Mt. Pleasant native takes her artistic talents to silver screen
By Kelly Vernon
Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:10 p.m.
More than seven years ago, Mt. Pleasant native Jaime Siska drove cross country in a Volkswagen Beetle to pursue her dream of creating elaborate costumes for use in the movie industry.
That dream has come to true as Siska — a 2004 Mt. Pleasant Area graduate — is employed as a costume fabricator with Legacy Effects in San Fernando, Calif.
In that role, she recently worked on the motion picture “Iron Man 3.”
“I'm so proud and happy I was part of (helping to create) such an iconic character in the Marvel universe,” said Siska in reference to the film's protagonist, which is portrayed by actor Robert Downey Jr.
Siska said she began learning about the trade after enrolling Tom Savini's Special Make-Up Effects Program at the Douglas Education Center in Monessen.
Four main skill areas covered in the 16-month program — which offers an associate's degree in specialized business — include make-up application, mold making and casting, animation fabrication, and exhibit and display design.
Siska said, unlike most of the people she works with in the business who grew up watching scary movies, she was intrigued by the puppetry exhibited on television programs like “The Muppet Show” and “Eureeka's Castle.”
Ironically, the company she now works for created characters for “The Muppets” movie released in 2011.
“I always knew I wanted to do something creative and not have a 9-to-5 job,” Siska said. “I laugh when I say that because it isn't unusual to work 12-hour days.”
Siska began her career working on independent films.
She then moved on to The Character Shop, where she helped create “Gus the Groundhog” of the Pennsylvania Lottery commercials.
“I was so happy to work on that commercial; (it was) the first commercial that I worked on,” Siska said.
Siska said she was excited to work on the set of her first major motion picture — “Iron Man 2” — just after she was hired with Legacy Effects.
Other blockbuster movies she has worked on include “Tron,” “Thor,” “Real Steel,” “Cowboys and Aliens,” “The Avengers,” “Men in Black 3,” “The Amazing Spiderman,” “Life of Pi,” “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “Total Recall.”
Mt. Pleasant Area High School art teacher Dianne Pyda remembered Siska kind, smart and creative in her classes.
“Her art was always fun and creative. She was definitely talented and had all A's in art class,” Pyda said.
“Iron Man 3” was the first film for which Siska helped construct a Marvel character suit.
She said she aided in the fabrication of the Iron Man costume worn by Downey.
She said that while working on the set there were moments that she would stop and think how lucky she is to have the opportunity to construct a costume for big screen actors in a blockbuster film.
Siska — the daughter of Joe and Jane Siska of Mt. Pleasant — added that she is extremely proud of her work as well as the work of her co-workers, and that seeing her name in the credits is “an amazing feeling.”
“I never thought she would drive across country. She is accomplishing her dream,” Jane Siska said.
Kelly Vernon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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