Film is a jigsaw puzzle -ALL the pieces need to fit!


Another from the archives- this originally posted on Facebook in 2009.

When you are planning your low-budget indy film, dont forget to consider Makeup, Makeup FX, and Costume!

It doesnt matter if its a short for your senior year at film school, or your first feature, which you have funded by selling your car….
Sadly, many people treat these highly specialised areas as an afterthought, or the poor cousins of Art Dept, when in reality they are as important as good lighting. And just like lighting, when done well, you should hardly notice them, but they lift the standard of the whole production, and contribute seamlessly to the overall look and feel.
Poorly done, they will drag your precious project and all its months or years of hard work down to the amateur level!
Will you appoint a DOP with no experience in camerawork? A gaffer who doesn’t know the difference between a key and a fill, or when to use a reflector vs a cutter? Would you use an obviously fake toy gun as a key prop? Or let an actor wield a weapon without understanding how a real one behaves? No? Of course you wouldn’t?
Then why would you trust a vital component of the visual appearance of your film to someone who has little or no experience, interest or understanding of how it works?
Another aspect you may not have considered is the difference that good crew in this area can make to your actors… Having well-equipped professionals preparing your talent and then looking after the continuity on set all day will make the editors job much easier, and leave the actors free to concentrate on giving you an award-worthy performance.

If you don’t know a professional – find one!!!!! A great place to start is on Facebook! There are plenty of groups dedicated to film production, and several devoted to film makeup.

Remember – professionalism is an attitude, not a price tag.
Having said that, don’t expect to get Oscar-winning work for free. The level of experience and expertise of your crew is commensurate with the level of remuneration you will need to provide. Trust your appointed crew to let you know what FX etc you can realistically afford, and give you the best ‘bang for your buck’.

If you are having trouble knowing where to look, bear in mind that film is a small industry, and many of us know others in our fields all over the country, and indeed the world, so ask someone else in the business, and maybe they will know someone who knows someone who can help you…

And speaking of budgets – when you are doing your pre-production, even on a no-budget film, don’t forget to allocate something for the makeup and costume dept. Nothing screams ‘beginner’ more than using the wrong colour blood for your preferred filming format, (did you know that different cameras react differently to various colours of blood?) ….or skimping on the research and using the wrong kind of hairstyle or clothes for your chosen era…
Yes, you may be able to get a student or beginner desperate for a credit to work for free, but lets face it, most of them dont have any money of their own, and makeup is not cheap!  Anything with special effects will cost you too.
Your Costume and Makeup people should be involved with the design process early on. They may take their lead from a Production Designer. If you have one, so much the better – but it’s even more important to get them in early if you don’t. Dont be intimidated by their input or suggestions- most of these people spend years learning everything they can about their speciality… just like you did. Trust their knowledge. And remember they are working for the Director and the Producer, to make you the best picture they possibly can.

So, for your next picture, be it a short, a feature, realism or surrealism, car-chase, shoot-out, or sci-fi,, make sure you consider ALL the pieces of the Jigsaw, and find the right people to fit your project.

We all look forward to working with you!

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