Christine Blundell’s interview for Reel FEEdBack with host Kevin Dawson, talking about her career as a Makeup Designer in the UK Film Industry
A great aspect of the Makeup school is that when Christine Blundell begins a film, she preps most of it at the Academy. This not only allows the students to get a glimpse of certain actors but more importantly, where possible, Christine shares what she is planning and how she is prepping for the Film.
We had a full house on our Taster Day course. The students this time and our Tutor who was Makeup Designer Stephanie Smith. Stephanie is not only a regular tutor running modules from Casualty to Script Breakdown and “breaking down a character, ” but also trained at the famous Hair & Makeup course herself.
I was sat at home and decided it was time to leave my career as a prop maker and take the plunge to follow my true passion and train as a Hair and Makeup artist. I visited several other academies but CBMA stood out to me, I immediately felt a connection with the place. So on my visit, I sat with Petar and discussed what the course would be like, the skills I would learn, the tutors I would meet and what kind of help I would receive after leaving … to be honest it all sounded to good to be true, but it wasn’t, in fact, it was better than I could have ever imagined.
In April 2016 I started the five month course at CBMA, I learnt basic makeup, basic hair (I actually cut someone’s hair for the first time in my life after a week, now they wont get there hair cut by anyone else), Prosthetics, Casualty (taught by the lovely Jane Walker, Makeup Designer for Game of Thrones), Wigs, Period hair and makeup, barbering, facial hair, theatre (we were taught by some of the leading West End theatre professionals from the National, ROH and ENO), face painting, fashion, character breakdowns, we learnt the lot ! Somedays I felt my brain would overload with information but there wasn’t a single day that I left CBMA without feeling I’d made the right choice.
Congratulations to all the many CBMA grads who worked on “Game Of Thrones” And “The Crown” And “Florence Foster” And “Doctor Strange” And……this may take a long time…… We Get It ! If you get it, hurry up and join up for the Next Course …our most comprehensive No18 starting April 10th.
We have four places remaining. Just in case you are not sure still ….Really, we despair, here is a link to a great article in RED magazine with one of our graduates who had to make a difficult career choice. Click here
I did not have time to fully read what it was telling me about what was missing from my life or indeed what I needed to buy ….but I did read “4-7-8 and breathe.”
I was intrigued and as soon as I got to my desk, looked it up.
Poignant, as the makeup students have been running, rushing and panicking, prepping, throwing curlers and notes all over the place !!!
Vitiligo is a skin condition where the body kills off the melanin and so the skin loses all colour.
I have had Vitiligo for many years and know full well what it is like, when people look at you unsure as to what to think. They are aware that it is some sort of illness but is it catching? …..Oh my God he is putting his hand out for me to shake, …what to do !!?
It is wonderful to see a model that is not of the, “Classic” look …what ever that may be. She could quite easily have been made up with makeup, to camouflage the white and then after the show we see her “Naked” as it were.
So, here I am in Marrakesh in a position of makeup trainee/assistant for a movie by Sir Larry Charles (Borat, Dictator) ARMY OF ONE, With Nicholas Cage. I am working with people who have 20-33 years, industry experience. They are very helpful. The first few days was hard as they found out that I only speak English and here everyone speaks 4 languages!!
Walter’s (key makeup artist) first question was, “do u speak Italian? Because I like to speak Italian” ? but now all is good. I talk a lot about school and what we were all taught. They all know Jana Carboni… they were happy we had her to teach us Facial Hair at academy.
It was last March (remember the spring…( before Brexit, before Bake Off and before Brangelina…) when Rose emailed me a spread sheet.
Rose Cusson is Film Production Coordinator at Goldsmiths University in London on their re-launched MA Film Course and had asked if we could provide make up designers/artists for their student’s film productions throughout the year.
My initial task was to establish who was available for which film project, liaising with Rose and knowing little more than the film’s title (and often those were Working Titles and were later changed), and a brief synopsis of the film.
The opportunity to work with these MA students was soon snapped up by our graduates (and sometimes our current students desperate to get some on-set experience) and they jumped at the chance to put into practice their newly acquired skills.
It was a learning curve for me too, organising the rotas… I don’t know how Rose does that every day!
After all the hard work on all sides, last nights premieres showed that it was worth it.
The question of the day was; “Do I continue working on a balmy sunny autumnal afternoon or go to the opera?”
“Do I day dream about being an irresistible philanderer or simply day dream ?”
Don Giovani won!
Our Makeup Academy in London, was honoured and very privileged to be able to not just to attain tickets to the ENO’s latest production of “Don Giovani” but to also take our graduates back stage to see all the tense action taking place.
The wig mistress Vanessa Davies, made it all happen. We got to know Vanessa via Giuseppe, at the National Theatre, who is friends with Bridget at the Royal Opera house, who is… let me start at the beginning…
At the Makeup school, we love theatre, in all its guises. From a young age I found the pantomime magical, the circus too, in all its rawness. I believe it is the live show, irrespective of what the performance may be; the vibrancy.
When we began our makeup academy, theatre was taught, for a week or so. The makeup artists from Film and TV, possibly looked upon theatre as a bygone art?
Christine actually won her award depicting in film the theatrical world of Gilbert and Sullivan. Theatre was very close to both of us.
Way back in October Clemmie, Monique, Gillian and I were lucky enough to be asked to join the Wonder Woman Make Up team! Clemmie, has been working with main team, Monique and I are the crowd room trainees, and Gillian is with 2nd Unit. Over the past 2 and half months we’ve learned loads and loved every minuet! The main unit make up team started 4 weeks of fittings and prep at the end of October. For Monique and I, this meant a lot of organising, researching and prep for shooting, as well as getting loads of hands on experience doing test make ups and cutting what felt like hundreds of military haircuts! We had some fellow trainees out from CBMA to lend a hand on the busier fittings days, helping with taking photos and getting stuck in with the research and moodboards. After all our hard work and prep we finally we started filming in November!
Our first day of shooting was in a top-secret location in central London. We shot some beautiful scenes with 25 lovely extras. The hair was the main focus for us, so all our crowd all had fabulous up do’s or dapper moustaches! Monique and I spent the day making sure the make up artists were well looked after, keeping on top of paper work, making sure we had plenty of continuity photos on set, and regular trips to craft to keep everyone happy!
Since then it’s been a bit of a whirlwind, we’ve spent a couple of weeks away at various locations shooting on anything from 3 to 300 + crowd! During our downtime while away you can find us relaxing in the hotel bar, or catching up on sleep in our rooms! It’s been incredible to see so many locations that aren’t usually available to the public and see how they’re transformed into beautiful sets. One of the best days was shooting out in Tilbury with hundreds of military extras. Seeing all our hours of clipper work looking perfect on camera was so satisfying!