Making PERSEPHONE

Hey kiddies!  This is my new project called PERSEPHONE, named after a figure from Greek mythology.  Persephone was a nature goddess who became Queen of the Underworld after being abducted by Hades.  The myth of her abduction represents her role as the personification of vegetation – which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth in autumn.  When she is in the Underworld we experience winter.  And when she visits the world she brings with her spring, flowers, and the resurrection of life.  As both a Goddess of Spring, and the Queen of the Underworld – she exemplifies the tension between life and death.

My lovely bride Jen (Lady Bathory) returned as my assistant for this project, as well as my faithful friend Demian Vela.  We also worked with some new collaborators.  Rebekah Whitt played the part of Persephone, and her make-up was done by Shawn Shelton with Bandersnatch Studios.

The walls and archway of the set were made from plastic VacuForm panels that we painted to look like stone.  We built the set inside a factory near Robert Kurtzman’s studio in Ohio.  Kurtzman is a legendary make-up FX artist and the founder of KNB EFX.  He also wrote the original story for the movie FROM DUSK TIL DAWN and was the director of WISHMASTER.  Kurtzman introduced us to David Greathouse (House) – who created all of the foam latex vines that we wired and glued to the walls of the set.

Kurtzman also introduced us to Beki Ingram, who turned out to be the real hero of the project.  Jen, Demian and I were all enormously impressed as she spearheaded the enormous task of dressing the set walls with fake foliage and roses, which were meticulously glued to the walls, one flower at a time.

Beki has recently become a TV celebrity.  She is one of the leading contestants on the hit reality show FACE/OFF, which features up-and-coming special-effects make-up artists in a winner-takes-all competition.  The program airs on Wednesday nights on the SyFy Channel, and each week we are glued to our TV sets rooting for our friend.

Demian took a week off of work and drove 800 miles to Ohio to help with this project.  I think he was excited by the prospect of hanging out with Robert Kurtzman.

Me with our half-finished set walls.

We needed more space for our lights so we moved to another part of the factory to finish our set dressing.  Here you can see Beki, Demian, and Jen slowly dressing the set walls with green foliage.

We stole grass and sod from Kurtzman’s backyard and hauled it to the factory in the back of my mini-van.  I inserted fake arms (minus the hands) into the set floor.   I would have used the hands as well but they looked so fake that I cut them off.  We hung giant sheets of black velvet behind the set.  Black velvet and a fog machine are all we had to hide the fact that our set was built inside a factory.

Here is a lighting test with fog.

Two interns from Kurtzman’s studio came by to help on the day of the shoot.  Beki painted their hands and arms to match the prop arms on set.  I shot their hands separately and used Photoshop to graft them onto the fake arms that I photographed on set.  The out-of-focus hands in the foreground of the final image were photographed live in front of the camera, with the interns kneeling beneath the lens of my camera like puppeteers.

See you next time!

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16 Responses to “Making PERSEPHONE”

  1. ReelyBored Says:

    Fantastic! as usual :-)

  2. djinnocide Says:

    Absolutely brilliant!

  3. IPBrian Says:

    Woah…awesome!

  4. Gini Says:

    Really beautifully done! I like this foray into mythology; I hope you continue down that delicious path.

  5. Dean Bowman Says:

    Spectacular, as always. Fabulous job!

  6. Joshua Hoffine Returns With “Persephone”… | Cherrybombed Says:

    […] was back with a new photograph, Persophone. As usual, the always amazing Hoffine captured the step by scary step process of making Persophone on his blog. More images from Hoffine’s impressive catalog can also be found at his newly […]

  7. H.P. Algernon Varney Says:

    Absolutely outstanding! I adore the details and the genuinly horrifying face :)

  8. Ethan Says:

    SO glad to see a new post! Amazing work as usual, I love how you show the intricate process and care that goes into your work! Rebekah looked amazing! (and i’m actually really digging her dress!) The way you described the story of Persephone was really interesting too. Can’t wait for your next post!

  9. toni Says:

    Wow.. Awesome. :)

  10. Ana Shadow Wolf Says:

    Just amazing and breathtaking, as always. A great idea of using the theme of Persephone, I hope to see more of myth-themed works!!!!!!

  11. Jolie du Pre (@Joliedupre) Says:

    Absolutely amazing how this all came together. I love all of the roses mixed in with all that terror.

    Precious Monsters

  12. matthewseanmclachlan Says:

    This and Pickman’s Masterpiece look like they were a real blast to shoot and make! Great work!

  13. meximo70 Says:

    absolutely amazing. you inspire that dark creator in me

  14. Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com) Says:

    Reblogged this on HORROR BOOM and commented:
    Persephone began her yearly visit to visit the world a month or so ago; let’s welcome her back by reading about Joshua Hoffine’s interpretation of this particular story from Greek Mythology (though in the version I learned back in school, Persephone was the daughter of an even more powerful nature goddess. Please note that the ‘featured photo’ used above belongs to Josh Hoffine and Horror Boom has no copyright claim on anything to do with it, except for using it to get you to hopefully interest you in reading the story behind it. All images are copyright Mr. Hoffine.

  15. DietrichLeighFriedeman Says:

    I was wondering if you ever gave Busch Gardens Tampa Florida the rights to use Persephone for their halloween event Howl O Scream. I’m from Tampa Florida, and recently discovered your work and immediately recognized “Persephone” as the main Advertising character from Busch Gardens 2012 Howl O Scream Theme Dark Side Of The Gardens. But when I tried to look up and see if they were indeed the same character. I couldn’t find anything. I’m positive its the same character though due to the fact that some of the promotional posters from howl o scream are the same as the pics on here (just slightly altered example of which is they added eyes to the center of the roses)

  16. DietrichLeighFriedeman Says:

    I meant to say I recognize her from the 2011 howl o scream same theme different character from 2012

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