AHA! A House for Arts

S6 E18 | FULL EPISODE

AHA! | 618

Explore the work of Jared Balog, special makeup effects artist that works on movies both big and small. Maureen Sager, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Creative Economy, discusses the state of our local creative economy. Singer/songwriter David Tyo performs "It's So Easy To Love You" at WMHT Studios.

AIRED: October 27, 2020 | 0:28:45
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

(upbeat music)

(exciting music)

- [Lara] Visit special makeup effects artist, Jared Balog,

chat with Maureen Sager about the creative economy,

and catch a performance by David Tyo.

It's all ahead on this episode of "AHA! A House for Arts."

- [Announcer] Funding for AHA has been provided by

your contribution and by contributions

to the WMHT Venture Fund.

Contributors include Chet and Karen Opalka,

Robert and Doris Fischer Malisardi,

The Alexander & Marjorie Hover Foundation

and The Robison Family Foundation.

At M&T Bank

we understand that the vitality of our communities

is crucial to our continued success.

That's why we take an active role in our community.

M&T is pleased to support WMHT programming

that highlights the arts,

and we invite you to do the same.

(exciting music)

- Hi, I'm Lara Ayad, and this is "AHA! A House for Arts."

A place for all things creative.

I hope Matt survived his latest trip.

Last I heard from him, I was about to get some goopy slime

smeared all over his face.

So, let's see how it went.

(mysterious music)

- Step aside Dick Smith and Rick Baker.

There's a new special makeup effects artist in town,

and his name is Jared Baylog

and he's right here in Troy, New York.

Follow me.

Oh my God, that's my face, in the grass.

My face is in the grass.

(creepy organ music)

- [Haunted Voice] Those of you with queasy stomachs

should turn away now.

(door creaking)

(ghostly howling)

- Well, these things are great.

I mean, they're awesome.

(whimsical haunted music)

The artistry that goes into special makeup effects

it runs the gamut from sculpting, from painting,

from mold making, from design.

I mean, it's just all over the place.

It really encompasses kind of everything.

And I think that's kind of what drew me to it

at such a young age.

(haunted rock music)

Anything that I could get my hands on, I would watch.

And then, after awhile of watching enough horror films,

I kind of realized that somebody was making this stuff.

Somebody was making the monsters, the zombies

and all that stuff.

I mean, I remember watching the making of "Thriller."

That, for me, was a big turning point.

Seeing Rick Baker, he was doing a lifecast in that.

They were in the makeup trailer applying all the makeups.

I mean, that was a big one.

I was probably way too young to be watching horror films.

But the time I was around like, seven or eight,

that's when I got ahold of latex and derma wax

or nose putty or whatever, blood.

Just messing with that kind of stuff.

And then slowly kind of working up towards making a mold

or doing a lifecast of somebody.

So are you cool with doing the,

you think you wanna do the lifecast?

- [Matt] Yeah.

- Okay, let's do it, okay.

(electronic music)

- This is exciting (laughing).

- So the lifecast is the basis

for all special makeup effects, in terms of prosthetics.

If at any point, too, you wanna take it off,

just let me know, we'll just take it off.

You just won't air this.

(everyone laughing)

We'll do something else.

But trust me, it's really quick.

- Yeah, I'm excited, this'll be cool.

- Yeah, yeah, it'll look cool.

We'll get like a nice cool looking-

- I won't regret this.

- Yeah, yeah, yeah, no (laughing).

You'll get a nice, cool little takeaway gift.

- I'll give it to my mom.

- Exactly (laughing).

The materials have changed a little bit.

So, I'm gonna use the more old school materials,

which is alginate, but nowadays we use silicon,

because it's a little bit more durable, it lasts forever.

So, this is alginate.

Basically wanna get it to a pretty creamy consistency.

You don't want it too thick, you don't want it too runny.

(creepy organ music)

All right, close your eyes.

- Oo.

- It's a little cool.

- Wow.

- It'll bring up more details and stuff.

Right out of high school, I just started working

on any independent film I could get my hands into.

I didn't start out doing straight special effects.

I started doing some sound and special effects.

Just anything else, NPA stuff.

Anything to kind of get me onto anything.

So I would start doing some short films.

I did a couple features starting out.

And then, as I was able to build up a little bit of a resume

I took pictures of stuff more

and people could see more of what I was doing,

then it was kind of strictly more just special effects

and kind of was able to weed out doing all the other gigs

that I didn't really have an interest in.

