Artist Spotlight: Jimmy Falco
After a LONG Winter, we’re back with another installment of the Artist Spotlight Series (exclusively on Michael-Myers.net). If you missed any of the interviews you can catch up here:
This time around, I’ve got Jimmy Falco of Spookhouse Props chatting with me. I pulled him away from a very exciting new project he’s got going on with Nikos Dresios of NAG (more on that later).
Zac Crook: Jimmy, thanks a bunch for doing an interview with me. How long has it been since you started working on masks?
Jimmy Falco: First and foremost, thank you for reaching out to me for this Artist Spotlight interview! A little backstory: I’ve been dear friends with fellow artist Nick Mulpagano (Handiboy Studios) who lives locally. I would go to his shop and watch him work on masks, talk collecting, read old issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland and just be enthralled with the entire process of how these masks were created. I did this for about 10 years. In that time, I worked with him as an adviser on several of his projects, helped out around the shop and had a lot of fun. Nick has been such a good mentor who has taught me so much. I’m grateful to expand on the skills I’ve picked up throughout the years and do something I am very passionate about. As for me personally, I started working on masks about 2 years ago (2017). When I moved into my house, I only ever utilized my basement for storage. However, one day I was sorting through old boxes & uncovered a large workbench and some old shelves. I immediately started brainstorming how I could transform this space into my private workshop. I cleaned the entire space out and started tinkering with any extra masks I had laying around. I never had a premeditated idea of becoming an “artist” or “‘mask maker” within the hobby – it was solely for fun & a place where I could escape into my own little world. Well, that changed very quickly and here we are today. [Laughs] Spookhouse Props was born!
ZC: I’ve definitely had a bunch of requests to do a feature on you, so thank your customers.
Have you been interested in masks and monsters since you were young?
JF: Well, that’s great to hear! I appreciate all the support from the collectors.
I was 10 years old when I saw Halloween for the first time & it scared the shit out of me, but also – I was infatuated & obsessed. The image of The Shape lurking all around Haddonfield was just so iconic and the coolest thing I had ever seen in a movie character. That basically got me into the whole genre of horror. After that, I discovered all the Universal Monsters; makeup FX artists like Jack Pierce, Rick Baker; all the greats. I remember when I was young, I would spend hours upon hours on my parents computer looking at mask collections wishing I could have something like that some day. I never thought I’d be doing what I’m doing right now.
ZC: It’s crazy to think of all the revolutionary stuff Jack was doing back then. He pioneered so many techniques that laid the groundwork for a lot of stuff still being done today. Have you heard the stories about his bad temper? I think most of us artistic-type people are prone to that.
JF: He was very revolutionary, indeed. The Frankenstein monster makeup is something no one will ever recreate. I’ve heard the stories of Lon Chaney Jr. not getting along with him during the Wolfman makeup as he would singe the hairs on his face. [Laughs] As for artists having bad tempers – as I get older I have calmed down drastically. I just wanna have fun and perfect everything I’m doing. I wouldn’t say I have a general bad temper; I get mad if I don’t get something exactly how I want it, so that’s being mad at myself rather than working with an actor or something like that. I suppose my girlfriend gets the short end of the stick with me complaining if I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to do on whatever I’m working on. [Laughs]
ZC: God bless these partners who stick by us through all our craziness and geeky hobbies!
ZC: Ariel is your partner in crime, right? What role does she play in the mask work?
JF: Yes she is! Ariel is great; I couldn’t ask for a better girl. As for the role she plays in the mask work – she helps out around the shop [and] puts up with my shit. She got really involved when we decided to do a Valak Nun sculpt. She sculpted it from the ground up with some of my touches along the way. [I’m] very excited to get that finished up. We both work full time jobs and have a lot going on, so it’s hard in general to have hours upon hours of free time. Some people ask me if I do this full time, and my answer is ‘yes and no’ but it feels like every free second and moment I have is dedicated to getting something done. But to be honest, I love what I do.
ZC: Speaking of getting things done, what can you tell me about your new project with Nik Dresios (NAG)?
JF: Last year I was very fortune and acquired a very rare Kirk mask that was pressed from an original ’75 Kirk. An old Don Post Studios employee used to own the mask. It was then was sold to another collector, then another, and then finally to me. I teamed up with Nikos Dresios (NAG) and he then enlarged the mask, brought it back into clay, cleaned up the features, sculpted the Kirk eyes back in, and retooled the ears. I am very honored to be part of this project, and we are very excited to offer this to the community. The mask is titled “10/31” and will be a limited edition of 41 masks total. The first 10 get a special gift and the remaining 31 get just the mask. I will be doing all the finishing, [for] which the customer has a choice of Kirk or Myers. My plan is to have each mask to the collectors by Halloween this year!!
ZC: You’re releasing your own Kirk/Myers sculpt soon. Can you give me any juicy spoilers on that project right now?
