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Fantasy taxidermy. It's an old standard, but our contestants this week will learn it first-hand. The creature brief this week? Our contestants must each create a fantasy creature who'd been slain, and is now hanging on a wizard's wall.
Each contestant was allowed to pick their own foam bust to sculpt from. It was time to bring some humor to the contest. Their creature would be coming back to life to tell the judges how it died, and how it felt about its fate. Realism and at least one element of mechanization were going to be integral to succeeding at this challenge. They were given three days to complete this challenge.
Our shop master this week was a return engagement, the wonderful Pete Brooke, Creature Shop creative supervisor. Day one was to be devoted to sculpting their creature, with the professional mold-makers coming in at the end of the day to cast the molds of each of the seven heads.
Jake jumped right in to sculpting his variation on a troll. He wasn't entirely sure where he was going with it beyond that at the beginning, but he knew that a troll would be a good place for him to start.
Ben also jumped into sculpting. His character was going to be an old man inhabiting a tree. He didn't plan a sketch on paper, intending to sketch in clay.
Ivonne began with a sketch of her character, a predator that didn't really hide because he wasn't afraid of anything.
Russ picked the biggest head to sculpt on, because his motto this week was "go big or go home". His character? A minotaur. With his background in literature and his love of Greek mythology, Russ was sure he had a good chance this week.
Robert began sculpting right off as well. His creature was intended to be a derivative of a camel, but this would be a hippie.
Melissa went with the natural assumption that Lex would be using fur on her creature, nicknamed "Chupacadabra". She believed that by choosing a lion as her base form, she would play to her strengths to possibly overcome the fact that she had next to no experience with mechanization.
Melissa was feeling a little lost, as she'd never really written any comedy. Her character would be a sea serpent, the cousin of the Loch Ness Monster.
Day two began with greeting the polyfoam molds of their sculptures. It turned into "mechanization day" for pretty much everyone. They were each given a kit that contained all of the elements to put together the eye mechanisms. Fortunately, the others were willing to help those whose mechanization skills were lacking if they asked.
Unfortunately, Ivonne discovered that she had chosen unwisely when choosing her head base for sculpting. It was just too small, even for the smallest eyes in the kits. She wished she'd have known that the eyes were that large, but she didn't.
Ben and Robert knew they were each other's main competition this week, but didn't appear to take it too seriously. Melissa was disappointed in where she was at the end of the day, but with a really good game plan for the next day, it wasn't impossible.
Day three was a nightmare for several of the contestants. Ivonne was in a position where she had to basically destroy her sculpture to make room for the eyes. Melissa's lack of experience with mechanization frustrated her. When Pete Brooke checked on her, she said she was "drowning". He encouraged her away from something that wasn't going to be workable in the amount of time left, and gave her some guidance on how to get the mechanization to work.
The biggest note that Pete seemed to give people was that the eyes needed to make sure they focused. Several contestants had a lot of work left for them to do on the final day of the challenge. Lex, Melissa, and Ivonne were all worried that they wouldn't be able to finish the creatures by day's end. Ivonne and Lex didn't even want to present their creatures.
When Screen Test Day arrived, the contestants were all psyched by the guest that had come in for the day. Donald Faison was the special guest playing the wizard. The contestants couldn't have imagined a better guest actor in the role. Donald's ties to the Henson family go back. As Brian told us, when he was 17, Donald Faison was a regular for two seasons on Sesame Street.
The puppets all worked to varying degrees on the day of the screen test. Unfortunately for Jake, his had mechanization problems during rehearsal, which he couldn't get repaired in time without tearing the thing apart. He had to go with what he had.
Melissa was concerned that her paint job "really sucked" on screen, but she hoped that the story and character would overcome that. Ivonne, had a similar hope, even though it looked as though one eye was actually missing from the creature.
When the judges were done, they saved Russ and Lex for the week. Three of the creatures were deemed to have really original creations and backstories, Robert, Jake, and Ben rose to the top this week, with Ben once again taking top honors as this week's challenge winner.
Melissa and Ivonne were the designers whose creatures were in the bottom this week. While they liked Melissa's backstory, they felt as though the sculpting and painting needed work on its realism. Ivonne was simply putting an unfinished creature on-screen and so she was eliminated this week.
We wish Ivonne all the best in the future, and know we'll see her work again!