It just kind of snowballs from there.

Because once you get known for doing special effects,

other filmmakers will recommend you for stuff,

other actors that really enjoyed working with you

will recommend you for projects.

(Jared groaning)

- [Camera Man] You look great, man.

- So then the plaster bandages go on.

How you doing, you doing okay?

- [Matt] Mm-hmm.

- Good.

And then that all comes off.

So, what I'm gonna have you do is,

let me see your hands here.

So, you're not gonna pull, but you're just gonna hold,

kind of just put your hands, nope, nope, oh.

Take your hands, put them right, there you go.

Okay, now I want you to lean forward just a little bit.

Okay, and then, basically all I'm gonna have you do

is just kind of make scrunchy faces, frowny faces.

- [Matt] Mm-hmm.

- Stuff like that, and just kind of, slowly, there you go.

Here we are.

All right, cool.

- Wow.

- And then there's the negative impression of his face.

(Matt laughing)

And then once that comes off,

I will fill it with, probably plaster.

But you can fill it with a couple different materials.

(fast-paced creepy music)

There you go.

(Matt chuckling)

So you have nose plugs, kind of clean those out, but yeah.

- [Matt] That's freaky.

- Yeah, and that's

where everything kind of starts from there.

(creepy organ music)

I just wanna keep making cool creature stuff.

I'd love to work on something like "The Thing."

That, to me, is like the ultimate project, dream project.

That'd be so cool.

- Maureen Sager is the Executive Director

of the Alliance for the Creative Economy.

What is the state of our local creative economy?

How are freelancers faring?

Let's chat with Maureen to find out.

Well, thank you, Maureen, very much,

for being here on "House of Arts."

And welcome back, it's a pleasure to have you back.

- Oh, thanks so much for having me.

- So tell me a little bit about

the Alliance for Creative Economy.

What's its main mission, what does it do?

- Sure, well, it's about five years old now,

which is funny to it,

because we're still trying to keep that feeling

of a new conversation around

what the creative industries are in this region.

- [Lara] Right.

- There's no hard cut distinction about it.

We really had to fit the creative economy

to what's present here in our region,

in these eight counties.

And that's how we define how we are measured

and the area that we cover.

- [Lara] Right.

- So it goes from Washington and Warren counties,

all the way down to Columbia and Greene, in the south.

But it's about an hour and a half, almost two hours

from top to bottom, it's almost the size of Connecticut.

- [Lara] Wow.

- It's a big territory.

- Yeah,

that kind of gives a sense of what we're talking about here.

And a lot has changed

since you were last on the program, too, right?

So, not only are you thinking regionally,

you're also thinking about the moment we're in now?

- Yeah, for sure.

Almost nothing about this year has anything to do

with any prior year before this, right?

- [Lara] (laughing) Yeah.

- So, our data and all of the ways

that we usually try to carry our story,

which is that we are the fourth largest employment sector

in the Capitol Region.

- [Lara] Mm-hmm.

- That we drive $5 billion in earnings,

and that we have earnings, and wages, and sales.

So, those numbers have to do with last year.

- [Lara] Right.

- Right now, in the middle of COVID,

it's really hard to measure any of that.

What we know is that we've been impacted terribly hard.

The performing arts still aren't able to convene,

lots of them.

Theaters aren't open, movies theaters,

performing arts venues, they're not open yet.

So it's very hard to measure this,

but we do know that the pain is very real right now.

- Right.

Well, you mentioned performing arts, theaters.

But can you kind of give us a sense, too,

of what exactly the creative economy

or the creative industry is?

- [Maureen] Sure.

- Could we understand it more widely?

- Sure, the way we define it is that

any product that has creativity

and differentiation from other products,

is part of the creative economy,

if that's part of the intention of the maker.

So, it might be best to look at it,

or easiest to look at it in terms of cheese.

American cheese is made by Kraft

and it's a commodity product.

- [Lara] Mm-hmm.

- Every slice should look the same

and they want that to look the same all across America.

If the intention of a small farmer is to make a cheese

that has their hand print on it, their cows or sheep,

they raised that sheep, they have their own formulation,

they've worked on that product

and they've made it different because of their input,

right, and their intention, that's a creative product.

So you can see that the creative economy

has a difference between Budweiser beer and a craft brew.

And that goes for all of those kind of products.

But then we also have the performing arts,

and the visual arts, and museums, and all those things

that you would think are part of the creative economy,

- Mm-hmm. - Are, of course,

counted in that.

