra connoisseur ! Ask me anything about the Gambino crime family and I’ll recite you their whole history from beginning to end!
What would you consider to be some of your biggest achievements during your impressive career?
Even though I got the chance to work on a lot of cool movies while I was in LA, I never got credit for any of them and it is hard to pin point what I did because so many other artists had their hands in it as well. Having said that, I would consider my greatest achievements in my career is being the Lead Fx artist on a short film “Dead Water” which filmed last year and being on Face Off. Even though I wasn’t on the show that long, people got to see me and I was able to showcase my art. Working in shops you don’t always get the chance. My best work is yet to be seen…but it will be soon!
Any exciting projects you’d like to share?
At the moment I am collaborating with Derek Garcia form season 3 on a few projects. We will both be at this years Fantasy Fest in Key west. You can check us out at http://www.bodyartkeywest.com. I’m also in talks to design and create the fx for a Haunted House next year in Jacksonville FL. I will be posting on that in the near future. You guys can check out my page at facebook.com/omarsfreddofx, Instagram @pibe75, Twitter @Omar_SFX. I’m always updating on a daily basis and answering any questions or comments.
What’s your advice for future special effects artists?
Well, I’m old school so my advice will be old school as well. I recommend that they familiarize themselves with the great Dick Smith, Rick Baker, Tom Savini, Stan Winston, Steve Johnson and Rob Botin. And I would suggest they watch tons of 80’s horror especially The exorcist, An American Werewolf in London, The Thing, and Day of the Dead. Those are the movies that influenced me the most. Also get Dick Smith’s Do it yourself Monster Makeup handbook, Grande Illusions by Tom Savini and Special Effects for Stage and Screen by Todd Debreceni. I feel is also a good idea to go to a good makeup
school to develop a good foundation. Don’t just rely on YouTube and tutorials, they are helpful but nothing beats having a teacher helping you in every step of the way. And you’re never to old to learn something new. I’m still learning myself.