The Makeup Artist


The Social Butterfly. The hardest crew member to nail down unless you have a bit of cash.


"Hopelessly in June"

Makeup Artists (MUA) are one of the crew members who must be both talented at what they do and personable.

You may think that all members of a crew should be personable (I agree but this varies depending on the position), but Makeup Artists specifically need to have a special touch since they are dealing with talent personally, some insecure and others just yearning to look the part.  Talent needs to trust that their Makeup Artist is doing what the Director wants, what will make them look the part (and usually: look good) and also, not use anything on their skin that may give them an allergic reaction.  The second that trust is broken you are left with an insecure actor which is not at all beneficial to any production.


I always appreciate a Makeup Artist who asks the following questions as they take on a job:

Can I get a copy of the script?

Can I get headshots or screen grabs of the talent?

Do I need to worry about continuity with other scenes and if so, do you have screen grabs from that footage that I can take a look at?

These questions – although obvious – are important especially if a Makeup Artist is coming into a project after production has started.  There is nothing worse than a MUA getting to set, jumping in feet first and doing the wrong look/type of makeup for a character.  As a Producer, I certainly don’t have the time to think about these things and make sure the Director is communicating this information as I hire you.  So please just ask!  Ask as many questions as you can!

On Set

"Love Sick Love"

When you arrive on set, find your designated space to set up and do so immediately.  You are the first stop when an actor arrives.  If you are not on time the entire production can be held up.  When you get underway, estimate the amount of time you will need to complete each actor’s make up.  There is nothing worse than seeing a MUA chatting away with the talent (while working) with no idea when the make up session will end.  If the AD or the Director asks how long it will take, have an answer and be accurate.  Two seconds is not an answer unless the talent is standing up from your chair.  If your MUA is also doing hair, the process will take longer and the AD needs to know just how long.  When you are on set it’s all about timing, scheduling and accuracy.

Last Looks

After rehearsal the AD and/or Director (and sometimes the talent) will ask for Last Looks. There’s nothing worse than calling Last Looks and the MUA is no where to be found.  Once you are done with talent in the chair, bring your makeup bag and be on set.  Look at the monitor and know what needs tweaking before someone calls Last Looks.  When they call you in, jump in, make adjustments quickly and clear frame.

One of My Favs

Erin LeBre

Erin LeBre is one of my favorite Makeup Artists as she possesses all of the characteristics I mentioned above. Additionally, if she can’t work with me on a production, she is ready and willing to help fill the spot with someone competent and she’ll give them notes and a mini-interview so that she knows the person she is giving me is on top of their game.  Erin also is one of the few who never has a problem with talent.  She makes talent feel comfortable and secure.  Erin always asks questions about he production needs and the talent.  She takes make up notes for continuity so that we can continue shooting a scene another time if necessary. She’s quick on her feet and when presented with situations like sun burn or horrible tan lines – she jumps in and does what she can to remedy the situation.  And the talent always looks amazing!

To contact Erin LeBre directly click here or please fill out the contact form here and I’ll make sure she gets in touch.

Final Thoughts

Although it shouldn’t matter (but it certainly does) the first red flag when hiring or meeting a MUA is when they aren’t wearing any makeup or their own makeup doesn’t look good.  If they can’t put their own makeup on, then they have no business doing someone else’s.

When you are able to, hire a MUA and a separate Hair Stylist so that they both can do their job to the best of their ability.  If a MUA isn’t strong with hair, and you ask them to style hair, you are setting yourself up for mediocre hair and a hold-up in your schedule.

Special Effects, Prosthetics and other fun stuff – this is a different skill set than Beauty/Glamour make up.  Make sure you are upfront with a MUA about the needs of the production before asking your MUA to produce a wound on your talent’s body or help with blood.  Also, these additional requests mean additional money, so be prepared to pull out the wallet.


3 Replies to “The Makeup Artist”

  1. Great post, you taught me things here that, as someone in post-production, I wasn’t aware of. Thanks!

  2. This was great insight to the industry makes me want to write a hot, super hot script now! Anyway, as always you inspire me. 🙂

Leave a Reply