Men in Suits: An Interview with Frank Woodward
Computer-generated imagery and motion-capture are all the rage in special effects today, but actors in monster suits can still be found as well. They tap into a form of special effects work, as well as an art form, that goes back for decades in cinema.
Frank Woodward and the team at Wyrd Films have produced a documentary that explores this subject in MEN IN SUITS. Below is our interview on this topic.
TheoFantastique: Frank, thanks for coming back here to discuss your latest film. Readers may remember your documentary on Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown. How did the original concept arise in terms of focusing on those unsung heroes of genre films, actors in suits?
Frank Woodward: I think it helped that I was already a monster fan. I knew the names Tom Woodruff, Jr., Bob Burns, Nakajima, Brian Steele, Doug Jones. They were talented actors in my mind and it was always vexing that most people didn’t know who they were. Godzilla, Predator and the Gill Man are icons of cinema yet, unlike James Bond or Indiana Jones, most people can’t tell you who played these characters.
When I started brainstorming about our next documentary with fellow Wyrd producers Jim Myers and Bill Janczewski, the first thing we came up with was a history of make-up. That was immediately seen as too broad and something that had been done to death. We focused on guys in suits because we couldn’t think of any film that explored that topic in depth.
What really convinced us though was when Bill told his wife Stacy about the idea. “We’re thinking about doing a documentary about guys who wear creature suits.” Her response was, “That’s a job?” It was no question after that.
And MEN IN SUITS is made for more than fanboys already in the know. We made the film to show that it’s not only a job…it’s an art.
TheoFantastique: You assembled quite a cast of interview subjects for this documentary. I would assume this is a tight knit group of people who were excited about the opportunity to talk about their work. Is this the case?
Frank Woodward: Most of these guys are familiar with each other for sure. In some cases like Doug Jones and Brian Steele they’ve worked together on a few films. All of them seemed happy to be part of a documentary that finally acknowledged the work they put into their roles.