Finding a path into the film industry is different for everyone. The path is usually crowded and full of keen eager spirits at the start. But as you advance further, people start to drop off the trail, soon realising the job isn’t as glamorous as they thought. Others persist but soon become tired and defeated after trying for so long. Even people with amazing talent and skill will sometimes not complete the journey. Making it to the end often relies on a combination of opportunity and preparedness. The path is long, relentless and a mystery to many people. Since this blog started, the question I still get asked most is:
How do I break into film as a makeup artist when I have no connections?
First of all, it’s extremely hard to answer this question and a lot of people don’t want to hear the answer. The way into film is so individual and there’s no structured method that will guarantee success. But I think there are ways you can be proactive to increase your chance of finding opportunities. Don’t ever wait for opportunities to come to you. You’ll be waiting a long time!
Use makeup school as a stepping stone
If you are deciding to do a makeup course, be thorough in your research and use it to your advantage. Some schools have more experience with film and tv jobs and have more contacts. A good school should always be actively looking for work experience opportunities for their students. Say yes to these jobs. They will be unpaid 99% of the time, but it will give you experience in dealing with other film-related colleagues and students.
Student films will be your best friend
When you first start out, you should work on as many short films and student projects as you can. You need to work on improving your skills and becoming familiar with the environment before larger film crews will be willing to take you on. Film students are always looking for makeup artists and other freelancers to help with their short film assignments. Most of the time, the jobs will have no budget and you will only be paid in food, but it is the best place to try out your skills. Everyone else on the job will also be new and still learning just like you. Learn what each department does, take notes and stay in touch with the people you work with. Universities might even keep your details on file and hire you again and again. This is the ideal way to start networking!
*Be prepared to work for free, but always try to negotiate a kit fee for small jobs like this, even if only $50 a day. Most crew are only having to sacrifice their time for the project, but you have to provide time AND products in your kit.
Go where the work is
Due to the competitive nature of the industry, it really can be more convenient to live close to the cities where productions are often filmed, or where film studios are located. Living closer to a production hub means more constant work and chances to network. This might take a bit of research and exploration in your country.
Leverage the resources you have at your fingertips
There are so many online resources to help you get your name out there, why not take advantage of them? Look for film crew listing sites and join facebook groups to network. Trawl through sites such as IMDB to educate yourself on who is working on what. Keep your social media presence professional and up to date and clean up your digital footprint if you need to.
“Stay in touch with people your own age who have the same ambitions as you,” says Niyi Akeju, PR and learning campaigns manager at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. “They could be your future collaborators. We often find that up-and-coming craftspeople have collaborated with those at the same experience level as themselves to get their first breaks,” she says. – The Guardian
Keep learning and create your own work
You’ll get tired of hearing this one! Don’t rely on jobs to give you the chance to create things. Keep making things because you want to, especially during your downtime. Look for courses and opportunities where you can improve your skills or learn something new. Design looks that interest you and practice on your family. Create some new makeups for portfolio photos. Meet up with like-minded artists and collaborate. Don’t become stagnant or defeated when you aren’t working. When we stop learning, we stop growing.
Unfortunately, there are no magic answers or solutions that I can give to people who message me about this topic. Film is an extremely hard industry to get into and it is even harder to sustain. But it’s not impossible. The biggest advice I could give is to know what you’re getting into before you decide to pursue it. If you have taken off those rose-coloured glasses and the desire in your soul still remains to do this sort of work, then go forth with all the determination you possess and continue on your film journey. Remember, artists at the highest level of film today all started out just like you, with no extra advantages or privileges. You just need to have the right attitude.
That’s all she wrote,