What It Takes To Become A Makeup Artist?

Did you go to the IMATS 2018? Was it what you expected if it was your first time?

I managed to catch an invite via the launch of the new book “Leading Ladies of Makeup Effects” by Patricia Terry and Gary Christensen.

It features many brilliant designers and makeup artists; not just or very own Christine Blundell but the amazing Fran Hannon and Julie Dartnell. We also had the chance to meet “Montse Ribe” from Barcelona and up and coming makeup artist KC Mussman.

I will not write about Christine this time, as I am sure you have read about her already, if you are one of our avid readers.

Julie Dartnell’s career began when she got admitted into the BBC makeup department; one of 24 from 1400 applicants. Prior to this she went to evening classes to gain her A levels and then to a makeup course to learn makeup and hair.

Her many films range from her first big break in 1998 with “Shakespeare in Love” …soon many films were to follow…”Goya’s Ghost” to “Captain America” and her award winning “Les Misérables.”

We have been very fortunate to have had Julie teach hair and makeup at our Academy; she is a wonderful person and a great tutor!

The award-winning Frances Hannan has had a remarkable career and she is a phenomenally talented makeup and hair designer.

For those who can remember Fran was asked to design “The Singing Detective.” Apart from being a great TV series, it was a complicated and challenging makeup to design to create. The leading actor, one of my favourites, was Michael Gambon, who has a condition called “psoriatic arthropathy.” This is a skin disease where the skin flakes leaving sores and so for the makeup artist a very challenging project. Little did she know that this would be the start of her brilliant career. Films as diverse as “World War Z and King’s speech” followed.

We are hoping that Frances will soon be coming to have Afternoon Tea at the Makeup Academy. We shall keep you posted as to when that is.

Montse Ribe, is another amazing and award winning special effects artist who won her award on “I”. The kind of films that Montse works on are very different to the ones we spoke of above. The work has a different intensity and is far more time consuming, maybe you have to be laid back type of person for this kind of work and she certainly was very calm at IMATS when they were all being interviewed.

What I left with after listening to all the Ladies talk was a great feeling from the inspirational talk they all gave.

It was not the kind of over the top speech in American films where …”You can do anything if you try!” and yet it was. If you do wish to become a makeup artist as one of the panel said it is “Art and Attitude.” Good old fashion hard work and dedication.

If this is the field, hair and makeup for Film TV and Theatre,  you wish to work in then focus on what needs to be done and then slowly and methodically begin your journey.

One key element that came out was keep your passion and stay inspired – these were comments from people who have been in the industry for many years….they still have it!!!

If you are serious about joining these great artists, the first step is to take a Hair & Makeup course. Our next course begins September 3rd and we have three places available. To find out more call us 0207 485 4000.

Latest Day Taster course at CB*MA visited by Aladdin!

What a wonderful surprise for our Weekend Day Taster Students, when Mena, who plays Aladdin in the new Guy Ritchie film with the same name, popped in with Christine. It was a great day, even without our special surprise guest arriving.

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.

Stephanie graduated almost 9 years ago and has since gone on to win a Bifta award, the Irish version of BAFTA. One of our recent graduates, Simone Philcox, who has worked as a Makeup trainee with Jane Walker (Game of Thrones Makeup Designer) and also on Christine Blundell’s latest film , Guy Ritchie’s “Aladdin” was also on hand , assisting the Tutor.

The purpose of the Day Taster Course, is for students to get an understanding of what it would feel like to attend here. Apart from learning how to create a “Smokey eye” look in the morning and then learning some Casualty techniques in the afternoon; it is to see if the Makeup School is for them and likewise if the potential student is for the Acadmey. Our next Day Taster course is on Saturday 23rd June. Click here if you would like to join us for a day of Makeup fun! (link to go to Day Taster course page)

The BAFTAs are upon us once more and our congratulations go to:

Well done to our very own Christine for being nominated in the Outstanding British Film Category for being a Makeup Designer on Paddington 2 .

– Hugh Grant For best supporting Actor in Paddington 2.

 Our Very own Tutor Daniel Philips Nominated for Makeup And Hair for Victoria And Abdul.

 Tutor Lizzie Lawson, Hair Supervisor on Blade Runner Film nominated as best film.

 Tutor Tony Stasi, Barber, working on Nominated Films Victoria and Abdul and Darkest Hour.

 Graduates: Oonagh Bagley, Flora Moody, Darkest Hour. Holly Cady for Victoria And Abdul.

