an interesting test to try on your fave films….
So, you’re a working Makeup FX Artist, or just a keen beginner. You have some questions you want answered- you might be trying out a new technique for the first time, or maybe you had an unexpected problem crop up with something you’ve done dozens of times before, and you aren’t sure what happened or why? Where do you look for help?
Chemical Safety for Makeup FX Artists and Technicians
When people say they want to succeed or die trying, I dont think many of them mean it literally. Yet you would be shocked to learn how many people are severely affected, and yes, even killed, by the work that they love so much.
Why? Because in most jobs you don’t have to worry about the quality of the air you breathe in the workplace, or toxins in the things you touch. In Makeup FX you most definately do!
It is YOUR RESPONSIBILTY to educate yourself on the hazards of working with chemicals and take the proper precautions while you work. If you work for a bigger company they should provide you with PPE- Personal Protection Equipment.
Remember: Safety gear is like Birth Control- it only works if you remember to USE IT AT ALL TIMES…….
A DUTY of CARE is a legal obligation imposed on an individual requiring that they adhere to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others.
What does this mean to you?
It means that if, in the course of your work, you perform any action that harms, or provide any service or product that causes harm, to another person, you are in breach of your Duty of Care and the injured party can sue you. *Important note: Although I say, ‘in your work’, the law appies to you WHATEVER YOU DO, ALL THE TIME, WHETHER AS PAID WORK OR AS A HOBBY….
But I have insurance for that, right? Well, maybe, maybe not….
Since 1950, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have shared a common definition of occupational health. It was adopted by the Joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health at its first session in 1950 and revised at its twelfth session in 1995. (For further reference see Occupational_safety_and_health)
The definition reads:
“Occupational health should aim at: the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations; the prevention amongst workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; the placing and maintenance of the worker in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological and psychological capabilities; and, to summarize, the adaptation of work to man and of each man to his job.”
Sensitization to Chemicals in the Workplace:
A collection of useful info:
Every day we are all exposed to some level of chemical fumes. Spray paints and household cleaners give off fumes. Different plastics and wood products in your home give off odors from adhesives and finishes, especially when new. But normally these fumes are at such a low level that they cause no problems. However, a number of people become sensitized or allergic to the fumes given off. Their bodies get overexposed to the vapors and become sensitized. From that point on, any exposure to even a minute amount of the chemical causes a reaction. The process of sensitization can make a home unlivable, or a job no longer viable, for people who become sensitized. If you work with chemicals, your risk is much greater.
For anyone who has been in this industry for a while, most would know at least one person with severe allergenic reactions from even the slightest contact with fumes. I personally know of people who can’t be in the same BUILDING as fresh resins or epoxies. So that says that the warning labels on the products we use have to be taken seriously.
Two of the most common reactions from exposure to industrial chemicals are occupational asthma and contact dermatitis.
The Compilation Set of Creating Character Prosthetics in Silicone covers more advanced techniques than The Art of Silicone Prosthetics, the previous series from Neill Gorton of Millenium FX in the UK. Neill has pioneered the use of single-piece flexible silicone prosthetics over the past decade and his expertise in this area is second to none. It is available as 4 individual DVDs or in the Box Set.
If you have seen any movie that features realistic facial or body scarring in the last five years, chances are you have seen flat-moulded encapsulated silicone prosthetic transfers in action. They give an incredibly realistic result and as far as looking like real flesh and skin they have not been surpassed. The consist of a thin membrane of plastic (the encapsulant) filled with a special silicon gel, the texture of which which can be modified to create firmer or softer pieces for different areas on the body. Once applied the edges of the encapsulant are melted away and become invisible on the skin surface. The appliances are coloured using special alcohol-soluble ink makeup (such as Skin Illustrator).
Neill Gorton, of Britain’s Millenium FX, is a pioneer in this method of making prosthetics, and in this excellent series of Instructional DVDs, he demonstrates the design and manufacturing process in simple, easy to follow steps.
Don’t waste materials making expensive mistakes- get this DVD and understand the process before you start!
There was a lovely quote from Aussie Olympic swimmer Leisel Jones in the paper this morning.
In response to questions about her recent challenges in the 2012 London Olympics, she replied: “Smooth sailing doesn’t make a skilful sailor.”
How true this is. Yet, in our pursuit of our most fervent hopes and dreams, who amongst us would wish for a rough ride to the finish line? Surely we can simply stick to the easy path, and achieve just as much, if not more, than those who struggle? If we set our goals clearly and aim high, need we suffer in the attempt?
