How Filmmakers Used Practical Effects To Create The Short Film A FACELESS MAN

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Jeremy Foley, Director and Co-Writer: THE FACELESS MAN is a man who is down-and-out. He’s depressed, he wakes up one morning and his face has been transformed into a mirror. This story was adapted from a short story that my father wrote in a reaction to The Great Recession. And I think it certainly was how he was feeling.

Image courtesy of THE FACELESS MAN movie

Jeremy Foley: I remember thinking that idea (a man searching for his lost identity) would resonate with a lot of people.

Sara O’Reilly, Producer: This story had a lot of humor but also some serious themes and all of that we wanted to preserve when we were adapting it. It’s like the spirit of this whimsical adventure that the faceless man goes on.

Bill O’Leary, “The Faceless Man”: I personally love juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy that are right on top of each other and that’s something I really enjoyed performing. 

Even within this fantastic story, I really wanted to bring the guy’s pain and effort.

Image courtesy of THE FACELESS MAN movie

Sara O’Reilly: When we first started figuring out how we were going to make this film (how were we going to make a man with a mirror for a face), we decided we were going to make it practically.

Will Myers, Director of Photography: I wasn’t quite sure what the ins-and-outs were going to be and so it required a lot testing just to make sure of the reflection aspect and whether or not it was going to get the desired effect, if it was going to show the camera and those kinds of things.

Yes it was a huge pain in the a$$ but it looks so much better and I’m glad we did it this way. 

Jeremy Foley: The next step was about the fabrication of the mask. 

Sara O’Reilly: So we hired a company called Rogue Planet Laboratories which is Ian Goodwin’s shop and worked with him to really develop a mask. We did a full life cast of Billy’s face where they pour all of the goop all over his head and make a mold which we have like a perfect bust of Billy now in our living room.


A lot of different disciplines, a lot of different filmmaking techniques went into making this short film.”


Image courtesy of THE FACELESS MAN movie

And then using that mold he then sculpted that shape of what the mask what was going to be with clay so we kind of had an idea of what it was going to look like.

Then he molded it with silicone and silicone kind of looked like skin but it’s really pale, so once they apply that to Billy’s face, he then had to paint it.

So he airbrush paints it and blends it perfectly with Billy’s skin. So for three hours every morning Billy was in the chair and make-up.

Bill O’Leary: Just the work they did was just mind blowing. And for me, I’ve been doing this work a long time and I’ve never had an experience like this before.

Sara O’Reilly:  It was important to be able to have the mirror on and off because we wanted Billy to be able to breathe and drink water and eat (and eat cylindric foods or things on forks).

I can’t imagine doing what he did, it was very impressive.

Bill O’Leary: It’s a lot like 14 hours of him just taking his hands and pressing them on your face around your eyes in 106 degrees….yeah like that! For 14 hours.

Image courtesy of THE FACELESS MAN movie

Ian Goodwin: Except it’s not as much fun. 

Bill O’Leary: But not as much fun!

Jeremy Foley: A lot of different disciplines, a lot of different filmmaking techniques went into making this short film.

Will Myers: There are a couple of Easter egg digital shots in the film but 98% of it is all practical. 

Jeremy Foley: While the practical aspects of it work well as the mirror in terms of a mirror, performance-wise and lighting-wise and everything else that came along with it became exponentially harder.

Image courtesy of THE FACELESS MAN movie

Jeremy Foley: So we had this fun thing on the set called “The Mirror Game.”

With the mirror we working working always with the tiniest degree of give or take. If Billy had turned his head just a half an inch to the left or just a half an inch to the right, it would have revealed ten people standing in that corner.

Bill O’Leary: I was having to just over and over and over, I mean crazed and then I come and see a kid and they’d go “No, you are off by a billionth of an inch.” And then I’d go “Okay, I’ve got to go see the kid.” And then “No! Now you are off by a quarter of an inch.”  Aaarrgggh!!!

I will never have difficult sharing a footmark again in my life. Those are easy, this was tricky.

The Faceless Man from jeremy foley on Vimeo.

Jeremy Foley – Director/Screenwriter:

Jeremy Foley has been an entertainment industry professional for over 20 years, first as an actor and now as an independent filmmaker. Jeremy has directed short films, music videos and digital series, including the short film Fated, which was distributed by ShortsHD and is available on iTunes. He also directed every episode for the award-winning digital series Mobsters, which featured guest stars Allen Covert (Grandma’s Boy, Sandy Wexler), Brian Austin Green (Desperate Housewives) and Julie Gonzalo (TNT’s Dallas). He is currently wrapping up the festival circuit with his latest short film, The Faceless Man, which just had it’s online premiere, and is currently prepping his first Feature film Fender Bender.





Advertisement – contains affiliate links