Meet the Melbourne-born Alahouzos brothers, George and Roulis, two siblings with an attention to detail and a knack for creating extraordinary effects. In Athens, the pair have established themselves as leaders in technical and make-up effects, having worked on major Greek film and television productions but also contributing their skills to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

Their success, however, has not been confined to Greek productions. The Alahouzos brothers are also highly regarded in Hollywood, having worked on the latest Harry Potter film and even winning an award at the Freak Show Horror Festival in Orlando for the werewolf suits they created for the film Wolf Moon.

Fascinated by their story, I decided to visit the creative brothers at their workshop in the inner city Athenian suburb of Zografou, a place they have dubbed their own ‘little empire.’ Self-taught and extremely talented, George and Roulis have been working professionally in their field for almost three decades. Beginning their foray into technical effects and production make-up during their primary school years, they eventually worked their way into the creation of prosthetics, animatronics (robotic heads), masks, body suits, heads and bodies, props and visual effects for all types of productions.

Roulis does the technical work and George is the artist, while also taking care of the pair’s public relations responsibilities. My first question is an obvious one: How do you mix family with business so well? Don’t you ever argue? Roulis is quick to answer “There are only two reasons for two guys to argue – money and girls. We are fortunate to have solved both of these issues, so we are OK.” “Our only arguments are creative arguments that implement technical issues on our job,” adds George. When asked who takes credit for the job, they answer simultaneously “We both do!” Roulis elaborates.

“We love our job and having it appreciated by people in Greece and around the world makes us really happy,” he says. Which brings me to my next question, how did their international success come about? “It wasn’t easy because Greece does not have a reputation as a leader in this industry, so a lot of it comes down to our perseverance and commitment to our craft. It requires a lot of networking, a great deal of travelling around the world showing our portfolio and lots of dedication and hard work. That’s how we made it happen at a time when the Internet did not exist,” says George, explaining the pair’s early years and the success that followed.

Success that includes accolades from industry leaders. “When Nick Dudman, head of make-up effects in the Harry Potter films saw our portfolio he said ‘I envy you guys’. Because he believed our designs to be original and our portfolio to be very unique,” Roulis explains. Despite their success, the pair remain grounded and continue to call Athens home. A trip to Australia is on the cards though.

“Although we love to travel and work across the globe, we are professionally established here in Athens. Australia is in the plan for a long holiday when we manage to get some time, though. We have many relatives that are expecting us and we’d love to visit Australia and New Zealand,” says George. As the brothers guide me through their workspace explaining all the special props we come across, I ask them, What has been your peak creative moment? “It’s hard to pick one,” says Roulis. “Getting an award for Wolf Moon was a great moment as we made the effects based on our ideas,” says George, before adding, “however, there are many little things that might seem insignificant to others but are very important to us.”

One of those moments was working in the latest Harry Potter film, which the brothers describe as an amazing experience. “There were 70 artists plus their assistants working as one team. It was really great working with the best and being treated as equal,” recalls Roulis. Having begun their careers 27-odd years ago, the pair have seen an enormous change in how effects are created. I wondered if they feel threatened by technology.

“On the contrary,” says Roulis. “Technology is on our side. I work with computers and it has made our lives easier because we don’t have to hide things in the scenes anymore, we can just erase them later via our computer.” With so many distinguished credits to their name, I ask the brothers what it’s like working with some of the big names of cinema and television. “You have to act as a professional and the truth is that there is a lot to learn in this job. You’ve got to treat the actors in a nice way and inspire them to trust you. You don’t know what their past experiences are, so we need not only to apply the make-up but also take it off and take care of their skin so they feel good,” says Roulis. His brother then takes a different tone to make a special point about respecting actors privacy.

“There have been cases that journalists ask us for all the gossiping from backstage. That is none of their business and I make it clear that the focus has to be on what we do!” From gossip and celebrities, the conversation changes direction back to one of the pair’s greatest career highlights, the Opening Ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. We all loved the opening ceremony I tell them, before asking the brothers, was it as exciting for you as it was for us?

“It was a magnificent moment,” says George. “I have always admired classical sculpture. Even though we make monsters, we can also make classical stuff. It all started from there anyway!” There was a big learning curve, though, for the experienced pair. George explains, “With the Olympic Games I got to appreciate even more what ancient Greek artists made with basic tools and marble. We had to copy specific sculptures by looking at photos and replicas and it was extremely hard! We learnt a lot and within three months, we made 250 pieces.”