Astoria resident and special effects make-up artist Anthony Pepe will put his skills to the test against 11 other contestants during the upcoming Syfy reality competition “Face Off,” which will premiere at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, January 26.
Pepe, 35, who lives in the same house he grew up in, originally wanted to become an animator for Walt Disney. However, during his first semester at the Pratt Institute, he decided to quit college and instead enrolled in the Joe Blasco Makeup Center in Florida in January of 1995.
After the 14-week course concluded, Pepe said he came back to New York and started working. His first feature film was “Rockabilly Vampire,” which was filmed in the East Village for three weeks in September of 1995.
“From there it just started snowballing,” said Pepe, the owner of Demonic Pumpkins Studio.
Pepe has now worked on numerous projects, including ones for feature films, shorts, television and theatre.
No matter what Pepe is creating, he said that realism is the goal.
“I figure if I can fool myself I can definitely fool the audience,” he said.
While Pepe was working on a movie in Massachusetts last August, he was contacted by the special effects make-up artist competition “Face Off” and informed that they were putting together the show, which has contestants participating in a variety of challenges. In addition to receiving $100,000, the winner will also get a year’s supply of make-up, which is courtesy of Alcone.
Although Pepe at first wasn’t sure if going on a reality show was best for him, his wife convinced him to give it a try. He said he was ecstatic when he found out he had been selected to participate in the show.
Pepe said he expected the competition to be very cut-throat, but found his fellow contestants to all be friendly from day one. He said he is still friends with them and was actually inspired to see other effects artists.
“It relit a fire for me,” he said.
While participating in the show, Pepe said he learned a lot about himself, including how he acts with other people, his own techniques, and how he does make up. He also said he noticed some flaws in his work and what he could do to make it better.
“I walked away with a lot,” Pepe said, adding that he has working on upping the level of his work since the show. “It was the best learning experience I ever had.”
Pepe said that people in and out of the industry can learn something from “Face Off.” For non-industry viewers, Pepe said that will see the amount of work, time, passion and techniques involved. Those in the industry will also get to see how long the work takes and, Pepe said, will learn that they can’t all effect artists just a couple days before a shoot.
Looking to the future, Pepe said he wants to “up the ante” of his work and aim for bigger and better projects.
“Face Off” will premiere on Wednesday, January 26 at 10 p.m. on Syfy. For more information on the show, visit www.syfy.com/faceoff. To find out more about Pepe, visit www.demonicpumpkins.com.
“Being on TV is awesome. I can’t wait to see the show myself,” Pepe said. “I can honestly say the whole experience was the best thing for my career…and me personally as well.”