Icons of Fright Interview with FX Legend/FIRE CITY Director Tom Woodruff, Jr.

woodrffTom Woodruff, Jr. is easily one of the most recognizable names in FX makeup and for his work in everything from THE TERMINATOR, ALIENS and TREMORS to his suit work, playing the Alien in ALIEN3, the Gillman in THE MONSTER SQUAD and Pumpkinhead in well, PUMPKINHEAD. Stepping behind the camera to direct to upcoming FIRE CITY: END OF DAYS (out October 6th via Uncork’d Entertainment), Woodruff took time out of his schedule to answer a few questions we had about the difference between directing a film and co-running ADI (Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc.), an Oscar winning FX shop alongside co-creator Alec Gillis. Read on!


How does it feel to step into the director’s chair with this film?

It’s a small film with some layers to it. It’s not overly complicated but you have to stay plugged-in to the story to feel it. The audiences “get it”. It’s got some really good emotional beats to it and it’s getting good reviews so it feels pretty good.

What led to you take it on, directorial-wise?

Opportunity knocked. I met with writers/producers Brian Lubocki and Michael Hayes who were producing a project they created titled Fire City. It had wall-to-wall demons but the creatures didn’t fit into a classic demon template so there would be some real design freedom to come up with something new. The big plus was a great story of Fire City and the world it revealed. Through my company, ADI, we created a demon creature for them to shoot a teaser trailer to help pitch the project.

There was suddenly some real interest but to hold onto the integrity of their own project, they decided to crowd-fund a streamlined prequel to introduce the firecityposterworld and the characters. Once those discussions began, I lobbied to take on directing in a world I knew best and a world that was crucial to the project… monsters.

They put together a ten-minute short, King of Miseries, which gave me the opportunity to show what I could do beyond the shorts, TV, and second unit feature work I’ve directed in the past. And then stepped up to the feature once we got funded.

It’s a very fx-heavy film, in a good way.With having such a strong background in practical fx-work, was it ever difficult to allow other people to focus on that stuff while you primarily focused on helming the film?

It was a relief actually, that I had a lot of people involved that gave me confidence to not be distracted into feeling I had to ride in and dote over the details. We had some new, strong talent including again, artists that were working well below their rates and sometimes for free. My friend Dave Elsey was our star make-up artist who was in charge of Tobias Jelinek’s character, Vine, and David Woodruff who was in charge of all the other demon characters – a huge workload.

You have such a legendary background and are a true pioneer in many ways with suit work and fx, how does it feel to have made such a lasting legacy already in your career with the impressive work you’ve been a part of?

That creeps me out. I think of legends and pioneers as the guys who are no longer with us. It’s rewarding to know I’ve laid some groundwork in that direction and never have to look back and wonder, “what if I tried this or that…” But I have a few more things I have to do before anyone needs to figure out what to say in the eulogy.

What’s next for you?

Alec Gillis and the guys and I at ADI have some very cool creature prosthetics and effects coming out very soon in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and I’m juggling my ADI workload with writing and pitching new projects.

For a really great, in depth interview with Woodruff and Gillis, give this episode of KILLER POV a listen!

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