Science-Fiction-Filme.) Dear Mr. Wang. Thanks for joining this interview. You know, I´m a fan of your work for a long time. Starting with ALIENS and INVASION FROM MARS. Then there was PREDATOR or DEEP STAR SIX. I could count a lot of good movies like GREMLINS 2 or one of my favorites GUYVER: DARK HERO. Could you please tell me something about the beginning of your career?
Steve Wang) I got started in the film business doing makeup effects pretty young. 19 years old to be exact. So before that I did the usual jobs, dish washer and pumping gas at a gas station. But the one thing I did do during that time was teaching myself how to draw sculpt and paint monsters and making masks and prosthetic makeups. Information was very hard to come by back in the late 70’s-early 80’s so you had no choice but to teach yourself. I always had a fascination with monsters as a kid and that’s all I ever wanted to do was to create my own, so special makeup effects was something that was a logical step into that career.
My first experiences were actually some local tv shows and films in the San Francisco bay area that no one has heard of now. That was 1980 till 84. Then in 1985, I packed up and moved to Los Angeles to pursue my career full time. I was lucky enough to join Stan Winston’s team on Invaders from mars. That was the first. EVIL DEAD 2 was about 10 months later . For invaders from Mars, my roommate at the time, The amazing Matt Rose, whom I started out making monsters with were already working at Stan’s and I heard they needed more people. I went there with my portfolio for an interview and was hired for the job.
My very first exposure to special effects was Ultraman. That blew my mind as a kid and will always have a special place in my heart. I grew up with all the universal, Hammer and an assorted other monster movies from the 50-70’s. But the ones that really made me seriously interested in creating monsters were The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the thing, Howling and American Werewolf I London. The Artist that had the biggest influence on me was Rick Baker. He was the maverick and innovator both in developing change ‘o heads for werewolf transformations to innovating the highest form of character designs and creations.
SFF.) You´re working for television-series like POWER RANGERS or KAMEN RIDER. What exactly is the difference between working on television and movies for the cinematic world?
S.W.) For POWER RANGERS LOST GALAXY, I was hired as a director for an episode called the rescue mission. For KAMEN RIDER DRAGON KNIGHT, I was the showrunner along with my brother Mike. We were responsible for creating the US version of the show from story, scripts, and running the actual production of the show up til delivery of the 40 episodes to the network. We won a daytime Emmy award for best stunt coordination. With television, it’s a super fast pace process. A lot of time you are just running and gunning and trying not to fall behind. It’s definitely a challenge. With films, we tend to have more time for everything.
SFF.) You were working for several great crews in the special effect world like the Stan Winston Studio, Cinovation or for Screaming Mad George. Sculpturing, painting, art directing, writing, directing. You did so many jobs for such brilliant people in filmbusiness. Which one is your favorite job and why?
S.W.) I was fortunate enough to work as the art director for many of these greats so I get me make a lot of creative design and execution decisions as well as challenged with innovating a lot of new techniques to get the job done. These jobs were all great in their own way.
SFF.) You are one of the greatest monstermaker in film history (oh yes…you are!). And let me tell you something. I´m into the whole kaiju-stuff and I guess you too. I mean KAMEN RIDER is one of my favorite series back in the old days. And you produced a Kamen Rider Series between 2008 and 2010. What is special about this kind of subculture?
S.W.) Thank you for the kind words about my work. For me, these kinds of shows really tap into our inner child and challenges our sense of wonder. I grew up with these show as a kid and the places that it teleports you to in your mind and imagination is the real power of these shows. I consider myself a ‘Monster-kid’ which was a name coined in our industry to express an grown up’s forever love and passion for monsters. Much can be said about tokusatsu and kaijus as well.
SFF.) Could you please describe the way you create a monster. From the first draft till the final product which we see on screen.
S.W.) It’s really simple actually. The script describes the creatures sometime or if it doesn’t, you can at least get a sense of the tone and atmosphere of the story and that usually elicits images in my head. The next step is list the actions that it does and that tells you what types of things you have to design fir instance, if it bites someone, then it needs a mouth and teeth etc… from there I just zone out and channel the designs through my mind. I open up and receive the designs from the universe and translate them through drawings or maquettes. From there then the technical process of or craft. Sculpting, molding casting painting, animatronics, if any until we are complete.
SFF.) Do you have a project you always wanted to do or are there something in progress we can enjoy in the future?
S.W.) I have so many scripts that I want to shoot. Many of the sci-fi and creature related films. But I don’t know if any of them will ever come to fruition. It’s very difficult to get a film financed and made so I can only keep trying.
SFF.) I held up with one of the most important question to the end: What was the most difficult effect you were working on and why?
S.W.) I’ve had many difficult projects in the past. But one of the most difficult ones is the statue we made of Tyrael for Blizzard entertainment. We only had 6 and 1/2 weeks to build him and he has 6 long tendrils that not only light up by 5000 LED’s that is computer controlled, but also had to have a translucent cover over it. The large scale and the complicated twisting of the shapes and how it has to slip over the LED’s made it impossible to create this traditionally with sculpting, molding and casting. This had to be fabricated, but I did not know if there was such a material that existed. I tried for weeks testing out many materials but nothing worked. It wasn’t until the last minute that I accidentally came across a material that was not made for what we used it for that I was finally able to figure it out. It’s too complicated to get into and I don’t want to confuse people who might be reading this that do not understand the technical process of our craft. Let’s just say, we almost failed and a miracle happened!
SFF) Dear Mr. Wang. I thank you immensely for taking time doing this interview and wish you all the best for your future movie making.
S.W.) Thank you very much! It was my pleasure.