Greg Nicotero is one of the most respected special effects/make up effects artists in the industry. He is the N in KNB Effects. His IMDb page reads like a who’s who of Hollywood, working alongside some of the best directors and filmmakers of all time in his more than 30-year career. He is currently one of most important people in The Walking Dead universe as chief effects artist and director. Sunday, at Walker Stalker Con in Edison, NJ he took the stage for a panel/Q&A about The Walking Dead and his career in the monster business.
The moderators opened by asking the most frequent question: What would he do in a real zombie apocalypse? Nicotero said he’d put zombie makeup on from his shop. He was inspired by Jaws because it was the first movie he saw where effects caused the scares, and he was impressed that they could build a giant shark. His parents caught and stuffed a shark, hanging it in his basement. Dawn of the Dead solidified his love of makeup effects.
His dad was a doctor, and he was going to follow in those footsteps. He majored in bio and minored in art, and often incorporated his medical knowledge in zombie makeup.
They took a bunch of questions from the eager fans:
Q: Are there any effects you haven’t done that you would still like to do?
Greg Nicotero: I have a list on my phone. There’s one involving a zombie bite where a bullet shoots out the teeth right before and the zombie does a toothless bite. There are timing issues a lot, but we have so much freedom to do what we want. The Well-Walker took weeks.
Q: What choices do you have as director?
Greg Nicotero: It’s hard to do episodes with multiple timelines, but it helps tell a better story.
Nicotero directs 5 episodes a year including the premiere, the mid season premiere, and the finale… ya know, only the important ones.
Q: What effect haven’t you mastered?
Greg Nicotero: Funny, but the zombie bite. There are so many variables that make it difficult – where the bite is, whose biting, blood, etc.
He referenced a story where he felt an effect got ruined by an extra raising her arm and blocking blood splatter. George Romero told him that sometimes it’s better when you get a natural human reaction.
Q: What’s your favorite special effect scene ever?
A: Nicotero cited his experience doing make up on Sin City with Robert Rodriguez, and getting to work with Quentin Tarantino, especially on the Reservoir Dogs ear slicing, torture scene.
Greg Nicotero is arguably the most important person in TWD universe and it was awesome getting to see him discuss his passion for make-up. The mid season finale of The Walking Dead is tonight on AMC. Go to WalkerStalkercon.com for more info on future Walker Stalkers in your area.
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