Creating Pennywise with Bart Mixon, Tom Woodruff Jr, and Alec Gillis

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This year has gone to the clowns in more ways than one.

A large amount of the credit for this goes to a certain dancing demon clown named Pennywise. According to BoxMojo.com, the 2017 remake film of the 1990 miniseries based upon the Steven King novel, It has already grossed over 320 million dollars, proving that It is hands down beloved by fans.

It tells the story of the horror that a shape-shifting demon has inflicted upon a small town. The demon manifests into different forms to lure the victims to their doom.  After a long history of snatching victims in gruesome ways, the demon meets its match with a group of adolescent misfits who call themselves the Losers Club. Combining their resources and courage, the Losers Club stand up to the demon to save themselves and their town.

Despite its portrayal in other forms, Pennywise the dancing clown is the most iconic and frightening centerpiece of the story. Both the 1990 and 2017 version feature two very different versions of the clown. In the 1990 televised version, Pennywise the Dancing Clown looked and acted more like a silly circus clown with the basic clown makeup with the honking bright red nose. Everything about the 1990 version was bright and cheery, which amped up the level of horror in horrendous acts that Pennywise committed. Gone were the cheerful colors with the 2017 Pennywise. The ancient clown outfit with ruffled collar and the muted and cracked makeup aged the shape-shifting demon.

Creature Features, a Burbank store that specializes in cinematic monsters and creatures, hosted a special talk featuring the creative hands that brought both versions to life.

Bart Mixon, who was the Special Effects Supervisor for the 1990 version, helped design and create the effects for the version of Pennywise that was won by Tim Curry. Mixon also had a hand in creating the other monsters (including that spider) but not the fortune cookies. For those who favor this version of It, Mixon was a treasure trove of history and information.  Amazingly, many of Mixon’s creations (including that spider) is curated and cared by his father in Texas. According to the Bart Mixon Museum website, it is open every Sunday!

The legendary alumni of Stan Winston and founders of Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc,  Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis, designed the 2017 Pennywise played by Bills Skarsgaard. When asked about the specific design of Pennywise’s face, they credited the amazing line drawing by director Andy Muschietti.

In a sold out room, fans of the movie were treated to a special video with behind the scene footage of both ADI’s and Mixon’s work for the movie.

 

Highlights of the talk:

  • Design of the 1990’s It was influenced by Lon Chaney (1925 Phantom of The Opera).
  • That spider at the end of 1990 It could do a lot more, like drip “venom.”
  • Normally dental veneers are smooth and small so as not to interfere with the acting. However, the teeth prosthetic that Skaarsgard used was very jagged and protruded out. He was still able to act though with no bleeding.

 

 

 

All three are involved in the upcoming Netflix movie Bright featuring Will Smith, magic, and orcs set in Los Angeles (coming Dec 22, 2017)

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