Lights Camera English!

Take 9: Film Makeup

Working in film usually means getting up very early. Very, very early.

You roll out of bed, put on some warm clothes, and head out the door without even turning on the lights. It can be a horrible surprise when you get into your trailer and see what a mess you are! Fluffy hair, pillow marks on your face, and still a little bit of yesterday’s makeup. Ugh.

But no worries! First stop is Hair and Makeup. So you grab a cup of tea and head across the dark and cold campsite towards the warm glow of the makeup artists’ trailer. When you arrive they all turn and say, “Good morning, Miss Rice, how are you?”. Then you sit in the large, comfortable seat in front of hundreds of light bulbs and get ready to be turned into a princess.

Your makeup artist then asks the makeup designer, “So what are we doing for Miss Rice?” and the designer turns and says those two words I hate to hear: “very natural”.

In makeup language, “very natural” means “basically no makeup at all”.

No! Not fair! I know I’m playing a poor bar wench from the early 1900’s but I want to look like I just stepped off the Disney train!

As you can imagine, I play more bar wenches than I do Disney princesses, so I usually arrive on set looking pretty much as bad as when I first got up. Except now I’m also wearing a dirty costume that’s too big and smells funny. And the director thinks this is the perfect moment to introduce me to the star of the film: “Brad Pitt, allow me to introduce Annabelle Smith.” – apparently my name is hard to remember, too.

It’s not all glitz and glamour working in the movies. But sometimes, just sometimes, you get to play a pretty part. Makeup artists are very clever. They spend hours making you look and feel fabulous, but through the camera, it looks like you’re not wearing any makeup at all!

Ha! The magic of film makeup!

Do you want a quick review of face features and makeup vocabulary? Download our lesson notes!

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