The Career of a Former French Special Make-up Effects Artist


For a period of four years Gaëtan Laloge worked as a special effects make-up artist. His creations appeared in a score of films including full-length Japanese productions. His enthusiasm for this branch of the business led him to share his knowledge at a time when the secrets of the trade were still jealously guarded.

He first became aware of the world of special effects make-up when he came across the superb cover adorning issue 36 of the French magazine Mad Movies. He was immediately enthralled but very soon discovered that virtually no information on this most American of professions was available in France. He was left to find his own way through this uncharted territory, in the processing committing any number of technical bloomers. At this time he was engaged in making short films and his first customer turned out to be... himself!

The promising work of this young make-up artist came to the attention of Dick Smith, the famous American specialist (The Exorcist, Amadeus), who accepted Gaëtan Laloge as a student in his elite and much coveted Advanced Professional Make-up Course. He then followed a course conducted by the French make-up artist Jacques Gastineau (Lifeforce, Les Visiteurs).

In 1987, he founded the FX Compagnie as a special unit within the CCCO and was thus able to work on numerous films and events.

In the same year, he wrote the quarterly fanzine CESAM (Animated Special Effects and Make-up Circular), published by the CCCO and exclusively devoted to the production of make-up special effects. Thanks to its quality presentation, the sheer volume of useful information contained within its covers and the rigourous product tests, CESAM became the acknowledged leader in its field. Starting as sole editor, Gaëtan Laloge soon built up a team to help him consolidate this increasingly successful media. CESAM eventually engaged the talents of twelve illustrators including Jean Meunier and five writers.

In addition to assuming these responsibilities, Gaëtan Laloge was also asked by the national review Toxic to take charge of a new column devoted to "make-up special effects".

After 11 issues and with CESAM at the height of its success, Gaëtan Laloge decided to cease publication in 1990.

In 2007, the 11 issues are reunited in the 478-page book CESAM n°1 à 11 (ISBN 978-2-9528859-0-4).

In the same year, at the request of the SNCF (French National Railways), he designed a corpse for the hugely successful Train du Cinéma travelling exhibition.

In 1991, he worked on Ecritures, a film involving a plethora of special effects and absorbing all his studio's resources for several months. He created a whole gallery of terrifying monsters, including the much talked-about Cephalorus of which an animatronic (remote-controlled) version was made.

He then left for Tokyo where he worked for a time on Japanese feature films.

In answer to pressing demand, he wrote the book FANTASTIC MAKE-UP - L'Art du maquillage 3D which was an instant success and received very favourable reviews in the national press. Published by the CCCO, FANTASTIC MAKE-UP - L'Art du Maquillage 3D adopts a hands-on approach and is designed to be consulted as an aide-mémoire in the studio. It is the only French book which deals with the technical conception of special make-up.

In 1993, following his decision to devote himself full-time to film directing, Gaëtan Laloge called a halt to his special effects make-up activities.

In 1995, he loaned his special effect accessories to an exhibition held in Dijon's Ducal Palace in honour of the first hundred years of cinematography.

In 2010, 17 years after quiting this job, he exceptionally came back to special make-up effects for the movie
Invasion. He created old fashioned living deads.

Although he is no longer directly involved in the profession, Gaëtan Laloge keeps a watch on developments in products and new technologies. Moreover, he insists that computer graphics (CGI) have had a beneficial effect on make-up effects by broadening the scope for creation. He is firmly of the opinion that the two fields are combining to open up a whole new world of possibilities.