The Olympics are, so often, about expectation. The contenders, often young and in their early career, for whom nothing but Gold will shine. A Silver or Bronze is almost more devastating to them than never qualifying. Then there are the battlers, from countries with no history in their chosen event, or the ones who have self-funded and trained, often later in life, to fulfil their dream. They stand no real chance of winning against competitors with a lifetimes’ dedication and the financial backing of a nation, but for many of them just being there is the reward, and their triumph is achieved when the starter’s gun sounds. And, in London, we had the unusual case of Jones, who became the first Australian swimmer to compete in four Olympics, yet who has been criticised for failing to medal, and had people wondering if that achievement itself had been enough.
If you choose to work in the Special Effects Makeup Industry, you are choosing a rough road. That’s a given. Like any Olympic sport, many try to achieve greatness, and few succeed. But for many people, ‘just doing it’ is as far as their goal-setting ever got. When you have had your heart set on just being able to do Makeup FX, somewhere, somehow, that may be enough for you… Are you content to simply drift along through life, never knowing what is round the corner, as long as you are doing SOMETHING in that field? Then there are those who have a good run, who consistently achieve moderate success, or even, fleetingly, the glory of national or international recognition. At some point, your career will inevitably begin to wane, whether through age, ill health, or simply having lost touch with the up and coming in the industry, and therefore being deemed irrelevant. Do we judge our industry as harshly as the public judge our Olympians? Should we be allowed to pursue our chosen career as long as we choose, as long as we feel capable, or do we allow ourselves to be pushed aside in favour of someone younger and less experienced, but hungrier? And what do we do if that happens? Where do we turn then?
In order to be your best, in any field in life, even in life itself, we need clear and defined goals, and the discipline to pursue them. But goal setting is a risky business in itself. Set the wrong goals, and risk failure. It is sadly easy to spend too much time and effort climbing the ladder, only to realise, belatedly, that it was up against the wrong wall…..
After the idealism of youth, and the dewy eyed enthusiasm of the passionate beginner has worn off, and we have begun our fledgling careers in the Special Effects Makeup Industry, most people come to realise very abruptly, and not altogether pleasantly, that there is a long hard road ahead of them, and it isn’t going to be all roses and red carpets…. In short, you will have bills to pay, rent to cover, and you will look wistfully at your friends who have ‘boring’ jobs working in the local bank or as a plumber, who are buying new clothes every six weeks and jetting off overseas for their annual leave, and say “Why cant I afford to do that?” You will have discovered the harsh reality.
It’s hard to make a living wage doing what we do.
And nobody, but nobody, teaches you about Business 101 when you are studying to be an “artist”. Lets face it, you wouldn’t have been interested if they wanted to- you thought that because you loved it so much, all you had to do was get out there, show the world how talented and enthusiastic you were and they would beat a path to your door… FX Houses all over the world would be competing to get you to come work for them, right? Or not…. Continue reading
When you first start out, dont forget INSURANCE!
When you work for a larger company as an EMPLOYEE, you will be covered by their public liability and indemnity insurance policy as long as you are engaged in work that you have been assigned.
When you are a FREELANCER, or as can sometimes be the case even when working for a larger company, a SUBCONTRACTOR, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for your own insurance.
So, if anything goes wrong, say an actor has an allergic reaction (whole different subject- to be covered in another post!!) and ends up requiring expensive medical treatment, or if the actor is injured in some way as a result of YOUR work, then YOU are personally LIABLE, not the production… nor the company that may have engaged you to do the work…. Of course the injured party may choose to sue them as well for having hired you in the first place, but in the end, its going to cost you.
A lot of people ignore insurance when they start out, they think its too expensive… but being sued for injury or loss of income is going to be a WHOLE lot more expensive, and given how hard it is to make any money in this business in the first place when you are in your early career, can you afford to take that risk?????
All countries have different legislation covering insurance and compensation so you will need to ask around for the best kind of cover. In the United States you may be able in many cases you can ad it as a rider to a home insurance policy for little to no cost. Australia is a little different, you can cover tools of trade at home or in the car, and public liability on the premises, but not on a worksite, which requires a separate policy…
Some places have policies specifically geared to the Film and TV production industry. You can also ask your local Government regulatory authority, Media Union or Professional Association for recommended insurers. If you can’t find those, then get some kind of Mobile Business Insurance if you are working on sets and locations, that will cover you for personal liability and tools of trade, (often these cover any assistants as well).
Don’t skimp- it could cost you your livelihood or your lifestyle!