But there's other parts, like WMHT,

where we're siting right now.

That's part of the creative economy, too.

- [Lara] Right.

- So all of filmmaking, broadcast,

radio, new media, digital gaming.

All of those things that are creative products

are counted in the creative economy.

- Right, that seems like it cover almost the majority

of the American population at this point, right?

- At this point, right?

But that's new,

because that wasn't true 20 years ago in the economy.

Its changed across the nation, but its also changed here.

How many creative people are employed here

and have come from other places

to set up their companies here?

That sort of thing is new

and that's why we started counting that

and started trying to see how much

of the creative economy is present here.

And we were shocked when we did that first study,

about seven years ago, to show how much of the economy

is driven by creative product.

- When I'm thinking about all the people that you help,

you talked about who makes the creative economy.

And I'm kind of wondering, what does the economic landscape

look like for a lot of these freelancers?

From freelancing musicians and artists

to freelancing dancers and farmers?

- Yes, there are a lot of freelancers here.

And some of that is because of our affordability, right?

I'm a freelancer, I'm a consultant.

- Mm-hmm.

- And I never would have done that in Brooklyn.

The overhead's too high,

I just wouldn't have been able to do that.

So, a lot of our affordability has driven this ability

to start your own business or a side-hustle.

And so, over half the people

in the creative economy are freelance.

16,000 people, that's a lot of people.

And that's more than are employed

in the entire banking industry.

Let's put it that way.

- [Lara] Oh, wow.

- Yeah, it's a huge amount of creative freelancers.

And many of us have our own businesses.

But you can also be employed by other companies

and help them with their creative endeavors.

Like a designer can work out of their home,

but they're driving the creative activities inside of a bank

or they're hired out for that sort of thing.

- [Lara] Right, right.

- So it has an impact, not just on creatives,

but also on the traditional industries, too.

- Right, right.

And what kinds of resources

does ACE provide individuals such as these?

- I'll tell you what,

one of the things that we did most of all was convene.

And this is what's so hard for creative people, right?

So much our business is based on bringing people together

- Mm-hmm. - And providing an experience.

So, ACE had big events every month.

The last one we had was 350 people in March.

And then the next one was gone.

- [Lara] Yeah.

- Oh, actually it was February

and then the March one was gone.

- [Lara] Right.

- But that convening has been really hard to lose that.

So we're trying to find, as everyone is trying to do,

trying to find other ways to provide that.

So we have a newsletter. - Right.

- We have conversations and outreach

around the creative economy for anybody who needs it,

because we have a pretty big network now.

But it's been really hard for us to pivot,

as it has for so many of our organizations,

because the creative economy's built on interaction.

We love to convene.

- Right, right. - We love to bring

people together. - Right.

I'm wondering, Maureen,

when you think about the people that you help

and that the staff at ACE help,

are their any stories or resilience or success

that first come to mind for you?

- Sure, there are lots of them.

A lot of freelancers, when we started viewing on the street,

in March going forward, they said,

"This is the time that

"I've always wanted to build my website."

All of the things that we sort of all let go,

we know we should, but we don't get there,

because we're busy.

- [Lara] Right.

- So, to be able to educate yourself, take classes,

go back and sort through your photos,

and bring your best face forward.

We found amazing stories everywhere.

We try to cover someone every week

to tell their story of what they were doing.

And yeah, people were super inventive

of trying to bring their business skills back together.

You can be a greater photographer,

but if you can't show the world about that.

A lot of people were saying, "I've always wanted a pause.

"I didn't want it for this long.

(Lara laughing)

"But this is the pause I got to have

"to bring my business back together."

- [Lara] Right.

- So, I thought those were amazing stories.

And I tried to take it to heart, too,

to bring that back to ACE, as well.

What could we do a little better?

Our written communications have gotten better over time,

because we have a little more emphasis

and we can maximize that thought.

- [Lara] Right.

- Yeah.

- And you've hinted at some of the challenges

that people are facing, especially right now,

in the creative economy.

But could you tell me a little, on a bigger picture,

why is the creative economy so important to people right now

at this particular moment, especially during the pandemic?

- Sure.

I think you guys can feel this here at WMHT, right?

There's a way that people connect

and it is by telling each other stories,

of sharing our feelings, or being able to express ourselves.

- Mm-hmm.

- And this is an unprecedented time.

- Yeah.

- We have to communicate how we're feeling

or it'd be just too overwhelming.

