I often find myself reflecting on all of the opportunities and awesome experiences I have had while working in this industry. This past month has been so satisfying and I am thankful to have reached this level of happiness. I was able to work as Key Makeup Artist on a film as well as attend New York Fashion Week as a stylist for the second year in a row, all within 3 short weeks. My heart is extremely full and I wanted to share my experiences with you. First up: Film and trying to keep up on set. This film is still in production so I cant share any photos just yet.
I was recently referred by a friend to a film crew that was in town and looking for a makeup artist. The Department Head reached out to me and asked if I could be available for a full day starting at 6 am. I already had a PM shift at the restaurant that I could not get covered that quickly so I said I was available until right before that and took the opportunity with little knowledge of what I was going to be doing that next morning. I knew the film was set to take place in the 80's era so I packed a lot of bright colors for eyeshadow and blush and an array of foundation, powders, q tips, alcohol; pretty much the basic products that would allow me to do anything on any skin type/shade. I had worked on a few short films in the past and I remembered the work environment as being very similar to being on the set of a photo shoot so I was feeling pretty confident. Those short films were so much fun and you guys can check them out if you want, they were our team's submission for Louisville's annual 24 hr Film Festival: Green Glass Door (this one I was in front of the camera, exciting stuff), The Paper Tiger and The Awakening where I was makeup artist.
That next morning, 4 other artists and I set up in a large room to prepare for a day of doing looks and touchups on background actors. Little did I know, that meant 400 faces over the next three days. ((After that initial first day on set I was asked to come back for two more days of shooting and I was just barely able to adjust my pre-existing schedule to where there wasn't any conflict with prior commitments. )) At the end of those three days of filming, I had clocked in 3 consecutive 16-hr days. While the environment may be very similar the work that you do is completely different. This was also a MUCH larger production than what I had experienced on a set for short films. In moments like these, I remember a motto we practiced within cosmetology school, "Fake it till you make it". I have honestly practiced makeup with this mindset for quite some time and I strongly believe that you will only perform as best as your confidence in yourself will allow. If you have a great foundation with your work ethic, knowledge, talent and overall professionalism you should be able to confidently portray the lead part in any of your wildest dreams.
I really had no idea what to expect but after finishing the looks on all the background I looked around and saw each artist around me start to pack up to head to set. They had these clear set bags that were very neatly organized, easily transported and stuffed full of all of the essentials. I, on the other hand, had the choice between a heavy metal kit OR a Kroger bag. Needless to say, I felt like a loser and chose to pack everything essential for touchups into my Kroger bag. Once on set our task was to watch for the continuity of our background actors. Continuity is making sure that while filming one scene everything starts and finishes the same way. For example, if the hair was on one shoulder at the beginning of a take, it HAS to be replaced that same way before starting another take. To build onto that you have to know which characters are being seen in the previous scene or the scene to follow and how their appearance was for both so the scene can transition smoothly. If one background actress was seen in the previous scene with a glossy lip with her hair pushed off of her shoulders, her hair must be placed in the exact same way before beginning a take. Continuity is extremely important for the accurate and smooth transition from scene to scene. (Scenes aren't always filmed in order of their appearance so you have to keep the characters and their looks organized.) After those three days, I returned back to my usual grind where I had two shoots to prepare for, a few bridal trials and some shifts at my other two jobs.
On Wednesday that next week, I received a phone call from the Department Head asking me to return back to set the next day to fill in for the Key Makeup Artist. She had a family emergency that pulled her away from the project and I would be stepping in for the rest of filming. The problem this time was my entire weekend was booked solid. I needed to do some major maneuvering for this to work but I started immediately. I always try not to miss any opportunity that comes to me for makeup and I was definitely not missing this. I had sat behind the monitor the week prior, but in the very back so I wasn't in the way. I had daydreamed of being KEY and I had no idea what it was. Our call time was 2 pm, meaning we could shoot well into the night. There were a few night scenes also and the sun sets around 8 pm so I was definitely prepared for a late night. This time it was just three artists and we had a trailer. Tara was our Department Head/Makeup Artist and Ashton was the Department Head for Hair. I was joining them near the end of the project as Key Makeup Artist and Hairstylist. They knew that this was my first experience and made sure I was as prepared as possible. There were three main characters and a few background actors that had lines or would be seen on camera. I was doing hair and makeup on one main every single day but I was the one taking care of background as well. I got a ton more experience being in front of the monitor and focusing on continuity. I had a lot of fun just watching the crew work and set up for each location and camera angle. The whole crew of big box trucks and trailers were traveling around Louisville, more often in Old Louisville, and filming in places that were pretty small and crowded.
While stepping into this role of Key Makeup Artist I was able to focus on building some new skills that I don't utilize while on the set of a magazine editorial. One of those skills was consistency. Getting an 80's style high pony to tilt to the right with a little piece of hair left out in the front to hang in the face can be kind of tricky to get to look the exact same every single day. The same can be said for curls and getting them to have the same texture and integrity of curl each day. For me it was much easier keeping the makeup consistent because I was working with a good complexion that didn't require much, it was basically all lip touchups when we were given time to check looks.
The similarities in both fashion and film are pretty recognizable but the differences in production are extremely interesting! Film definitely comes with much longer days that require an extreme amount of your attention but I am going to focus more of my energy on film and learning more about the opportunities that come with the industry (that is of course after New York Fashion Week was wrapped). If you have any recommendations or tips for me please email me email@example.com.