Coven FX bring us SFX Makeup and Products by Women, for Women (Part 1/2)
At many of the huge horror conventions, and this year’s amazing The 17th Door Haunt in Tustin, I got to know Haylee Detroit and her talent for horror makeup. Now the announcement of a collective of women specializing in all aspects of makeup and special effects has rocked the SFX world!
Three talented women, Haylee Detroit, Melissa Coulter and Cassandra Byers, each with varying backgrounds in makeup and special effects, have decided to come together to form an FX company run by women, making FX products for women. Along with their original line of women’s silicone masks, Coven FX will also be offering services including but not limited to: mold making, casting, prosthetic and transfer making, prop making, foam fabrication, FX dentures, and life casting.
Haylee is the founder/owner of this groundbreaking endeavor and she had this to say:
“Being surrounded by so many talented women in the FX Industry is what gave me the idea to open Coven FX. Realizing that I have so many talented friends who struggle to get FX work in a male dominated industry, I started talking to Cassandra Byers about the idea of opening my own shop. With her Beauty Makeup and YouTube/Social Media Marketing background, adding Cass to the equation was a no brainer. But I knew we needed a strong sculptor. I watched an amazing mask created by Melissa Coulter go viral, and I knew she was our missing sister. With our varying backgrounds, along with the help of some other amazing women our combined talents give us the ability to take on any job that comes to us. We have become a Family, A Coven. And I am so excited to open Coven FX this Summer!”
In part one of my in-depth feature on these talented ladies, I interview the founders of Coven FX and get to know Founder/Owner/FX Artist: Haylee Detroit, Founder/Co-Owner/Beauty and FX Artist: Cassandra Byers and Founder/Co-Owner and Lead Sculptor/Mask Maker: Melissa Coulter.
INTERVIEW WITH THE WOMEN OF COVEN FX
Los Angeles Zombie Girl: Hi ladies! I am so excited about Coven FX. The videos and photos I’ve been seeing are fabulous! What got you all started in this business?
Haylee Detroit: I’ve always loved horror. But I really came to appreciate the work that goes into horror FX when I moved to LA in the summer of 2014 and started working in special effects. Seeing the talent and ingenuity that goes into making a mask or turning a twenty year old into a rotting corpse firsthand shed a whole new light on the subject for me. I used to get squeamish during the really gory scenes, but now I’m on the edge of my seat staring at every aspect of it, trying to figure out every technique so I can improve my own work, taking it in as the art form it is instead of just seeing it as entertainment.
Cassandra Byers: I was in community college and unhappy with what I was doing. I loved art and I loved film and I wanted to find a different way to be a part of it. Do more alongside people. So, after some searching, I found that makeup/SFX IN FILM was a pretty do-able career. I switched into a makeup school based around fashion production and SFX called Cosmix School of Makeup Artistry and completed my certifications and went from there.
Melissa Coulter: I have always been a little creep, I used to set up mini haunted houses to scare my brother and attempt to make horror films with my friends but I couldn’t be bothered with anything but the scary parts so our movies never really went anywhere. When I was about 22 I realized, I could either do exactly what I want forever and ever or go lay down and die. It wasn’t a very hard choice once I realized that.
Los Angeles Zombie Girl: What can you each tell me about your journeys into SFX makeup?
Haylee: I only started working in FX make-up two years ago, when I moved to LA from Detroit; before that, I was working as a cosmetics artist. My first job in the industry was as a part-time airbrush artist at Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest, led by Scott Ramp, the owner of the Scream Team. That experience was a life changer. Being surrounded by all that talent and so many great artists like Mike Spatola and Rod Maxwell, watching all those actors get completely transformed… I was hooked. I HAD to learn more so I could move up to a prosthetics position the next season, which took a lot of work, but it was worth it.
Over the following year, I took on several internships at various FX shops to gain more experience, working with Erick Rodriguez’s Imaginerick Studio and KC Mussman’s Nocturnal Designz Studio. I came back the next year to Fright Fest as a full-time Prosthetic Artist and I was in LOVE. Scott Ramp is an amazing mentor and without his direction, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The next year I moved to Orange County which gave me the opportunity to work at The 17th Door Haunted House in Tustin as the Makeup Department Head.
Cassandra: I went to school, I got work from people who worked in film from school after I graduated and branched out from there.
