During production of the Extended Cut of Dreamscape, it was decided to expand and develop the role of the Drones. These were originally conceived as background characters, cybernetic slaves, controlled using a simplified version of the Dreamscape-Process.
The costumes were made simply and cheaply using disposable paper suits, rubber gloves and boots. While the blank masks were adapted from resuscitation doll faces, with eyes and mouth holes carefully trimmed.
In the Extended Cut it was decided to give the audience a quick glimpse underneath the mask at the crippled cyborg. With limited resources and short set-up time an intricate make-up job was ruled impractical. Instead we opted to build a puppet head which could be used in a few quick shots.
A few months before we had rescued a very impressive fibre-glass mannequin from a skip and this became the basis of the cyborg's face.
The re-sculpting was mainly done using Milliput epoxy, as once set it would sand at the same rate as the fibre-glass head. The detailed glass eyes were left untouched.
Various different looks were considered, including deep facial scaring, but in the end a less extreme, more natural look was choosen.
The script described the Drones as tramps and drop-outs, snatched off the streets and so it was decided to sculpt the weather beaten face of a man in his late 40s, early 50s.
The entire head was then sanded and polished with various grades of wet and dry paper, before being undercoated with grey car primer.
The head was painted by hand using acrylic paints, starting with darker blood tones and gradually building lighter and lighter washes on top. This layering effect helped to give the impression of depth to the skin, rather than a flat "painted" finish.
With pale skin tones and dark lips and eyes, the finished head had a vampire-like quality which seemed to suit the character.
The electronic implants were built from discarded electronics parts, building on the idea the people behind Dreamscape had put their equipment together from whatever they had to hand. Sores and open pustules were added around the electronics - suggesting implantation of the cybernetics was a dangerous and painful experience.
Lighting tests were carried out to see how the puppet looked on camera additional shading was then accentuated to help it read properly in black and white.
The puppet was used in a handful of shots in the completed film. 2D animation was added allowing the puppet to blink and twitch its nostrils - giving a touch of life to something that was only ever fibre-glass and epoxy resin.