As many of you will already know, making a TV show or film convincing can be difficult, especially when you’re on a low budget. There are many different elements to consider when it comes to making a film or TV programme believable, but one of the most important rudiments is making sure that the characters look realistic, which proves difficult if your character is something like an alien or a monster.
Makeup artists aren’t usually something that you consider when you’re watching a movie or a TV show, which just goes to show how well they are doing their jobs. Makeup artists are absolutely essential when it comes to TV and film as they can make the audience believe that what they are seeing on the screen is real. If viewers don’t believe or buy into what they are watching, they will usually lose interest pretty fast.
For example, if you were to watch a drama that involved extreme violence, seeing a character with a ketchup-like substance smothered across their face or arms without any cuts or bruising isn’t exactly going to make you believe the storyline or trigger any of the emotions that the director was trying to create in the first place. No matter how well the actors play their parts, you need to be visually persuaded in order to really trust the storyline.
Makeup artists that work in television and film help to communicate the personality of the characters to the viewers. They use makeup as a way to improve, enhance or alter the appearance of the actors and the actresses to ensure that they are suitable for the scene they are about to play out.
Makeup artists need to be trained to deal with all types of briefs. They may be asked to create different appearances for a character, such as a black eye, wrinkles or bloody wounds. To ensure that they are doing their job to the best of their ability, makeup artists often analyse characters, do research and confer with both the director and actors in order to create the perfect look for a specific character.
The artist usually works closely with the costume designers and production hairstylists so that they can coordinate colours and styles. One of the most important and impressive skills that a TV and film makeup artist must hold is being able to recreate makeup so that a characters appearance remains consistent regardless of out-of-sequence filming. Out-of-sequence filming is pretty much inevitable when it comes to filming either a movie or a TV show as it can be hard to stick to a schedule when there are so many different fundamentals to consider. This can include lighting, positioning and acting.
Makeup artists must communicate with everyone on set in order to keep everyone happy and do their job well, not just the costume designers and hairdressers. This means liaising with producers, directors and performers, which can be a full time job in itself. Usually makeup artists don’t just turn up on the day of the shoot, they spend a fair amount of time researching and designing the makeup that is required for the production. This could mean using elaborate makeup and wigs for costume dramas, horror films or sci-fi movies or using materials to alter the shape of a face or create realistic scars.
The makeup artist doesn’t only do everything from making Cameron Diaz look completely flawless to turning Arnold Schwarzenegger into a Terminator, some even deal with special effects using prosthetics, latex and animatronics. Makeup artists are such an essential part of the entertainment industry because they are able to breathe life into a character by making them more three dimensional.
Not only does makeup artistry allow the character to be more visually believable, it can also help the actor commit to the role they are playing because they are able to truly believe that they have been transformed into the character. This belief and commitment is mandatory for the audience to accept the movie or TV show as true. As a member of the audience, assuming that all other elements are met such as acting, writing and directing, it becomes much easier to invest time into the characters on the screen when the makeup is done well simply because they are more plausible.
When it comes to a TV or film set, there is usually a team of makeup artists, not just one individual. This team is often made up of a chief makeup artist (also known as a makeup designer), a makeup supervisor, a makeup artist and a makeup assistant. Who attends is usually dependant on the scale of the production.
The role of the chief makeup artist is to oversee makeup and hair applications during the production process, provide working designs, organise pre-production makeup and hair and research designs for characterisations for each actor. The chief makeup artist is fundamentally in charge of the entire makeup department and will assign an individual makeup artist to apply the designs.
The makeup supervisor will have the job of hiring and managing the hair and makeup team as required, check and order the stock, arrange makeup try outs as well as wig and facial hair fittings and oversee the continuity of projects. As a supervisor it is this makeup artist’s job to negotiate and work within budgets and timescales.
The makeup artist is the one who will undertake responsibilities as delegated by the supervisor. This includes preparing artists for makeup application, performing makeup and pastiche processes on cast members and following the departments guidelines to ensure continuity.
A makeup assistant will be on stand by to carry out checks and make adjustments. They will usually be asked to do anything from preparing artistes, applying and removing makeup and undertaking research. The assistant will assist the general running of the department, helping to take some of the strain off the makeup artist.
As you can imagine, becoming a makeup artist is no easy task. What are your favourite movie make-up moments? Get involved below, but make sure the instances you cite actually utilise makeup and not CGI!