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Turkish special effects makeup experts in Hollywood's backyard

REFERANS | 11/22/2009 12:00:00 AM | MİNE TUDUK

Bulgaria, Romania and Tunisia have become Hollywood’s backyards because of low production costs, which is also an advantage for Turkish special effects makeup artists. Turkish makeup artists are popular internationally due to their high-quality work and low costs. While some work on projects abroad, some send their designs to foreign countries

Two Turkish space pilots enter a gravitational field during a routine mission and encounter aliens on a strange planet. Cüneyt Arkın, one of the two pilots, fights these unidentified aliens. Yeşilçam’s (Turkish Hollywood) first science fiction film, “Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam” (The Man Who Saves the World), made in 1982, is remembered for these scenes, effects and aliens.

Both Yeşilçam and the special effects industry in Turkey have made advancements since the 1982 film and are now opening up to the world.

Turkish prosthetic and latex special effects makeup experts, who create interesting characters out of their knowledge of anatomy, sculpture, chemistry, color and imagination, are popular not only in Turkish cinema but around the world.

The fact that films are shot in countries such as Romania, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Tunisia and Australia due to low production costs has become a particularly new opportunity for Turkish makeup designers. They are preferred for their high-quality work and low prices, and take part in projects abroad with effects such as broken arms, severed heads or fantastical creatures.

[HH] Demand from the underground causes an atelier to close shop

Arzu Yurter is a Turkish expert in the field of latex makeup design. Yurter, who is known recently after being asked to apply latex makeup to Ergenekon case witnesses, discovered the art form eight years ago. She received her education in Turkey and abroad. Working for films, commercials and photography shoots in which latex makeup is applied. Yurter is known for her work in “gothic style.”

“I can make a man a woman and a woman a man with plastic makeup. Even their father would not know them,” she said.

Yurter said recent developments in cinema created a new sector that lets Turkish makeup artists take part in important projects abroad. “Makeup artists’ wages change between 50,000 to 200,000 euros in Europe and the U.S. according to the project. It is between 600 and 1,600 Turkish Liras weekly in Turkey. When Turkish makeup artists work for a foreign project, they earn 400 to 550 euros daily for the projects of the same quality,” she said.

Yurter said she created plastic noses, chins, severed arms and legs for films in Korea, and also worked for many film projects in Italy, Romania and Canada as well as the Far East. She also told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review about some of the interesting proposals she has received.

“I received very different proposals when my name became known for latex makeup, which was planned to be applied to Ergenekon case witnesses. Security officials visited my atelier for the project, but we did not make a contract. After hearing this, I received interesting proposals that I could never accept. Some said ‘change the face of my gunman.’ Since I became a target, it disturbed me so I had to close down my atelier,” she said.

[HH] People come from L.A., Bollywood

Corci is the first name that comes to mind in the special effects makeup sector in Turkey. In his 35 years as a special effects makeup artist, his experience has been applied to many films made in foreign countries. Corci said he has received many proposals in recent years. “Bulgaria and Romania are like the backyards of Hollywood. Turkish makeup artists are preferred because they are very good and are priced low.”

Corci said demand from abroad was not limited to Bulgaria and Romania: “I get proposals from many countries to give training. I have attended many training sessions and seminars in Bulgaria and the Turkic Republics. On the other hand, there are those who come to Turkey for training. Students from Los Angeles, Canada, Iran, France and Bollywood, the heart of the cinema industry in India, come to Turkey in groups a few times a year. I teach them the details of the business.”

In the 35th year of his professional life, Corci plans to establish a new project: “I will make molds of famous faces for my new project. I am planning to take molds of nearly 35 people and want to open a museum or an exhibition to display these molds.”

[HH] Where creatures of your dreams are made

Dükkan-ül Hayal, founded by Emir Özer and Zeynep Nuhoğlu in 2006, is Turkey’s only latex makeup and animatronics special effects atelier. Özer and Nuhoğlu, who can create 2-meter monsters, said latex makeup and special effects require a disciplinary effort. “Recently, we have been working with higher-cost films and directors, but latex makeup is not completely understood in Turkey. They asked us to make a Terminator in three days last week. We were excited about it, but it was not possible,” said Nuhoğlu.

She said the fact that horror and super hero films have recently done well at the box office and the revival of Turkish cinema have increased interest in special effects makeup, adding: “The opening of different special effects and latex makeup studios will develop the sector more. The younger generation, particularly shows interest in this sector. Students from Mimar Sinan and Marmara fine arts faculties work as assistants in our projects.”

Nuhoğlu said they have plans for the sector’s development: “We plan to make a film, written by Emir Özer. We will use various visual effects and latex makeup applications. We will send the film to foreign festivals and prove to the world how good the business is carried out in Turkey.”

As for interesting demands, Nuhoğlu said: “Some people call us from the Black Sea and ask us to completely change their face or make their nose smaller. We don’t accept demands like this unless it for a production, because it is unethical.”

The cost of special effects and latex makeup differs according to each project. The cost of a scene where the artist will be cut in two, the camera dimensions and lighting conditions would cost between 7,000 and 25,000 liras. The cost of face makeup is around 6,000 liras.

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