Human to Sci-Fi Alien: Getting My Head Cast in Plaster

paul cram plaster casting head
Working on a Sci-fi themed shoot in North Carolina. Not far from where they filmed The Hunger Games. I am being outfitted as a galactic Alien creature for it. Complete with green skin & an ultra green space suit. Which is made to fit my wiry frame like a glove without resorting to spandex. The alien head and hands are all being done without the use of computer generated graphics. Very old-school film style. 
The special effect make-up artist, Crist Ballas, has been in the business for years turning regular looking people into bizarrely cool creatures. So I know I am in good hands as he applies the plaster on my hands, shoulders and face to make the molds, which he then uses to create the prosthetics that I will wear later on-set filming.

paul cram naked chestA Half Hairy Chest

Before Crist begins applying the gooey plaster to my head and shoulders, we first have to shave the upper portion of my chest. This is because the hair would get pulled out from the plaster once it dried. Painful! So it's shaved off. Which is painless.

Though I do look funny as the shave is in a perfect horizontal line just above my nipples. Which would only be a big deal if I was playing the role of a life guard or something. And yes, I could have shaved it all off. But the thought of how scratchy it gets when growing back makes me opt to rock the half-hair chest look for the few weeks it takes to grow back.

Sort of a Cross Between a Deprivation Tank & a Spa Facial

Crist described it very well when we were getting ready to apply the plaster, "It's sort of a cross between a deprivation tank and a spa facial." Which is accurate. It becomes very dark when the plaster goes over my eyelids. Sound becomes muffled when plaster's smeared across my ears. (Like hearing under water.) The thick plaster feels much like warm mud as it glops from the very top of my head down my neck and chest. The plaster even is scented with mint. Very spa-like.

Hand Signals

I signal with my hand to communicate during the 30 minutes it takes the plaster to set and harden enough to remove. Throughout it all Crist asks again and again if I am alright and I give him a thumbs-up each time. (Or a thumbs down if I ever wasn't. But thankfully nothing goes wrong.)

Then the plaster encasing me is cut off and I open my eyes. My skin feels amazing. Clean. Like I had just had a minty facial. It isn't until a few weeks later that I get to see the actual plaster bust of my head that you see in the side-by-side photo above. It's surreal looking at your face that way. So unlike looking in a mirror. 

paul cram science fiction alien
Sneak Peek 

Here's a sneak peek at what the alien looks like on set.

This prosthetic head actually isn't exactly what Crist envisioned, as in transport the original alien head designed was smashed by the airline. So this was hand made in a matter of hours by Crist. But that's a whole other story...

Anyone else have a cool experience with costumes? Or had to shave your chest? Tell me in a comment, love to hear about it.


  1. This is cool to read/look at! Fascinating seeing the bone structure of your face in plaster- like a museum bust.

    1. Thank you. I must agree, I stared and stared at the bust. The epitome of a narcissistic experience. But it is so weird seeing one's own face in 3-d, to be able reach out and touch it.

  2. I don't think its narcissistic, but I'd say it's gotta be a surreal experience. It's seeing what you really look like- not in a mirror, not in a photo. That's a little twilight-zoney.

    1. Totally! "That's a little twilight-zoney."


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