So, you're making a video, and you've had both the budget and the brilliance to hire makeup and hair help for your project. Be it an individual or a fabulous army of experts, here's five ways to get the most from your makeup department.
1. Trust their Expertise.
You've hired experts for a reason, so let them shine. If you see something on the monitor that needs to change, they are there to fix it. In my experience, the best approach is to describe the problem, not the product you think will work. I've had a few directors make that mistake, and it's a huge time waster. For example, don't tell an artist "we need powder", or "we need hairspray", if you're seeing shine or flyaways. They've been working with the talent and might know a better product to get the result you want. Unless, of course, you're asking for more fake blood. In which case, just ask for more fake blood.
2. Compensate As Fairly As You Can. And Have Good Snacks.
This is a no brainer. We've all worked on student films and indie films and understand budget. But make room in your budget for makeup, because they are one of the reasons your film will look so good! I've seen even big-budget productions and commercials that could have used a little extra care in the makeup department, and the lack is really distracting. Not to mention the chance that your lead actor will have something in their teeth that no one noticed on set, that you will have to edit out later frame. by. frame. And, a dedicated artist on your indie flick will really add to your production value! Also, good snacks.
3. Keep Them In The Loop.
Using green screen for your commercial? Have a gory scene in your screenplay? Hiring an actor who'll need a haircut? Let your artist know. Most artists will come prepared for anything, but including important details in your proposal will really help, especially when specialty products or services are involved. And, while I always carry my Ben Nye bruise wheel and scab gel with me, not all artists are versed in FX Makeup!
4. Ask Questions.
Speaking of specialty products and services, most professionals will be forthcoming about their areas of expertise (Do they cut hair as well as style it? Do they do FX makeup? What is their experience with green screen?), and it always helps to ask. I've gained a ton of "hands on" experience on set from times I was expected to do something out of the ordinary (trim a beard, cover someone's tattoos, work with wigs) and performed with flying colors, because I'm confident and pretty crafty. But once again, it helps to keep us in the loop.
5. Send Photos.
We makeup artist and hair stylists are very visual people. Sending photo references in your communications is a huge help! I always look up images (and even watch movies) of different time periods I need to convey in a project, and I love getting pictures of clients / talent before I meet them. It's just one more way of helping us be prepared before we get on set and work with the amazing crew you've put together to make something great.
Sallie Keena is a movie lover and VCUFilm graduate with over ten years of experience as a Makeup and Hair Artist and Wardrobe Stylist.