Friday, October 12, 2012

Countdown Day 11: Second Diversion

Another day too filled to fit in a full movie. Actually, I could have fit a movie in, but not in one sitting. I had an hour lunch, an hour between jobs, and an hour or so after work before bed. I could have possibly fit in two movies in that time, but I hate watching in segments so I just went with a couple TV shows. Lunch was filled with Alphas, and the next two slots were filled by a couple other SyFy shows tangentially related to horror. It's a bit of a cheat, I know, but it fits the monthly theme.

Face/Off is a reality show about aspiring makeup effects artists, and is currently in its third season. It's the type of reality show I enjoy and don't feel bad about; it's about a group of talented people practicing their craft. Each week the contestants are given a theme, and three days(each day seems about 8-10 hours) to design, sculpt and apply a complete makeup. Sometimes the contestants work in teams, but mostly they work along. Sometimes there are shorter challenges in which they can win small prizes or immunity. The themes are along the lines of 'zombie Alice in Wonderland characters' or 'Superheroes' or, like last nights, Dr. Seuss inspired human makeups. This being a group of generally amateur effects artists with limited experience, the makeups tend towards the horrific or gory no matter what the topic is, though thankfully not in the Seuss episode. In general the show is fun, though it sometimes it falls victim to a tendency to kick off the wrong people, in order to keep more entertainingly obnoxious personalities around. But for the most part, the show is merit-based, and if someone does a good job it will be recognized, and the judges(all professionals still working steadily in the industry on pretty big films) seem to have a knack for intuiting who deserves to be given extra acclaim.

Hot Set is a newer show, and I've only caught a couple episodes, but it hasn't quite made an impact on me. Hosted by Ben Mankiewicz, who gives the show a slight bump in credibility, the show doesn't follow a team from episode to episode, but devotes each single episode to a contest between two production designers. Each production designer is allowed to work with two team-members of their choosing, and a small crew of carpenters. They're given only a handful of days and a $15,000 budget to design and build an entire camera-ready set and buy or rent the props to dress it with. So far the show hasn't featured many interesting personalities, and while it's still fun to see people working on a part of filmmaking we normally don't see, it isn't presented in a very gripping manner. The fact that the contestants don't stick around from episode to episode keeps things moving briskly, but the judges have yet to get comfortable with actually judging anyone. You'll see in their walkthroughs when they talk amongst themselves that they have pretty definite likes and dislikes, but they don't actually share their dislikes with the contestants, or at least they don't put that part on the air. It's nice, but it gives the show a distinct lack of bite.

The biggest problem with the show, though, is the limited time alloted to the contestants. It keeps things exciting, nominally, but it doesn't allow for many impressive sets. The idea is to keep things moving, and show the nail-biting pressure people really operate under in the movie business, but the results never really justify all the sweating. The sets end up looking like modest rooms with interesting decorations. I think giving the contestants a full week, instead of just 4 days(again, limited to 8-10 hours each day), would have improved the results.

Tomorrow; a return to actual, legitimate horror territory with a new vampire flick, and a couple more short stories.

No comments: