HomeFacultyOur Fantastic Instructor: Ryan Nicholson

Born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, Ryan Nicholson began his career in the makeup industry in 1985, “I started off by just making short films. There was a little film school near where I was living, and I started doing makeup for their film students. I was the only one around who did any type of makeup! So that’s what got me going.”


Ryan’s professional career began on the sets of iconic shows like Poltergeist: The Legacy, The Outer Limits and Stargate SG-1. Soon after, he would find his niche inside the incredible world of makeup effects and fabrication. His natural talent for all things gore, would land him part of productions like the Cold Squad, Affliction starring Nick Nolte, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven and Da Vinci’s Inquest, starring Nicholas Campbell.


As his makeup career expanded, so would his artistic ambitions with the launch of Plotdigger Films. Since 2004, Nicholson has began creating independent horror films that have screened across the world. To date, Ryan has written, produced or directed some 16 productions.


“When I am working with a class, my goal is to give our students a full rounded understanding of the curriculum, and prepare them for all aspects of the industry.”


As a key member of IATSE 891, Ryan believes it is important that students learn under qualified Union Members to arm them with the knowledge and skills to qualify for the union.  


“I want them to have a realistic expectation of the hard work that is required to be successful”.


With his latest projects that include Netflix’s Altered Carbon, and 20th Century Fox’s The Predator, Ryan has had the opportunity to work under Academy Award winning artists that keep him learning, and developing as a special effects designer. “I’ve been learning under some amazing Academy Award winning artists, and it feels so great to come back and pass this knowledge on. What I have learned in my experiences, is the importance of being strategic. If my students take anything away from my class, I want them to understand the need to be resourceful. I want them to open up their minds, allow the creativity to flow and think of alternative solutions to makeup.”


Ryan has recently finished work on back to back indie horrors, When the Blood Runs Red,  and the remake of Blood Feast in Germany. To cap off an excellent year, Ryan added to his already impressive trophy case, which includes one Gemini Award and two additional nominations, with the Leo Award for Best Makeup in the television movie, Dead Rising: Endgame; which Ryan was the Key Special Effects Designer on both installments.


“What I really love about my career, is that I am in the position where I can go into New Image College and meet new budding students. It excites me to help them learn in the right direction. And then later on, it is such a rewarding feeling to be on a set and see your old students who have now become peers”.