Exclusive Interview with “Face Off” Finalist Gage Hubbard

Gage works his magic in the "Face Off" finale

Campers, I am about to serve a treat so sweet that it would have Hansel and Gretel GAGGING…

Last week I had the immense pleasure of corresponding with none other than Gage Hubbard, my favorite contestant from the first (amazing) season of SyFy’s Face Off reality competition. (Read my coverage over here.)

A founding member of Team Gay (fleshed out by the equally adorbs Marcel), Gage was strong out of the gate and ended the season with one of the best, sickest, and most original creations in the entire special effects makeup gridiron.

Gage was kind enough to submit to some of my inane questioning, which I will now share with you. Thanks in advance to Gage for his time and thoughts!

Q: First off, what are you working on right now?

A: Well, let’s see… first off, I have started working closely with my partner Matt on getting a lot of our script ideas off the ground and running. We have a horror web series in the works right now, as well as shooting some trailers for some films we’re trying to find investors for. Those trailers as well as the web series I mentioned will all be online soon, and viewable via my website (gagemunster.com). I also have a limited edition t-shirt of one of my paintings I did based off my final make-up on the show – the Hansel and Gretel one – that will also be available via my website.

I’m also guest spotting in my friend Sean Abley‘s play – Katie’s Corner in Hollywood – on the 30th of March. I’m doing make-up on some music videos coming up, as well as doing a seminar at the National Haunters Convention in Philadelphia in May, tix for that particular seminar will be available soon via their web site.

Oh, I’ll also be attending the horror/make-up convention coming up in April called Monsterpalooza in Burbank, California, as well as IMATS Los Angeles (International Make-Up Artist Trade Show) in June! So, keeping busy! For me it’s all about staying busy artistically and making some great opportunities happen without overexposing myself and my work!

Detail of Gage’s final witch stomach (ewww…)

Q: Okay, I need to get me one of those t-shirts, even if I have to walk to Burbank for it. How has your life changed in the months since Face Off started?

A: Well, it’s funny. I do get recognized A LOT now, just walking down the street or in the store, and for me it’s truly humbling to run into people (many families) that watched the show and loved my work, or thought I was adorable, and have nothing but great things to say. For me it’s the most flattering thing ever! And I now get SO MANY letters from people, mostly kids, that have told me I’m an inspiration to them and they loved watching me on the show! Those are the two biggest things that have changed the most for me and meant the most to me from doing the show. To be able to inspire people is SO incredible and totally not something I take for granted!

Other then that, I have noticed a lot of people giving me a lot more credit artistically and saying, “You know what, you’re talented and we recognize and appreciate that!” And that has meant volumes. Another great thing that happened for me – as well as some of the other people from the show – was being invited to The Make-up Artist Symposium for the Oscars. This year one of the guests was Rick Baker, a legend in our industry and, for many of us, a lifetime inspiration!

I’ll never forget, I was standing in this big open room looking around and I get a tap on the shoulder and when I turned around, it was Rick Baker! He was like, “Hey, I recognize you!” I was flabbergasted and totally turned into a little school girl – it was such an amazing moment! Turned out he watched the show as well as his young daughter who was also excited to meet us! Had it not been for the show, all these totally amazing things would not be happening. So I’m really stoked and thankful for that!

Marcel and Gage and their humpy sci-fi creation

Q: I love that you and Marcel broke the “gay frenemy” reality show mold by becoming great collaborators and, it seemed, good friends. Are you still in touch?

A: HECK YES! Marcel and I are GREAT friends – we were the minute we met! It was like sharing the same brain artistically, and he and I were both inspired by so many of the same things – from the classic famous monsters, to many, MANY great slasher films, horror films, sci-fi films, music, you name it! If it’s from the 1980′s, we most likely LOVE it! I think the 80′s is the decade for many make-up effects artists, though – there was such a boom in our field at that time, and make-up effects were on the cutting edge back then. It was the “new” technology of the time. You also had studios actively looking to produce new and fun ideas, and not afraid to take chances. Once we had bonded over our love of the decade, there really was no reason to be enemies.

Bottom line – I think that many effects artists should realize, if they haven’t already, is “united we stand, divided we fall”. Our industry can only flourish if we can all learn to work together! If not, then CGI will take over, and I better not hear anyone bitchin’! Haha – but Marcel and I are working together a lot right now, actually, with more plans for some great things on the way!

