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Frequently Asked Questions about...


: Our services

Am I allowed to sell a prop you have made for me once I have finished filming?
How can you justify holding onto an item that I have paid for?
Why don't you just sell the effect outright?
What's wrong with handing your effects over?

: Finding work

How can I find a course to teach me special effects?
Where can I get a job / apprenticeship?
Do you have any work placements?

: Tips and tricks

What's the secret to getting plaster to compleatly fill an alginate mould?
Trouble getting make-up to affix to rubber masks.


Q. Am I allowed to sell a prop you have made for me once I have finished filming?


Unfortunately, I would have to say that, generally speaking, the answer would have to be No!
Ownership of all items whether supplied from stock or built on commission remains with Sylak Special Effects Ltd.


Q. How can you justify holding onto an item that I have paid for?


You do get exactly what you pay for! We offer a special effects service, we are NOT a retail establishment.
We don't generally sell retail (except for items such as raw materials from the shop).

That's why the price quoted represents the special effect and/or our time, and not any physical item itself (specially made or otherwise).

For example, say you wanted an effect of guts falling out. Assuming that we didn't already have this effect in our stock we would, perhaps, need to take a chest cast in order to create a life-like false chest prosthetic of the actor, sculpt the intestines; cast them and finish to film standard before attending.

We would only charge you (the client) for 'use' of that effect during the shoot. That is what you pay us for - to provide an 'effect'.


Q. Why don't you just sell the effect outright?


Just as a photographer never sells their negatives, a special effects company won't sell you their effects. This is for a number of reasons:

Often, the 'effect' consists not only of the actual prosthetic, but also a rig to make it work.

The rig may be more expensive than the effect itself!

Not only that, but it may have even been custom made for our workshop and not replaceable.

We may also need to incorporate the rig used for your effect on another job the next day.

Keeping a concise stock of most requested effects and props makes good business sense - since it cuts down on the time it takes to build the same effect over and over again, and also allows us to agree to far shorter deadlines - schedules permitting of course.

Effects represent our portfolio. They are what we show the next client when they want to see examples of our track record in order to decide if they will engage us. They also adorn our walls like hunting trophies. WE REALLY NEED TO HOLD ON TO THEM. THEY ARE ALL WE HAVE!!!

Q. What's wrong with handing your effects over?


There is nothing to gain and everything to lose!

Free roaming effects are discouraged because they compromise future contracts.

Unmanaged effects are not maintained and repaired to approved standard or retired when no longer at their best. Hence they represent a poor advertisement for the artist.

The artist rarely receives credit for there creation, or worse, credit is attributed to someone else!

They also do not represent the artist's current level of skill and expertise and any credit would not provide good press.

Q. How can I find a course to teach me special effects?


If you live in England, Wales, Scotland, surrounding Isles, or Ireland; finding professional bodies to take you on your next step to finding a career in film orientated make-up and special effects is a challenge indeed - although things have been improving in recent years.

However, apart from a few well known schools such as Greasepaint or The Make-up Centre (both located in London), there are still not many to choose from.  Besides, my own views are that formal schooling is not the whole answer anyway.
Short courses -  such as those offered by people such as John Woodbridge Productions - do fill in where self study may not be enough to get by on; but I find that some of the best and most original ideas arise from people who have had very little professional assistance in thier careers, and have done it all on their own.

I will publish a short piece on this matter soon.


Q. Where can I get a job / apprenticeship?


To be frank, even if no-one else was given a job in the entire field of special effects in the next ten years; there would still be professionals out of work.  That is how saturated the market has become - and there is no signs of things becoming any easier.

Apprenticeships too are, generally speaking, a myth - or at least very, very rare.
It is a common misconception that if you manage to convince a workshop that you want to do special effects more than anything else and that you would even work for free, that you just might be given the big break you are looking for.
This is not true.  Firstly, begging is not very dignified, but even working for free puts a tremendous strain on a workshop that is already finding it difficult to keep to deadline.  And that's with trained professionals concentrating on doing their work, and not being expected to keep an eye on anyone who could possibly be getting in the way of the production.  I'll probably be criticised for saying this, because it's not the sort of thing that people come to my website wanting to hear - but it is a fact.

However, please don't lose heart.  The world of special effects is a rewarding one and even if you don't make too much money at it, that's not the real reason you wanted to do it in the first place - is it?
I would say to keep at it.  Develop your style and build that portfolio on the way. Eventually, you will get noticed, and although you may not be able to make a living outright doing what you enjoy, you will no doubt get some of those breaks you were after.   You will certainly get some film work come your way in the end - and you may have the chance to do more work once you start to show your work.  But it's a long slow road - with no guarantees at the other end.  Good luck!


Q. Do you have any work placements?

Sylak Special Effects are not in a position to offer any full time or part time work.
We are also not currently taking on any work placements at this time.


       Antoinette (Australia) asks:
Q. What's the secret to getting plaster to compleatly fill a life cast mould?


This is a matter of displacement. When you remove the hand from the set alginate mould, air instantly fills the void. Air is lighter than liquid plaster - and will always escape by traveling up the cast till it reaches the surface or becomes trapped by an obstacle. If it has nowhere else to go it will form an air pocket and spoil your cast. Bear this in mind when trying to expel air from the negative and you should be more successful.


       James (Kent - UK) asks:
Q. Trouble getting make-up to stay on rubber hairdressing models.


You can make a rubber mask grease paint by using any compressed powder colour - such as pancake or 'Aqua color'.
Scrape off some pigment into a cup, and mix with BP castor oil to form a paste.   This can then be applied to the rubber mask.


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Sculptor / Model maker: Sylak  -   Make-up artist / Painter: Nicky

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This page was last reviewed by the WebMaster on 01/11/2001