Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 2021 — It’s been a busy five years since the acclaimed MASTERSFX (MFX) expanded from its Vancouver, BC, headquarters by opening an additional studio, just outside Toronto, in Etobicoke. The company, led by Emmy Award winning founder Todd Masters, specializes in the design and creation of original creatures, prosthetic FX and digitally integrated makeup FX – for film, TV, and streaming endeavors.
Since its launch on April 1, 2016, MFX/Toronto studio is continuously bustling with top projects, such as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Coroner,” “The Umbrella Academy,” “The Expanse,” and, most recently, the hit Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg Netflix series, “The Boys.”
Founded in Los Angeles in 1987 by Masters, MFX is known for creating the Emmy Award winning cadavers for HBO’s “Six Feet Under” – the vampires for “True Blood” – the Borg from “Star Trek” – the babies from “Look Who’s Talking” — the werewolves from the “Underworld” series — Chucky from “Child’s Play” — and the large Predator alien from the 2018 release “The Predator,” to cite just a few examples.
The company expanded its footprint into Vancouver, BC, in the early 2000’s. From their new studio location, MFX continued to add to its impressive resume, with such “northern-boarder produced” hits as “The Good Doctor,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “Snakes on a Plane” and “Fringe.”
Explaining the reasoning behind launching an additional Toronto location in 2016, Masters says, “More than five years ago, we were already busy with several projects in Toronto – “Hemlock Grove,” “Falling Skies” and “Heroes Reborn” — without the benefit of having a local studio based there. We’d make our creatures in one of our other shops, and then ship it to Toronto, praying that it would get there in one piece. We were also already working with local makeup FX legend Zane Knisely way-back then, and he played a crucial role with our expansion into Ontario. Eventually, one pilot we shot in Toronto was picked up – and the showrunner urged us to “get local…or go home” – so we did! Zane, of course, came fully on board – even before we had any real estate in the area – as our team leader and supervisor in Toronto, ever since.”
From the very beginning, the MASTERSFX/Toronto studio was a hit – but word spread slowly. Says Zane Knisley, “We started immediately on Season One of ‘The Expanse,’ doing various makeup FX for the show – and even after a few episodes, I’m not so sure the producers believed we actually had a local studio site. I remember one producer even coming by early one morning, checking the address, to see if we were actually really there!”
“Toronto is a happening place, and the film crews are world-class. Every project we’ve done in the Toronto studio has been a joy,” Masters enthuses. “Our team at the Etobicoke studio is the finest – our work there has been consistently impressive. What I love about having the multiple studios is that every artist brings a fresh perspective, inspiration and his/her uniquely individual experience. And each of our shops likes to show-off to one another – like it’s a creative competition between the locations.”
One of MFX/Toronto’s truly inspirational artists, Steven Kostanski, has pushed his talents even further, having launched a successful second career as a director. His recent feature film “Psycho Goreman” is a genre hit, returning nearly all of its modest budget in the first weekend of release. “Try that Hollywood!” says Masters.
Next up for Kostanski, Todd Masters and MASTERSFX is the upcoming new SYFY miniseries “Day of the Dead,” slated to debut during Fall 2021. For the new series, Kostanski directed several episodes, and both he and Todd Masters serve as Executive Producers. In fact, “Day of the Dead” will mark a first as Executive Producer for a TV series for Masters.
Masters concludes, “Clearly, we’ve created a monster here in Toronto, both in front of and behind the cameras. It seems the creature, character, and makeup FX industry is sturdier than ever. These five years of MASTERSFX in Toronto has exceeded my wildest dreams – and I have incredibly wild dreams, too!”