Back in the early 2000’s, I got the opportunity to work on 2 very different but very interesting jobs that weren’t film related.
The first project was a pop promo which just happened to be for Robbie Williams. It was the first single released from his album and the song was ROCK DJ.
I got the call from Altered States FX based in Shepperton studios and the brief was to have Robbie dance in front of all these rollerskating models. He wanted to gain their attention so he starts to remove his clothes until eventually he’s down to his naked body. As the models still aren’t interested in him, he decides to go one further and remove his skin…then muscles…until he’s a skeleton!
We only had 3 weeks to pull off this complex make up effects gag, so Robbie came into the workshop to be full body lifecasted which was done by the excellent John Schoonraad.
Because we didn’t have time to sculpt the whole make up in one full prosthetic and float it off we decided to break the sculpt down into individual pieces beforehand and hope that they overlap which it did thankfully.
Everything was made in Foam Latex and everything had to be super thin too as we didn’t want to bulk out Robbie too much.
On the day of the shoot the make up took around 7 hours to glue on and paint as there were so many pieces to apply onto him. He only wore the make up for one day and on the second day we brought in a body double so he could shoot all the back shots and the close ups of the chest being peeled off…
The director wanted Robbie to peel off various muscle sections and throw them to the girls, it sounds easy but was quite tough because they couldn’t be glued onto him and yet they wanted to keep filming without us running in and re sticking the muscles back on, so we came up with the idea of using very sticky bloody that would hold the muscles on long enough for the shot but when Robbie needed to rip them off he could do without too much hassle.
The video caused a lot of controversy at the time and was actually banned for a while, but went straight to number one in the charts. The FX work still holds up today even though its nearly 14 years old.
Rock DJ won an MTV award for special effects!
In the next blog i’ll talk about Aliens and Beer! (this was the second project for Altered States FX)