NAVARRE — Eric Dupre sat in his Navarre garage until sunrise Wednesday, sculpting a blue alien mask he hoped would help raise $600,000 for his dream studio.
Dupre, a part-time makeup artist in Navarre, dressed his Pensacola State University student protege in the costume and headed to the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners office. There, he officially announced plans to build a 33,000-square-foot special effects studio in Milton — but only with the public's help.
"We're trying to crowd raise about $600,000 for the studio," Durpre said. "What that will allow us to do is purchase the property and the building. It's on six acres of land. There are grants and things we can get for education, but we just want the opportunity to be able to get in there and get started.
"The building would not be for us to only manufacture products for the film industry, but for makeup artists to travel and have a full-fledged facility that will help them out."
Dupre, who teaches classes on special effects at Pensacola State College, creates all of his masks and special effects for his business — the Underground FX Lab — in his garage. His work has appeared in films like the "Lost Souls," "Trepination" and "Dragpires." He also donates his time to create costumes for local non-profits and schools for stage productions.
The garage workspace, he said, is bursting at its seams. He hopes the new facility would allow for more collaborations with artists and non-profits.
"We'll have big ovens, silicone rooms, latex rooms, hair punching rooms," he added. "We'll have everything we use in the industry for them to come down and use the facilities and for training. We have other plans for the building for training events in the future. The project we're working on is $1.2 million. What people don't understand about the film industry, though, is how much money it generates in the area."
Aside from movie special effects, Dupre, alongside his partner Fred Turnbow, creates replica, custom-made costumes from movies like Star Wars, Avengers and more.
"The movie industry is only a small part of what we do," Dupre said. "We have Pensacon and Emerald Coast Con here. People make all of their costumes and we can create everything for their elaborate costumes. Gaming is really huge and right now. I'm having to make a mask for Fallout 4."
Dupre said he and Turnbow, even though the money will be donated, would own the building and business. He said employees of the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida suggested the crowd-funding site.
"I'm ready for the movie industry in Atlanta, New Orleans and Miami to come here," Dupre said. "We have so many things here in this area. We have small towns for different movies. We have the clear water. We have a lot of things here. I'm ready for the facility to be here. We're in the middle of it all.
"When this things start taking off, if you donated $10,000 or whatever we will make mental notes and when we make money, which I know we will, I want to go back and say, 'Thank you and here's your money. Do you want interest?' If they say no and that it's a gift we will donate it to their favorite charity."