Filipino SFX artist seeks to ward off virus with horror-inspired face masks

June 19, 2020 - 10:05 AM
TV prosthetics artist Rene Abelardo mixes paint while his team prepares to mold prosthetic faces for orders of their quirky masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in San Pedro, Laguna, Philippines, June 17, 2020. Picture taken June 17, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

LAGUNA — With film and television productions halted in the Philippines due to lockdown, one special effects artist is maximizing his skills by making scary face masks to raise cash and a few smiles.

Prosthetics specialist Rene Abelardo, 50, has been out of work since March but hopes to stay afloat financially after discovering an appetite for the hand-made, horror-inspired masks that he initially created for fun.

With help from friends, Abelardo has sold dozens of the molded masks, from monsters and zombies to the devil and the Joker. He is now receiving hundreds of orders from all over the Philippines.

The masks extend down to the jawline and up to the ears and are lined with a conventional cloth mask. They were an instant hit when they first appeared on social media, attracting thousands of likes and shares.

“I tried wearing the mask I made just for fun, and my daughter saw me and asked if she can take a picture and post it online,” he said.

“A few hours later the post unexpectedly went viral, and the rest is history.”

The Philippines has recorded more than 27,000 coronavirus cases and in affected areas has made the wearing of face masks mandatory.

Each mask takes up to three days to complete and Abelardo sells them for between 300-500 pesos ($6-$10) per piece.

“We started making more masks since we currently don’t have jobs. It’s still money coming in and it makes people happy.” —Reporting by Adrian Portugal; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Alexandra Hudson