 Any many more CB*MA graduates Makeup trainees & artists who worked on the other BAFTA nominated films……

Hello from Christine’s “Aladdin” desert adventure

Christine Relaxing While Filming AladdinSo filming in the desert isn’t so bad

We have been out here in Jordan for the last two weeks now filming “Aladdin” for Disney. As everyone knows Will Smith is our Genie and I have to say he is a pretty amazing person as well! He threw a “Welcome to Jordan” party for us all in the desert which will go down in filming history as one of the most generous nights: a feast was laid on, camels were brought in so we could go for a ride to watch the sunset and later on belly dancers and dancing, too – what’s not to love!! I have Lesa and Chloe with me whilst the rest of the team are packing down in Longcross after a mammoth couple of months of crowds  which was run seamlessly as ever by Charmaine and as the years of having CB*MA go by, how proud am I to see so many of my graduates out as dailies on my films not to mention all the new graduates we had out as trainees!!

Goes without saying I can’t show any photos of filming so you will have to make do with me in a tent !!!! Xx

Chris Blundell

Christine Blundell features in the new “Leading Ladies of Makeup Effects” book, launched last week

This is the 1st book to offer portrait biographies of 26 Leading Ladies working in Makeup effects for film and television. Featuring their influences, training, projects and careers, these biographies express how and why these Ladies have risen to success.

The book, written by Gary Christensen, a California based Makeup Artist and Patricia L. Terry, a Theatre Director, features 12 Oscar winners, 9 Emmy winners, and 5 Emerging Artists (the possible award-winners of tomorrow).

It’s a man’s world….as the famous James Brown song goes and in certain professions it most certainly can feel just like that. No more so that with special effects makeup, or even makeup itself! If you search on the internet, best or most influential makeup artists, at least eighty percent of the names will be men.

This is certainly understandable in the early years when men predominantly ran most professions. Yet, as time moved on so too did makeup artists and the skills and applications they used. One of the slight criticisms of today is that awards seem to go special effects makeup. The art of subtle period makeup or wigs etc seem to be slightly out of fashion?

For Christine, the break came on “Topsy Turvy” A Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta, that explores the intense relationship between the two men. As it is a Mike Leigh film the period of the film was paramount. Christine had to have all the wigs and facial hair handmade as per period. Not only this but also the makeup had to be of period too. So there was plenty of burnt cork and greasepaints had to be of the time.

Fortunately, the Victoria and Albert Museum had a good source of makeup on hand to show.

To view Christine’s profile and read more about the book itself, click here

CB*MA graduates in the spotlight again with Paddington 2

After beginning the first Paddington film in the “darkest Jungle of Peru,” (Costa Rica), which was incredible by the way!! I sadly had to go one to the film “Kingsman 1” and so I could not continue. It was such a shame, so when the second opportunity came my way to design Paddington 2, I simple could not and would not refuse! The response to the film was amazing and well done to Graham Johnston for doing such a great job.
When the second opportunity did come by i could not refuse and could commit, so was very happy. I had my team of makeup artists that usually work with me and managed to get on board three full time trainees from the previous hair and makeup course.It was a great opportunity for them to experience a fairly big film with plenty of crowd days.

Even though the Paddington 2 was contemporary there was plenty for the makeup trainees to do. Apart from the three fulltime trainees we managed to have at another five on weekly basis and the group that had just completed the four month hair and makeup course all had valuable work experience.

It was a great film to work on and having such a charming cast, almost as charming as the bear himself, helped the process…! I also had a lot of fun designing our master of disguise baddy (Hugh Grant) with Lindy hemming the costume designer who also won an Oscar for Topsy Turvy with me.
As the film is a fun family picture the disguises had a theatrical feel about them and Hugh Grant was very gracious in trying out all the design and ideas we came up with.
One of my other favourite character was “Knuckles McGinty” the hardened jailbird who eventually falls under the spell of Paddington and assists him in his escape.

Guy Ritchie’s “Aladdin”

With three full time trainees and many others coming in to assist, it looks like the new Aladdin film by Guy Ritchie is going to be very busy! We have not even mentioned the CBMA juniors and makeup artists that are rolling up their sleeve and getting ready for some great work! All these people are headed up by Christine Blundell, who is Hair and Makeup designer.

Will Smith has made his first post of him and the crew! As mentioned we have many of our girls working and assisting on Aladdin. We are lucky enough to have three fulltime makeup trainees, juniors and makeup artists working on Guy Ritchie’s latest project. Very soon we too should have a post about our girls’ experiences on set!

We were very lucky to have most of the actors coming into the makeup academy for makeup tests. Marwan Kenzari came in hot off his success starring in “Murder on the orient express.”

Will the film ne a musical? That is a question that we cannot answer yet. We all know the film and the story of Aladdin but what makes this a very anticipated film is that Guy is directing and immediately we know that it is not going to be a traditional take on the story line.

