Makeup Effects Supervisor Paul Jones RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION Set Visit Interview

     January 19, 2012

Makeup Effects Supervisor Paul Jones RESIDENT EVIL slice

If you’re a fan of the zombies and creatures in the Resident Evil movie franchise and you’re curious what’s coming in Resident Evil: Retribution, you’re in the right place.  That’s because while visiting the set last month in Toronto along with a few other online reporters, we got to speak with makeup effects supervisor Paul Jones.  During the interview, Jones talked about the new and returning zombies, the make-up in the fifth film and how it’s different, the new creatures, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to read what he had to say.

milla-jovovich-resident-evil-imageHere’s a few of the highlights from Paul Jones:

  • There are more zombies this time around except they’re in smaller groups.
  • Everything is enhanced with the Russian zombies; their actions are almost super-human.
  • Jones wanted the makeup on the zombies to look realistic. He took inspiration from Day of the Dead.
  • The Lickers are all CGI.
  • They created cocoons, which are like egg pods that come from the Lickers.
  • There are three different types of zombies: the newly created undead, the Russians – Las Plagas, and the zombies in Tokyo.

Before going any further, here’s the official synopsis from Retribution and the just released teaser trailer:

The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race’s last and only hope, ALICE (Milla Jovovich), awakens in the heart of Umbrella’s most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex. Without a safe haven, Alice continues to hunt those responsible for the outbreak; a chase that takes her from Tokyo to New York, Washington, D.C. and Moscow, culminating in a mind-blowing revelation that will force her to rethink everything that she once thought to be true. Aided by newfound allies and familiar friends, Alice must fight to survive long enough to escape a hostile world on the brink of oblivion. The countdown has begun.


Question:  This film has been more non-stop action?

Paul Jones: For me, yeah, someone just came to me and was like, “You’re doing less zombies than the last one.”  No, actually, we’ve done more, except we’re doing them in clumps of 20 at a time instead of [scenes where we need] 127 at a time.  We’ve been doing a lot more of the same thing, really.

The zombies are a bit more evolved this time, how has that informed your make-up design?

Jones:  Well, it’s always fun working with Paul because he has very specific ideas, so that makes my job easier but also harder because I know exactly what I’m building, but I have to build it exactly how he wants.  That’s always fun.  This has been a different kind of deal because the last movie was very stylized and this one is going for more realism.  The zombies on motorcycles, the action dictates what they’ll look like because you’ve zombies doing stuff you normally wouldn’t see a zombie do.  I’m not even calling them zombies anymore, I’m calling them “infected.”  When you say zombie, you’re talking about someone who has been brought back from the dead.  With these Russian zombies, it’s not the case.  They’ve been infected, so they’ve mutated.  They’ve been affected by the T-virus, it’s the Las Plagas virus, actually, which is why they’re different.  So, again, everything is enhanced with them, we still aesthetically made them look dead.  We’ve actually made a couple of them look really dead.  But they’re actions are almost super-human.

So, it’s a scaled-back look?

Jones:  No, we took it further.  I’m a huge fan of [George] Romero’s Day of the Dead.  I think those make-ups look realistic but also extremely stylized.  I really wanted to do my own version of that.  And we raised the aesthetic of it a little bit because they’re firing rocket launchers and jumping over trucks, so the way they’re going to be seen in this, the make-up has been  done accordingly and their eyes are glowing red as well.

What are some of the creatures we can expect to see?

Jones:   Thankfully, the Lickers are all CGI on this, so I built some practical stand-ins.  There’s [a picture of] a hand floating around the Internet.  We built some other pieces to help the CG guys.  One of the biggest builds I’ve had besides the zombies have been the cocoons which are a new invention of Paul’s that fit along the game.  It helped the story elements.  We trapped the little girl in the film and Milla has to rescue her and so we had to create these cocoons which are like egg pods – we’re not really sure why they’re there, but they help move the story along and from an aesthetic point of view it was really fun.  They had to look egg-ish and like a Licker because they come from the Licker, but they’re their own entity.

We saw something that looked like a heart with tentacles…

Jones:  Big claws, yeah.  Those are the Licker pods.  Some people call them pods, I call them cocoons and we had to rig that with a whole ripping action so Milla can rip it open and reach in.  The girl is trapped inside and, because she knows sign language, she’s signing through the cocoon which is a nice story point.

Do you have someone at work right now on the set?

Jones:  No, not today.  We were cyber-scanning some zombies, tomorrow we have to do a biker zombie and then we have to do 70 zombies.

Are you inspired by Tom Savini?

Jones:  I actually know Tom very well.  We almost did a movie together, he came in as a designer.  This was like 15 years ago.  They hired me to build the stuff, he was the designer and three weeks into the production, the money fell out.  He was pissed because he just bought a new car.

Can you talk about the cyber-scanning you’re doing?

Jones:  Yeah, obviously when we have a crowd of zombies, we can’t do them all.  What they do is huddle a crowd of zombies, shoot them against a green screen.  But then you have certain elements like a zombie falling off of a building or crushed by a tank, for instance, I’m not saying that happen in this movie.  If you cyber-scan someone as a zombie, it creates this 3D element which the CG guys can then animate.  We bring a person in, put them in make-up, costume, everything and they stand there and are capture in three dimensions.  Instead of creating a zombie from scratch, you have that element there and you animate it.  You can duplicate them as well and give them all separate actions.  So, if you have a crowd scene with hundreds of zombies, it’s much easier to do this and duplicate them.  You can customize each one.  A good percentage of our days has been doing the make-up and taking them off to the CG guys so they can get a reference.

The same process with the last film and with the various Alice characters running around?

Jones:  Exactly, there was a lot of face replacement.

We interview Michelle Rodriguez while she was wearing a cyber-scanning suit.  What did you have to do on her?

Jones:  We actually did a make-up for Michelle on this one.  I don’t want to give it away.

Zombie make-up?

Jones:  Not quite, not quite.  Something to make her look cool.

When she injects the parasite into her bloodstream?

Jones:  Not quite.  I’m not saying anything.  But I did get to work with her, which was cool especially for two of my make-up guys because they’re huge fans.  They were like, “Why is she here, she died in the first film?”  Yeah, but it’s kind of a cool story, bringing back some old faces.  The first day she flew in, she needed teeth casting and face cast and a whole bunch of stuff.  I picked the one guy in the shop who is the biggest squid and I said, “You have to go to set today, you need to do some work on an actress.”  He said, “Okay.”  He was crapping his pants, but I was in the background grinning.  It was great to see Oded again, it’s a nice reunion.

Are you doing anything here that is tantamount to the Nemesis in part 2?  Any guy in suit action?

Jones:  Unfortunately, no.  I’ve been giving Paul a lot of shit about it, because I did the Axe Man on the last one, I did the dogs on the last one.  There was a lot of variation.   This has been a simple show, but a harder show in terms of constant flow from us.  There are three different types of zombies, the newly created human undead, the Russians – Las Plagas, plus we have a scene in Tokyo, and we have a different look for those guys, too.  So, we’ve been jumping back and forth.  I told Paul, with the next film, he has to write a big creature for me.  With the cocoons, he’s been happy, so next time, do a creature suit.

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