Hollywood star teams up with University of Bolton for special makeup effects project

Students from the University of Bolton have been tasked with creating a variety of horrifying creatures by a Hollywood star.

Matt Winston, who appeared in movies Little Miss Sunshine and Fight Club, as well as TV series including Bones and Star Trek: Enterprise, surprised students when he appeared in class via video link.

His father was the late special makeup effects master Stan Winston, responsible for the creatures in films Jurassic Park, Terminator, Predator and Aliens.

Matt now runs the online-based Stan Winston Character School of Character Arts, which offers video tutorials on a whole range of special makeup effects. He has agreed to work with the students from the University of Bolton’s special effects makeup course via video link from his base in Los Angeles, as part of their industry project.

Matt promised to take part after talking to Natalie Woods, the University’s Special Makeup Effects Course Leader at an industry event, Monsterpalooza held in California.

In the pre-recorded film, he told students they would be designing, creating, applying and filming makeup based on creatures featured in an adaptation of the H G Wells sci-fi horror story, The Island of Dr Moreau.

Matt’s father Stan, who died in 2008, created the makeup for the monsters in the 1996 movie version of the novel starring Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando. Matt began his career learning about special effects under his father’s guidance before turning to acting.

He will be supporting the University students throughout the project by interacting with them in real-time on camera. At the end of the intense seven-week module, the students will present a finished film featuring their creations.

Natalie said: “It is amazing that Matt has agreed to be involved in this project; we and the students are so incredibly lucky. The students didn’t know any of the details in advance and you should have seen their faces when they saw who was giving them the brief as part of their module.

The session was a lot of fun. The students chose a creature from a box that Matt passed to the camera at his end in LA and we had a similar box at our end for them to choose their creatures at random!”

Natalie added: “We have pitched to Matt that the students will design, sculpt and apply their designs and then shoot them professionally on location in Bolton. As well as Matt, we have Stuart Conran, a leading industry professional, who will be co-teaching the module at the university with us and Stuart Bray, another leading industry professional, will also be involved via video link.”

Members of staff working with students on the project include: Paul Jamieson (sculpting, mouldmaking); Colette Fishlock (hair work); Jude Wilcockson (concepting, sculpting and mouldmaking); Edwin Priest (3D printing and concepting); Jess Barber (hair work); Claire Minehane (mouldmaking) and Lana Birch (technician).

Natalie added: “We have given the students seven weeks to complete this to reflect the type of timescale they would have in an industry setting. They will form groups to work on a particular character and each will have a specific task, such as sculpting, moulding, or applying hair for example and they will learn to work as part of a team. This is what makes this course so special – ensuring that students get to work closely with the top names in the industry to enhance their skills.”

Learn more about our Special & Visual Effects courses at the University of Bolton. The Stan Winston Character School of Character Arts also features video tutorials from some of the top leading industry professionals in their field, plus live sessions.