Elkins native to compete on TV show

An Elkins native is making it big in the world of special effects, and he will be featured on Face Off, season five, beginning Tuesday. Steve Tolin, son of Bill and Susan Tolin, will be a contestant on the show on the Syfy Channel when it debuts at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Tuesday.

Representatives from the show say Tolin has loved special effects since childhood and he has practiced his craft in one way or another for most of his life. Tolin has always loved movies, biology and art, areas of interest that mix together to make a budding special effects artist.

In high school his decision to pursue special effects was solidified when he was selected to attend the W.Va. Governor’s School for the Arts.

“My art teacher at Elkins High School was Mary Ann Nichols,” Tolin said. “She was awesome. I would not have gone to Governor’s School for the Arts if she had not put the application in front of me and had me fill it out. I don’t think I would not be a professional artist if I had not attended that school. Mrs. Nichols had a critical influence on me.”

Tolin said many others, including his mother and father, helped steer him in the right direction.

“There was a time that my mother and her boyfriend owned a bed and breakfast and we lived on the third floor,” Tolin said. Living with us was an artist named Jeff Barner. He is amazing with watercolors. He was one of my earliest influences and helped me see you could make a living as an artist.

Tolin said two others helped instill qualities in him that have helped with his success through the years.

My fifth-grade teacher helped me develop a natural curiosity,” Tolin said. “John Aliveto helped me see things from a different angle. This added to my artistic side. Also, Ernie Cross, my Karate instructor from the YMCA, helped me through martial arts. This training helped shape my work ethic.”

Tolin graduated on the Dean’s list from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 2000, and has acquired most of his professional knowledge from running his own studio the past 13 years. He said his passion and talent for the field also helped him win a Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago for Outstanding Special Effects.

When designing, he believes form follows function and always uses the best ideas from his team, even if they are not his own. He hopes to win Face Off so he can more effectively pursue his dream to move to Los Angeles and expand his FX business.

Tolin, who applied for the second season of Face Off as well, said his interest in being on the show is because of the national exposure.

“I run my own business in Pittsburgh and any advertising to draw people to my business and web site so they know I exist help,” Tolin said. “I would say the networking possibilities with other contestants and judges is a great reason to be on the show. And at the end, the big hunk of cheese is the opportunity to win a big stash of cash.

“When I found out I was on the show, this season, I was very excited. It is not easy and many people audition to be on Face Off. It is also really nerve racking because I am putting myself on a national platform in front of people. You are really exposing yourself, but ultimately I decided to jump in.”

The fifth season runs for 13 episodes before a winner will be named.

Tolin is a married father of two daughters and enjoys practicing martial arts in his spare time. His favorite movies with special effects are Harry and the Hendersons, Gremlins, Dark Crystal and Labyrith.

“I am definitely proud of my hometown roots,” Tolin said. “It excites me to represent Elkins, West Virginia. Just keep rooting for me. Send positive energy my way. My hometown was critical in forming what I am today.”

Unexpected twists and turns await in the fifth season of Syfy’s Face Off. According to representatives from Syfy, this year’s season features eight talented and up-and-coming special effects make-up artists who arrive to the competition in Los Angeles to a shocking revelation — among their competition are eight more contestants from past seasons of Face Off, all hungry for a chance at redemption.

The stakes are higher than ever as they jump right into their first foundation challenge in which they must complete the looks of costumed partygoers for an elaborate costume ball, with colorfully dressed cast members from Syfy’s new docu-series Heroes of Cosplay in attendance for inspiration. Heroes of Cosplay premieres immediately following Face Off.

Returning to the lab for the new season is actress and host McKenzie Westmore, along with judges Ve Neill (The Hunger Games, The Amazing Spider-Man, Pirates of the Caribbean), Glenn Hetrick (CSI: New York, The Hunger Games, Heroes) and Neville Page (Avatar, Prometheus). World-renowned makeup artist — and McKenzie’s dad Michael Westmore resumes his role as the official contestant mentor to the contestants.

The guest judges on tap for season five include Bryan Fuller, Catherine Hardwicke, Academy Award winning makeup artist Bill Corso, Kevin Grevioux, Lin Shayne, renowned sculptor and concept artist Jordu Schell, Cassandra Peterson, former Face Off series judge Patrick Tatopolous and Academy Award winning makeup artist Valli O’Reilly.

For the Spotlight Challenges this season the contestants are tasked to create fully-realized characters that not only look camera ready for TV or film, but also tell a story specific to the challenge’s genre, scene or world. The new season’s challenges include creating a futuristic Frankenstein and his bride; a whimsical character inspired by Mother Goose nursery rhymes; a Morlock-inspired subterranean humanoid beast; an alluring Mother Earth goddess inspired by the contestants’ own moms; a reimagined and modern version of a classic Halloween character complete with an articulating ‘treat’; an original living art character inspired by Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, Expressionism and Constructivism; a stylized alien for an out-of-this-world performance on the Reveal Stage with world-renown circus troupe, Cirque Berzerk; a grim character inspired by one of the seven deadly sins; a scary ghost with a comedic edge; a dark elf warrior for a fantastical elven army; and an exotic flying creature/human-hybrid.

For the finale, the final three contestants will each create two lead characters from Swan Lake: a woman transforming into a swan and the sorcerer who casts the spell on her. These finale makeups will be put to the test in an epic performance by the Los Angeles Ballet.

The Face Off contestants will be whittled down week by week, until only three remain for a finale showdown. The winning artist will receive $100,000, a 2013 Fiat and a VIP trip from Kryolan Professional Make-Up to one of their 85 international locations. Kryolan Professional Make-Up has joined the series as the official make-up sponsor.

To meet the cast of season four, see photo galleries and video, visit www.syfy.com/faceoff. Photography and bios are also available at www.nbcumv.com. More information about Tolin is available on his website at tolinfx.com.