Posted on: 21 October 2015
So you want to work in the movies? A lot of people do! There is not really a clear path when it comes working as a movie make up artist, although this is a field that can be appealing. Perhaps you like the idea of designing an aesthetic look for an actor that suits their character. Perhaps you like the idea of creating a creature not of this world using extensive prosthetics. There are a few things you need to consider, since the realities of working as a movie make up artist can be vastly different to what you might have thought.
As with most industries, qualifications are extremely helpful. You don't necessarily need to study at university or TAFE, and there are a variety of make up courses on offer that will teach you the fundamentals. These classes are often available at an institution that provides beauty therapy courses, and the duration and prices can vary. You should opt for a course that results in a nationally recognised certification, rather than a short course. Learning the fundamentals can be vital when it comes to your ongoing financial stability.
It's not as though you can walk straight onto a film set, and you might need to offer your services for free in order to gain professional experience. Contact a School of Film and Television attached to a university in your area. There are always a number of student films in production, and while these are amateur films, the production is managed in the same fashion as a professional film. This is kind of the point, so that students learn. These films need makeup artists, and you will gain valuable (albeit, unpaid) experience.
It's easier to have someone else do the work for you, and you might want to list yourself on a film crew directory. As this is a passive approach, you should balance it with someone working on your behalf. Apply for representation with an agency that represents film crews, which works in much the same way as an actor's agent. Check with the government film funding body in your state, and they can provide you with a list of agencies that provide crews for film and TV productions. Remember that agencies will take a small percentage of your wages in exchange for finding you work.
The Nature of Employment
Taking make up courses that show you how to do make up for a variety of situations (not just film and television production) can be extremely valuable. Most work in the industry is classed as short term and freelance. A television commercial will give you a few days of work, whereas a film can give you anywhere between six and twelve weeks of work, and a television series will give you anywhere between three and six months of work (depending on the number of episodes. A soap opera with a constant production schedule is seen as the holy grail in the industry, due to the ongoing nature of the work. You might need to delve into side industries such as wedding make up, as otherwise you can be looking at long periods of unemployment.
The uncertain nature of the industry and the lack of a clearly defined career structure can mean that working as a movie make up artist is not appropriate for everyone. But if you're willing to accept the uncertainties, there's much to be enjoyed in this type of work.Share