I'm 70 year old and I have lived most of my life in LA working in film and TV as a filmmaker, VFX artist, Special Makeup artist, actor and more.
I continue today at my film studio in Ventura where I have for the last 10 years made films, film effects, creatures, models, and many other creations that fall under the "Maker" category.
Yesterday I had to order rubber to fill more mask orders. I have been buying from the same company for years. They are old friends and the last time I bought rubber a few months ago it was around 180 dollars.
I have two choices. Either pay and have it shipped or drive into town which is a long drive and pay the same in gas not to mention the stress and the loss of a day. It is brutal driving into LA. Worth your life. That’s just the way it is and losing a day is losing money too.
Shipping has gone up a great deal and by the time it is delivered to the studio is nearly 300 dollars for 5 gallons of rubber. That will make about 7 masks if I really stretch it.
I started doing the math again and found that on the average it costs me about 110 dollars a mask in materials alone. Then 25-45 dollars for shipping. On the average about 30 dollars. I could make them out of thinner rubber as most cheap mask makers do. Then they would rot in a few years. Mine will last for decades.
And then there’s the labor. I take a lot of care in finishing and painting my masks. It’s all being done by me, not in China. It can take me up to 8-10 hours to finish a mask. Why 8-10? Because some have hair and hair takes a long time to lay on.
I’m a well known Hollywood makeup effects artist, filmmaker and creature actor. And I sign all my work.
I have heard I charge too much for my masks and I can get the same thing from another company for 50 dollars. But it’s not a signed hand made Steve Neill mask and they rarely look authentic if they are recreation of a classic monster or creature.
I have been under-pricing my art for years. People have been buying my masks and reselling them online for what they are actually worth. The Studio has been relying on charity to pay for rent and utilities. I can no longer afford to give my work away for basement bargain prices. I am charging reasonable prices for Artisan labor. I will never get rich doing my art but I at least want to pay the rent.
So I am starting today raising the prices of my masks to reflect these costs and the worth of my labor to produce them. Everyone is raising their prices to me from rubber to shipping. I just have to pass that along.
Anyone that has recently made and order will not pay more. But at some point today I will be changing the prices.
Working hard to get some new kits on the market and added to our store I worked on the Big V-2 Rocket yesterday and got pretty far.
I know this was a war machine and a pretty gruesome one at that but it also paved the way to space, the Moon, and beyond for all of us. After WW2 many were captured and brought to the United States for study. They were flown in test flights from White Sands into space for the first time.
Often the pressing of new technologies for warfare lead to technologies of peaceful use. It’s a shame that so much of our tech came out of a need to kill each other. I hope that one day this will cease to be the motivation for the development of such technology and instead be the desire to explore the universe in peace and wonder. Together as one race, one world. But I digress.
The V-2 was the very first rocket I saw as a child and it filled me with wonder as our scientist sent it to the edge of space. At that time I didn’t know it was a flying bomb. Only a rocket ship to the stars. To this day it holds a special place for me as it does with any childhood wonder. Other kids had teddy bears. I had rockets and telescopes. I did it again. I digressed.
So this larger V-2 I’m hoping to launch this Saturday(weather permitting). I’ll be using an Estes F15-4 as I need to limit the altitude where we launch.
This rocket with a G64-W is capable of reaching 2000 ft according to simulations I have run. 5000 ft on a H motor.
I love doing this. It was a dream of mine as a child to have my own space program. Now I do. Dreams do come true.
Three different sized V-2 rocket kits I have made.
This week has been cold and difficult to work. Despite that Mary and I press on. It’s been this way for far too long. I have been working in our studio kitchen where it’s heated and so is upstairs. But spray painting and working with toxic chemicals has to be done in the bay or assembly building as I like to call it. After all, we do have a space program.
I managed to make the silicone molds I need for our new Mercury Redstone kit in the kitchen. In the assembly building I cast a nose cone for the new larger V-2 rocket in two part resin.
I also received my parts for the scratch built open wheel Indy slot car I have been working on. It’s now sporting its new aluminum wheels and rubber tires.
Yesterday was Mary’s birthday and we had a quiet day.
This video is excellent and the closing statements by the developers is every reason we need to to embrace this game. If you care about our future and the postive things we can do as a race of beings please watch this.
There have been a lot of bad reviews and winning from the so called experts about Kerbal 2 release but I’m enjoying the heck out of it!
