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HomeAwardsThe Crafts of Makeup Artistry and Hair Styling Celebrated at Guild Awards

The Crafts of Makeup Artistry and Hair Styling Celebrated at Guild Awards

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(Photos by Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging)
(Photos by Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging)
In specific cases, a cinema/television guild awards show serves to celebrate a craft as an overall entity inasmuch as it honors the individuals who work within that craft. With regards to the Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards, the events held at the Paramount Pictures lot in two separate but video-linked theaters showed the industry at large why the artists working in makeup and hair are as vital to the success of a film as any other craft which contributes to a movie or televised project. In fact, the guild awards held on Feb. 20 beg the question why these artists are not contractually listed in the main titles which begin a film or TV show along with the cinematographer, production designer, costume designer and other key crafts.

This awards show, which is making a furious comeback the past few years after a period of absence, demonstrates the talents necessary to enriching a story with undeniably enduring characters. In nearly every clip or video compilation screened throughout the evening, repeatedly, it became apparent that the characters which grace our most treasured movie memories are largely the responsibility of the makeup and hair team on a project.

Towards the beginning of the program, which was followed by a lavish catered reception, Johnny Depp was on hand to present lifetime achievement awards to two women who have fully created the looks of Depp’s panoply of cinema characters. Ve Neill (makeup) and Yolanda Toussieng (hair) had worked with Depp since Edward Scissorhands over a quarter of a century ago and continued with him through such winning projects as Ed Wood, the Pirates of the Caribbean films and many others.

From left: Ve Neill, Johnny Depp and Yolanda Toussieng.
From left: Ve Neill, Johnny Depp and Yolanda Toussieng.
When Neill and Toussieng’s careers unfolded in the momentous clips shown after Depp’s introductions, one reality unfolded before the eyes of all present: these women have created cinematic masterpieces over and over again with their star, each piece as significant and wholly distinct as every other one shown. Without question, the combination of cinematography, production design, costume design and overall direction work to create these timeless characters, but the efforts to visually manipulate the actors to form the final product with which the other crafts function on a set is largely the result of perfection in makeup and hair arts. As such, the guild awards make a very strong case for a film to list these craftspeople along with their peers on any film or TV crew when the main credits unfold.

This reality is to say nothing of another ongoing issue in this arena: the incursion of digitally-created characters and the manipulation of live-action elements in postproduction, all of which are happening in greater stead as computer-based techniques become more refined – simultaneously, motion-capture techniques allow a real-time actor’s performance to be translated into a facsimile performance by a computer-generated character. As such, makeup and hair craftsmanship is under fire in many corners of the industry. In point, controversy remains at present for the current film Deadpool as to which aspects of that film’s characters are digital and which were achieved on set with makeup effects.

LR-065However, the guild awards had no trace of bitterness whatsoever over digital duplicates or makeup and hair’s scant appreciation alongside their film and TV brethren. The awards show was all about recognition of superior work done across many types of television productions, including soap operas, period work and even children’s programming, plus cinematic achievements, in character renderings, period pieces, and effects, all sharing equal time at the show on both the makeup and hair sides.

Character makeup victor Lesley Vanderwalt (for Mad Max: Fury Road) commented on the rigors of her latest onscreen work in a private conversation. “I don’t think it’s all sunk in yet,” she said. “It was a huge amazing challenge. We had a great crew; everybody had to pitch in and do everything. We were too remote to keep pulling people in. We didn’t really think about it until the end.” Vanderwalt is also nominated for an Oscar for best makeup.

Actor Doug Jones was on hand to pay tribute to the many makeup people who have often engorged him in prosthetics and full creature suits. “Hopefully, what anyone should bring to it is not being a suit performer, it’s being an actor,” said Jones on the red carpet. “It takes an actor on the inside to create the character from his heart and soul and work that way out through the makeup that’s just been applied to you.”

LR-1-0220162004bOver five films, including Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth and the recent Crimson Peak, Guillermo Del Toro has called upon Jones to perform as various specialized characters. “I bless the day that man ever met me,” Jones said of the genre filmmaker. “He’s been such a champion of mine over the years; I love him dearly. I owe so much to him, not only for creating roles for me that are so useful of whatever talents I might have, but he also writes leading roles for his monsters. He’s given me a chance to throw back to the golden era. I can join the Boris Karloffs and the Lon Chaneys with monsters that have storylines and romantic interests and all the things that humans have that we lost for a long time there. Guillermo Del Toro brought that back, and I’m so tickled pink to be on that ride with him.”

