Origin


The project started with the concept of the Elemental. What did this creature look like? The monster that nobody had seen, because to look at it meant certain death. Robert imagined something like a vampire bat, but with matted fur over its limbs. It would sink into the shadows in dark corners, sitting with its arms around its legs.  

SPOILER - You may not want to look at this section until you've seen the film...

What an elemental might look like
Robert played with the idea of what an elemental might look like in a series of sketches and 3D models.

Clay model of an Elemental head
The result is quite striking. Which is what scary people are always called by people trying to be nice. Sorry Elly. Better put your teeth in.

Building an Elemental skeleton
Elly's body was made up of wood with bubble wrap coating. In order to achieve the pose which Robert imagined she ended up being over seven feet tall.

Adding the Elemental's skin
Layer after layer is built up.

Make-up for the corpses!
Of course that's just a start. On set Sarah Cairncross dresses the bodies with costume, make-up and a wig for mum. Dad has his own hair - glued on at the latex stage.

Gargoyle at the Sheep Heid
To his surprise, after initial drawings he discovered a gargoyle sitting in the garden of the Sheep Heid pub in Edinburgh. It looked very similar to his concept sketches. Perhaps there's a folk memory of something evil which has been around for a long time...

Elemental skeleton sits up
The head has a movable jaw which makes Elly yell when she leaps at you. Although in the fraction of a second the shot lasts you'd hardly know. But the policy was to make the props as realistic as possible, then use them as sparingly as we could. Nothing worse than a movie where the director shows off the expensive models until they're no longer convincing.

A corpse with marbles for eyes
Marbles are inserted for the eyes. Mum's came from a toy shop in Galashiels, which must be a first for them. Hopefully. The corpses are then painted a dark colour with acrylic paint.

Clay Elemental head on a stand
Robert hadn't tried model making before. But he hadn't a budget for the experts, so time to buy some clay. Here you can see the full sized Elemental on its plinth, with a scaled down experimental one in the background.

Latex going on to the Elemental head
The faces then get layer after layer of latex. Robert says: "I know this isn't the right way to do it, because I then had to take a positive latex cast from the negative, which breaks the rule of hard from soft and vice versa. I needed to coat the mould with vaseline to get this to work, but the results seemed fine."

Lizzie sews the Elemental fur
Lizzie Sproul-Cran works as seamstress. Her sewing teacher would be so proud! Elly lies back and thinks of the fame which surely awaits...

Lighter paint on the corpse head
Lighter paint is then brushed on top. The dark layer picks out the texture of the bog paper, which is nice. Mum's teeth were left protruding as if she still had her wallies in. (Note: Wallies is Scottish for gnashers.)

Monsters relaxing on set
The family enjoyed the day out, as you can see from a photo of the cast relaxing on set between takes.

Orange peel casts
Casts were taken of orange peel in dental alginate. These were then used in turn to press a skin texture into the faces of the clay models.

The Elemental now has teeth
Elly then gets a coat of paint, some eyes and teeth. Sarah added slime later...

Putting skin on the skeletons
Now to the corpses... Plastic anatomical skeletons were bought off the web, and these were coated with toilet paper stuck in place with latex. This makes it shrivel in a strangely organic fashion.

Corpses almost ready for wardrobe
Mum and Dad come close to completion. Hope the neighbours don't pop by for a chat.