We have to share this and find ways to tell people

how we're particularly feeling and how we can bring that

and share that together.

So I think that the creative economy,

while it has a direct economic impact,

it has a community impact, too.

And it has an emotional impact

on the people that are around us.

So, being able to share our stories and tell them well,

or picture them well, or capture what we're experiencing,

will help others get through this, too.

- [Lara] Yeah.

- So I think that creative economy is always important.

Not just the economic part of it, but the other part,

the interpersonal part it provides

- Right, right. - Is extremely important

to everyone.

- Yeah, the human side of the economy.

- [Maureen] Exactly.

Exactly. - Yeah.

I mean, maybe you could sort of also pull

from a little bit of data from today

in answering this next question, which is,

where do you see the creative economy or creative industry

moving within the next several years?

And perhaps that's a bit of a hard question to answer,

because we're in such a strange time, as you've mentioned,

but maybe you could kind of give us a sense

of where we might be going for the next several years.

- Sure, I think that Elizabeth Sobol, from SPAC,

which is a giant outdoor theater

and provides year-round programming now,

up in Saratoga said,

"We, performing arts venues,

"always knew we had to turn to digital media,

"we knew we had to concentrate on it,

"but we never did it.

"We didn't really spend our time on it."

- [Lara] Yeah.

- They're taking that pause and saying,

"That's where we have to move to."

- [Lara] Mm-hmm.

- We don't know how long, there's been no timetable provided

as to when performing arts venues can start of convene again

and so how are we going to do that?

What alternate platforms can we provide?

So, I think that we're going to see

a lot more movement into digital.

And we're seeing that.

You'll stories about film productions

that are now done completely virtually.

- Right.

- No two actors are in the same space.

- Right, I mean, you watch SNL episodes recently

and it's (laughing)- - Exactly.

- They're getting creative.

- They are, and everybody's gonna have to do that experiment

and figure out where that goes.

So it's transforming film production.

Absolutely will not be the same.

For better and worse, we're gonna figure this out

as we go along.

But how we sell our goods, how we tell our stories.

All of those things are gonna have to change.

But that movement to digital is inevitable

for every industry of how we can provide much of this.

So I think that we're going to get inventive about that

and then find best practices from all of those around us.

I think we share very well in the creative economy.

We beg, borrow, and steal.

It's not really stealing,

it's just being inspired by someone and saying-

- Of course. - "That might be

"a direction for me. - Yeah.

- "Of how I can do it."

- That sounds like an awesome opportunity.

Thank you so much, Maureen, for being on here.

It's great to have you.

- Thanks for having me.

- Please welcome David Tyo.

- First tune I'm gonna play is called,

"It's So Easy to Love You."

I wrote this a few years ago for my girlfriend.

And just recently I found out

it was picked up by a licensing company

for use in film and TV.

So I'll play it for you right now,

but hopefully you hear it again real soon

in a diaper commercial or something.

(gentle guitar music)

♪ I didn't mean to fall in love with you ♪

♪ I didn't know you had the key ♪

♪ But won't you unlock every chamber in my heart, please ♪

♪ And I'm still learning how to love you ♪

♪ And I'm sure I always will ♪

♪ And I'm glad we took this chance on greener sides ♪

♪ Whoa, you were the risk and the reward ♪

♪ And everyday you give me reasons to believe ♪

♪ That it's so easy to love you ♪

♪ It's so easy to love you ♪

♪ I would run out of ink ♪

♪ Trying to write a list of reasons ♪

♪ It's so easy to love you ♪

♪ We met again, instantly friends ♪

♪ Both forgetting how we started or how we'd end ♪

♪ Up ♪

♪ And it took some time to figure out ♪

♪ And it was so much simpler than it seemed to be ♪

♪ And I'm glad we took this chance on greener sides ♪

♪ Whoa, you were the risk and the reward ♪

♪ But every day you gave me reasons to believe ♪

♪ And I believe ♪

♪ That it's so easy to love ♪

♪ It's so easy to love you ♪

♪ I would run out of ink ♪

♪ Trying to write a list of reasons ♪

♪ It's so easy to love you ♪

♪ And when all the pages of our lives are turned ♪

♪ And all the words are through being written ♪

♪ You can bet your bottom dollar that ♪

♪ The story that it tells is left unfinished ♪

♪ Because the words just don't exist to put to paper ♪

♪ All the ways I'm gonna love you ♪

♪ Because it's so easy to love you ♪

♪ It's so easy to love you ♪

♪ I would run out of ink ♪

♪ Trying to write a list of reasons ♪

♪ It's so easy to love you ♪

♪ It's so easy, yeah ♪

♪ Baby, loving you is all I wanna do ♪

♪ And it's so easy ♪

Last song I'm gonna play

is a tune I wrote a couple of years ago.

