In his earlier life, Tyler Green was a successful special-effects make-up artist, taking his talents to the reality TV series Face Off in 2014. But the runner-up of the SyFy show’s sixth season tells me after I walk into his eye-catching studio in Winsted: “Recently I’ve been dabbling in synthetic bodies.” He adds, “I think that’s the way for me to go, professionally.”
Synthetic bodies, you say? What’s up with that? Sounding like an entrepreneurial businessman rather than a mad scientist, Green explains: “I’ve created a line of artificial bodies as an ethical solution for surgical, EMT and cadaver training.”
Green, 31, sees this as a logical jumping-off point for him as he moves on from his special-effects work. He notes his background in medical endeavors: in 2007 he began working for Living Skin, a company specializing in developing silicone prosthetics for amputees. He next worked at a dental lab, creating dentures and dental appliances but also composing a silicone face for a woman who had been disfigured by cancer. “I’ve always been fascinated by medical devices,” he says, “but I also like to help people.”
Putting his appetite for new creations to work, over the past year Green started a product line called Synthetic Simulation Systems. “SynSkin is a new method in customized artificial skin made from durable materials,” he explains.
Green got a boost from Dr. Vinod V. Pathy, an Old Lyme-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon who started the medical device company Pathy Medical.
“He sent me an email saying: ‘I’m looking for a body to demonstrate my new device, the Light Jacket,’ ” Green recalls. “How could I not respond to that?” (The Light Jacket is a light that shows surgeons the way through the body.) Pathy commissioned Green to do a prototype.
In an email, Pathy says: “Tyler came up with the ultimate end product for my needs: an incredibly life-like silicone model of one of my own patients, replete with customized areas which demonstrate multiple anatomic features. His work has helped us feature the Light Jacket at numerous medical meetings and conferences, and the response has been astounding. The model that he created facilitates our demonstrations significantly. There is absolutely nothing else like it on the market today.”
Pathy concludes by saying: “Tyler is simply a phenomenal talent.”
Green’s goal is to help medical trainees, EMTs and others move away from working on “smelly cadavers” or “dummy” bodies that he describes as “laughable” and replace them with his “super realistic” models. “You can cut it, you can stitch it up, you can inject it,” he notes. “It’s water-proof, it’s stain-proof. Some of my bodies can bleed. It looks like the real thing, it performs like the real thing. It just doesn’t have a soul.”
Having prepared me well, Green escorts me over to a corner of his studio (lab?), where a form is covered by a blue blanket. Then, like Dr. Frankenstein himself, he pulls away the cover, exclaiming: “This is the whole bread and butter! She’s ready to go!”
I behold what is indeed a very life-like body of an adult female. With Green’s encouragement, I touch the skin; it feels very much like real skin. He reaches underneath the stomach to show underlying organs. “Everything is here,” he says. “The muscle tissues, the intestines.” (He explains that the body has no face because Pathy often works on the middle and upper extremities for surgeries such as tummy tucks and breast augmentations.)
Green says he has made about a dozen of these models, most of them kept in storage. “I’m working on a male model now.”
When I note the “Frankenstein” similarities, Green, a fan of those 1930s classics, replies, “There is this ‘Frankenstein’ thing going on here. But I’m not stitching body parts together.”
He points out three “lifemasks” displayed on one of the walls of his studio: the faces of Boris Karloff himself from Frankenstein, Bela Lugosi from Dracula and Vincent Price from House of Wax. “Someone had the original lifecasts and they made duplicates,” he says. “I bought these with certificates of authenticity from the molds. How many people have this?”
I notice there is a human skeleton over in the opposite corner and movie posters with horrifying faces from Green’s kit bag. Another wall is covered with creature masks, some of them done by Green and some created by his students. He does weekend workshops in which he teaches people how to sculpt, mold, cast and paint a mask, courses detailed on his website tylergreenfx.com. “I have a passion to help people succeed in their vision, whether it’s a wound or a monster,” he says.
But it’s clear he’s now focused on the “wound” (medical) end of things rather than creating more monster faces.
Green still lives in Litchfield, where his family has been for five generations. He spent six months in North Hollywood while he was a contestant for two seasons of Face Off, but he doesn’t miss L.A. “That show was a huge confidence booster for me. But I’m a New Englander. I love being where I am and I love my family. I’m a country guy.”
Green is now “putting together a package” about his body models to pitch to Connecticut hospitals. “I’m here 24-7. I can’t stop! This is my life.”