Conor McCullagh Tells All! Why Syfy’s FACE OFF was a “Game Changer”


Last month Conor and I had a chance to chat about what’s been going on with Conor McCullagh, winner of SyfY’s hit show, Face Off – Season One.  Conor’s career has really taken off.  Luckily, I’ve got him in my corner to develop Ghost Trek.  Here’s a portion of our conversation.
Conor, Me, and the “Bumble Bee”:  There’s a reason why the rock star make-up man is all smiles.
Michael Plumides: Has your life changed in the past year since winning FACE OFF
Conor McCullagh:  Very much so.  Since Face Off, I worked with Ve Neill on “The Hunger Games”, worked a few trade shows, and finished off the year with a three month stint on “Oz, The Great and Powerful”,  for Howard Berger and thirty of the best makeup artists I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Face Off was definitely a game changer for me. I get recognized on the street, and have hundreds of people e-mailing me with questions about the makeup business, schooling, and even my personal life. It’s pretty surreal sometimes.
MP: Do you feel the show has raised the visibility of your trade, more specifically special effects make up, and do you think it has created interest where it may not have existed before?
CM: I believe the show has undoubtedly sparked a lot interest in makeup effects. Face Off has more than 2 million viewers now. And I’m getting e-mails from people all over the world.
MP: You’ve worked on “Hunger Games” and Sam Raimi’s “Oz: The Great and Powerful”. Go into your work a little.
CM: My experiences on those two films were vastly different. Hunger Games was shot in the mountains of North Carolina in mid Summer. It was hot and humid the entire time. Oz was shot almost entirely on beautiful, new sound stages in Pontiac, Michigan. Although my responsibilities on Oz were more challenging, That environment made it easy to focus.  It’s always easier to perform your craft in a controlled environment.

Conor's "Oz Schnoz"... goofing off on the set of the upcoming Sam Raimi film.

MP: What’s it like to work for Academy Award winner, Ve Neill?  It must be validating to now work for one of the judges on Face Off.
CM: I have nothing but love for Ve. She really opened doors for me, and taught me a lot while I was working for her.
MP: You may be attending some horror conventions this year, namely the Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, NC.  Tell me a little about what you’re doing special for the convention.
CM:  I was asked to perform a live application for the Ghost Trek exhibition. There were some earlier make ups done by Starr Jones that were effective but I wanted to come up with a makeup demo that was relevant to Ghost Trek so I thought I would create my own spin on your ghoul, “Tyler Rae Kinsey”, from the pilot episode.
So we are going to do a live appliance application on Addy Miller, “Little Zombie Girl” from The Walking Dead (season one).  I will apply a prosthetic on her face and neck as well as hands and arms. She will be in full costume for a photo op. We just ordered the contact lenses and the costume is being altered.  It’s gonna be really creepy.
Addy’s “ghoul” appliance for the Mad Monster Party exhibition.
MP:  You’ve never done an application on a child, and I know you like to press yourself.  Is it a challenge to work on Addy Miller?
CM:  I’ve worked with teens and little people in the past. Addy has a great attitude and she’s very patient in the makeup chair. This was her third life cast and she’s only twelve (laughs).
Conor applies silicone on Addy Miller for her “life cast” for the Mad Monster Party exhibition.
MP:  Are you enjoying working on the specification and display pieces for GHOST TREK? Tell us about the prosthetic your working on for Addy.
 CM:  The Ghost Trek stuff is fun. Aside from Addy’s  “Tyler Rae Kinsey – Ghostly Pageant Princess” makeup, I created two “ghoul” busts based on characters from Ghost Trek scripts.  One is a an evil Confederate Colonel who’s back from the dead, Andrew Jackson Trull.
Conor McCullagh’s bust of “Colonel Andrew Jackson Trull”  back from the dead.
The other is an oversized ghoul with a large section of his face and neck missing. His name is Fatty Biggs, a rapper shot in a drive by, who gets up from the coroner’s table and walks away.  I thought a “rapper zombie’ was an interesting combination.  He even has a gold tooth.
A work in progress: Conor’s bust for “Zombie Straight Outta Compton” from a GHOST TREK episode.
 MP:  Well, with all of this wealth of notoriety, it came with a price.  That price was a lot of hard work.  So, you decided to reward yourself with a new car… but a yellow Camaro?  Living in North Carolina must have rubbed off on you.   I knew you were a redneck at heart.
CM: What can I say? I bought a 2011 Camaro. I’ve been in love with that car ever since the first Transformers film. Once I was cast for Face Off, I promissed myself that, if I win, I’m getting a Camaro.
Please visit www.themadmonsterparty.com for ticket information.  Also, check out our website at www.ghosttrektv.com and our facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/ghosttrektv .
GHOST TREK graphic photography by Justin Kates
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