By Wade Coggeshall
— Troy Rivers was a football player at Broad Ripple High School, but there was something else he was more interested in - special effects makeup.
That's the kind that makes so many of those monsters and other supernatural beings come to life on both big and small screens. Rivers, who moved to Avon with his fiancee about five years ago, cites the movie "Blade II" as one inspiration. There's a bonus feature on the DVD explaining the film's SFX makeup.
"I probably watched that a hundred times," Rivers said. "It was very educational."
He gets his own shot at creating such art when he competes in the fourth season of Syfy's "Face Off" competition series, which debuts at 9 p.m. Jan. 15.
Always a painter and drawer, Rivers wasn't resolved about the craft until attending art school in 1997 at Columbus, Ohio.
"I always liked Halloween and making costumes, but I didn't take it seriously as a career until (then)," he said.
There he met other students who had their own collections of self-made masks.
"I thought that was so cool," Rivers said. "I really wanted to do that."
Mostly self-taught, he's watched as many instructional videos and read as many manuals as he can find on the subject. Being where's he from, Rivers has worked for various cosmetics lines for years to at least get experience with skin tones and makeup application. That helped him get the job of makeup artist for Madonna's dancers during last year's halftime show when Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl.
Having a daughter curtailed Rivers' plans, at least initially, to move to Los Angeles where the SFX makeup industry is centralized. He pounced on the opportunity to be on "Face Off." Contestants create various fantastical creatures under the tutelage of makeup artists including Michael Westmore, who won an Oscar for his work on the movie "Mask."
The show's winner gets $100,000, a 2013 Fiat 500, and the opportunity to be a guest lecturer at the MAKE UP FOR EVER academies in New York and Paris.
Filming for "Face Off" has already wrapped, but Rivers can't reveal the outcome.
"It was the experience of a lifetime, especially for someone like me," he said. "Living in Indiana, there aren't a lot of people involved in special effects makeup here. So just being surrounded by people who share the same passion was tremendous."
More information is available online at syfy.com.