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Monday, January 26, 2015

Makeup Team Works to Recreate “The Look” of 1969 TV

Tim Vittetoe and Lisa Hansell are self-taught experts in special effects makeup who have paired years of trial and error with study of “everything ever published” by late makeup artist Dick Smith, who is probably best known for his work on The Godfather, The Exorcist, and Taxi Driver and for receiving a Governors Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“We also learned beauty makeup through private instruction with five-time Emmy winning makeup artist Gil Mosko, who worked on STAR TREK: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine,” says Los Angeles-based Lisa Hansell.  So how did the husband and wife team of Tim and Lisa get connected with STAR TREK CONTINUES?  

“It’s a great story!  We were putting Vulcan ear tips on actor Tim Russ, turning him into Tuvok for a STAR TREK RENEGADES Kickstarter video shoot, when our good friend Larry Nemecek stopped by with Vic Mignogna.  That’s when we first met Vic. He told Larry that he was looking for people to do makeup on STAR TREK CONTINUES, and Larry recommended us. So Vic took our business card and called us the next day to set up a lunch meeting,” Lisa explains.  “At that lunch, we were captivated by his passion for the project and by his vision for the ‘Pilgrim of Eternity’ inaugural episode.  Being life-long STAR TREK fans ourselves, we happily came aboard for the first full-length episode and have been along for the amazing ride ever since.”

Capturing the “look” of vintage 1960’s STAR TREK makeup requires Lisa and Tim to study makeup styling, just like any period production.  “It's quite different from what we’d do on a contemporary piece where we’d generally go for a look that’s very light. In 1969, the makeup was much heavier and more apparent -- even on men. We style the standard Starfleet pointed sideburns, of course. Ladies’ hair of the period was bumped up and teased quite a bit into styles that are more like works of art than hairdos! We do quite a bit of research online when recreating these iconic characters.”

The Vulcan ear tips used for Mr. Spock were sculpted by Oscar-winning makeup artist Kevin Haney for the early vignettes and Tim and Lisa were given the eartip molds to use for making more when they came aboard.  The latex appliances were made to fit actor Todd Haberkorn’s ears perfectly.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

The second STAR TREK CONTINUES full-length episode starred an Orion slave girl named Lolani who had to be green from head to toe – just like Susan Oliver was painted for the STAR TREK pilot at the end of 1964.  “Thankfully, we have newer techniques and materials available to us than makeup artist Fred Phillips had back then.  For Lolani (Fiona Vroom) and Zaminhon's (Lou Ferrigno) body paint, we made PAX.  That’s a mixture of adhesive and acrylic color, so that the green would not transfer onto the sets or costumes. Their faces were painted with a custom color-matched cream makeup.  Fiona's makeup took a crew of 3 makeup artists about 5 hours each day, and Lou's took about 3 hours. It also took several hours to remove. To date, “Lolani” has been the most challenging episode for our work. It was important to us, and to Lou, that he look very different than his character in the classic TV series The Incredible Hulk.  We were all very pleased with how it turned out.”

Beyond all-green characters, the challenges of handling makeup for STAR TREK CONTINUES run along familiar themes.

“Every aspect of STAR TREK CONTINUES is so painstakingly recreated and we take our responsibilities just as seriously.  It is always tough to balance our own perfectionism with the time constraints of the production schedule and still get our actors looking so spot-on perfect,” Tim says.  “The biggest difference between 1969 and now is probably digital shooting instead of shooting to film.  Digital cameras pick up even minute imperfections, so a makeup artist must walk a fine line creating makeup that is natural looking while still hiding flaws and enhancing features. In the 1960's this was not as much of a consideration. If you compare HD screenshots or re-mastered video from the original STAR TREK series, you can see that the makeup of the time was much more obvious – even ‘theatrical’ in thickness.”

STAR TREK CONTINUES founder Vic Mignogna, who spends time in the makeup chair being styled as Captain Kirk by Tim and Lisa, believes their interest in STAR TREK makes both an ideal choice to handle makeup assignments for the web series.

“I’ve worked with a lot of makeup artists in a lot of different productions.  Some are better than others.  But the one thing that elevates Tim’s work and Lisa’s work is the enthusiasm they have for our production.  They love what they’re doing.  They’re even willing to earn less than what they would make on a regular production because they have a personal passion for our project – and that always makes the work better,” Mignogna says.

Lisa and Tim are involved with each episode, starting with the shooting script. 
“We usually start by reading through the script and making notes regarding each character and each scene that may call for specialized makeup, such as injuries.  We then meet with the director and the creative team to discuss the needs in each scene and get insight into any nuances that may not have been readily described. The look of each character is then designed and makeup tests are done to ensure that our vision is aligned with that of the director and then any adjustments can be made prior to the start of production. The overall look must be functional for the actors and the story.  It has to be believable,” Tim says.

Long Resumes

Early on, Tim was makeup supervisor on an independent film called STAR TREK: Of Gods and Men that starred many of the original STAR TREK cast reprising their roles. Then there was Missing Girl: the Carrie Burke Story, which won Audience Favorite at the New York Film Festival. Snow Day Bloody Snow Day and The Last Stand were some very early horror films that were quite challenging and fun for the couple, especially creating the illusion that a video game controller was used to kill a zombie.

“We lead the makeup department on STAR TREK RENEGADES, which is now in post-production, starring Adrienne Wilkinson, Sean Young, Robert Picardo, Walter Koenig and Tim Russ. This was a huge undertaking. It has a cast of 61 and 15 actors in complicated prosthetic makeup. At one point we supervised 12 makeup artists in two makeup rooms! Look for it in late spring 2015,” Lisa says.

“We also worked on a feature film due for release soon called Six Gun Savior starring Martin Kove and Eric Roberts where we created a zombie army. Lisa is lead for hair and makeup on a new webseries called Nobility starring Walter Koenig, Cas Anvar, Doug Jones, Chris Judge, Torri Higginson, Ellen Dubin, Adrienne Wilkinson and James Kyson. It's billed as The Office meets Firefly and is currently in negotiations with Netflix and Hulu.  She is also working on a live-action web comic called Catalyst Prime: Incidentals from Black Mast Studios in association with Lion Forge Comics, and she worked on Journey to Abaddon -- a short film that was accepted into the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. Lisa did Romulan and Vulcan makeups on actors Ryan Husk and Rico Anderson for another upcoming fan production called Star Trek Horizon by the multi-talented Tommy Kraft,” says Tim Vittetoe.

“We’ll also be in production on a space comedy series for the SyFy channel in February that we can't say much about quite yet, but the script is hilarious and it stars some genre favorite actors that we look forward to working with,” adds Lisa.

Tim Vittetoe and Lisa Hansell are available for hire through their website for ImpaQt FX (, which features portfolios and demo reels of the team’s talents.  They also maintain an online store where anyone can purchase movie-quality prosthetics, makeup and supplies. Reach out to Tim and Lisa through their email address:

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