It’s all done with great ef­fect

Have you ever won­dered how Hol­ly­wood films achieve their stun­ning makeup ef­fects? Now you can find out.

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - INTERVIEW -

DAVID Brown is a spe­cial ef­fects make-up artist with vast ex­pe­ri­ence on pro­duc­tions such as Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Gal­axy and The Dark Knight Rises.

You can see just how he does what he does as part of the Hol­ly­wood Spe­cial Ef­fects Show at Wy­combe Swan on Mon­day Oc­to­ber 26.

We spoke to the man who knows how to bring fan­tas­tic char­ac­ters to life.

What first inspired you to be­come a make-up artist?

I had been work­ing in cos­tume for sev­eral years and had got­ten to a point where I wanted a change. I was watch­ing the spe­cial fea­tures of a movie and there was a sec­tion on makeup. I thought it looked in­ter­est­ing so I looked into cour­ses.

How did you get started in the in­dus­try?

I be­gan by tak­ing Stu­art Bray’s three day pros­thetic course and then a two week sum­mer school in Glas­gow. That built up a few pieces in my port­fo­lio and the rest was

luck and hard work! What high­lights?have been your ca­reer

Meet­ing and work­ing with Sylvester McCoy and Miriam Mar­golyes. What was the first TV show/movie you worked on?

Les Mis­er­ables, I was a sil­i­cone run­ner for Kristyan Mal­lett.

What is in­volved in the prepa­ra­tion for film make-up artistry in the lead up to a shoot? I imag­ine it takes months of plan­ning?

Depend­ing on the size of film it can take months to pre­pare. As de­signer there is the job of script anal­y­sis and a lot of pa­per work to get the ground work done.

Meet­ings with the cre­ative team of the movie will re­fine the de­signs and ideas to within the con­cept that the di­rec­tor en­vi­sions.

Then it is into the work­shop to take life­casts of the ac­tors, sculpt­ing the crea­tures, aliens, age­ing onto the life­cast. Mould­ing all of this in fi­bre­glass and af­ter some hefty clean­ing of the

moulds in­ject­ing it with sil­i­cone. Some­times all this prep is done a few months be­fore film­ing be­gins so that a stock of pros­thet­ics can be built and then whilst film­ing is hap­pen­ing more pieces are be­ing made and painted ready for ap­pli­ca­tion at a later date.

How long does it take to ap­ply the make-up on the day of a shoot?

Time is al­ways an is­sue on set as ev­ery minute costs a lot of money, usu­ally as a makeup artist who is ap­ply­ing you are given a time to com­plete the makeup, some­times on smaller movies you are asked how long it will take.

A small and very sim­ple piece can be ap­plied and painted in five-10 min­utes but the longer the bet­ter so you have more time to work on it.

Full char­ac­ter make­ups can take up to six hours to ap­ply, the start time for these make­ups will be early morn­ing 1am or 2am to get ready to be­gin film­ing around 8am-7pm and then an hour or so to re­move the makeup.

How does your re­la­tion­ship with a di­rec­tor work?

It is my job to trans­late what the di­rec­tor has in their head into a work­able 3D cre­ation that helps tell the story.

Nu­mer­ous meet­ings take place to en­sure that what is be­ing cre­ated will meet the di­rec­tors’ ex­pec­ta­tions. Es­sen­tially all the cre­ative teams are there to tell a story and the di­rec­tor is the one who says how that story will be told.

Do ac­tors of­ten con­trib­ute into the cre­ation of the look that you give them?

Yes, hav­ing a meet­ing with the ac­tor is al­ways ben­e­fi­cial when cre­at­ing a makeup, es­pe­cially if it is re­stric­tive in some way.

The move­ment of the char­ac­ter may in­form on how the piece is sculpted and thus how it is ap­plied to al­low the ac­tor to per­form with­out feel­ing re­stricted.

We aid the ac­tor in cre­at­ing the char­ac­ter they are play­ing so a di­a­logue needs to take place to make this col­lab­o­ra­tion as ef­fec­tive as pos­si­ble.

What is the most ex­treme make-up you have ever cre­ated for the screen?

I was part of the team who ap­plied the ‘Drax the De­stroyer’ makeup on Guardians of the Gal­axy.

There were five peo­ple ap­ply­ing and it took five hours ev­ery day. There were some crazy aliens in that movie and I was lucky enough to have a hand in cre­at­ing sev­eral of them.

What ad­vice would you give to as­pir­ing film make-up artists about start­ing in the in­dus­try?

Per­son­ally I think there is no true way into the film in­dus­try, hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion are your big­gest as­sets.

There are col­leges that teach makeup to a high stan­dard, re­search them and see if any of them are for you.

If you are look­ing to get into spe­cial ef­fects makeup specif­i­cally I would rec­om­mend tak­ing some short cour­ses (such as Stu­art Bray’s) which will give you im­me­di­ate prac­ti­cal skills and some ex­pe­ri­ence and un­der­stand­ing of the pro­cesses in­volved in cre­at­ing and ap­ply­ing makeup.

Prac­tice and build a small port­fo­lio so that you have some­thing to show, then con­tact work­shops and de­sign­ers of­fer­ing your­self as work ex­pe­ri­ence and if you’re alert, cu­ri­ous and re­spect­ful you will learn a ton of skills, tips and tricks from the peo­ple you meet.

It can take years to build up a mo­men­tum in the in­dus­try so it is some­thing that you need to have a pas­sion for. If you have that, go get it!

Hol­ly­wood Spe­cial Ef­fects Show is at Wy­combe Swan on Mon­day Oc­to­ber 26 at 7pm. Tick­ets are £16.50 for adults, £14.50 chil­dren and groups of 10 or more are £11 per ticket. Fam­ily tick­ets cost £54 with a max­i­mum of two adults. Doors open at 7pm. Con­tact 01494 512 000 for more in­for­ma­tion.

David Brown with a cou­ple of his cre­ations.

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