Thursday, June 16, 2011

10 Questions with former FaceOff contestant and SFX artist, Anthony Pepe

By Gary Berger

When did you know you wanted to be a SFX artist?

I originally planned on becoming a Walt Disney animator, and after one semester of college at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, I decided that college wasn’t for me, so I went to Joe Blasco in Orlando in January of 1995. I did it as a goof, not seriously thinking that makeup effects would be a career decision.

What was your first gig in SFX and what did you learn from it?

My first film was “Rockabilly Vampire”, which I did for free, and learned how to do vampire teeth, pale makeups, bites, and basically understanding the idiosyncrasies of working on a low budget film. The experience was exciting and scary all at the same time, but from there on I learned something from every film I ever had the pleasure to work on.

Your FX house “Demonic Pumpkins FX” is based out of NYC, do you commute a lot for your job or are there plenty of opportunities around the area to keep you busy?

My work is predominantly based in New York City, but I have traveled extensively up and down the East Coast. As of today, I have worked in 16 states including Texas, Louisiana, Michigan and Ohio.

I know you have been asked this a lot lately, but what was it like being a contestant on FaceOff?

Absolutely awesome. Hands down. I am somewhat of a camera ham, and loved the idea of being myself on TV. The reason I had for applying for the show was that it was a pioneering showcase for makeup effects artists, and although my long term plan wasn’t about winning the grand prize, it was more about gaining exposure, being judged by my peers, and learning a lot about myself and my work. Everything I do now, I base off the judging on Face Off. I even have a picture of the three judges in my shop looking down at me, with a caption I put there stating “What Would They Think?”

What was the best advice you received from any of the judges in regards to moving forward with your career?
To never stop trying, to never give up, and to start looking at my characters from different viewpoints. Most of the time I would design characters based off of scripts handed to me, and these backgrounds for the characters were somewhat vague. I learned on Face Off to develop my characters from inception to application, and give a reason for every cut, bruise, boil, and appliance I would put on the actor.

Have you been in contact or worked on any projects with any of the former contestant since the show?

I saw most of the contestants at the last Monsterpalooza in Burbank back in April, and it was awesome to see everyone again after the show had aired. Unfortunately the show only aired certain aspects of the environment, and basically created a tension between the contestants that was not evident in real life. Seeing everyone again, we were all very nice to each other, and had a blast. I also had the pleasure of working with Tate Steinsiek on The Amazing Spider-Man in New York City, under Ve Neill’s guidance, and that experience was one for the history books.

I heard you have recently completed some FX work on a film titled “Ghoul” in New Orleans. How was it working down in the Deep South’s humidity?

The humidity is a makeup artist’s worst enemy. Telesis, ProsAide, nothing can stand up to 95 degree heat with 100 percent humidity. It was a constant battle to keep appliances on, but thank God for pros-aide transfers, which held up decently enough, but in the end still wanted to fall off. Louisiana is definitely the gateway to hell in terms of weather.

We all have that “one” legend we hope to one day work with or for. Are there any SFX legends or directors you hope to work with in the future?

I would love the opportunity to work with Rob Bottin, Rick Baker, Steve Johnson and John Caglione Jr.As far as directors, I would love to work with Tim Burton, Darren Aronofsky, and Robert Zemeckis.

What film or project was the most challenging, yet fun to work on and why?

Every job is challenging in some respect, and I consider every job fun, even if it is a miserable experience, because making monsters, killing people, and being on a film set is a hundred times better than sitting in a cubicle doing TPS reports.

What does the future hold for you and “Demonic Pumpkins FX?

As of this interview, I am branching out from Demonic Pumpkins FX, and recently set up the website I realized that after Face Off, nobody knows DPFX, but they know my name. I am considering making DemonicPumpkins a haunted attraction supplier, and make crazy monsters for sale, and keep as my makeup website. There are many options out there, and need to capitalize on it.


  1. Thanks for he great interview. I have to agree with him on the humidity ... Louisiana can be very uncomfortable :D

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Great and interesting article Gary. Thanks for posting!