When Evan Hedges landed a spot in the finale instead of Scott Fensterer, Twitter exploded with a flurry of fiery comments. Loads of fervent Face Off viewers couldn’t fathom the three finalists lineup without Fensterer included in the mix.
During our exclusive one-on-one interview, Fensterer reveals his thoughts on the final three, explains the emotions he experienced while paying homage to his deceased father with a Walking Dad creature and revealed why he actually passed on accepting a spot on Face Off before.
SheKnows: The reaction from viewers was very strong when you didn’t get through to the finale. Many were angry that the judges chose Evan Hedges instead of you. What’s your reaction to what the viewers were saying about that?
Scott Fensterer: I’m torn because this isn’t like a normal competition for us in the cast. For us, it was very much a family environment pretty much from day one. We were very lucky to click like we did. So, it’s hard for me to hear the criticisms of my family. Yeah, I would’ve loved to go on. That goes without saying. But I love Evan. I love Ben. I love Nora. I love Jordan. These are like my extended family now, so it’s hard to hear such harsh critiques of their work. At the same time, I would’ve loved to be sitting in that spot. I am torn.
SK: How confident were you that the judges were going to pick you as a finalist?
SF: Honestly, I thought I had it in the bag. I thought that the makeup was good to begin with. I thought that it was screen-ready as far as what the challenge was. This was kind of like a twisted family in the vein of The Addams Family or The Munsters. I didn’t want to go too gory. I didn’t want to punch the contrast up too much because that can sometimes make it look more horror… I think the other thing, aside from peoples’ anger that I didn’t go on, was they loved the whole Walking Dead vs. Walking Dad. That was a big thing there. That’s what I wanted to go for. I didn’t want to go for something that was straight horror. I wanted something that maybe could fit in that zombedie kind of vein.
SK: What went through your mind when the judges announced you weren’t one of the finalists?
SF: At the moment, man, I don’t recall thinking anything. I was just kind of in shock. It had never happened before where they say we had to go back and fine-tune our makeups. That had never happened. That was a little bit of a shock. I didn’t know what to think. Immediately going through my head was, “How can I make this makeup more like what they’re saying without compromising what I thought the original challenge was?”
SK: You worked closely with each of the three finalists. How would you describe each of their personalities?
SF: They all have different energies. Nora is brand-new to the field. Literally, she graduated and came right out to set. She came and brought this excitement and youthful exuberance. I called her “Little Bit” on the set. This girl is a spitfire. She has so much energy… Ben, being older and more mature with experience with a lot of this stuff, we could connect on a different level. We spoke kind of the same language. We’re within 10 years of each other. There were things that I talked about with him that the younger crowd probably wouldn’t have gotten as fast. Evan, this guy is just so much energy. He has a good heart… Talking to him on that level about the process: molding, casting, the different materials, he was hungry for this stuff. He enjoyed the process of making molds as much as I did. The meticulous nature and the progression that Evan, from the first makeup to the last makeup, is amazing. As far as the three that made it to the finals, they deserve to be there. Absolutely.
SK: Discussing the Walking Dad, you crafted that creation using your own father as a motivation. Since he passed away years ago, describe the emotions you experienced while creating your Walking Dad creature.
SF: It was very cathartic for me to bring my dad into this when I did. He never really got to see me do professional makeup. That part of it was quite emotional. My dad and mom were very supportive of me wanting to get into special effects makeup. They took me to a little shop in Orlando back when it was very hard to find makeup shops. They would buy me latex and glues and gums and just about everything that I needed. For me, being able to bring my dad into that, it was very cathartic.
SK: After spending years behind the scenes, what is it like having people know who you are?
SF: The notoriety is cool because it brings attention to special effects, which is one reason that I’ve loved Face Off from the start. I have a lifelong love affair for special effects and the people that do it… To be a part of that is a huge honor. I take it very seriously. As far as the notoriety, it allows me to do the work that I love and be able to share the gospel of special effects, and what it means to me, with a whole new generation.
SK: How did you become a contestant on Face Off? Walk us through that process for you.
SF: I had first put in my application probably two or three years ago. Shortly after I did that, I landed a steady job, and I didn’t want to break that and take a chance at Face Off when I had the chance then. As time went on, and through life changes, this opportunity came up. I was just going through a separation that looked like it was heading for a divorce. At that time in my life, I really needed this. I needed some confidence. I needed to get my head out of where I was. It came right on time. I went through the application process again. The rest is history. It went pretty smoothly from there.
SK: You were possibly one of the most confident people ever to compete on the show. How were you so calm and collected throughout the stressful circumstances you were faced with?
SF: The only thing that I can attribute that to is experience. When it comes to makeup… in the Face Off world, it sometimes isn’t what it would be in the real world. This is a game-show environment. You have to do things in times that you would normally have a lot more [of] in Hollywood. You would have more time to design. You have to react quickly, but life experience is probably one of the things that I drew from the most. Just calming myself down during those times when I am moving slowly or doing one part of the project, I’m thinking in my head of the next 10 steps. I think it comes down to the life experience and being able to pair that up with the time frame that you’re given. Like I said, it’s just an unrealistic time frame most people would consider for special effects to take place in. We’re having to do these makeups in 18 to 21 hours. It’s very fast-paced. Where can you cut corners? If it’s gonna be seen from a certain angle or it’s gonna have hair, where can you cut corners that the judges are not going to see? But you still have to make it a good, screen-worthy makeup. That’s what I would attribute it to. Being able to pace myself and planning. It’s very much a planning thing.
SK: Is there a specific film, character or makeup artist that motivates you when you’re creating something?
SF: That’s a changing thing. I always go to Greg Cannom. I think that his makeup design is probably one of my favorites because it’s more of a transformative makeup. He did Mrs. Doubtfire and the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. He’s got a long history of transformative makeups… If I’m doing more creature-related stuff, I always go to Rick Baker [American Werewolf in London]. I look at his work. Or Rob Bottin [The Thing]. If I’m doing something that’s more horror, I’ll go to Dick Smith [The Exorcist]. It depends on what I’m working on. I pull from this bag of tricks from all these different artists who’ve impacted my life over the decades.
SK: What is next for you?
SF: Even though this happened [Face Off] months ago, it’s kind of fresh again. The response has been overwhelming. For the time being, I’m going to keep doing what I love. That’s exactly where I am right now. Still teaching. Still educating a new generation with this stuff and just keeping my options open.