Suzi Battersby is an alumni from BA (Hons) Technical Effects for Performance at LCF. She now works as a Prop maker, Art Director, Puppet Maker, Set Construction and in CFX.
How did you find the BA (Hons) Technical Effects for Performance at LCF?
I loved it. There was a lot of variety in the course structure and I found something of value every term. The teaching staff and my fellow students were a pleasure to be around, it felt more like a community than your typical degree course. It was never a chore to come in for lessons or to put in extra time for my projects; I spent as much time there as was allowed!
Why did you choose to study here/the course?
Well, there are not many institutions which teach such a specialised course so after doing my research, LCF proved to be a good choice to learn the design and making skills necessary for working in the film and theatre industry. I found that a lot of other places focussed more on design than learning practical skills, so the fact that we’d be getting our hands dirty on this course was a big plus for me.
What skills did you learn and are using today?
Too many to mention! And I use all of them. We covered a lot of foundational skills in different techniques such as sculpting, mouldmaking, casting and painting, as well as getting to try out various materials such as plaster, fibreglass and silicone. What was great was that we had the freedom to try out any material we wanted even if it wasn’t part of the syllabus. This is something that helped me enormously since I graduated feeling relatively confident in most of the materials that I might encounter in my future employment.
How did you find the teaching?
What I appreciated most about the teaching was that even though we had a course outline that each student had to follow, we could tailor it to our own needs and desires and the teachers could then guide us as individuals as well as the overall course aims. This is so important since there’s so many different paths this course can take you down. Having that freedom to learn the skills you particularly wanted to learn was so great and the teachers were able to meet the needs of every student’s imagination.
Tell us about your final project, EndFragment?
My final project, ‘The Triptych of Doctor Moreau’, was a play on the H.G. Wells novel and the Hieronymous Bosch painting, ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’. I created three full creature suits involving silicone masks and fabricated body suits and then arranged a photoshoot on a mountain in Wales to tell the story of the novel through photographs. I then composed them all together to create my own version of the triptych which was exhibited along with the masks of the creatures I had made. One of the creature suits, ‘Puma’, was a finalist in the 2013 World of Wearable Art competition in New Zealand, which I had entered after their representatives came and spoke to us at LCF. With the university’s support I attended the event in Wellington, New Zealand and my creature suit was exhibited in their museum for a few months afterwards.
Tell us about an average day at your job?
My days can vary dramatically, but mostly I’ll be working in a workshop, normally 8am - 6pm, where I’ll either be making something on my own or with a team of people. As I have become more experienced, I’m now being given more responsibility and freedom to problem solve. I’m also now occasionally supervising small groups, which I’m finding a satisfying element of my work day. I do also occasionally spend some days working onset, either to do prosthetic make-up or to assist with CFX creature suits and puppets. Those days can start very very early in the morning and can run late into the night, even run through the night, but are great fun. They can be very hard work but the atmosphere is something you get a real kick out of. Plus, it’s such a cool experience to be on-set while filming and to see the magic happen.