Melissa: I registered for the Savini school and then as an afterthought ordered a monster makers mask kit to see if I could sculpt because I had never done it before. I wasn’t that good but decided to attend the school anyways. Not that I didn’t want to work hard but I thought it would be pretty clear cut, go to school, get a job, work your way up. It turned out to be a lot more exciting and tiring then that, almost straight away in the Savini program I was assaulted with tests and tasks. I quickly found myself getting about 3 hours of sleep per night and feeling more fulfilled than ever before. The teachers really went out of their way to challenge us and thicken the skin. I went from tearing up at every obstacle to growing a pair of balls….I had them removed though so everything is normal down there again.
Los Angeles Zombie Girl: So where did you all get your inspiration?
Haylee: It’s amazing to be able to turn a human into any creature imaginable. To watch the actors and models transform, seeing their whole demeanor change as they BECOME the character is so cool. When you see them change their voice, their mannerisms, and even the way they walk, and knowing that the makeup I create helps them find the character and bring it to life, getting to be a part of that is such an amazing experience.
Cassandra: I have always been big into video games, fantasy and creating. A lot of SFX comes with character creating, and as a kid, I loved that part of any video game where you got to create your own character. It fascinated me that you could mold and make literally anyone or anything. I’m so inspired by the infinite impossibilities, my seemingly endless streams of creativity and the drive to just keep creating.
Melissa: What inspired me before I knew all the names of the artists, were the monsters themselves. I don’t know that I have had any more difficult of a life than anyone else, but something about my childhood made me identify a great deal with monsters, I used to fantasize that Pin Head was my guardian angel and that if I ever had trouble I could just run into the dark because I belonged there. People have always been what frightens me. Just for the sake of honesty I was terrified of Chucky…but really, he was still a person inside a doll.
Los Angeles Zombie Girl: Why you are doing this together? Why an all-female team?
Haylee: The FX industry is a male-dominated one, and I wanted to create a space where women like Cassandra, Melissa and I could show off our talents. The best make-up artists, from Dick Smith to Tom Savini to Eryn Krueger Mekash all came from the school of “do it yourself” and I figured, what the hell, I’ll do it myself too.
Cassandra: I grew up with four sisters. I am so used to women. We get a lot done when we agree and even disagree with stuff. A team like this is so easy to communicate with because we are all like sisters. A sister is the strongest bond you can have, so it’s just a no-brainer when it comes to a team. I also think it’s important to encourage more women to work in this industry so I want to keep them close and keep them going.
Melissa: The reason I am doing this is to give women a chance to work at a place where no one will question if they can handle it or if they are as good as the male counterpart. It is very difficult to remain professional when people turn their back on you in a conversation or address the other man in the room even though you have been working on a project from the beginning and the other dude just started.
Personally I am not against hiring men in the future but pissing contests will be totally against the rules. If you get hired here it is because you are good. End of story.
Los Angeles Zombie Girl: What is the ultimate goal for Coven FX?
Haylee: I want to fill a gap in the FX Industry, by making masks and prosthetics for women. Unfortunately, there is just not a big selection for women when it comes to masks and prosthetics. No other company caters exclusively to making FX products for women, and we would like to be the first! We also plan to hold Girl Scout and Teen Girl (13-17) FX workshops in the future, to empower and inspire young women interested in Special Effects.
Cassandra: The goal is to provide what we’re serving. Female fitted prosthetics and masks. I also want to go as far as I can in this industry and never stop creating.
Melissa: Our goal is, as I said, work place equality, but as far as what we will do?! Haylee’s original though was not a lot of female masks sizes or characters exist so we will be making a fair amount of those smaller sizes and female characters. We will also be a full service special effects shop. We sat down the other day to list exactly what we will offer and it turned out to be more extensive between the lot of us then even we had thought. I am personally hoping we can develop into a bit of a resource for women in need of a network of positive support as well through our social media and perhaps events.
SUPPORT WOMEN IN HORROR, SUPPORT COVEN FX!
The Coven FX GoFundMe site is now live to help raise funds to open their shop this summer. Your donations will go toward all the necessities of opening any new business: Business License, Insurance, Website, Shop Deposit, Utilities, Materials, Supplies, Business Cards, Marketing, etc. To make your donation go to: www.gofundme.com/covenfx.
These women are amazing and I see great things ahead. Please check out all their sites, watch their videos, support them any way you can and have fun doing it! And stay tuned for Part 2 of this story which will introduce you to the additional team members that make this an unstoppable company.