Day in the Life of a Make-Up Artist
I did a short
course, I didn't want to spend years training, when I could be out there
working. I was lucky enough to start working on Dirty Dancing in the West
End in my last month of training at college. I worked as a 'wig swing' (still
do) which means covering people when they off, learning all their plots.
like every girl's dream doesn't it? Now you can find out how much
fun and hard work it actually is, by following the diary of Fiona
McGrath a busy Make-up Artist, as she talks to UKHairdressers about
being in demand for TV series and photoshoots.
"Hi, my name is Fiona, I'm a Make-up Artist for TV, Film, Fashion
and Theatre. I'm going to let you know what a day in the life of a
Make-up Artist entails and to let you know, it's not all glitz and
I trained a couple of years ago at Shepperton Studios, Brushstoke
make-up school. 8 years previous to that I trained as a hairdresser
which is such a bonus when working in this industry, which I was to
find out later on…
actress is made up for her scene,
as Fiona applies the finishing touches.
Then when leaving college, you really have to apply to everywhere for work,
contact make-up designers, production companies, magazines etc. It was a
very stressful and frustrating time as all you want to do is work, but then
so do all the other make-up artists who have just come out of training!
being a trainee doesn't pay well, or at all, you just have to gain a lot
of experience and it will pay off.
what seemed forever sitting at home on the computer and phone contacting
people, I was given a chance on a short film being designed by one
of my old tutors at college. A few of us were picked from our class
to work on it as trainees. It was great, it had Sean Pertwee, Russell
Tovey and Lesley Sharp, my first taste of working with actors!
From that I managed to get a lot of work as a Make-up Trainee, I had
to work a lot for free,
I have been fortunate enough to work on Skins, Casualty, Mock the
Week, Loose Women, various commercials, photoshoots and Theatre shows.
I have always loved musicals, so couldn't believe my luck that I was
given a job at Dirty Dancing!
A lot goes on before the show, my job being one of the main contributors
to that! On any show, you would get in about an hour before the show
goes up and take all the wigs to the relevant dressing rooms. Nearly
every performer in a show wears a wig, as they can maintain a shape
more rather than someone's actual hair! Think of all the sweat from
dancing and the bright lights, their actual hair would be soaked!
on a TV show, you don't just do the make-up and hair and leave, even though
people think that! On a drama your average 'call time' would be 6.30-7am
and you would finish around 7pm. It's a long one! I always set up my make-up,
so everything is in easy reach, as you only have maximum 45 minutes to make
up your actress and 20 minutes for an actor! You usually have 3 or 4 actors
to make up and their times are staggered. Then when they are all made up,
we're off to the set with them! You're lucky if you get breakfast, in this
industry, I have learnt to eat quickly! Rennies at the ready!
at the 'half' (half an hour before the show starts) you go down to
the actors dressing rooms and prep their hair for their wigs, mic
them up and they're ready! I actually found starting in Theatre was
great for my speed, as the show must go on, hair done or not! Then
the show goes up. You have a lot of wig changes throughout the show,
some of them you have less than a minute to do, my motto is just to
get the pins in!
So that's the
life of a Make-up Artist… I'm just off to Brighton for a photoshoot, then
off to work on Casualty in a couple of weeks!"
once on set, it's my responsibility to maintain the actor/actresses
make-up and hair. So every time 'Checks' is called Make-up and Wardrobe
goes running in. Then throughout we keep an eye on the monitor, just
to see what it looks like on screen.
A big part of my job, when working on dramas and soaps is continuity.
Episodes aren't always necessarily filmed in order, so they could
be filming one scene one week and the next scene the following week.
To make sure that the characters look the same, we take pictures and
label them up with scene numbers and what days they were filmed. Then
we can refer back to these along with the make-up notes to make sure
the characters look the same as the last time you saw them!
are taken for continuity, especially when actors
have to age and scenes are often shot out of sequence.