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Hair and Makeup Case Study

Rhian Smith, Makeup Artist | September 2016


Making her way into the industry as a MUA, Rhian works across TV and film in the Makeup Department.

What inspired you to enter the film industry?

I have always had an interest in the film industry, the media industry as a whole to be precise. My childhood was spent watching TV, Films and Adverts.

I would stay up after everyone else had gone to bed and watch a variety of genres, falling in love with the cinematography, characters, and mood and meaning of what I was watching.

I loved how a film, and advert, a programme can bring out so much emotion in a person, how it can inspire, influence and change a person, and make them challenge what they have just watched.

Because of this, I always knew I wanted to be part of the media industry. Deciding what part to be involved in was the hardest. I knew I wanted to be backstage, behind the scenes, so I could make people see and feel what I envisioned.

I chose the career of makeup and hair artist as it seemed to fit my personality, I always loved watching our hairdresser do my families hair, and always wanted to do something creative like hair styling, or makeup, and I have always felt that makeup and hair styling plays a big part in character development, and as a bonus, I get to see how things all come together, help create the finished project, and I get to leave my mark on the characters.  

Did you take any unpaid positions to gain experience, if so was it useful?

At the start of my career, the 'finding my feet' stage, I applied for lots of non paid, experience type work. I found it extremely useful in learning more on timings and set etiquette, learning how my 5 years in college can be utilised in the field, and meeting other creative's in the industry.

How long did it take you to get your first permanent paying job, and how long did it take you to consistently find paying work?

It took a long time, years in fact, and I'm still looking for that 'permanent' position. It takes a lot of web browsing, and working for free so you can network and build up credits.

What are the responsibilities of your current role?

My current responsibilities involve preparing makeup and hair design plans, with the help of script and storyboards to better understand looks required.

Research, plays a big part in what I do, whether it is keeping up to date on new techniques or products, or re-familiarising myself with past fashion and techniques.

Admin. Admin plays a big part in my daily life as a Makeup Artist and Hairdresser, from keeping client record cards up-to-date, Keeping CV and credits updated, and job hunting.

When I am 'on set', My responsibilities are for the Makeup area to be kept clean and tidy. Hygiene and safe working practice is a big deal. Kit must be clean and well organised so effective and quick working can be achieved.

When cast/actors are made up, I will assume my position behind camera next to the director or DOP so I can see how my work looks on screen, and to be close by for touch ups etc. (But will always be hovering behind the camera or around the makeup area so I can be on hand)

When I am 'off set', my kit is cleaned, sanitised, re organised ready for my next job, and kept in a ready to go state.

What was your first impression of a film set ?

My first impression was 'wow', 'You don't see this when you are watching the finished article'

The scale of a set can be massive, or tiny.

What set etiquette have you learnt that you think all new entrants should know.

Always arrive early so that you have time to set up, and can be ready for the rush of actors, and call time schedules.

Always be prepared for anything, Simplest things like colour mouse for the hair in case an actor should have darker hair then they have, a pair of scissors, tweezers, and a sewing kit/safety pins.

Always wear comfortable footwear, have a coat and a packet of mints handy.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight so far has been the fabulous array of people I have worked with. People ask me "what stars have you worked with?" when I tell them what I do for a living, career, passion, and I reply, "Stars of the future" Because everyone I have worked with is dedicated, and puts 100% effort into everything they do, and although they may not be a high roller in the British film industry yet, one day, who knows.

Having worked in the industry for a few years what advice would you give to those just starting out?

Do not give up! The struggle is hard, it is real, but nothing can beat the feeling of seeing everyone's hard work pay off in the finished edited result. Knowing that you helped create something, and knowing that it is going to be shared and watched by many is amazing.

Seeing my name in the credits still gives me butterflies.

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