Mark Viniello

Stand on the shoulders of giants. Find an entrepreneur whom you admire and learn as much as you can about their journey. Stay focused on your vision, but do not resist shifting gears based on results of efforts.


Mark Viniello moved to Los Angeles over 25 years ago with a dream of working in creature effects for film. One of his fist jobs was working for Academy Award winners Tom Woodruff Jr, and Alec Gillis, lending his talents to THE SANTA CLAUSE, JUMANJI, TREMORS II, STARSHIP TROOPERS and ALIEN:RESSURRESCTION. In the fourth installment in the ALIEN series, Viniello found himself on set as one of the iconic Aliens working directly with Sigourney Weaver. Since that time Viniello has worked at some of the top make-up Fx shops around the world: Viniello’s resume now reads like a blockbuster top-10 list, from AUSTIN POWERS 2: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME to WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE to the hugely successful JURASSIC PARK III (in which he played the Pteranadon which menaced the cast) and Academy acclaimed LORD OF THE RINGS. Viniello’s versatile skill set has allowed him to seamlessly work between film and television productions. Most notably: NBC’s HEROES, CSI:NY for CBS and HBO’s hugely popular TRUE BLOOD. In 2015 Viniello was hired as a project manager for Spectral Motion. After a successful run managing a variety of projects, he was charged with supervising the creature build for the Netflix series STRANGER THINGS.
In 2013, Viniello took his unique skill set and set out to create Enchantails! An immersive fantasy mermaid world, for children designed to entertain and educate children of all ages. He has patented to only glow in the dark mermaid tail sleeping bag in the world and is currently developing the YA book series which will then launch into other media.

Where did the idea for Enchantails come from?

In 2007, while working on Adam Sandler’s film Bedtime Stories, one of my tasks was to cast a mermaid tail for Kerri Russell out of foam latex. My oldest daughter, Ava, who was 5 years old at the time, climbed into the tail (which was much too large for her) and wouldn’t come out until I promised her I would make her a mermaid tail she could wear. To placate her, I quickly fashioned one out of sheet foam and watched her crawl around our house and watch the Little Mermaid while flipping her tail. She began to ask questions like “where in the ocean do I live?” So I would come up with stories and make her the main character. Soon her sisters wanted their own tails too (but they had to be different from Ava’s) so I suddenly found myself telling my daughters bedtime stories about mermaids and living in the ocean. I incorporated real-world geography and facts into the stories so we could “Google” certain story points and learn about them! So then I thought this could be a useful tool for parents and children to connect and learn about conservation and the importance of our oceans! I briefly toyed with the idea of making a swim tail, but I wanted to make something landlocked mermaids could enjoy as well as mermaid fans who haven’t learned to swim yet!

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Typically, the first thing I do is check emails and sales reports. I will then have a brief meeting with the team to go over objectives and follow up on tasks at hand. I will then work on the YA story points and format to make sure all the books and stories will dovetail correctly into one another. It really changes day by day, (which keeps me on my toes) The end of every day I write out a list of what was needed to be accomplished, what was accomplished and what still needs attention. I prioritize the tasks and address appropriately.

How do you bring ideas to life?

My entire Hollywood career has been bringing things to life on time and on budget. I wanted to create something magical and interactive with meaning and purpose. I have no interest in creating something cheap and to just be a consumable product that provides nothing in return to the consumer.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The rise of interactive experiences and the ability to connect directly with our customers. VR is also a very exciting development that we could work very effectively into our IP.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Discipline. The ability to do whatever needs to be done regardless of how I “feel” about it.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Work hard, stay focused but HAVE FUN.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

That there are too many cheap mermaid tail blankets on the market and people want cheap stuff. I disagree. I am very proud of what we created and I believe there is a market for something of high quality and has the ability to excite, inspire and educate.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Stand on the shoulders of giants. Find an entrepreneur whom you admire and learn as much as you can about their journey. Stay focused on your vision, but do not resist shifting gears based on results of efforts.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Take your time. Everyone wants the quick kill and the product or service that goes viral. But it is the slow and steady that wins the ultimate race.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Marketing and Advertising has been challenging. I have had several, shall we say, non-productive, yet expensive relationships with a variety of companies that talked a good game but were unable to produce any ROI. So moving forward I have learned how to interview potential partners more effectively and what to look for.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

The Cart-man. My wife was a stylist for years and she had a cart on wheels with drawers where she kept all her stuff. It was pretty cheaply made. I thought about making one, that was better built taking design note from the stylists as well having clippers, hair dryers, curling irons all attached with retractable extension cords. This is just 1 of about 500 ideas I currently have…

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Took my family to the movies to see Captain Marvel. We haven’t had a family movie night in a while…

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Adobe creative cloud. For a nominal monthly fee I have access to all of Adobe’s programs: Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, After Effects, Premiere pro…etc.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins. I really enjoy Tony Robbins and his strategies and ability to tell a relatable story. There are some amazing strategies in that book, but like anything else, you get out of it what you put in…

What is your favorite quote?

I have 2:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”
CALVIN COOLIDGE ~30th US President

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the beauty in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Key Learnings:

  • Be persistent
  • Trust in yourself
  • Find a mentor or inspiration
  • Have fun
  • If I can make a living making monsters for Hollywood movies and mermaid tails and stories for children…imagine what you can do?