Tag Archives: film

So You Got Your First Real Job As A Makeup FX Artist…….

Congrats on getting your first real gig.


Now comes the REALLY hard part!!


You are no doubt filled with excitement, enthusiasm, and a little bit of trepidation. Which is all to the good. 
There is nothing quite like jumping in at the deep end to find out exactly how well you can swim. And you are about to!!

If I can offer you any advice for the job it is this: 

BE PREPARED 
Yep, it’s the ol’ Scout Motto. 
And it holds as true for what you are about to do as for a soldier preparing for battle…

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Making Money from Someone Else’s Art: dealing with Licensing and Intellectual Property Rights

So, you are now starting a business, and you want to be able to sell your work.  Thats great!  You have worked hard to get to the point where you feel competent enough and that your work is of a high standard, and now its time to start reaping the rewards.

Except…. that along the way to get to this point, you practiced by creating work based on characters you admired or were inspired by, and although you have undoubtedly also done some fine original work, you have discovered that the work people most want to buy is not something you actually own, but rather a reproduction you have done of a well-known character from a movie/tv show/comic or book.

Of course you realise that selling this piece is totally illegal and could get you into some serious trouble, but after all it was only one… or three… or fifteen… no harm done, right?

Wrong.

You could easily find yourself being sued if someone who actually owns the copyright on that character discovers you are making money off their work. And in the case of movie studios and tv production companies, the stakes are especially high. Can you afford to lose everything?

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Letter to a Young Filmmaker….

As you grow older, please don’t lose your enthusiasm and energy in the slow trawl through the current miasma of the Australian (and dare I say greater world) film industry….

Here and there on your journey you will find pockets of fresh and exciting ideas, full of people who energise you and give hope for the future.

But there are much larger swathes of territory and time to be crossed, inhabited by the soul-destroying shades of those who live on memories of past glory, clinging with their skeletal death-grip to the tattered remnants of strategies and ideas they once thought would conquer the world….. (usually accountants and economists…. LOL)

Dont let them beat you down.

You, like all people your age, with youth and innocence on your side, look at the generations who have gone before and think, “Why don’t they fix it? Its so obvious that we can do better!” and you are partly right… Sadly, you too will grow up and get tired of fighting against the system, as did the generation before you, and the one before that…. ad infinitum.

Yet in every era, there are a few who hold on to that precious flame and nurture it. Slowly, slowly, we build on those ideas, and slowly, slowly, we will infect the rest, building the numbers, until we reach critical mass, and only then will we effect mass change. But take heart, there is no reason you can’t be successful in the meantime on a smaller scale. Whatever your area, as an actor, a writer, or another kind of crew member, we are all involved in the change. Continue reading


Never Insult a Trekkie: A Lesson for J J Abrams

Bearing in mind I’m not a Trekkie, per se, but I am and always have been a Sci-Fi fan, and I totally understand the sentiment here….

I also love Sci-Fantasy, and am partial to a bit of High Fantasy as well.

When a movie is made of a beloved book/comic/TV show, there will always be those who rail against ANY changes.
I usually ignore them.

There will be those fans who complain bitterly that the filmmaker did not crawl into their head and produce a film based precisely on the way they imagined things, because their way would have been better…
I usually ignore them too.

There will be those who dislike the necessary plot and story changes that must take place in creating a film, due to the simple fact that what makes a great movie great is very different from that which makes a good book/comic/TV show, and you cannot slavishly reproduce something from one format in another successfully.
I take those complaints with a pinch of salt, but i watch the creative process carefully in these cases.
A good deal of craftsmanship and sensitive is required of a director and producers to do this well, and it is my opinion that it not only requires a great filmmaker to make a great film, it takes a true fan to pull off a great conversion, someone with as much affection for the source material as the people who will flock to see it. For someone to do it well, and produce a fantastic movie while remaining true to the SPIRITof the book/comic/TV show is challenging and risky, and when they manage it they should be applauded.
But…. it baffles me when someone is handed that responsibility, the midwifery of a beloved piece of our culture, and that someone does not even pretend to understand what made it beloved in the first place….
Ok, so yes, I saw Star Trek, Into Darkness, and it was a pretty good film, but to be honest I didn’t see the previous movie, nor half of the more recent tv shows, so I had no particular expectations.
But I understand that a lot of people did, and to have J.J.Abrams essentially slap them in the face by saying that he really didn’t care about them or what it meant to them is a wee bit disingenuous. You would think that since fans who buy tickets to his films are directly responsible for his success and his position of power and privilege in the film and TV industry, that he might have had at least a little empathy for the people who put him there.

So. Completely agree with the last statement of this post: “……I wish he had respected that, if only on TV. I wish he had invested a little more effort in keeping the magic alive.”

