Special effects studio, Break All Productions, stepped up to the mannequin challenge sporting a chilling snapshot effect of blood spray caught in mid-air as a person’s eye was bashed out of his head. The image painted here would find you in a grimly lit dungeon. A gurney is used as a table holding various tools you can only imagine are for torture. The handcuffed victim is ruthlessly bashed in the face by a maniacal woman brandishing a hammer.
This image, considered grotesque by many, and possibly the focal point, it was in no way the purpose of this mannequin challenge video. Instead, this morbid scenario is used to illuminate what is involved in creating a scene for a horror movie.
If you wish to skip the details and just watch the video, you may do so at the bottom of this article or just click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCGrlwWobhY
The score of the mannequin challenge, Rae Sremmurd’s Black Beatles, seemed a little too pop culture for the look of this video. The team remixed it, adding in Industrial overtones and backing off the song itself to give it a darker vibe. It sounds as if it were being played on a record player in the distance, as if there is something happy happening somewhere, just not here. Maybe this version should be called Blacker Beatles?
Starting off set, the video will lead you through the back of the Break All Productions’ warehouse, past the artists creating the props and prosthetic appliances. Moving down a hall where the carpenters are building the movie sets, into a make-up room where a SFX make-up artist is applying prosthetics to an actor. Leading onto set where, not only the actors are caught in the middle of a grisly death scene, but the director and gaffers along with SFX artist spraying blood are hard at work. This gives the viewer a better idea of the amount of labor, creativity and time it takes to pull off one little scene that shows only for a split second in a movie. It’s very interesting to see how these shots are pulled off. The question is how did they freeze it to work into a mannequin challenge? One moment the mold technician is pouring liquid in mid-air; meanwhile, the squib on set is shooting blood from the actors face, all this frozen in time. Then, when the silence breaks, the director yells cut, and the scene comes to life. The set is covered in blood with crew running around to reset for a second take.
The direction of the video was pieced together by company owner Joshua Brokaw. He, along with Las Vegas cinematographer, George Maria, enlisted a team of talented artists and camera crew. The prosthetic was sculpted and molded the night before, and cast and applied the day of the shoot. Yes, this video was literally created in a day! Obviously, that is not the ideal situation. The creative team would like to pay more attention to details, but with a ruthless shooting schedule, it just has to get done. The night before would reveal a team of grumpy artists and set designers throwing up flats, molding last minute prosthetics, and figuring out how the camera will wind it’s way through the chaos on set to flow seamlessly for the viewers on YouTube.
To see what goes into making a prosthetic for film, check out these videos:
Blood frozen, flying in mid-air, was a simple gag. Using a garbage bag stretched into the shape desired, a tinted plastic resin was poured on top and left to dry to give the spray effect. A similar method was used to make the simulated mold that was displayed being poured. These materials can be sourced from Smooth-On, and are featured in the opening of the mannequin challenge video.
Most everything else is previously used props and sets from other Break All Productions’ projects. Even the foam hammer used by actress Nailya Shakirova to put a dent in the head of Break All Productions’ social media manager, Paul Tumpson, is a prop they created.
Recognize these sets used in the mannequin challenge? These were flats reused from the set of a horror movie called The Grounds, filmed at Penn Jillette’s house – The Slammer.
To understand all of what Break All Productions does for the Las Vegas film industry, let’s do a walk-through and meet the talent.
As the video begins, it brings you into Break All Productions’ sculpting room, where artists are creating and molding the props used in film production. Jake Wyman is sculpting an alien prototype. He is also responsible for the prosthetic used later in the video to make the actors eye appear to be bashed from his face. Next up is Junior Rubio, who molded and cast the foam latex prosthetic that Jake sculpted. Both Junior and Jake have more than a decade of experience each, in creating original products. The sculpting room is full of life casts, molds and pieces of other projects that Break All Productions provides. Following the scenario down the hall into the make up chair, Break All Productions’ special effects make-up artist Haley Dunphy is applying a generic Tinsley transfer prosthetic to an actor for the next scene. Tinsley Transfers are very helpful for quick and cheap looks used in film or Halloween scenarios. Haley was also responsible for the application and make-up of the original eye prosthetic, created by the Las Vegas SFX studio.
Following the video onto the “fake” set created in the Break All Productions’ Las Vegas warehouse, the viewer is introduced to the middle step of the production. Now it’s time to showcase all of the talent that was put into pre-production just to get the product in front of the camera. Mentioned before, the man in the original prosthetic is Break All Productions’ social media manager, and proves that working for a film company is not an easy job and may leave you with a concussion!
The guy squatting in the corner with the tank and tubes is company owner Joshua Brokaw. He is pretending to operate a blood squib in this scene, but he also directed this video. When you see blood spraying from an actor on a real movie production, there is a special effects artist off camera pumping that blood through a tube embedded in a prosthetic to make the effect look real. This was not the case here, as it was a scene frozen in time. Creepy!
To see how squibs and practical effect are used watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PActXJxHeEw
Creating a movie, there are three parts; pre-production, production, and post-production. This mannequin challenge shows the viewer what goes into preparing things for set and filming them, but then the editing begins to complete the movie magic. Revealing the untold part of how this scene was put together; it was shot in two takes. The entire mannequin challenge was one take, all completed in one shoot with cinematographer, Taras. When the camera made its way off set, back to the director and script supervisor, there was a edit. The whole scene was quickly changed to show the aftermath and chaos of resetting a gory scene for another take.
Seamlessly edited by George Maria, who also posed as the director in the film, and synced to the Blacker Beatles remix by Joshua Brokaw, this little one-minute video took a lot of work from a collaboration of artists.