It all started with a simple cup of tea,

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.  

As the end of my training quickly approached I reflected on why it had taken me so long to make this decision to train as a Hair and Makeup Artist, but what happened to me after I left made all my hard work and all my passion for this industry worth the wait.

I was helping the new the class with their prosthetics training, as the Teachers Pet for the week, when Christine Blundell came by and asked for a chat with me and would you believe it? She offered me the job as her trainee on Paddington 2! I was so shocked I actually forgot how to speak, I couldn’t believe it! But two days later I was in Pinewood working on my first feature film under the guidance of Christine and her amazing team.

A typical morning on Paddington 2 would be as follows;

  • Arrive (Very important to arrive early! particularly if your like me and have a phobia of being late)
  • All lights on
  • Hot towel oven on and refilled
  • Tidy and set up teams separate workstations with the makeup and hair equipment they will need for their specific actors.
  • Lay out any continuity photos if required for the day of shooting
  • Lay out call sheets and slides for each makeup artist
  • Team begins to arrive  (time for a morning chinwag)
  • Make morning teas and coffees
  • Breakfast orders
  • Actors begin to arrive
  • Make teas and coffee for the actors and ensure they are comfortable
  • Assist the team with there calls such as; passing pins, holding products or just being on standby (It’s essential to be observant, always try to be a step ahead or ready to move into action when required)
  • Once the rush of the call is over its time for another round of teas and a clean up
  • Soon we would be told the actors are ‘walking’ and the team would make their way down to set to start filming.
  • Wash brushes
  • Wash towels
  • Take Kitty and/or Dolly for a walk (Kitty and Dolly and Christine’s and Lesa’s dogs, I absolutely loved the fact that one of my daily duties was to take them for a walk and play!)


The morning calls, although they had some firm routines to them were always a mad yet fun rush and always had their differences depending on the actors and the scenes we were shooting. But once the calls were done my day could lead me anywhere!  I could be blocking wigs, painting bust of Hugh Grant to hold many of his looks (It will make sense when you see the movie), organizing the continuity folder, creating character breakdowns, updating the calendar and ensuring Christine and the team had everything they needed.

Christine was amazing; she and the team thought me so much and I felt extremely lucky and fortunate to be there. I was even entrusted with having actors of my own to take care of, including BEN MILLER (I’m a huge fan) and several other characters such as some of the stunt doubles. I was so nervous when I ran in to do my first check of an actor who was wearing a beard, moustache and wig but the thrill was fantastic and I couldn’t wait for more.

Paddington 2 was really everything I could ever ask for in my first job. It had a bit of everything, we were in studios, there were underwater scenes (I learnt how sew in a wig!). I got to visit some incredible locations including inside Tower Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. We had night shoots in Camden and Knebworth House, the night shoots where great fun and its where I got to really meet the rest of the production team and get to know more about there roles in the industry (I would really recommend talking and making friends with the rest of the crew, your all in this together and they can teach you a lot of things you may not have thought of before, like lighting effects and camera lenses). After Christmas I even got to work with crowd and splinter unit so I got a really well rounded trainee experience.

Now Paddington 2 has wrapped and I’m off to start my next adventure. It’s been hard work but I wouldn’t change it for anything and I will never forget everything I’ve learnt and the wonderful memories I have made.

Thank you Christine and all the makeup team and the CBMA team for everything.

I have been given the best training and the best start to my career.

I hope this will inspire some of you to take the plunge as I did and follow this career.

I mean, can you believe it all started with a cup of tea?

All My love

Jemma Harrison

Hair and Makeup Trainee .