Because thats what we do in this business… we make magic.  And without fostering and supporting that magic, whats the point?

Unkilled Darlings

I am a fan, not a fanatic, when it comes to Star Trek. I grew up watching the Enterprise float around a Styrofoam universe and I have a special place in my heart for William Shatner, despite the whole thing of him being William Shatner. Still, I’ve never been to a convention or a Klingon-translated wedding. I don’t own any kind of Starfleet getup and I never really got into Next Generation (the geeks in the gallery gasp!). I still, however, think J J Abrams is a dick for what he said.

(Click here to link to a larger gif)

jj abrams jpeg

Yeah, it’s shocking right?! (Geeks in the gallery gasp, again!)
Let me level with you—Maybe Star Trek doesn’t fly your space ship. Kirk getting it on with aliens and Spock’s pointy eyebrows turn you off. Fair enough—I don’t hold it against you. Honest, I don’t. Scifi is not for everyone…

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The FX Artists Reply to Unreasonable Demands:

There are many people who want to be Makeup FX Artists. More than there can ever possibly be demand for. Most of them will never ‘make it’. Not because they don’t have the talent, or the drive, but because they get worn down by years of trying and failing, and eventually give up, poor, lost and disheartened. It takes more than just raw talent and enthusiasm to make it in this business.

Many people starting out are often so eager to make a name for themselves and get involved in something- anything! – that they become unwitting doormats, willing to do whatever it takes to follow their dreams. For some reason, perfectly sane people who would never consider behaving like this in any other arena of their lives start belittling themselves or prostituting their skills. They become totally desperate- like drug addicts, taking whatever so-called ‘work’ they can get, to get their next ‘high’… Unfortunately in that state of mind it is easy to be taken advantage of by people who really couldn’t care less about your desire to prove yourself, they are just in it for themselves and don’t care who they tread on on the way.

It is one thing to be enthusiastic and helpful and excited about finally getting to pursue your dreams, and another thing entirely to get the chance to do something that is going to help you actually do that.

The word “No” is often completely eradicated from peoples vocabularies at this stage, because they are so terrified of somehow losing out if they dare to refuse a ‘job’.

Well, here is a reality check for anyone who is at that point:

The FX Artists Reply to Unreasonable Demands:

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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’. Continue reading


A New Era in Perth Filmmaking.

From the Archives:  This was originally published as a Facebook Note in late 2009.

Filmmaking is about creative collaboration and co-operation.

When you see the ongoing success of events like the ‘Perth Film Network’ networking functions you realise how much we are all benefiting, getting to know and work with the rest of the people in our fledgling industry. It’s great to see people responding so enthusiastically to these events. It makes you realise what has been missing for so long in this town- communication. It’s fantastic to have that chance to meet people, have a few drinks and and dream up new ideas for future projects.

But we won’t ever catch up to the rest of the country unless we all pull together, put in some serious effort, and make it happen…. or else we will keep on having drinks and having a good time, and life will go on pretty much as it always has round here. Which is fine if you want to keep working for nothing, or are happy getting paid two-thirds of what the rest of the country gets because ‘it’s only WA’. It’s fine if you don’t care that many of our crew never get much past the skill level of your average keen student filmmaker, not from want of trying, but purely because they never, ever, get a chance to work with someone better than they are and see how it can, and should be done.

There haven’t been enough professional level production here to have any sort of useful mentoring of our brightest and best, and people complain that the big productions that come over don’t use many local crew. Why is this so? Two extremely valid reasons- firstly, because we have a very, very small group of people trained to the standard they need, and most of those work full-time to service the small industry we do have- local commercials, corporates, docos, sport, and once in a blue moon, a kids tv series. Second reason is because most of the interstate and overseas productions don’t know a soul in the industry here, and even if they did want to hire local crew- they wouldn’t know where to find them. Basically we are really bad at promoting ourselves outside our own backyard. And not so hot within it, for that matter.

Is it any wonder that anyone with any ambition gets on a plane as soon as they can? If the people who do have the knowledge can’t or won’t teach you, how can you learn? Worse, if there is no-one here with the kind of skills you need to learn, what else are people supposed to do? How many of you want to spend the next twenty years making the same kind of films they have done here for the last twenty? Sure, the advances in computing and digital technology now make it possible for anyone to get a little camera and make a film, complete with CGI, in their living room. Well, heads-up, folks- just because you can physically make a film, it doesn’t automatically follow that its going to be good! This is an artform and a craft – one that requires dedication and passion, and most of all, practise! And by the way, practise doesn’t mean doing the same thing, the same way, over and over and over- it means refining and improving and learning. Continue reading


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