I was asked by ABC Television and Disney Studios to do a “forensic” skull-to-face reconstruction sculpture for use as a prop on the television series Body of Proof with actresses Dana Delany and Jeri Ryan. These photos were taken on the set of the show in Los Angeles. This particular episode, called “Occupational Hazards”, was written by Corey Miller (veteran of CSI:, CSI: Miami) and produced by Matthew Gross.
Before flying from Texas to Los Angeles, I prepared the reconstruction in several phases to facilitate filming…sort of like they do it for cooking shows! The action for the first stage could be filmed, then the next and so on. This allowed for the simulation of a sculptural process that would actually take far too long to film in real time.
Actress Jeri Ryan was tasked with “creating” the sculpture and it was my job to coach her so that her hand actions would appear authentic. She was a very attentive student and worked hard to do the procedure “just so”. I was appreciative of her diligence and attention to detail to perfect her craft…and we had a lot of fun together.
Jeri was so good at mimicking the sculptural manipulations I showed her, we were able to use her hands for filming. With some other shows like CSI:, my hands have been intercut with the actress’s hands. Here Jeri is holding my favorite handmade sculpture tool. She got SO excited about sculpting those lips herself and did a great job!
This is the young actress Jessica Raimondi who portrayed the “murder victim” who became skeletonized as part of the script. I actually gave input for the casting of Jessica. I wanted to choose an actress whose face had bony structural elements that could be reflected in the reconstruction sculpture, just as it would happen with an actual forensic case. Of course, a real case includes the victim’s actual skull forms. The difficulty here was to make a generic skull turn into Jessica’s bony facial structure, in effect doing a simplified portrait sculpture of her.
Immediately following the airing of the “Occupational Hazards” episode, Jeri Ryan did a Twitter session. It was fun to get her perspective on the work we did as she responded to the tweets. All in all, the entire experience was really enjoyable for me. The writers, actors, producers and crew were all super.