Some people have questioned why is Guy Ritchie is directing a famous Disney classic? Yet if you think about the kind of films that Guy has directed, and he is perfect. He has scallywags and hustlers that make good. Many of his films are filled the riff raff of street life; where life is hard and you have to live on your wits and brawn. This is exactly what Aladdin is all about!

Let us hope that our makeup trainees and makeup artists not only enjoy the whole project but do the makeup academy proud!

Sarah Brock, Gal Gadot’s personal Makeup artist, talks about Christine Blundell’s role as Wonder Woman’s Makeup Designer. Courtesy of Warpaint Magazine. Bridal to Box Office

Last week she shared with us the step-by-step secrets of the Wonder Woman look she created for Gal Gadot. Now Sarah Brock lets Warpaint lift the lid on her experiences on set

WP:  Congratulations on the beautiful looks that you created for Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman.  You’re much better known for your Red Carpet looks – how did you transition into movies?

SB:  It really was a fairytale story as to how I came to work on the Wonder Woman movie – after being in beauty and fashion for 18 years, the movie industry wasn’t something I had ever considered.  Patty Jenkins, the director, was searching online for inspiration for the make-up look for Gal and she kept coming across an image from a bridal designer campaign that I did back in 2008.  My name wasn’t on the image, so she asked the team in the USA to find out who did the make-up for the campaign – they found my website, Patty looked at my work and loved what I did (plus I was based in the UK where most of the filming took place, so it was perfect).  I had an email one evening from Patty, I went to the Warner Bros Studios to meet her – we got on so well immediately and she offered me the job as the personal make-up artist to Gal on the movie and the rest is history.

WP:  With a female director and a heavily female cast, did this affect the approach to the make-up?  How did you create the combination of strong and very pretty?

SB:  The reason Patty bought me on board to work on the movie was because she wanted Gal to look goddess-like and naturally beautiful, which is what I was doing already with my fashion work.  Because Patty is a woman, make-up was really important to her, as it really can make a huge difference to the final look.  The costume itself did the job of making Gal into the Wonder Woman we all know – I just had to compliment that by creating a make-up which enhanced Gal’s natural beauty, and made her look radiant, healthy and glowing.  It was important to both Patty and me that the make-up should not compete with the costume itself.

WP:  Christine Blundell is the designer on the movie and there’s a very British crew.  Had you worked with Christine?  How did the collaborations work?

SB:  I had never worked with Christine before – as this was my first movie.  Christine was incredible, her experience and credits speak for themselves, and I was left to do what I know which was the make-up, but Christine was key for me as she taught me so much about the movie industry – it was like a movie bootcamp for me.

WP:  How much input does Gal have in the looks you created for her – for face and body?

SB:  Gal is so professional and loved what I did for her on the movie.  Gal and I have both worked in fashion in the past (Gal was a model), so she understood exactly what I was doing make-up wise.  As with most actors, she went with what our director, Patty, wanted.

WP:  Combining beauty with action movies and fight scenes in particular requires tough, long-lasting products.  What were your challenges and which products did you use for face and body?

SB:  The surprising thing to a lot of people is that for her face make-up, I used the same products that I had been using for years in my pro kit.  I think this is where spending years of bridal make-up helped – I was used to creating looks for brides that I would apply first thing in the morning and would last until the early hours of the next day.  Yes, it had to be slightly thicker on the base because of the filming, but, on the whole, I was used to working with long lasting formulations.  I still used the same premium brands that I have worked with and trusted for years, such as Chanel, la Mer, Armani, NARS and Tom Ford.  I was by Gal’s side 24/7 and there were a lot of touch-ups, especially in the trenches where there was mud and also in scenes where we maybe had to spray water, or where she was on the ground or we were filming in the rain.  Bodywise I had to learn that in a short space of time and it was where Christine Blundell’s expertise came in: using tanning products first and then products to add contour to the body.  Doing it every day, by the end of the movie it became second nature.

WP:  Where were the island scenes shot?  Did you have heat to contend with too?

SB:  We filmed for a month in Matera, Italy, where there was sun and heat (so we went through a lot of sunscreen), plus keeping the make-up on with the heat meant constant re-touching.  We also had scenes on the beach in the sea, so again checks were very important to make sure that the water didn’t affect the look.

WP:  There’s an underwater scene when Diana rescues Steve Trevor.  What were the challenges that you had here?

SB:  This was one of my biggest challenges, as this was shot in an underwater tank, and it was warm water which can make make-up melt.  Gal was in there for hours and hours.  Because my make-up is long lasting and I use products which don’t budge, I did the same make-up, with a setting spray on top – and it didn’t move.  It was a very proud moment for me.