People always have to have something to complain about but they fail to remember that all early releases of any game or simulator aren’t without bugs and hiccups. In time they are always patched, fixed, an or improved. Many have asked for refunds? For 49 dollars? Really. This points out to me these people are operating 10 year old machines that won’t perform well with this 2023 release. I’m running on a 4 year old machine with a 1080 card and a bunch of ram and it’s smooth without issues.
In the meantime I embrace anything like Kerbal 2. With all the war games, violence, killing each other, end of the world armageddon and the rest of these types of games that palithorate the game market, this breath of fresh air. In my opinion they are just bad for the human spirit.
This sim has no weapons or space wars. It teaches you space flight, allows you to build space vehicles and explore space, land on planets and explore.
It teaches you basic aerospace engineering and what it takes to build a launch vehicle and successfully launch it and return it and your astronaut safely to the planet. You can build anything from a simple one stage sub orbital flight to something more sophisticated that you can take to the moon and beyond.
I highly recommend you show this to your kids, especially if they have an interest in space flight. Letting them play endlessly violent video games can serve little or know purpose. I used to play them myself. I was a big fan of the BattleField series. And then what day I just asked myself, what am I doing.
Since then it’s all been about flying and space exploration. I have a saying, make spaceships, not war.
I haven’t posted for a few days because life’s little interruptions happen. So far it’s been that way. I have been working on Mary’s birthday present that has to be finished today. Tomorrow is her birthday.
Aside from that and visits to the dentist again I have been sneaking in a moment here and there on the latest rocket kits and in the evening working on editing our film.
The Mercury Redstone kit I have been sorting out the size of the body tube and how to go about molding the parts later this week.
As you can see the red capsule is the smaller Estes model and the larger white one is our new larger model to be.
The SNG Aero has been painted and ready for flight testing on the 11th of March at our next launch. Just a basic paint job for testing. I have yet to come up with a nice graphic for the model.
And I’m also working on yet another kit of a large 4 inch diameter V-2 rocket for low to mid power.
Last weekend I made this slot car from for a Dan Gurney Eagle Indy racer. The car runs so smoothly and quietly. One of my best cars and I built the frame from scratch. Seen alongside a finished Ostorero Indy Lotus. The tires and wheels are temporary. My new parts for this car will arrive tomorrow.
Back to Battlestar Galactica Thursday and from then on through next week it looks like I’ll be working on the model a lot more and getting video.
This week is the last week of being 70. Sunday I’ll be 71 and I’m going flying!
It’s cold and rainy once more. In fact it has been unusually cold now since last October. Not our typical weather.
Working in 40 degrees in the bay is never fun but on some level I’m getting used to it and have little choice if I want to work on projects large and messy that can’t be worked on anywhere else in the building.
The Mustang has been going on for far too long now and I need the table space for future projects. Painting the tail and other details is something I’ll wait to do until after she has been flown. Right now I have three new rocket kits to make for the store.
One if a larger Mercury Redstone for D-E motors. Mark Helmick has been 3D printing the components for the rocket from the capsule to the fins.
I’m also going to produce the Mercury Atlas and the current project SNG Aero camera rocket.
Work continues on the Battlestar upstairs in the heated part of the building.
Yesterday was a quiet day at the studio. Mary and I and the two dogs chilled working on various things. With my orders all caught up with (for now) I’m working on Mary’s annual birthday present I have done for the past 7 years.
7 years ago she asked me to sculpt her a flower. The first one was a silver rose. Every year I come up with a different india from a dragon flower to a Lotus flower that glows all different colors of light. This year it took me a few days to come up with something new. I’ll be able to show next Friday.
I was able to work on my customer build of the Battlestar Galactica from the original 70’s TV series. I spent a lot of time reducing the part count by glueing all the parts to the fuselage I could with closing it up. Before I do that I need to light block the hull halves and place all the electronics and lighting. It’s going well. I only have two trees left with parts on them.
And then there’s that big P-51 Mustang build. I made the landing gear skits for it and placed an armour seat back and head rest in the cockpit. I made up some zinc oxide paint for the cockpit. With any luck today I’ll get the tail painted red to complete the Tuskegee look to the plane. Another week and I’ll be flying her.
Editing in the film, “A Conversation with my Father” is going well. I work on it every night.
Then I finish off the evening with some nice laps around my favorite race track, “SNG Raceway.”