Special Guest Judge: Olivier Xavier

Olivier Xavier is an artist who works in the film and television industry, and who specializes in special effects make-up, props, models, puppets, and animatronics.

During his childhood, while afflicted by dyslexia and mild Asperger’s syndrome, Mr. Xavier found refuge in his imagination. Television reruns (translated into French) of Gerry Anderson and Irwin Allen series opened a fabulous world for him into which he withdrew and felt at home.

Nick Tate, the original Alan Carter from Space 1999, holding a resin model of his character made by Olivier

It was in 1977, the summer of his 11th birthday, that little Olivier had his epiphany, which came from three distinct directions: Star Wars (1977), The Bride of Frankenstein(1935) and Kiss Alive II (1977).

Star Wars had just come out in theatres and did not yet bear the subtitle “Episode IV – A New Hope”. He was so fascinated by this movie that he would literally spend his days in the cinema (at the time, you could attend as many presentations as you wanted per day with a single ticket). To date, he has watched that movie over 500 times (an average of once a month).

The Bride of Frankenstein was broadcast on television the night of his birthday. The black and white world fascinated him, and the work of make-up artist Jack Pierce struck his imagination with full force. He understood the creature (embodied by the extraordinary Boris Karloff), a victim of the world in which it was born.

It is also with the album Kiss Alive II, which he received as a gift, that he discovered theatrical music, especially with the photo of Gene Simmons. Those who remember know what this is about.

From that moment on, that’s what he wanted to do, to create “things” for the cinema.

It is with this vague concept that he undertook studies in movie direction, stop motion animation and applied arts.

For him, a movie simply had to contain special effects, otherwise it wasn’t a movie!

When other students saw his initial work, they began to ask him for help with the special effects for their own projects.

Upon graduating from university, he obtained an internship in special effects on state television.

Over the decades, Olivier Xavier has established himself as an essential part of the cinematic world in Canada (and especially in Montreal).

He has won numerous awards for his work in television and film in Canada.

He has notably won the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars for his excellent work and that of his team on the movie Turbo Kid (2015).

In 1999, he and his studio (Texa FX Group) worked on the series The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne. This series was innovative and bold on several levels. Not only was it the most expensive show at that time (more so than Star Trek The Next Generation), but it was also the first to be filmed in high definition (the production team used Sony’s cameras numbered “0” and “1”).

“Back then, while we were on the set and in my studio, we didn’t call it Steampunk, but rather ‘Victorian ScienceFiction’”, recalls Mr. Xavier who created the special effects make-up and props, and who was part of the series’ team of “Creative consultants”.

Recently, he had fun putting together a short film he shot with some friends from the movie industry, which was directed by his son.

It’s a teaser/proof of concept of a Steampunk interpretation of Batman. It’s called GOTHAM 1888 and you can watch it by clicking on the video above.

This video, its props, miniatures and creator, were recently highlighted in SciFi and Fantasy Modeler Magazine, a UK based publication.

 

Finally, on another note, Olivier had the privilege of doing the make-up for actress Carrie Fisher while she was in Montreal for the “Just For Laughs” Festival, a few weeks before she passed away.