JF: About 3 months ago I had the urge do sculpt my own Kirk/Myers – the “Jimmy Falco Kirk” (JFK). I sculpted this directly from the William Shatner lifecast. I wanted to keep a lot of the lifecast features intact within the sculpt with some adjusted features. Something basic, something simple, and unlimited I could call my own. I’ve never sculpted before so it was a challenge at first, but once it started moving it all fell into place. I’m very happy with the outcome. The mask has a look of its own and can pull off some great looks we see in the film.
ZC: What was the hardest part of the sculpt for you? I know keeping proportionate features can be a bitch.
JF: You nailed it: the hardest part was getting the correct proportions to line up. I would step back; look at the sculpt; see this clay face sitting on a long, skinny neck; get pissed off; and push myself to put the puzzle pieces together. [Laughs] Me and many collectors throughout the hobby have studied the Kirk for many year. You can look at real Kirks, to the best replica out there; it has to basically become the best happy medium you can express within the sculpt. Every single Kirk looked different, so having it based from the life cast, you have to maintain some of that “Kirkyness” without drastically changing it so much [that] it looses the vibe. Overly defined features, created shadows, and referencing a mask worn can bring you down the road of over-sculpting. It’s very tempting and very easy to go off the deep end by adding or changing it too much. It all has to flow – that was the most difficult part for sure.
ZC: Can we talk about your personal collection for a bit? You’ve got some really rad stuff on that wall! Is the rumor true that you’re going to give me that Karloff?
JF: Thanks, man. I appreciate it. Initially, Halloween and the Myers mask got me into the hobby. After a couple years into collecting I branched out and started discovering and appreciating the old-school monsters and all the characters of Don Post Studios. It was equally addicting as the Kirk and Myers stuff. [Laughs] And the Karloff will never be for sale – it’s one of my grails.
ZC: Every collection has some holes to fill, though, right? What are some grail pieces that you’re missing?
JF: I’ve always wanted to own a prop from the original Halloween. I think that’s any Myers collector’s dream. I’m very grateful for some of the pieces I have in my collection; many grails – my rare Frankenstein Dick Smith and direct pressing of a ’75 Kirk mask, which was used to created the “10/31”. Honored to own both. At this point in my collecting life, I’m very happy with what I have. Being more involved with the making of masks [and] doing rehaul work (I’ve been more focused on that realm), but I still snag pieces here and there. Plus my house is running low on space. It’s turned into a museum. [Laughs]
ZC: I know you’re in a band, too. You’re a multi-talented guy!
JF: Thanks, man. I appreciate that. Yes, I’ve been playing guitar and in bands since I was young: cover bands, original bands, toured the country, etc. It’s a very hard business to be lucrative within due to how the industry has changed in this day and age. Basically, if you want a career in music you have to be comfortable with struggling day-by-day, being on the road for 365 days a year, and being basically poor. That’s something I don’t want as my life right now. I own a home, [have] an amazing girl, [a] great family, [a] full-time job. Yes, [I].still get to play music and enjoy my life. I still play in a cover band every weekend and write music with my girl. We plan to get our duo moving in the near future when I’m not flooded with mask work. [Laughs] Both [are] major passions of mine.
ZC: I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’m not cut out for the road; I complain too much!
I put out an EP last year – I played everything, recorded it myself, designed the artwork, and paid to have the CD’s made up and packaged. I think I made, like, $150 total so far – not even breaking even! Venue owners have no idea how much time we put into, not only honing our skills on the instrument, but getting the band tight; spending time and money getting the right gear; loading in at the gig; fine-tuning the sound for the specific room; playing your ass off; and then loading back out.
JF: You literally explained it to a “T”.
ZC: I’ve spent a lot of time brooding and complaining to my wife about it.
JF: Oh man, it’s been a lot of ups and downs with music. You’ve just gotta find the niche that you’re happy with and [where] you’re not struggling.
ZC: Who are some of your biggest influences, music-wise? Do I get a touch of a Dimebag vibe, maybe?
JF: Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Ozzy, Zakk Wylde, Dimebag, Eddie Van Halen, Angus Young.
ZC: Angus is still highly underrated, in my opinion. He’s like Chuck Berry on coke. Well – I’m sure Chuck did coke too, but you know what I mean. But everything he did was so tasty. And Iommi’s [Black Sabbath] riffs? Untouchable.
JF: Iommi is the Godfather of metal – plan and simple!
ZC: Before we get to wrapping things up here, can you tell me if you have plans to make more masks in the future? Will we be seeing more Spookhouse Props exclusives?
JF: For future masks, Spookhouse Props plans to release a Boris Karloff Mummy Mask, a Valak Nun, and some other things we have cooking! [Laughs]
ZC: Well, Jimmy – I really appreciate you taking time away from your heavy work load at Spookhouse to talk with me and share some trivia about yourself!
JF: Thank you for choosing me for the spotlight interview! I really appreciate all the support.