Q: I love it! I also love that you played a very “clean” game. You didn’t sabotage anyone and you came across as very polite (my mother would have been very proud). Did you have a “character” in mind going into the competition, or is that just Gage? Did you get any coaching by the producers to fit a specific role in the cast?

A: Haha, I love that your mother would have been proud, that’s AWESOME! I had zero “character” in mind – with me, you get what you see. I only wanted to go in and be myself and try to do my best work. I honestly was really focused on my stuff at the time and not paying too much attention to those around me when working. I just wanted to do what I love and have fun. What you saw on the screen was me.

The producers would step in every now and then and remind us to remember to” bring it” with our make-ups. They were VERY concerned about maintaining some integrity on the show and keeping it about our talents at the end of the day. So I just did my thing and tried my best each challenge. You know, it’s funny – I have a sense of pride when it comes to being competitive because I think if you’re going to win, it should be under the right set of circumstances. If you screw someone over and win, what’s the point? You would not have won because you’re talented, only because you’re a dick! And who wants a reputation like that? Not me…

Q: Were there any points where you felt that you were misrepresented or that your point of view didn’t come across in the final product?

A: That’s a good question! I don’t feel I was misrepresented at all, but I do feel they cut out A LOT of back story behind each of the characters I created, so that made them less impactful in the end, and ultimately the make-up concepts suffered a bit from that. The point of each challenge was to create full characters from start to finish, complete with backstory and everything.

What they would do is edit around everyone’s story, and shorten them – except the person who was going to win. When that person won, people would say to themselves, “oh, well, theirs was great – what a great backstory and character, they totally deserve the win.” The truth of the matter is, we ALL had strong characters with strong back stories, they just didn’t show it. A perfect example of this is the “VILLAINS” challenge. My villain’s back story, and what I said on the show, is as follows:

It’s the 1950′s and he’s a lighthouse worker. He’s operating the light house late one night waiting for a ship to port that is coming in late. Unbeknownst to him, the ship has ported elsewhere that night. So he’s fading in and out of sleep, leans on the light, gets caught on fire and throws himself into the ocean below… but his body is never found. The local lovers lane is on the bluff just behind the light house and all the kids start getting killed off one by one in horrible ways. You come to find out that he’s back, half burned, killing all the kids in town, working his way to the adults – mainly the fathers that were on the ship that had stopped elsewhere that night, thus causing him to get burned. He used a glorified whaling hook to kill his victims, which I also made. I even said, “the vision in my mind was poodle skirts, hot rods and death! I love that innocent decade of American 1950′s meets something dark and horrible!” They contrasted perfectly with one another SO WELL, and therefore it worked!

But, at the end of the day, what you see is me on stage saying “he’s a light house worker that gets caught on fire and throws himself into the water”. And Ve says, “I like it, it reminds me of the 50′s”. And that was it… and just like that, your whole character and story are diminished to a sentence, and that’s it.

Sorry, LOOONG answer – I apologize if anyone grew a beard while reading that, but that happened a lot throughout the show.

Gage’s bloody good first design

Q: You scored early as one to watch with your stunningly creepy Prom Victim design – how’d you come up with the flower-face idea?

A: Thanks, man – I really liked that first one, it was fun! I thought Tom’s was really neat in that one, too! When they announced the challenge I was going to try to do something beautiful, yet strange, and maybe symbolic in some way. He said that the make-up had to represent us as an artist, and I tend to approach my work strictly as an artist – not a “make-up” artist, but an artist! I try to think of how I can make something meaningful, yet scary, or creepy, or dark. And also think how to push an envelope or do something differently … When I got my male model I thought it best to incorporate his attire into it and it made perfect sense to have him be on a date. And since no one else was really using the flowers, I thought, “Hell, I know what I’m gonna do!” Hahaha!

Gage at work

Q: One of the things I loved about your designs is that I generally would have tapped any one of them, even the corpses and monsters. Does an appreciation for the male form generally inform your work?

A: Hahaha, I love that about you, Buzz! I do have an appreciation for both the male and female forms as an artist. I don’t think it influences my decision-making when choosing a model. I tend to look at the models and see who is going to fit the make-up or “idea” for the make-up I have at the time! But it’s funny you mention that because looking back I totally got the best looking models and many of the make-ups I did were on men who were either nude, half-nude, or fully-clothed but dressed as a sailor (villain) or man in uniform (zombie). But that was all subconscious and sprang from pure thought process, and who and what was going to work best for the make-up. (P.S. – my original zombie I wanted to do was a zombie Jesus, but the network wouldn’t let me.)

