Last week we looked at the history of the unmade early 1980s flick THE MINING CAMP ENCOUNTER. One of the more amazing things in my research was that Donna Fagone, producer-writer Marc Fagone’s widow, had saved everything about the project. From original promotional art to location scouting notes and photos, she had thoroughly cataloged the film’s tumultuous preproduction process. Blended among all this information was a decade’s old correspondence between Marc Fagone and one of today’s premiere FX artists who was just starting out in the business, Bart Mixon.
|Bart Mixon works on FRIGHT NIGHT PART II (1988)|
In the early 80s, Mixon was trying to establish himself as a special effects artist for the silver screen. This meant scouring for any production that could use his services (this is how he initially hooked up with Fred Olen Ray). Just as the preproduction ad for THE MINING CAMP ENCOUNTER caught my eye in the 2000s, it drew in Mixon as well. “I must have heard about MINING CAMP from an ad in either The Hollywood Reporter or Variety, as I would look through their production slate for upcoming projects that sounded like they would need FX work,” he reveals via email. Mixon sent Fagone a package about his work, including a profile in “Between the Lynes” magazine. (Interesting, among Fagone’s files was also a brief correspondence with New York-based special effects artist Ed French.)
While exact details on their initial contact are fuzzy for Mixon, it does appear that Fagone responded positively to the make up man’s query. Soon Mixon found himself with a copy of the script and he did an amazingly exhaustive breakdown of what the film would require in terms of special effects (see bottom of this article). He also offered a number of detailed sketches of what the film’s mutated alligator monster might look like. “In general, I seem to recall thinking it could be a cool project and a nice portfolio project, sort of like Rob Bottin's work in HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP,” he explains. Here’s a glimpse of his artwork that he submitted for the film's mutant monster:
|Creature head sketch by Mixon|
Ultimately, THE MINING CAMP ENCOUNTER was not to be. On his end, Mixon feels a bit of disappointment for the struggling Fagone. “He seemed to have his act together, and I was happy that he was doing something in the horror/monster genre,” he says. Indeed, in an era flooded with slasher films, an honest-to-goodness monster picture would not have only been a nice change of pace for audiences, but a great training ground for the burgeoning FX artist. “I do feel it's a shame that this show was never made,” Mixon discloses. “Again, I recall it being a fun monster script and I am sure it would have proved to be an interesting challenge for me at the time.”