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December 2014

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Page 15 of 51 14 POST DECEMBER 2014 X has built a loyal fan base with its American Horror Story series, which maintains the same core cast each season, yet completely changes its sto- ryline. Now in Season 4, American Horror Story: Freak Show is set in Jupiter, FL, in the early 1950s, where Elsa Mars' (Jessica Lange) small travelling show has set up camp. The carnival is seeing increased competition by a new medium — television — which allows audiences to stay at home and be entertained in their own living rooms. This pressures the show to come up with new acts and fresh talent that will draw customers. At the same time, Elsa hopes her troupe of "freaks " — which include the three-fi ngered lobster boy (Evan Peters); the bearded lady (Kathy Bates); the world's shortest and tallest women; and her newest fi nd, two-headed sisters (both portrayed by Sarah Paulson) — will attract scouts in search of talent. Elsa also hopes her own talent as a sing- er could fi nally be recognized, leading to international fame that has evaded her throughout her career. She is getting older and has had a tough life, including the violent amputation of her legs. Time is winding down on her dream. The nature of the show also attracts curiosity seekers and those with their own self-interest. There's a creepy killer clown named Twisty, whose dis- fi gured face is obscured by a mask; an oddities collector looking for a muse- um-quality fi nd; and a rich boy who's bored with his perfect life and is looking for deviant thrills. FuseFX ( in Los Angeles has worked on the show since Season 1 and is again responsible for its visual eff ects. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post just prior to Season 4's debut, visual eff ects supervisor Jason Piccioni took time out to talk about the studio's work on the series and the chal- lenges that the new season presented. Tell us about the visual eff ects that FuseFX has provided for the series? "Normally we do a lot with make-up eff ects. De-aging of actors when they are involved in fl ashbacks. For (Season 2) Asylum, which took place in the late '60s in Massachusetts in the fall, Briar- cliff Manner, the base of it was the Santa Ana Courthouse in Orange County in August. It presented quite a bit of a challenge. We had palm trees. Obviously, we can't see cars or contemporary street lights. [And] the building needed to be retrofi tted quite extensively to mimic the asylum we were using as an inspiration, which was a famous one in Massachu- setts. It's the one that [the fi lm] Session 9 was shot at." Seasons 3 & 4 were shot on location? "Season 3, Coven, was shot in New Orle- ans, and Freak Show is there as well, but is supposed to look like Florida." Even before the show debuted, fans got a taste of what to expect, including a two-headed woman and scary-looking clown. "Sarah Paulson is a major character, or two major characters. Sarah, for years, has been one of the big stars. She's a major part of the show. She's on screen a lot — not in every episode — we dip down a little, but she's a massive part of half the season. I've read through Epi- sode 9 and she's in there a lot." Where are you at in terms of fi nished episodes at this point? "We just started shooting Episode 8. We are just fi nishing posting Episode 3. [They] mix an episode on Thursday and Friday to air the following Wednesday. It's pretty tight. By mid-season, we are probably averaging fi ve to ten days to run the entire episode through post." How many shows is FuseFX working on simultaneously? "This is one of the bigger ones. We've probably got 30 shows going on be- tween the offi ce in Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver. We do American Horror Story and Agents of SHEILD here, we do Bones here, Criminal Minds, Hell on Wheels is a big show. It's a little easier for us because it's mostly over the summer. Out of New York, we have Blacklist going. Blacklist mixes Friday and Saturday for a show that airs on Monday. That's pret- ty nuts. We have Powers — it's a Sony PlayStation release — 10 episodes of a graphic novel, shooting in Atlanta. In Van- couver we do The Returned, and I think we are going to start up Bates Motel, and a couple of other tiny shows." What services are you providing? "We've [color] timed shows, we've color-mastered shows. We provide the VFX. We like to drop them in during the mix or before the mix. Certainly, if there is anything to do with sound, we'll temp it for the mix and try to drop in later. For Horror Story, it all kind of wraps around AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW BY MARC LOFTUS FUSEFX RETURNS FOR SEASON 4 OF THIS POPULAR FX SERIES F Beneath Twisty's mask is a gruesome, digitally-created gunshot wound. Inset, FuseFX's VFX supervisor Jason Piccioni. PRIMETIME

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