Tate Steinsiek is a super talented SFX make-up artist who you might remember from Seasons 1 & 5 on the SyFy Channel’s hit TV series “Face-Off”. Born in Hitchita, Oklahoma little Tate started drawing monsters before he ever saw his first horror movie. Tate had some funny stories to tell the folks at his Walker Stalker Con NY/NJ make-up demo. Tate shared that his mother had been contacted by his preschool teacher after he drew “a horrible monster with big fangs, that was vomiting blood.” The teacher advised her not to allow him to watch horror movies, to which she replied, “he isn’t allowed to anyway.” Tate said that his parents were always very supportive of his art. After a moving a few times and even playing in a band, Tate ended up in Pittsburgh working for the famous ‘Master of Splatter’ Tom Savini. After given the opportunity by Savini to work on a horror movie in NYC called “Zombie Honeymoon”, Tate settled down in New York and started his own company: Ill Willed Productions. Tate has since moved Ill Willed Productions to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I got a chance to meet Tate at Walker Stalker Con NY/NJ. Watching Tate transform a pretty model into a horrible monster, (See the slide show) was a great experience and he makes it look so much more easy than it really is. He demonstrated every step slowly and carefully so the audience could learn as much as possible, all while telling funny stories about his life. After the demo I got a chance to spend some time with Tate and ask a few questions.
Los Angeles Zombie Examiner: When did you decide you wanted to do Special FX make-up?
Tate Steinsiek: “When I was about 5 years old my parents bought me an old video of ‘Thriller’ and there was a behind the scenes with Rick Baker applying the zombie and werewolf make-up on Michael Jackson. From that point I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I got lucky, I’ve known for 30 years what I wanted to do.”
ZE: Who are your make-up inspirations?
TS: “Well, Rick Baker really did it for me. ‘American Werewolf in London’ is my favorite film of all time. Steve Johnson is another one of my favorites, he’s just so innovative.”
ZE: Your first movie was “Zombie Honeymoon.” How did that go?
TS: “Honestly it went really well. It was a pretty magical little production, a bunch of great people and we pulled off making an Indie zombie film. It was my first film, I made friends with the entire crew and its what brought me to New York. I came to New York to work on it and when the production wrapped I just never left. So I end up living in NYC for 10 years.
ZE: What’s your absolute favorite make-up to do?
TS: I like demons and werewolves. They have always been my thing. I like to interpret a lot of ways to make demons, ways that are out of the box. So if there are any producers or directors reading this,” Tate smiles, “I am always up for a demon or werewolf movie, so give me a call.”
ZE: You recently worked on a huge zombie production in Portland, Oregon. Can you tell me about it?
TS: “It was at the Portland International Film Festival and they wanted to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the most zombies in a short film. So they brought in Cameron Romero, George Romero’s son to direct it. It was an amazing, out of nowhere short film and they had over 2,000 zombies for the horde. So it was nuts. They brought in a few make-up artists, me and some other guys just to do the hero zombies, but then everyone else did their own make-up and arrived on set already zombified. There were cars flipped over and 2,000 zombies hoarding; I loved it!”
ZE: Do you have any projects coming up?
TS: “I have been working on Clive Barkers short story ‘Son of Celluloid’ for awhile now. That’s the project I really want to do. I have two or three scripts I have written that my agent is shopping around and whatever hits first is what I’ll do. I’m praying ‘Son of Celluloid is the first one to hit, but there is so much around Clive, hoops to jump through, and it has to be a big studio, so it’s not something I can independently finance myself, so we are out in studios with that and hopefully it won’t take years to decide. But if they do I have other scripts lined up to jump into.”
ZE: So your plan is to transition from the guy behind the make-up to writing and directing?
TS: “I will always love make-up, but there’s something about doing make-up that has become so second nature to me. There is not as much of the big adrenaline rush as there used to be, and directing a film is nothing but a constant adrenaline drip; like an IV of adrenaline is being pumped into you. I love it, it’s absolutely addictive and hopefully I can continue to do it. It’s been a long road getting there, I finally did my first feature “Addiction: A 60’s Love Story” and got to direct it myself. It was an interesting experience. Not the type of film that I would write. I was their director for hire. It was a bittersweet experience. It’s not my story, it’s a true story of somebody else. I had to follow their rules for making my film. I like doing my own story-telling and I’m very passionate about it. Having strange ideas like mine helps in this industry, it was something I was born with, and hopefully it will continue to help me be successful.”
Because he loves to inspire new artists, Tate teaches classes at his studio in Oklahoma, at make-up schools, at numerous conventions like Walker Stalker Con and at locations all over the world. To find out more about Tate and Ill Willed Productions go to these links: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram