A childhood passion for the classic Universal monsters, coupled with a love of the fine arts led Ballas toward the rather unconventional study of makeup. After many years of honing his skills, his career began in 1981 from the guidance of Gary Boham and further refined his make-up techniques under the tutelage of the legendary Dick Smith. He continues to be an innovator in his field, and is known for his work in natural, beauty and ultra-realistic prosthetic makeups.
Ballas spent seven years as a make-up artist on the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 and supplied make-up and effects for the 1996 feature film and the spin-off The Mystery Science Theater Hour. He also worked on five films for Arnold Schwarzenegger: Jingle All the Way, Batman & Robin, End of Days, The 6th Day, and Collateral Damage.
In 2009 Ballas was part of the Academy Award winning makeup team for J. J. Abrams' Star Trek. His television and movie credits include: The Straight Story, A Simple Plan, Sweet Land, Double Jeopardy, Reindeer Games, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Mallrats, The Love Guru, The 13th Warrior, The Forbidden Kingdom, Stuck Between Stations, Changhen ge, The Warlords, Beauty and the Geek, Let's Bowl and the BBC's Planet Earth Live.
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