AN INSIDE LOOK from SIDESHOW’S CREATIVE DIRECTOR,
TOM GILLILAND on the Templar’s Verdict!
The Knights of the Crusades first caught my attention as a child. Mysterious and captivating, the tales of these colorful medieval characters and their journeys through the exotic lands of the Middle East held more appeal to me than even their arms and armor.
As a child, my view of that part of the world stood in stark contrast to its reality. At 8 years old, the Middle East was the land of magic, of rich and fantastic stories dominated by the likes of Sinbad and Ali Baba.
These tales, coupled with an adult’s more wicked sense of horror, led to the development of “The Templar’s Verdict.” Infusing my interest in history with the fantastic is a very real passion, and the mystery surrounding the history of The Knights Templar provided a perfect platform for such a piece.
Taken as a whole, I’m ambivalent about The Knights Templar organization. But the notion that the members were so devoted to their cause that the power of the organization transcended that of its members, is one I find both compelling and admirable.
In this account of “The Templar’s Verdict,” one Knight’s sense of honor and duty drives him to return from the grave as an avatar of revenge, bent on exacting a terrible vengeance on the man who crossed him and foiled his mission. It’s a classic story drenched in Crusader vigilance that fuses my love of the historical period with a fantasy world of dark and horrible mysteries.
Senior Concept Designer David Igo and I refined the figure’s pose many times. The prevailing Sideshow’s Sculpture Team Leader, Matt Aylward, executed the conceptual pose, then infused some excellent historical details and design elements. He further enhanced the overall design with a striking motif of a Templar crypt, which wraps around the side walls of the elevated base.
Lead Painter, Anthony Mestas, rendered the paint to horrific effect. Anthony and I discussed the importance of capturing the notion that the dead Templar’s trek across the burning desert would have scorched and withered the revenant corpse to a near-mummified state. A trip to the natural history museum enabled us to study mummies for a skin texture that would capture the look we were after. Anthony further supported his efforts with the weathering of blood and grime, violent evidence of the Templar’s original demise.
Charles Nohai, a knowledgeable historian and costume designer, developed the tabard and sword belts. Their accuracy lends a sense of authenticity to the fantasy of the design.
The story portion of the project is as vital as the details of the piece itself. In re-imagining our story lines for “The Dead,” we want to focus on short “accounts” that will provide evocative details from what appear to be historical records of first-person accounts with the undead. The result of this will be seen in our forthcoming revamp of the website for “The Dead.”
The story’s elements — consisting of the Templar’s letters and the Scribe — capture the mood and are brought to the tale by Danny Reams, Travis Watkins, and myself. Those elements of the story which are the roughest and grittiest were provided by none other than Laura Morgan. Of all of us involved in fleshing out the Templar’s tale, her’s was the most tangible vision of vengeance.
To add a sense of authenticity to the tale, Multimedia Team members Gracie Bifulco and Michelle Schuetz developed some believable props to represent the lost documents discovered in the telling of this account. Their craftsmanship lends an undeniable credibility to the presentation. Additionally a number of assets were created based on Ginny Guzman’s photography which captured more than just the statue.
Illustrator Tim Bradstreet introduced me to Scott Harben some time ago. We’ve been friends now for some time, and I’ve been looking to find a project with which to collaborate with him for some time. “The Templar’s Verdict” provided the perfect opportunity. Scott lent a “dramatic interpretation” to the account of the story’s events — a further suggestion of the truth behind the tale. His attention to detail and use of light makes the piece really sing, and provides a perfect contrast to the historical documents within the account.
It’s a collaboration of talents that makes for great storytelling and product design. I had a tremendous amount of support from a very talented team in bringing this project together. I thank them all for their contributions. As we move forward, we’re excited to reinvigorate “The Dead” line of projects. We all look forward to breaking into the world of the horrors that have interacted with humanity throughout the ages.