It would almost seem that Tony Mandile was destined to be a creature creator. Growing up with a steady influx of horror and science fiction, Tony absorbed every nuance of each piece of cinema and literature he was exposed to. It wasn’t long before he was scouring resources and reading about the men behind the magic. Everything from Wookies to werewolves fascinated the young New Jersey native.
In his early teens, he began experimenting with simple makeup effects armed with supplies like nose putty and greasepaint and old copies of ‘Stage Makeup’ checked out of his school library. By the age of seventeen he had moved on to creating foam latex prosthetic appliances and acrylic dentures; using friends and family as test models.
In 1995 Tony landed his first feature film job as a special
makeup effects creator on View Askew Productions’ indie drama ‘A
Better Place’. He was charged with creating ultra-realistic bruise and
broken nose makeups on the stars of the film as well as creating some gunshot
effects for the climax.
Word of mouth quickly spread amongst burgeoning New Jersey film makers about having an affordable special effects artist in their midst and Tony quickly followed up ‘A Better Place’ with ‘St. Andrew’s Girls’ – an off-the-wall dark comedy about catholic school girls gone bad. Tony’s effects work involved severed fingers, slashed throats, drug induced hallucinations and various other oddities, all of which played to comedic effect.
After wrapping ‘St. Andrew’s Girls’, Tony found himself back at View Askew Productions. He filled in for a single day of bruise and trauma makeup on the thriller ‘Vulgar’ starring Brian O’Halloran and Ethan Suplee until the film’s key makeup artist arrived. He then moved on to creating all of the makeup effects for the View Askew produced ‘Big Helium Dog’ –another comedy that included a variety of ‘wacky’ makeup effects including a hand being impaled onto a table, a goofy corpse and Satan making an appearance as a television host. The film was never released, but ‘Big Helium Dog’ turned out to be a pivotal film in Tony’s career. It was produced by Richard Perello who would later go on to produce ‘Super Troopers’ and ‘Club Dread’ with the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. ‘Big Helium Dog’ also featured cameos by members of Broken Lizard including Kevin Heffernan as Satan and Erik Stolhanske as a priest. It was this connection to Broken Lizard years later that landed Tony a gig on ‘Club Dread’ as a makeup effects artist working under the film’s key artist Kris Kobzina.
During a film making drought in the late 90’s, Tony explored other areas where he could utilize his talents. In 1999 he found himself at Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in New Jersey. He provided special zombie makeup to 30 plus actors for their annual ‘Fright Fest’ Halloween attraction. Since that time Tony has returned to Six Flags every year. ‘Fright Fest’ has grown drastically since those days and Tony now supervises a six person makeup team that provides makeup effects to over 150 actors on a nightly basis. He is responsible for designing attractions, building specialty props, casting and organizing actors’ scheduled ‘call times’.
In 2001 Tony co-founded the short-lived production company Banshee Productions. It was through this company that Tony wrote and directed the feature film ‘Midnight Mass’ based on the novella by NY Times best-selling author F. Paul Wilson. The film was released through Lions Gate Home Entertainment in 2003. While the film received mediocre reviews, Tony looked upon the entire experience as the film school education he never had. He wore various hats on the micro-budget production that included writer, producer, special effects supervisor, director and even actor. 2011 marks the ten year anniversary of Tony’s directorial effort and he hopes to be back in the director’s chair again someday soon.
2002 found Tony south of the border on ‘Broken Lizard’s Club Dread’. It was his first major motion picture for a studio and an opportunity to work with Bill Paxton, Jordan Ladd and the entire Broken Lizard troupe after their successful ‘Super Troopers’. Tony worked under the film’s key effects artist Kris Kobzina and credits him with an invaluable education into what were, at the time, relatively new techniques in what was being done with silicone materials that have now become common place.
In 2006 Tony formed Anatomy FX, LLC. While the independent feature film market had cooled considerably, Tony continued to provide makeup effects to a myriad of short films and student productions at both Columbia University and NYU. He also launched the Anatomy FX web store where customers can now buy film-quality foam latex prosthetic appliances for their own film projects and haunted attractions.
Recently, Tony has contributed effects work to the upcoming 'After Party Massacre' -most notably an ultra realistic phallus for a glory hole castration scene. He also contributed a wide variety of zombies and creatures to the tragically incomplete 'Closing Time' starring James Duval (Donnie Darko). The film folded for financial reasons, but not before many of the special effects sequences were shot.
Tony makes regular appearances to New Jersey based horror film conventions where he performs makeup demonstrations and talks about the art of makeup effects to younger people looking to enter the industry.
He has also been a contributing makeup artist to the ‘Asbury Park Zombie Walk’ –a gathering of zombie enthusiasts who meet annually to storm the streets of the New Jersey shore in zombie regalia. The ‘Zombie Walk’ recently entered the Guinness Book of World Record as the largest gathering of zombies in one place –topping out at over 4,000 zombies! His theme park work with Six Flags now encompasses half of his year, but he will still make himself available to film productions the rest of the time when scripts find their way to him.