The first thing you notice about Mike Peel’s office is there are a lot of dead people hanging around.
Usually this would be a cause for alarm and a call to the police, but on this occasion we’re able to stare in wonder at what he’s created.
That’s because Mr Peel is a special effects master and the warehouse near Quainton where he runs Rogue Creations SFX is littered with creatures and masks he has created for film, TV and theatre productions.
Most people might quake at the sight of some of his monsters, but having been a fan of horror from an early age and with 15 years’ experience in the business, Mr Peel is virtually immune to scares.
He said: “Because I’ve been subjected to it pretty much most of my life and working in the industry, you deconstruct what the monster is and where the scare is. Every now and then something will crop up where I know that I can give a good scare to the audience because I know the inner workings of it, the mechanics of how to scare people.”
The work that comes Mr Peel’s way can make the mind boggle. From corpses for a horror flick to giant coins for a shopping channel, nothing is too far out.
One of his most recent requests may be the strangest.
Mr Peel said: “I’ve just been approached by a director to make a spaghetti man.
“It’s the story of a disease caused by eating too much spaghetti and the body starts turning into spaghetti bolognese.
“I’m going to make some prosthetics that look like spaghetti and then covering them with real spaghetti so they can then be eaten by the actor.”
Enough to put you off spaghetti for a while then, although Mr Peel’s work often involves using food. Cereal can become brains, muesli a good bit of flesh.
It’s not all gore and guts, though.
Mr Peel and his team have worked on big budget productions, including Harry Potter And The Order of The Phoenix, for which they made hundreds of tree roots for the Enchanted Forest. He was also involved in the James Bond film Casino Royale, creating fake gas canisters that dropped on villains. But he says the most fun shoot was working on 2005 British horror film The Descent.
Mr Peel said: “For that we made a 16ft tall cave which at the start of the film the girls abseil down.
“That was made of huge chunks of polystyrene and plaster and artwork. We ended up building it in an old aircraft hanger because of the size of it.”
All the time and effort creating a creature or structure can often be for just seconds on screen or stage, but Mr Peel says it is worth it when you get a good reaction out of an audience.
Not all of Rogue Creations’ work is on big budget blockbusters, though, and there is often the risk of the plug being pulled at the last minute. When you’ve spent hours, days or even weeks crafting something for such a production this can be pretty frustrating.
Mr Peel said: “Every now and then, usually at the 11th hour, somebody will drop out because of finances, which is quite heart-wrenching at times because you’ve spent a lot of time making and creating something for the purpose of it being shot on film and then it never fulfils that potential.”
If not cancelled, films can also often face delays.
Work began of British horror film Dead End three years ago but film industry politics meant it was sitting on the shelf until last week, when it was finally released on DVD.
Despite this, Mr Peel often prefers to work on smaller productions.
He said: “A lot of independent films have the ability to do something a big budget Hollywood film can’t. They may have a bigger budget but you’ve got more restraints.”