WP:  In the trenches scenes, the wounds and blast injuries are kept accurate to what would have been seen in WW1.  Who did the wounds on Gal?

SB:  Gal didn’t have big wounds, they were more scratches and cuts.  Again, Christine was key in showing me how to do this, which I then could do myself.  That was really interesting for me, as I was just used to doing beauty, so it was fascinating to see how Christine did this and learn a new skill for myself.

WP:  In many scenes, Gal’s character looks radiant amongst the others on screen.  Was this achieved with product and lighting or in post?

SB:  I can’t comment on what was done in post, but it’s a real compliment for you to say that – part of my skill as a make-up artist and why Patty bought me on board is because of the highlighting and skin work that I do.  The lighting was also incredible, so it complimented my make-up skills.

WP:  Diana’s lashes are exceptional – what’s your go-to product here?  In particular, what glues did you use?

SB:  Thank you!  Gal has lovely lashes anyway which I enhanced with two different mascaras and then every day, I would apply individual lashes to the outer corner of the eyes – and I used my go-to eyelash glue which has always been Duo.

WP:  While Gal’s overall look is established throughout the movie, her lip colour changes from pinks to berries, and deep reds as the action progresses.  Talk us through how this develops.

SB:  This was something that happened organically as we were filming.  We filmed in so many different environments, from sunny Italy to dark, grey London and the lighting for these was totally different, plus Gal’s costumes changed throughout the movie.  We always wanted her to look healthy, beautiful and glowing, so I adapted the lip colour to suit the costume and environment that we were shooting in.

WP:  During the reshoots, Gal was pregnant.  Was this a factor in the make-up products you used?  Did you need to change anything?

SB:  Not at all!  Gal is just incredible.  There were no products that I used on her that were unsuitable for pregnancy, so we kept everything exactly the same.

All images courtesy of Warner Bros.  Copyright: © 2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC ENTERTAINMENT

Best Ever CB*MA Open day

Last Saturday CB*MA Academy opened its doors to welcome our prospective students, most of whom are keen to join us in September, for our next 4 Month Hair & Makeup course. We were privileged to have our Prosthetics Tutor, Dan Frye, “Game Of Thrones” and “Harry Potter” prosthetics Makeup artist, creating a Monster look and answering visitors’ questions.

Dan has been in the film makeup industry for many years and has a plethora of talent and stories. There are many parallels between a prosthetics artist and a makeup artist. Yes they make many things from the simple scratch to a gaping wound, but they must also fully understand makeup and colour. As once these pieces are made they must be painted and to appear to be flesh or Zombie or whatever!

We also had a number of our recent and not so recent graduates on hand, talking about their experiences of working on Christine’s latest film project, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo, currently filming in Manchester.

CB*MA students from our current course were also happy to answer any questions about their experiences of studying at the Academy, while demonstrating some of the casualty and prosthetics skills they mastered so far. Have a look at some of their and Dan’s creations below and visit our Instagram page to view a time lapse video showing one of Open day student projects.

The open day allows the students an extra day of practising and working on some of their weak points. This could be makeup or wig work, anything. Or if they are brilliant they can just have some fun!

This is the beauty of having a family ethos here as many of the extended CBMA family come and help out.

Missed our latest Open day ? – Visit us at our next Open day , Saturday 14th October, 11am-4pm. Click here to tell us you are coming.

Amazing 2 weeks of Prosthetics with Tutor Dan Frye, Game of Thrones prosthetics Makeup artist

What an amazing two weeks we have just had and judging by the what the students have created the intensity of learning and understanding prosthetics makeup, has paid off. The prosthetics makeup module is one of the most anticipated of modules. These weeks are very different atmospherically to the other weeks here. A different mindset is needed. Calm and a zen like approach is needed.

All the makeup and hair modules we do, require students to focus and work on detail. These weeks require even more so. Just when students think they have finished moulding their pieces, Dan will come along and tell them that they need to work at it a little longer. The “Devil is in the detail.”

Another key element that makes a prosthetics makeup artist shine is an understanding of materials as there are many elements to know. Unless you know what the products do it is difficult create.

Having said all of this creating a special effects makeup need not be very expensive. Yes, some of the products are very expensive but we do encourage our tutors to show the students all the various alternatives that can be sourced very cheaply. As an example to make your own blood all you do is mix “corn syrup and food coloring.” There are many tips and help for the student. Remember the first jobs you will receive will be student films and very low budget jobs. You will not have a big budget but you will be expected to create a fantastic look; these are the challenging situations you will encounter.

We try as much as we can to bring the industry into the academy.

One of the challenging processes is when the students do a life cast on each other. This can be a nerve wracking experience to a nervous student. It is also very important for them to understand what it feels like have blue gunk poured over your face!