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Dec. 3, 2020

CASTLE FREAK Director & SFX Master, Tate Steinsiek! [Episode 62]

CASTLE FREAK Director & SFX Master, Tate Steinsiek! [Episode 62]

Tate Steinsiek is an award-winning special effects makeup artist, writer, and director who's highly anticipated Castle Freak reimagining launches today on Shudder! Tate has worked on multiple films, including Spiderman, Puppet Master: The Littlest...

Tate Steinsiek is an award-winning special effects makeup artist, writer, and director who's highly anticipated Castle Freak reimagining launches today on Shudder!

Tate has worked on multiple films, including Spiderman, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, Scare Package, Satanic Panic, Sharknado 2, and Dragged Across Concrete. Tate is also a mainstay effects artist on shows like Saturday Night Live, Law & Order, and multiple titles on The Discovery Channel. Tate is a two-time finalist on FACE OFF, in both Seasons 1 & 5 and one of the show's most beloved contestants.

I've known Tate for years and have been a huge fan of his work. His style is one of the most interesting and recognizable of today's practical effects artists and I have been dying to see his reimagining of Castle Freak since it was announced back at Monsterpalooza. The production stories behind the making of Castle Freak are completely insane. While shooting in Albania, where apparently horror movies are very frowned upon, the team tried to hide the subject matter of their movie, but unfortunately, the actor playing the freak, wearing the full freak bodysuit, briefly went outside in the creature suit and caused multiple local villagers to call in extraterrestrial sightings. Yeah, it was that crazy, and Tate gets into it in this conversation. Anyhow, he's my brother from another mother, and I always love talking to him; without further ado, here is the awesome & fantastically talented Tate Steinsiek.


  • Deliver the gore without the blood. This is an interesting point that Tate observed from working with S. Craig Zahler. On a lot of Zahler's movies, as brutal as they get, they're not always very bloody. This is perhaps most noticeable in Brawl in Cell Block 99, and the effect is actually quite chilling. When you don't have blood to cover everything thing up with, the audience can observe even more visceral nuances like bones crunching, sinew snapping, internal organs being pulverized, etc. Tate attended the Tom Savini School, so he knows blood, but this bloodless approach to gore was something he was inspired by. I love a blood bath just as much as the next guy, but as a horror director, it's important to learn how to innovate and do things a little differently, so don't be so quick to douse everything in blood; less can be more.


  • Surround yourself with people that you trust. Filmmaking, particularly low budget filmmaking, is putting yourself at the mercy of Murphy's law - things will inevitably go wrong. As a director, it's important to realize that you’re one person, and you’re incapable of making all of the decisions and executing all of the quick thinking required to address all of the many problems that will plague your production. To try is to quickly & easily burn out and make yourself crazy. Therefore, it's critical to have a crew of people whose opinions you value and who you trust overall to make the decisions for you that will keep your movie on track. Unfortunately, many film sets are plagued with toxic egos, backstabbers, too many opinions, and even saboteurs - all of which can collectively zap everyone's energy and erode the very foundation of your movie. Tate's been working on movies for many, many years and luckily had a number of trusty contacts to call on when it came time to make Castle Freak. It takes a while to find these people, of course, but once you do, do not let them go and treat them like gold. They can make or break your movie and give your production a flow, a speed, and a stability that you simply cannot accomplish by yourself.


  • Enjoy the tough times. Tate talks about how directing is firing on all cylinders because it taps every single ounce of energy, creativity, reserve that you have. To Tate, this is a wonderful feeling and something to embrace. One thing you notice as Tate talks through all the trials and tribulations that happened on the Castle Freak shoot, he’s never ever complaining. He's never annoyed or resentful for the difficult times; instead, he has gratitude for every ounce of difficulty that this movie presented him with. That's what filmmaking is. As a director, your worth is not always calculated by the quality of the movie that you make but by the severity of the challenges you were able to overcome. That's what a lot of producers look for in directors, is problem solvers. When production challenges present themselves, are you going to buckle under the pressure or prove that you have an iron reserve? Despite the difficulties of the Castle Freak shoot, Tate embraced the growth the experience provided him with. He'd worked on enough movies to expect the journey to be difficult, so he loved every single painstaking minute of the process because he knew it was making him a better director. 

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