If you’ve watched the reality TV show “Face Off,” you might recognize Rashaad Santiago.
Santiago won one season, beating out some well-trained and seasoned special effects make-up artists.
Turns out, Santiago and his family live in Batavia, having moved there from New York City after he came up to help out with a Godzilla fan movie, Godzilla Heritage.
Tim Schiefer and Greg Graves were behind the Godzilla project that brought Santiago to the area.
Santiago now travels all over the country for his work, but always ends up back in his studio at The Harvest Center.
That’s where Adam talked with Santiago about his career and move.
Adam: What was it like being on the show “Face Off?”
Santiago: At first it was, you know, you don’t believe it’s happening when you’re there. Then it just became a matter of getting it done. I knew that a lot of people on the show had gone to school for this before, so I knew I had to be on my A-game. I was the only person who was self-taught and didn’t really know much about what he was doing. It kept me on my toes, I can say that.
Adam: How did “Predator” become one of your main masks?
Santiago: One, just a love for Arnold Schwarzenegger, as an actor as a kid — just a big “action hero” — and two, it’s probably in the Top 5 best creatures ever made. It’s just the design that went into it. It still, like, can’t be topped. They keep trying to remake it and make it better, but that first “Predator” was just off the hook! It’s pretty awesome!
Adam: How did this happen? How did you get into all of this?
Santiago: Well, being a kid (fan) of monster movies– I used to draw and I used to paint all the time, and different movies that I watched made me want to make that. I remember “Godzilla” being one of the first movies that I’d seen, and I was like, “I want to make that.”
Adam: It’s one thing to have a passion, it’s another to keep that passion and try to make a living out of it. Was there anyone in your life who told you, “You could do this,” or was it more so, “I’m going to do this”?
Santiago: It was more so, “I’m going to do it.” My mom and my dad, they encouraged me, because art was always an escape for me to just get away and not have to deal with homework, bullies and that kind of thing. I felt like, “This is something I want to do,” so I just went out and did it.
Adam: You were living in the city, and you came up here to Batavia to do a “Godzilla” fan film. You’re still here years later; what happened?
Santiago: It’s what I call the “big fish/little pond” scenario; there’s nobody else doing this. And just falling in love with the area and my friends that were up here. It’s a lot cheaper than living in the city or in Hollywood, and being able to have my own studio for probably something that would never happen if I lived out in Hollywood. Or if I lived in one of these big cities; it’s just something that wouldn’t happen.
Adam: And you get to fish?
Santiago: And I get to fish! Like, on a regular– probably a lot more than I should. I always get in trouble for it….