Makeup effects supervisor on many projects Glenn Hetrick has become a notable figure on television as a judge on the show Face Off, which pits nascent makeup artists as contestants competing against each other in a reality-style format. He spoke to the considerable success of the SyFy series, which undoubtedly champions makeup artistry. “Unlike other competition shows, it’s very centered on the art,” he said. “The competition is very friendly; everyone helps each other. The greatest aspect of the show is that we see a lot of families watching with their children, and children getting into art because of the show. I think there’s a visceral experience with seeing the way that creatures are created. It takes the fear away. But at the same time, it inspires kids to pick up a pencil or a paint brush or a sculpting tool and learn art, which is the best possible dividend that we could have imagined from the show.”

LR-120Commenting on the ongoing digital controversy, a point of contention in various areas of a character’s appearance, including the aging (or reverse aging) process, stages of infirmary, creating human-animal hybrids, and select other aspects, distinguished makeup effects artist Alex Noble, with almost 20 years in the industry spoke to makeup artist and hair styling’s relevance in a digital age. “Doing physical makeups on a film is so vital,” he said, “because it actually gives the actor something to react off of instead of trying getting emotion from a tennis ball.”

Echoing his sentiments was president of Local 706, the Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild, Sue Cabral-Ebert. “We’ve improved our craft so much. It’s more economical and better for the actors to do a practical makeup, rather than CGI,” she stated just before the main ceremony. “That’s what directors are finally finding out.”

Oscar winner Dave Elsey, whose makeups in Mr. Holmes were under consideration for an Oscar this season, had a similar take on his craft to that of his union president. “It will always be important because the actors will always need to look at themselves in the mirror and to see the character looking back,” he said of makeup’s place in the current cinema landscape. “You don’t get that with digital.”

LR-119Attending with Elsey was Rick Baker, whose seven Oscars, including one with Elsey for The Wolfman (2010), positions him among the most awarded below-the-line cinema artists of all time. In addition to his magical makeups in films including The Nutty Professor (1996) and Men in Black (1997) both of which brought him Oscars, Baker also mastered the art of animatronic characters and full-size puppets such as those used in 1998’s Mighty Joe Young and 1987’s Harry and the Hendersons (another Oscar winner). According to Baker, while the future is unwritten with regards to the amount of makeup being used in films and TV shows, animatronics might slowly but eventually be totally phased out of major films. “They have been, unfortunately” he said of CGI replacing full-size animatronics of late. “That kind of stuff I don’t think will be done again. Makeups I don’t think will ever disappear, but big animatronic things are a thing of the past. I’m hoping that makeups won’t disappear. They may – who knows? I just hope they don’t.”

One of Baker’s colleagues and a veteran of makeup effects from such aforementioned works as Hellboy, Mike Elizalde conveyed another aspect of makeup’s relevancy in the 21st century and beyond. “I think there’s a very strong sense of connection, in particular when it comes to telling a story effectively, with practical elements,” he said. “That’s really a very strong feature of what we provide for films and television.” The proprietor of the 14-year-old effects studio Spectral Motion, Elizalde cited a new show, Stranger Things, aimed at Netflix, whose filmmakers insisted on utilizing practical elements on their set. Now, Elizalde’s teenaged daughter is entering the industry as a makeup artist.

Three nominated artists for effects in the 2015 film Black Mass, Joel Harlow, Khanh Trance and Kenny Niederbaumer detailed the success of their collaboration. “She will seriously do whatever it takes until it’s perfect,” said Harlow of Trance, who will often pull late hours punching hair into prosthetic appliances, such as those worn by Johnny Depp to transform him into gangster Whitey Bulger for Black Mass. “What comes out the other end is amazing.”

LR-112“It’s just one hair at a time,” said Trance. “Over the years of doing it over and over, I got the skills. You get better and better. I’ve been doing it for 20 years now.”

Niederbaumer noted that getting his designs approved was his biggest Black Mass challenge. “Every actor wanted to be in makeup, and all the producers didn’t want anyone to wear makeup,” he revealed. “We only had four days of prep in Boston and maybe two weeks here in Los Angeles.”

Harlow noted that he has now worked with Depp on a consecutive group of recent projects. “I met him on the first Pirates,” he said of a film department headed by Ve Neill. “We have a very relaxed atmosphere in the trailer. He knows that no matter how ‘out there’ the character is, he can throw it at us, and we’ll figure it out. I think there’s a certain amount of comfort it that.” Harlow’s next collaboration with Depp includes some new looks for the Mad Hatter in the upcoming Alice in Wonderland sequel.

