CB*MA Trainees Help Director Mike Leigh with Makeup for 200 Extras
When I look back at the photographs of the crowd room for Mike Leigh, that day’s memories flood back. It really was my perfect day!
We were told in advance that Mike Leigh was filming “Happy Go Lucky” in the area and that there was a change that we could get involved – we thought perhaps we would go on set to watch what happens.
The night before, Christine Blundell came into the academy and told us what was going to happen, and more importantly what was expected of us. Christine was quite matter of fact and said that tomorrow we were converting the school into a crowd room! We were all to prepare our makeup stations accordingly, and Petar would be on-hand to ensure that we had all the kit we needed, but generally our personal kit was enough.
She told us to research what look she wanted and fortunately, it was a contemporary look; a nightclub scene.
She then calmly told us that they were going to arrive after school, well that was cool, we would not miss a day; even though I would have missed days for this.
I assumed that we each would have just one actor to do and that we had plenty of time to do it. How wrong I was! Then the bombshell…..there were going to be around 200 extras !!!!
How would I cope? How would we all cope? How many was that each?
I did not sleep much that night. I kept going over in my mind the looks I was going to do on the female and male extras. Then I would panic and turn my laptop on again and decide on a new look.
It was difficult to learn the next day, as all we could was think about what was going to happen. Then after all the wait… they arrived…
First the ‘runners’ came charging in with their walkie-talkies talking to God only knows who and then to us, asking were we ready.
The first group of fifty extras arrived. I laugh now but we did not know what do. It was almost like a date; everyone being nervous to break the ice. Petar came bounding in and began shouting orders and pointing to them and us to come on… ”get cracking!”
As soon as I put my gown over my first actor all my worries disappeared and I took full control. I did not ask them what they wanted as Christine had already told us what do. I placed brush in hand, had a good look at how they already looked and told them what I intended to do… then I began. Believe me I made up at least twenty people and it flew in seconds.
The second Assistant Director came in to tell that we had finished and that both Christine and Mike Leigh were very happy!
Even as I write this I feel the same adrenalin kicking again. We were so high and excited after the job that we made Petar buy us drinks in the local pub. We didn’t stop talking about that afternoon, laughing about our nervousness and lack of sleep and how well we had all done. It really was a team effort, we all understood what each of us were doing at any given point and encouraged one another.
I have done quite a few major films now but that day at CB*MA will ALWAYS stay as a very special and my perfect day.