Q: You’re out and proud – have you encountered much homophobia either in the SFX world, the indie horror scene or when making Face Off?

A: No, not at all. I mean, if it’s there, it’s either so minimal I don’t take notice, or it’s there every now and then, but I could just give two shits about what people think! I’m very happy with who I am, I have had plenty of time to find out who I am and my place in this world. And if I encounter people who aren’t comfortable with me, well… that’s their problem.  Seems they have some issues they need to come to terms with, not me. Besides, our industry is a very creative one that lends itself to artists, and artists generally don’t care about such things – well, artists in the true sense of the word don’t. The producers and the network were very excited to have an openly gay man on their network – I was told I was the first on SyFy. So there was a lot of support there.

Gage in disguise

Q: If you could have added another challenge to the season, what kind of make-up or design would it have involved?

A: That’s a damn good question! Well, when we were doing the show, we would all talk about, “what do you think that last challenge will be”? One of the ideas was: What if they brought back the past eliminated contestants and we had to choose teams (kind of exactly like what happened). Then we had to think of the idea for a horror film, the title and such, but then they gave us 3 days to shoot and edit it into a short film or horror trailer. AND we had to include something from every challenge we had the whole show, from foundation challenges to actual spot light challenges, and fully testing our capabilities as story tellers, writers, directors, make-up artists, and team leaders.

Or it would be fun to have had to turn each other into realistic versions of the Muppet Babies or Garbage Pail Kids. Actual skin tones and all… maybe even Fraggle Rock characters!

Q: And because I just have to talk about it … The Finale. I and many of my readers thought that your design was the strongest and many felt you were robbed of the prize. But we weren’t in the room – what did you think of the judges’ final decision?

A: Haha, that’s a loaded question! Well, first thank you for the kind words on my final! I am aware a lot of people feel that way due to the response I got via my Facebook page and Twitter! My final is one of the few make-ups I have ever done in my life that I am really, really proud of – I loved it from the minute I thought of it to the time it was completed! I loved my team, I loved my concept, I loved the execution! I don’t necessarily understand the judges’ decision, but I can appreciate it.

At the end of the day you had three very talented artists standing up there making the final call, the most difficult one. I do feel like it was my time to shine – or at least to finally win a challenge, because the whole show I kinda drifted between the top and safe. The judges told me that they had to base the winner off the overall show, which didn’t make any sense to me. It seemed to me that we were being judged on a challenge-by-challenge basis, thus declaring a “winner” of each challenge, and a “loser” of each challenge and moving on to the next.

By saying you had to base the winner off the overall show, you’re saying that by the time the final challenge came about, you had already decided who was going to win. In which case, it wouldn’t have mattered what Tate, Sam or myself did – it was already decided based on the “overall show”.

At the end of the day only one person was going to walk away with the money, but I do think that not only are the all the finalists winners, but all 12 of us are!

Q: How did your family and friends react to the finale?

A: They thought I should have won, of course – they’re my family and friends. So they were upset about that, but moreover, they were very, very proud of me. And they loved my final make-up, so really that’s all one can ask for!

Q: Face Off is currently casting for Season 2 – any advice for hopeful contestants? (And any chance you’ll be making a cameo?)

A: I say GO FOR IT!!! What have you got to lose!!? I mean, be aware that there are some people out there that generally don’t want to see people succeed. So they’ll tear you down online and blog about you saying how horrible you are, how awful your clothes are, and how talentless you are. But for every 1 of them, there will be 10 other people waiting with open arms ready to understand your vision and understand where you’re coming from! So what have you got to lose!?

And not sure about a cameo – no word yet, but I wouldn’t be opposed!

Q: And finally, how can folks keep up with you and your work?

A: You can keep up with my work and what’s going on in my life by connecting with me via my social networking pages as well as my website! Keep an eye out, LOTS of cool things on the way!

Thanks again to Gage for his time and thoughtful answers. Keep up with him by friending, following, stalking, etc. at these locales:


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About Buzz

Buzz created CampBlood.org in 2003 to meet a need for a safe place for weirdos of all stripes to discuss horror movies from a queer perspective. Now that the campers have overtaken the Camp staff and locked them in the Arts & Crafts cabin he is questioning that decision.