Creating a character...a day in the life of an MUA

As a professional makeup artist for the film and television industry I am frequently asked to help create a character. Usually this is a vision in the mind of the Director that needs to be brought to life on the big or little screen.

Collaborating with the Director, Actor, Wardrobe and Hair Department are crucial so that the viewing audience is taken on a journey along with the character and feels they can relate to every scene.

Sometimes the makeup is simple and basic or it can be as complicated as a burn victim full of permanent scars or fresh wounds. Knowing how to recreate period pieces, westerns, film noir, science fiction or special effects such as drug addict marks, prison inmate tattoos or domestic abuse bruising and injuries will test the technical ability of any makeup artist.

When I am asked to create or recreate a character, I rely on my collection of books, videos, the internet and I ask for several post production meetings to make sure that I am completely educated on the exact needs of the character. Making sure that I have a complete arsenal of face charts and/or pictures that the Director can look at and let me know if I am moving in the right or wrong direction, which I bring when attending those meetings.

Then the testing process begins and that too has its challenges. There are always several new product lines available to the makeup artist that have been recently brought to the mass market and there are old “tricks of the trade” taught by greats such as Dick Smith or Stan Winston, both of which I had the pleasure of attending several classes with and then apprenticing for after leaving Joe Blasco makeup school, that you can rely upon when facing a difficult task. Either way, testing is mandatory before stepping onto the set because it makes you prepared for what will be a very busy day that will no doubt be full of surprises.

Changes to the character sometimes happen in the makeup room and you have to be prepared for anything. A character requiring no effects makeup will endure a script change and inevitably need some blood work or tattoo work done.

Regardless of the budget, my name is going on each project so that pushes me to develop my skills and bring forth a creation that everyone can be proud off. After all, it is a team effort and being part of a good crew makes my work exciting and fun!

Below are a few photos of some of my recent work. I was called upon to freehand and airbrush many tattoos, as well as create several injuries for recent productions that shot in San Diego. Enjoy!