It's called, "Long Way Home."

And most of my friends, and students,

and clients, and colleagues

know me as a record producer and engineer,

not really an artist.

But I do make my own songs

and I release them just for the joy of doing that.

And I was very pleasantly surprised

to hear that this tune was nominated

for Record of the Year at the Eddie Awards.

And hopefully when we finally beat this virus

and we can all get back to normal,

we'll go to the awards show and, I don't know,

have some fun with that.

But more importantly than any of that,

this is dedicated to the memory

of a lovely woman named Beth LaFleur.

(heartfelt guitar music)

♪ You know your chances ain't good ♪

♪ You're smiling ♪

♪ If I had your strength maybe I'd see the lining ♪

♪ It takes all I have ♪

♪ Just to hang on ♪

♪ And I've lost count of these trips we've made ♪

♪ And I hate that the doctors all know my first name ♪

♪ But they're buying time for me with you ♪

♪ So I hang on ♪

♪ Oh, I never dreamed that a car ride with you ♪

♪ Is something I would give this all up just to do ♪

♪ Again ♪

♪ So we'll take the long way home, ♪

♪ Baby, we'll take it slow ♪

♪ Even if all I'm buying is five more minutes with you ♪

♪ Yeah ♪

♪ We'll take the long way home ♪

♪ I can't stand to let you go ♪

♪ If these miles together ♪

♪ Lead to the end of our road ♪

♪ I'm taking the long way home ♪

♪ The moment is here and the chances look good ♪

♪ And pain of recovering is well understood ♪

♪ And the life we'll live ♪

♪ And the love we'll give ♪

♪ Is on the other side ♪

♪ But as he approached, he could read in his eyes ♪

♪ Confused and defeated, his eyes couldn't lie ♪

♪ He said, "I'm sorry, ma'am, I don't know how to tell you" ♪

♪ Well, I never dreamed that a car ride with you ♪

♪ Is something I would give this all up just to do ♪

♪ Again ♪

♪ So we'll take the long way home ♪

♪ And baby, we'll take it slow ♪

♪ Even if all I'm buying ♪

♪ Is five more minutes with you, yeah ♪

♪ We'll take the long way home ♪

♪ I can't stand to let you go ♪

♪ If these miles together ♪

♪ Lead to the end of our road ♪

♪ I'm taking the long way home ♪

♪ Oh, I never dreamed that a car ride with you ♪

♪ Is something I would give this all up just to do ♪

♪ Again ♪

♪ But we'll take the long way home ♪

♪ And baby, we'll take it slow ♪

♪ Even if all I'm buying ♪

♪ Is five more minutes with you ♪

♪ We'll take the long way home ♪

♪ I can't stand to let you go ♪

♪ If these miles together ♪

♪ Lead to the end of our road ♪

♪ I'm taking the long way home ♪

♪ Oh, I'm taking the long way home ♪

♪ Oh ♪

♪ I'm taking the long way home ♪

(bright music)

- Thanks for joining us.

For more arts, visit wmht.org/aha.

And be sure to connect with WMHT on social.

I'm Lara Ayad, that's for watching.

John Carpenter's "The Thing" to me is just,

that movie's just amazing.

I mean, there's certain effects in that, too,

that I'll point to people and they'll be like,

"Wait, that was partially effect?"

Like, when Kurt Russel's holding that Petri dish,

that's a fake hand.

And the creature is like, right through here

and just flaps up like that.

I thought that was just ingenious.

I was just like,

"Man, that's such an interesting way to do that."

But yeah, that thing is very littered with some of the

best practical special makeup effects I've seen.

- [Matt] The head coming off the-

- [Announcer] Funding for AHA

has been provided by your contribution

and by contributions to the WMHT Venture Fund.

Contributors include Chet and Karen Opalka,

Robert and Doris Fischer Malisardi,

The Alexander & Marjorie Hover Foundation

and The Robison Family Foundation.

- At M&T Bank

we understand that the vitality of our communities

is crucial to our continued success.

That's why we take an active role in our community.

M&T is pleased to support WMHT programming

that highlights the arts, and we invite you to do the same.

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