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August 23rd marks the debut of the horror thriller “You’re Next.” It’s one of countless films that a Springfield make-up effects artist has had a hand in making. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann spoke with this creator behind the monsters to learn how he got his start in film, and what brought him back to the Ozarks.
If you are a fan of horror, Sci-Fi, or independent films you may be acquainted with the work of Mike Strain, otherwise known as “FX Mike.” He is the man behind the masks, make-up, special effects, pyrotechnics and stunts. Strain was born and raised in Springfield, and realized at a young age that he was bound for something different.
“I really liked movies growing up as a kid, and my dad was a big fan of films when I was little. So, I watched a lot of TV and movies and stuff with him. Being artistic, I inherited an artistic ability from my father’s side of the family. As I grew up I loved to draw and paint, and kind of fell into sculpting. That kind of got me going. I researched it and just went from there to learn about monsters and stuff,” Strain says.
Art, creativity and the desire to learn fueled Strain as he pursued this trade on his own. He says it took time and effort because this was before the days of the internet. Strain adds that he learned by watching the behind-the-scenes movie footage, read many books and practiced, practiced, practiced.
Strain explains that some of his best resources were make-up artists in New York and L.A. that he located and contacted. He says he would write to them and they would write back sharing with him their wealth of knowledge.
Since he began working in the film industry in 1994 he has participated in 43 feature films.
“I’ve been doing it for a long time, and I’ve actually worked all over the world. I’ve done movies in New York, I’ve done movies in L.A. I could have moved to L.A. and could have worked for some of the biggest effects companies. But in 1999 my wife and I had our son, Madison. After traveling all over and seeing how everything else is, how expensive it is, and how crazy the outside world is, we just decided to stay here because we thought it would be a better place to raise him,” says Strain.
Strain says his job is hard work, but also fun. One of the things he enjoys most is that it is often a family project. Strain explains how he enjoys working alongside his wife and son as they often travel together when working on films.
Strain says that growing up, many people thought what he wanted to do was crazy, but didn’t let that stop him. He says now days everyone wants to do it.
“You know, growing up I always had a few goals, and now here I am 20 years later still doing it and making a living at it,” says Strain.
Work by the Strain family, along with another local Missourian Brooke Thompson, will be on display in “You’re Next,” premiering Aug. 23. To learn more about Mike Strain and past make-up effects projects, click here.
For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.