Frank at Glen Helen. Photo: Dan Alamangos
Local SoCal racer Frank Ippolito is like many California racers—he leads a very interesting life outside of the fact that he races motocross every weekend. It’s not unusual to lineup next to a Hollywood stuntman, aerobatic pilot, Los Angeles Police Chief, plastic surgeon and painter in SoCal, but Frank Ippolito has an even more interesting job. He makes monsters for the movies. You may have seen his work in "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Chronicles of Riddick," Marilynn Manson and Strung Out music videos or on the SyFy (Science Fiction) channel’s “Face Off” television show.
We sat down with Frank between motos to discuss monster making and motocross.
Behind the smiling face lies and evil mind. Photo: Dan Alamangos
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN RACING?
I started racing when I was four years old in District 5 in Ohio. I grew up racing. My dad raced and even my two sisters raced. I think of myself as a legacy racer. I want to keep racing until I’m old and gray.
WHEN DID YOU COME TO CALIFORNIA?
I moved to California in 2000 to pursue a career in the movie industry. During that time I had to quit racing, while I focused on my career, but I started back up again in 2006. I try to balance racing with my work. When I’m on a job I can’t race, but when I’m not involved in a music video, movie or TV project I can ride virtually every day. When you work full-time in an industry, you need to do something else to get away from it—that is what motocross does for me.
Frank working on one of his creatures.
WHAT EXACTLY IS YOUR JOB IN THE MOVIE BUSINESS?
I do make-up special effects. Plus, I make mockups of creatures, monsters and horror villains for the movies. If you’ve seen the “Face Off” TV show on the SyFy channel you have a pretty good idea of what the job entails—it involves prosthetics, latex molding, make-up and costume design.
FOR THOSE WHO’VE NEVER SEEN “FACE OFF” EXPLAIN IT TO US?
“Face Off” is a make-up special effects competition show. They start with 16 special effects artists and they eliminate them on a weekly basis. Think of "Project Runway," but instead of fashion, we do monsters and fantasy.
Frank and his "Subterranean Terror" make-up. Frank is the one on the right.
YOU’VE BEEN ON THE SHOW FOR A LONG TIME.
Yes, this year’s episodes were my second time on "Face Off." The first season I was just goofing around and I only made it to three episodes before I got eliminated. For the second season, they invited back a group of veterans to compete against a new group of young make-up artists. This year, as a veteran. I took it much more seriously. I wanted to work hard and show what I could do.
This updated take on a "Scarecrow" was one of Frank's most successful designs.
HOW LONG DID YOU LAST THIS YEAR?
I made it to the 9th episode. They started with 16 people and I made it to the top six.
TV DOESN’T ALWAYS REPRESENT PEOPLE’S PASSION IN THE RIGHT LIGHT. IS “FACE OFF” GOOD FOR THE SPECIAL EFFECTS MAKE-UP COMMUNITY?
Yes. The best part is that you get to inspire young people around the world to become artists. I get invited to conventions and Comic-con as a special guest. I’ve even made costumes for Cosplay, another type of costume and make-up competition. I was once just a kid in Ohio—but I got inspired to be in the movie industry and I hope that I can do the same thing for other young people.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
I’m currently working on an independent horror film.
The SyFy channel "Face Off" CRF450. Photo: Dan Alamangos
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BIKE?
I have pride in what I do in the motion picture make-up craft and I wanted to show that in my bike. I felt that I could blend my two interests in make-up effects and motocross. So, I decided to express myself through my 2013 Honda CRF450. I had ZLT make me a complete “Face Off” graphics wrap for the bike.
Frank Ippolito in hot pursuit at Glen Helen's REM motocross races. Photo: Dan Alamangos
ANYBODY YOU WANT TO THANK?
Yes. Doug Goins at Thomas Powersports, EVS, Mechanixwear, Shift and Maxima.
Kawasaki Motorcycle test