SPECIAL REPORT: From Glam to Gore, Hawaii Five-0

Jeff Dawn
Jeff Dawn

KUALOA, Oahu (HawaiiNewsNow) - On this Halloween night we bring you the "Glam of Gore." A sneak peek at how the gory characters on Hawaii Five-0 are created. We'd like to warn you, though the gore is fake, some of the images could be disturbing.

He's not really dead, but it does take a lot of talented make-up artists on the set of Hawaii Five-0 to create this effect of death. From frozen bodies to severed heads, y-incisions and floating hands the make-up department has their work cut out for them.

"Make up under pressure is the only way we know how to do it," said Jeff Dawn, make-up department head on the set of Hawaii Five-0. His team of artists averages 15 to 16 hour days.

He says, "The typical day for us is getting up between 3 and 4 am and then we go through an hour or two of make up getting the people to look beautiful or dirty or dead or scary or whatever we have to do."

They're on set from sunrise to sunset to maintain the make-up during filming, and then...

"Make up removal can take up to an hour if you have a large prosthetic and many pieces all over the face and body. It can take an hour," said Jeff.

We spent several hours at base camp with make-up artist RJ McCasland. "There's only so much we can do to make a person look more gaunt. You can see his hand here where I really added a lot of dark shading and some highlight to really push that back compared to his other hand where we've just got the base coat on," he explains.

This "dead man" was about an hour into make-up when we arrived. Here he is at the three, four and five hour marks. Time-consuming, yes, but it's more complicated than it sounds. The process involves communication with nearly every department on set.

"First we read the script we come up with all these different notes, questions for the director and the different departments. How do you want this done, do you want them wet, do you want them bloody? All these little details you need to iron out attach time to it, attach a look to it if it's a specific character," said Jeff.

On this particular day they used prosthetics to create the illusion that a character had been badly beaten. This is "a silicone prosthetic made of a very soft spongy silicone material sculpted to a person's face and it just blends beautifully right here when you glue it," said Jeff.

Four hours later you can see he's been badly beaten, has prosthetics, swollen eye, cuts and bruises and little lesions all over him. He's had his hands chained up or bound somehow and he's been fighting against it. Jeff takes pictures, to submit for approval from the producers so everyone is in agreement this is the level of gore.

The "dead man" also got a prosthetic this one made out of of fiberglass. Jeff explains, "What we have here is a replica of a leg, this is a replica of the skin that will go over the leg this is made out of gelatin material that's easily breakable. I can take this and tear it apart with my bare fingers."

Make-up artists carefully duplicate the make-up on all three "back-ups" as well just in case they need to re-set the scene. But how do they know what this stuff looks like in the first place?

Jeff said, "We know from forensic study we're always talking to people in forensic labs, we have very ghoulish books that show violence of homicide and things like that which helps us."

RJ said, "It also helps to have friends that are doctors and coroners. Sometimes I see stuff I really don't want to see, some stuff you really can't un-see."

Fortunately, they don't work on real dead bodies, just actors that think the make-up is pretty cool. Actor Jimmy Schaeffer said "You can see the shading, I look dead you know? So it's pretty gruesome. But you know it's fun, it's like Halloween." Just a typical day on the set. Happy Halloween from Hawaii Five-0!

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