Interview With Kevin McTurk and Christina Kortum, Creature Creators For Peacock’s ‘The Girl In The Woods’

I don’t need to tell horror fans to stay out of the woods. If you don’t know that by now, do you even watch horror? The new original Peacock show, The Girl in the Woods, a drama with monsters based on a series of shorts from Crypt TV, reminds me why I stay out forests. They’re big, full of weird noises and even weirder stuff, and there are way too many places to hide. Not for me to hide, but like, for scary things to hide. To celebrate the release of the show, I spoke to creature creators Kevin McTurk of Spectral Motion and Christina Kortum about working on the show, what inspires them, and what’s up next.

PopHorror: I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen of the show so far, so I’m really excited to speak with you both. Can you tell us a little bit about what you did for The Girl in the Woods and how you became attached to the project?

Christina Kortum: Kevin, did you want to start? Kevin works for Spectral Motion, which actually supplied all the parts and pieces of the monsters. So Kevin, I’m going to let you start, and then I’ll talk about where I took it away.

Kevin McTurk: Sounds great. I’m Kevin McTurk, and I was the shop supervisor at Spectral Motion for the four characters that we did. We created the wardrobe and the costume for The Hypnotist character, the creature suits for The Brute, and the creature suit for The Echo, and then we also created Carrie’s mechanical arm. We built everything in Los Angeles, put it in a crate, and sent it to Christina.

Christina Kortum: Then I took it over. I took it to the set and applied it to the actors, so I was on set helping them get into costume, maintaining it throughout the day, then taking them out of it at the end of the day.

PopHorror: Oh, wow! You had to ship it? That’s a lot of trust in shipping.

Christina Kortum: It was a big box it came in.

Kevin McTurk: It was terrifying.

Christina Kortum: It was the biggest box I’ve ever seen!

PopHorror: Did you guys know each other beforehand?

Christina Kortum: I don’t think we met before. I know a few other people that work at Spectral Motion. I had heard about Kevin from them, and I was very excited to meet him.

Kevin McTurk: Yes, we have mutual friends.

PopHorror: What’s your process to prepare for the show?

Kevin McTurk: Well, we start with the design phase where we worked with Jeremy Elliott and the Crypt TV team. We generated a lot of concept art for all of the characters. It went through several iterations before we landed on exactly what they wanted. Then we had sculptors bring those to life in clay. We mold the suits on the clay sculptures, then we generate foam skins out of the molds. Then we paint the skins, and send them up to Christina and she applies them.

PopHorror: I don’t think I ever realized just how much goes into creating something like this. When you see it on the screen, you don’t really realize what goes on behind the scenes, how much hands-on work and the little things that go into it. It’s so fascinating. 

Christina Kortum: It’s a pretty large team, right, Kevin? As far as creation?

Kevin McTurk: That’s right. There were probably about 20 people down here in Glendale at Spectral Motion working on the costumes and make-ups. Just a lot of parts. Every costume is not just one item. It’s probably a dozen items that all go on an actor to create the suits.

Christina Kortum: We actually had some slight modifications. The lovely actress that played The Echo, she’s also an amazing dancer and movement person. I don’t want to label her as a creature actor because she’s much more than that. She’s just amazing in her movement. We actually ended up slightly modifying The Echo costume to accommodate her talent, and just show it off more. We added some leggings, and we added some feet and other stuff to it to show off what she could do. So there was a little bit of collaboration there, too. We changed the paint scheme a bit as well to accommodate the lighting. It read differently in sunlight than we wanted it to, so we changed some color scheme stuff. It was a really fun collaboration with Kevin as far as figuring out how we could expand the character even further.

PopHorror: I love that you are working together, making these modifications and working as a team, but you’re in two different locations. It’s just amazing to me how things work that way. I’m sure it would be a lot easier if you were side by side.

Christina Kortum: We had an email chain, phone calls going back and forth, going, “I’m doing this!” It was a really fun collaboration. I’m a huge fan of Spectral Motion’s work. I own a small shop myself, so I’ve always looked up to them, being this powerhouse in the industry. I just was very excited to work with Spectral Motion on this and to support them, what they were doing, and the collaboration was the cherry on top. Really, really fun project.

Kevin McTurk: Christina was able to stop in. She was visiting Los Angeles, so she did stop in. We knew immediately that she really knew the short hand language of creature building and application. We knew we were in great hands with her team, so yeah. It was a great collaboration.

PopHorror: That’s so cool. Was there a particular movie or creature or even creature creator that inspired you to want to make your own monsters?

Kevin McTurk: I’m kind of an old timer. I started in the 90s. My first project in Los Angeles was with Stan Winston. I was fortunate to work on the first three Jurassic Parks with him and many, many other films. So I would say Stan Winston was this mentor to me. Rest in peace… he passed away probably 10 years ago. Really was a great experience there. That encouraged me to keep working in all these different shops over the years.

Christina Kortum: For me, Chris Walas was an inspiration. He did the first Gremlins and The Fly. Do you remember the Jeff Goldblum The Fly? He actually lives in Portland where I’m currently stationed. I got to meet him, and he mentored me a little bit. It was a huge inspiration. He introduced me to people like Barney Burman, which got me a job on NBC’s Grimm. It’s been a really amazing process knowing him. He’s so inspiring. He’s a genius. Gives me hope to keep going.

PopHorror: That’s so awesome. What is up next for you both?

Kevin McTurk: Currently, Spectral Motion is working on the Guillermo del Toro Netflix series, Cabinet of Curiosities, and we’re shooting in Toronto right now. I just returned from an incredible episode. Then we go back in January for another episode. It’s going to be a blast.

Christina Kortum: I am working on a film in New York next, so that’s very exciting. Doing a full creature build for them. It’s their main creature character that I’m designing and building from scratch, so I’m pretty excited for that.

PopHorror: I’ll have to keep an eye out for both of those. One last question for you both. What’s your favorite scary movie?

Christina Kortum: This is not everybody’s, but Alien is my favorite.

PopHorror: That’s a good one!

Christina Kortum I think it’s super solid. People don’t think of that as a horror flick. I love that movie. I think it hits all the points, and it’s just well directed. That’s my favorite.

PopHorror: I absolutely think it’s a horror movie.

Kevin McTurk: I’ll go with The Exorcist. That’s always a solid choice. It still scares me to this day.

Thank you so much, Kevin and Christina, for taking the time to speak with us. You can watch The Girl in the Woods now on Peacock.

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, dog mommy, book worm, EIC of PopHorror.

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