Sickly Talented: Angela Pritchett talks career in special FX and new short film, The Thicket.

1558563_10101645748853151_8115656846341525137_nTeacher, actress, special effects artist, author, screenwriter, director, producer cosplayer, marketing executive… She can even juggle flaming chainsaws! Ok, maybe she can’t do that, but Angela Pritchett is definitely one of the most sickly talented women in the horror and science fiction world. Assuming so very many different hats and with creativity oozing from her fingertips, she has worked on everything from beloved indie slashers to remakes of cult classics to her own short films, with the upcoming Thicket production being her next.

One day she’s going to be a name talent in this industry, so take a moment to read my interview with this wonderful woman as we discuss her ideas on special effects, previous works and what’s coming up next in her career. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s my interview with Angela Pritchett!

HS: What can you tell me about your first FX attempt? Do you remember how things went while you were starting to learn?
AP: Oh wow. I really do not remember what my first special effect was exactly. I did silly tricks and pranks on my friends with FX make-up as a kid all the time. On a film set I was more of just doing scars and gashes to start out, no practical gore work. I occasionally got to help out with them and then it was always an issue of how cold it was as to if it worked or not. Filming in December and January in North Carolina sees weird weather which can affect the blood and other effects. I did learn I was allergic to latex working on my first film, which sucked, but now I know to take allergy pills before using latex in any form.

HS: What other alternatives are there besides making the cast/crew members take allergy pills if they are allergic to latex?
AP: No one should ever wear latex if they are allergic. My hands do not get affected by it as much now because I have grown a resistance, but my arms will have issues if I don’t take allergy pills. Alternatives are gelatin – depending on how hot it is since it will melt – or silicone. It all depends on the budget you are working with.

Starting to make people look dead on set of “Dr. Zombie”

HS: When you started to really develop your talent with special effects, did you go to school for it or learn by trial and error?
AP: I learned by trial and error, and a lot of playing around. I learned sculpting in art class in school and have always been very active in art classes, but I went to college for education and while doing so I continued with make-up and sculpting as a side hobby.

HS: Do you feel there should be more programs and education geared for the art of special effects. Personally, I can’t find a single school in a 75 mile radius of me…
AP: I absolutely think there should be more classes and programs. There is one near me at the NC School of the Arts, but it is a incredibly competitive program to get into and didn’t exist when I was picking colleges. Other than that you need to be in Florida or Pittsburgh for the really good ones. There are a few community colleges and four year schools that have a class here and there for make-up, but you do not actually get any real in depth practical FX training out of it, more of just theatrical make-up and beauty.

Judging Banzaicon 2014 in Columbia, SC

HS: I know you’re also into cosplaying. Have you ever seen killer effects as good as in the movies during your travels to conventions?
AP: I have seen some pretty amazing costumers use special effects make-up in their costumes. I judge about 10+ costume contests a year at anime, scifi and comic conventions and I am just blown away with the techniques people use. I judged at a convention at the beginning of January and one of the entries dressed as the ballerina from Cabin in the Woods. Her face piece was amazing for being her first face prosthetic and just building up tediously with tissue and slush latex. It is always so much fun and amazing to see how people create such intricate and amazing costumes with just their imaginations and whatever they can find at the store!

HS: I first discovered your talent when you worked on the Porkchop trilogy from Eamon Hardiman and its spin-off, Pig Girl. What did you do specifically on those films?
AP: For Porkchop II I was originally just brought in as an actress to play the part of Meg. As the filming went along I ended up helping with make-up as well. For Porkchp 3D I did a lot of sculpting – including Pig Girl’s face for the big reveal at the end as well as making her mask out of silicone – along with a lot of other effects since there were so many kills in that film. For Pig Girl, I did a lot for the big week of filming. It was basically me doing make-up with the assistance of Ally Meadows when she wasn’t acting in the film. I got to do some really cool machete kills, one to the face of Sam Qualiana and one to Missy Dawn’s chest, which had a cool rig to make blood squirt out.

Sculpting and painting effects for “Pig Girl”

HS: Other projects you have worked on include the award winning short films Foodie and Disengaged from Christopher G. Moore and the Plan 9 remake from Johnny Johnson. Are you starting to feel like a pro in the special effects game now or do you still feel like an up-and-comer?
AP: I still feel like an up-and-comer. I have worked on a lot of indie films, and even won awards for my work on them, but I continue to learn and grow with each project I do. I am professional and consider myself a pro in the way I conduct myself on set and with my work, but I think I still have more to do before I do not consider myself up-and-coming.

HS: On top of everything else you’re also a writer, director and producer with several short films under your belt. As another creative outlet, how do you feel when you’re creating an entire film and not just the effects prosthetics?
AP: I am an extreme multitasker. There have been many times on set where I am in the film acting and doing most of the make-up effects on the film as well. I am used to high stress situations (I have taught children in school for over 10 years so I am used to lots of craziness!) I like having the full reign of creativity in projects. Being able to come up with my own monsters (or together with Mariah, who I have directed some of my short films with.) or my own stories is great! I also have one huge imagination, and many of my short stories that have been published (or ones I have sitting around waiting to be) are script ideas that would have cost too much to make.

Promo art for “The Thicket”
HS: Speaking of taking the reigns, you currently have a new short film – The Thicket – in pre-production that is gaining extra funds on IndieGoGo. What can you tell me about this upcoming project of yours?
AP: The Thicket is the third film Mariah Johnson and I will have directed together. We want this film to be our best, and we aren’t going the comedic route like we did with our second short film, The Gnome Before Christmas. We want to do something scary, and both of us having grown up in Central Virginia have such amazing locations at our disposal. We decided to do a film about a group of friends camping, and that is all I am going to tell for now. We have a lot of really fun ideas for this film, and the concept we came up with is going to be great!

HS: Since this is about special effects, what will be required from you in that field? Monster make-up, maybe?
AP: It could be monster makeup… It could be anything from gore practical effects and kills, to creature makeups, to bruises and wounds, to sometimes beauty make-up on the main actresses. You have to be flexible in your abilities in make-up, sculpting and practical effects when working in the field.

HS: What is something you’d like to accomplish next or where can people look for you in 2015 and beyond?
AP: I would just like to keep working on awesome projects, so I guess my biggest goal is to stay busy and continue to work on awesome projects! As for where people can look for me next, I have a lot of projects that will be coming out soon! ShadowHunters: DevilSpeak is a short film I am in as well as worked on make-up on; it was directed b John Johnson and Monique Dupree. Plan 9 is now out in Australia. I just worked on a drama feature called Partners where I have a supporting part. And of course my next short film I will be co-directing, The Thicket!

I can be found all over the internet in various places. I dont really have a page for my make-up, but these are some links where people can find me:

Screen grab of Angela in “Plan 9”

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)