Makeup Truck Etiquette: The Do’s & Don’ts

makeup truck

(Featured Image via BASECRAFT LLC)

Creating a healthy, respectful environment with your team

Being part of a film crew means that you’ll spend A LOT of time in close quarters with your co-workers over many months. This can be amplified even more when you work out of a makeup truck for an entire job, and I can say pretty confidently that this situation is the ultimate test of how well suited you are for this job. If you don’t like being around people in confined areas and have an issue with personal space, it’s time to rethink your career.

You will get to know everything about your fellow artists when you spend 6+ months on a bus with them. Tempers can flare and cabin fever can set in. It’s only human. A good department head will always put together a team with these thoughts in mind. However, an honest respectful environment requires the efforts of everyone involved. There are things you can do (or not do) to help keep the makeup truck a calm and happy place. Observe, make informed choices and remember that your actions affect others.

Analyzing the team dynamic – reading the room

If you’ve never worked out of a makeup truck before, ask a senior artist about their experiences and any specifics on how the team likes to work. Once you’re on the job, just take it day by day. For me, I make sure to always ‘read the room’ when I step onto a truck. This just means I observe what the mood of everyone is and change my demeanor to suit. Eg. Offer support if a co-worker is having a rough day and know when to keep quiet if they need some alone time. Analyze your environment – people will appreciate it.

Based on my experiences these past few years, here’s what I’ve learned with Makeup truck etiquette:

PERSONAL HYGIENE – Wear deodorant, keep your hands clean and carry A LOT of mints. A makeup truck is a cramped space where people are already in each others’ faces. There’s nothing worse than the presence of body odor and bad breath. Keep mints on you at all times and offer them to -everyone-. It’s not an insult, people always appreciate a mint.

‘STEPPING’ – This is a common courtesy phrase used ANYTIME you are entering or leaving the bus. Trucks can wobble and shake with movement, so yelling this will alert everyone that you’re going to step up in case an artist is working near an actor’s eye or requires a steady hand. All crew members should use this phrase, and people who don’t are condemned very quickly.

CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF – It’s your responsibility to clean up after yourself and contribute to keeping the truck organised. Don’t leave a mess in the sink or common areas and keep your own area tidy as often as you can. A messy truck looks bad to the talent when they come in every day.

SPACE CREEPERS – Respect the artists around you as well as the station you’ve been assigned. It can be easy to get yourself in a mess during an application, just be careful not to let your stuff creep into someone else’s space permanently.

PRACTICE AWARENESS – Be aware of the conversations around you at all times and act smart with communication. Don’t interrupt another conversation or insert yourself into a chat between an artist and their actor. Also, keep your distance if someone is having a private or personal conversation.

SAFETY FIRST – You should always be on the lookout for safety hazards, but try not to be the person to make those hazards. Don’t leave cords lying around on the floor or leave your bag where someone might trip over it. You’re working in a small space, and there’s no room for more clutter.

WATCH STOCK LEVELS – If you’re an assistant, you will often have a responsibility to keep the stock in the truck organised. This means neatening up the products so they’re easy for artists to grab and keeping an eye on stock levels. Keep a list going of items when they run out. Keep your boss up to date on stock levels and let them know when packages arrive.

LEND A HAND – Some artists will have good days and bad days. If you notice someone around you is struggling, always offer to help. Is there something you can do to make their job easier? Perhaps it’s prepping their next product, holding a strand of hair, cleaning some of their brushes or helping to pack their set bag. On the other hand, if they decline your offer, leave them be and don’t badger.

BEING A FOOT NUISANCE – In the mornings the truck will be VERY busy. Actors will be coming in and out and everyone has to be focused on their job. If an artist is busy with an actor, avoid walking back and forth behind them or leaving and entering truck constantly unless absolutely necessary. It can be super distracting for the artist and make their job harder.

THE COSTUME TRUCK – Just as we expect other departments to respect our process, we must do the same to them. Never barge onto the costume truck without first knocking and announcing yourself. When the actor is in their truck, it is their time. If you forgot to do something with the actor, then you must wait until they are finished in costume. Life goes much more smoothly when the makeup department and costume department can work together in harmony!

EXTRA TIP: If you are an assistant and you can bake, hallelujah! You’ve leveled up and can now win over your team with treats for the 3pm slumps. It’s a mood booster, trust me.

Most importantly, be open to your team and show them that they can trust you and rely on you. After 6+ months together, they might even know you better than your family does! Working together in close quarters is also a great way to deeply get to know people who might even end up becoming some of your closest friends. I’ve experienced this and I hope you all will as well!

That’s all she wrote,