As an actress-turned-producer, there are many times where I feel like I’m playing catch up in learning all the ins and outs of my own job, as well as everyone else’s on a set. I very much believe in learning through experience, but it can sometimes be overwhelming. However, there are a number of areas where my acting background gives me a unique perspective as a producer. This series of Ms. in the Biz articles will focus on these tips!
When we filled our crew positions for To the New Girl last year, I was in a major time crunch. That project went through pre-production and a 3-day production (for a feature film… yeah, you get the picture) in the midst of a major work project, series of personal dramas, and on a shoestring budget. I was incredibly lucky to have a great team in my directors and our cinematographer, who had strong connections with an amazing group of crew members who I knew I’d be able to rely on. I didn’t have time to interview for these positions; and knew I didn’t need to because I trusted the rest of our team.
That might sound crazy… but it worked. My gratitude and amazement at how professional and on the ball our crew was, is on a level that needs an article of its own, but suffice it to say I don’t think we were ever more than a half hour behind schedule… for our three day feature film shoot. Yeah.
Anyway, there was one position I wanted to personally interview candidates for regardless of how little time I had: our makeup artist/hair stylist (referred to as makeup artist for the purpose of this article.)
Why? Because my experience in acting has taught me that filling this position wisely has an enormous impact on your cast.
Our film is a series of monologues (many upwards of 10-minutes long) where our actresses are asked to carry their scenes on essentially a blank canvas theatre space. It’s not a simple task, and I wanted to do everything possible to make them comfortable knowing that I personally wouldn’t have a lot of time with them on set.
Your makeup artist is the person actors spend the moments before they step on set with, aside from rehearsal this is the time that many performers use to take a breath and prepare themselves for filming. It is also a time to blow off stress, have a relaxing conversation with someone, and to get into character physically and emotionally.
We all know that makeup and hair are important for the look of a film, and that building a character’s look can help an actor get into the groove for their scene. Having a talented makeup artist is important for these reasons, that’s a given. It’s equally (if not more) important to give your actors a makeup artist who is easy to connect with as a human being, who is kind and generous, and who will make them feel confident in the way they feel on the inside as well as the outside.
So, when I put out our requests for a makeup artist with some local on-camera makeup schools in Hollywood part of my request was that potential candidates be willing to let me take them out for coffee before we moved forward.
When I met the lovely woman who eventually became our makeup artist (Francesca Martin, who I highly recommend) we hit it off immediately. She was excited about the project, was quick to have an open and honest conversation with me about herself, and just gave off all around great vibes. On set, she did a great job with hair and makeup… but I also heard afterwards that she’d had great, meaningful conversations with many of our actors about how they related to their characters, or just what was going on with their day on set! I absolutely feel that this contributed to the performance’s that ended up on screen.
I truly think giving your cast a friendly, positive, and engaging person in the makeup trailer is vital to the tone of your set and getting relaxed, happy, confident performers who are ready for the moment the director calls action!