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'Face Off' exit Q&A: 'I was pretty shocked'

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FACE OFF
Nicole Wilder/Syfy

This week’s Face Off challenge was out-of-this world. After traveling through a corn field maze, the fourteen remaining contestants found themselves standing in the middle of a crop circle and surrounded by suitcases.

Host McKenzie Westmore explained that inside the black cases were aerial photos of crop circles, each with “a dire message that an alien might have been trying to communicate.” Westmore broke the group up into teams of two, as randomly selected by the show. Various messages that had to be incorporated into their creations included: “We need water” (Corinne Foster & Niko Gonzalez), “Gravity changing” (Chloe Sens and Graham Schofield), “Polluted & toxic environment” (George Schminky and Bethany Serpico), “Our sun is dying” (Cat Paschen and Matt Silva), “We have ice caps melting” (Tanner White and Daran Holt), “Overcome with disease” (Daniel Phillips and Tess Laeh), and “Global famine” (Tyler Green and Rashaad Santiago). “Make sure the judges see evidence of your alien’s dire circumstances in your make-up,” advised Westmore.

After the design phase, the artists jumped right into sculpting. Though things didn’t go smoothly for everyone. Nearly immediately, Paschen and Silva butted heads. Paschen said she felt that she and Silva hadn’t settled on a clear design in advance of the lab. They fine-tuned their tribal, African-inspired life form, but kept changing their vision along the way–losing time in the process. “I don’t want it to look too elephant-y,” she told Silva, who patiently listened to her feedback. Paschen was unhappy with its ears and face. For his part, Silva seemed flustered and told the cameras they were having difficulty communicating. Midway through, mentor Michael Westmore stopped by and provided everyone with feedback–though Silva ultimately went against his advice and painted his creation a tad darker than recommended.

Elsewhere, Sens and Schofield had their own struggles ahead. By day two, Sens battled a case of indecision. Schofield said he didn’t want to rush her, but she still hadn’t finished sculpting the face–setting them back time wise. Schofield acknowledged that her indecision made him nervous. Meanwhile, on application day, Schminky and Serpico discovered their cowl was ripped in the middle. They found a way to mask it, but it was still a major setback for the duo.

Eventually, judgement day arrived. Writer/director/producer Scott Stewart (Priest, Dark Skies. Legion, Syfy’s Defiance) was introduced as a guest judge, then it was time to face the panel. Foster and Gonzalez were named the top team with Foster singled out as the challenge winner for being–who the judges felt was–the driving force behind it. Meanwhile, Paschen & Silva found themselves in the bottom with Paschen declaring, “I didn’t agree with some of the painting decisions.” The judges said it was a solid concept, but thought it was lacked in terms of sculptural details and its paint job. Schminky and Serpico also faced the chopping block. The judges said their alien looked great from a distance, but that it lacked close up.

Ultimately, Serpico was sent home after the panel attributed her alien’s weak facial sculpture solely to her. She fought back tears as she left the stage.

EW caught up with Serpico about what it was like being a part of the show, what she would have done differently in her challenge, and what she’s been working on since filming wrapped.

What was the experience like being on Face Off?

It was awesome. Of course, it was insane. It showed me what I could do in such a little amount of time, which is good to know. The best part of it was meeting the cast members. My fellow cast members were all awesome. I’m glad I got to meet them all.

How closely did you follow the show prior to being a part of it?

I watched it every season beforehand. I loved the show before. I was excited to be a part of it. I had no idea [I’d actually be on the show one day] because when the show first came out I was waiting to get into make-up school. I still hadn’t even really gotten my hands dirty with it. I had gone to art school before with sculpting, but I hadn’t done any mold making or anything like that. I had no idea this would ever happen.

What were your goals or expectations going into the season?

I just wanted to be proud of the work that I put out. I had no set goals, but as long as I was happy with the outcome I was cool with that.

How do you feel about the outcome? Were you disappointed to be eliminated so early on in the competition?

Absolutely. It’s always a bummer to go out early because you [don’t get a chance to] show everything that you can do. But I stand by the work that we put out. I was pretty happy with it. George and I are still cool. I watched [the episode] last night. I was relieved. Anyone would be nervous to watch that. I was most nervous about what my face would look like when they said my name, but it was a lot better than I thought it would be. So that’s good.

What went through your head when you started troubleshooting?

There were a couple of issues. On one piece, we were supposed to have a respirator throughout the whole make-up and that didn’t end up working out. We had to troubleshoot that, which was stressful because we also had a rip in the cowl and we were both super nervous about it. Our idea was already to be gross and boil-ly and skin torn apart. I shot that idea to George and he felt comfortable with it. I think it worked out well. I think we made lemonade out of lemons.

Did you see the outcome coming? What was your reaction?

I was pretty shocked because I was happy with what we came out with. But throughout the whole show, I’ve learned, you never really know what the judges are thinking. Of course, I respect their decision. They know what they’re talking about. So I accept it.

What would you do differently if you had to do the challenge over?

I would have done more troubleshooting ahead of time. If something wasn’t [going] to work out, [we should have asked] what could we do instead? I mean, I’m sure I would do a million things differently, especially now knowing.

Like what? Could any of the issues been avoided in advance?

Some of them could have been avoided, idea wise, but a lot of it was technical stuff that we had to deal with.

Who should we keep an eye on this season?

The whole time, everyone in the house kept saying, “We truly have no idea whose game it is.” It was such a crazy, talented season. They were super intimidating–especially because I was so new to effects and you have some guys who have been doing it for so long and some that are crazy talented.

Any memorable moments when the cameras weren’t rolling?

When I got eliminated, of course, I was all teary eyed and sappy and I looked over and I saw Tess crying too. I was like, “Why are you crying?” She was just so upset that I was leaving because we’d become kind of close. And she liked our piece a lot, so she was confused. It was funny. I was like, “Why are you crying? I’m the one who should be balling!”

Who have you been keeping in touch with?

I keep in touch with everyone. Every single person. I got to recently meet up with some of them at a make-up convention in L.A.

What are you working on now that filming has wrapped?

I’ve been working on some freelance stuff. I recently worked on some stuff with Adult Swim. I’ve been filming things here and there. Beforehand, just before I left, I had done a haunted house in N.Y. I was the head make-up artist there and I did some shop work where we made some pieces for Rob Zombie. That was pretty awesome. I would love to be a part of a shop and still be able to do on-set work as well. Even after the show, that solidified it. I am definitely a shop girl. I’d like to do more of that.

Face Off airs Tuesday’s at 9 PM ET on Syfy.