Nominated for The Danish Girl, British makeup artist Jan Sewell transformed Eddie Redmayne in the unique project, following their fruitful collaboration on The Theory of Everything. “We luckily started doing tests seven months before we started shooting,” Sewell said. “We did an initial test, just taking stills that Tom Hooper [the director] was very keen to see. I was able to work lots of different colored wigs on Eddie. It was that early on that we knew Eddie was going to work as a woman. When we next did our actual camera test, we found Lili – the red-colored wig, the makeup. What was so lovely is knowing that we were shooting on high-definition. I was able to see how close Tom wanted to go. I realized how delicate I had to be with the makeup on him. I didn’t want it to be seen at all.”

Veteran makeup artist Byrd Holland, who served as a longtime personal makeup artist to actors including Jonathan Winters and James Arness, commented on his son Tate who founded the popular crafts school Makeup Designory. “The whole thing is based on not only talent and ability, but based on love,” Byrd said. “His school, his teachers, the whole organization looks so international. He’s represented by people coming from other countries. That’s the success of Hollywood, by the way.”

In some cases, a makeup artist gains the trust, not only of the actor with whom he or she regularly works, but also a director. Case in point, Oscar-winning makeup artist Lois Burwell has worked on nearly every Steven Spielberg film of the past two decades, including the upcoming The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). “It’s just a privilege,” she said. “I’m the lucky one. He’s a consummate filmmaker and someone I admired before I ever got to work with him. Working with him has made me admire him even more.”

Especially the past 20 years, Spielberg is noteworthy for surrounding himself with a group of trusted department heads in cinematography, production design, costume design, editorial and other areas, and Burwell has been a key part of that team. “There is a shorthand and a dialogue that you can have that is exceptional,” she said. “It does make the work easier in some ways. Every project is different, so it can’t always be familial. There are always component parts that do change. But it is wonderful, and it is my film family.”

Back to Ve Neill, with three Oscar wins, countless top projects, and the aforementioned lifetime achievement award, on the red carpet, she spoke about her craft before heading into the main Bronson Theater at Paramount to accept her statue. “I think the actors like it,” she said of makeup. “I think they want to be in those makeups. It helps them do their character. Also, it’s organic, and it’s real. CGI never feels exactly real to me. It’s okay if you couple it with makeup, but I think you need to start with makeup. You need to start with the actual greasepaint on the face and carry on from there.”

Of her 11 seasons as a recurring judge on Face Off, currently shooting, she noted its successful qualities. “I think it’s special because of all the young kids that are on it,” she said. “I love to see what they come up with every week. It’s just such a fantastic thing to see how happy everybody is when they are doing it. They love to see their creature come to life. It’s a fantastic feeling.”

In the end, enjoying all of the proceedings was a full audience of what appeared to mostly consist of artists in the hair and makeup fields. Perhaps if more producers, executives, and directors could be coaxed to attend future ceremonies, we might see “Makeup Designed By” and “Hair Designed By” in the main titles of all upcoming films and TV shows.

The winners of the 2016 Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards are:

Feature Films

Best Contemporary Make-Up
Furious 7
Make-Up Artists: James Mackinnon, Autumn Butler, Roxy D’Alonzo

Best Contemporary Hair Styling
Pitch Perfect 2
Hair Stylists: Cheryl Marks, Meagan Herrera, Daina Daigle

Best Period and/or Character Make-Up
Mad Max: Fury Road
Make-Up Artists: Lesley Vanderwalt, Nadine Prigge, Ailie Smith

Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling
Cinderella
Hair Stylists: Carol Hemming, Orla Carroll, Wakana Yoshihara

Best Special Make-Up Effects
Mad Max: Fury Road
Make-Up Artists: Damian Martin, Elka Wardega, Jaco Snyman

Television And New Media Series:

Best Contemporary Make-Up
Dancing With The Stars
Make-Up Artists: Zena Shteysel, Angela Moos, Patti Bortoli

Best Contemporary Hair Styling
Dancing With The Stars
Hair Stylists: Mary Guerrero, Kimi Messina, Jennifer Guerrero

Best Period and/or Character Make-Up
Game Of Thrones
Make-Up Artist: Jane Walker

Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling
Game Of Thrones
Hair Stylists: Kevin Alexander, Candice Banks

Best Special Make-Up Effects
The Walking Dead
Make-Up Artists: Greg Nicotero, Garrett Immel

Television Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television (M.O.W):

Best Contemporary Make-Up
Scream Queens
Make-Up Artists: Eryn Krueger Mekash, Kelley Mitchell, Melissa Buell

Best Contemporary Hair Styling
Whitney
Hair Stylists: Emanuel Millar, Rhonda O’Neal

Best Period and/or Character Make-Up
American Horror Story: Hotel
Make-Up Artists: Eryn Krueger Mekash, Kim Ayers, Sarah Tanno

Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling
American Horror Story: Hotel
Hair Stylists: Monte C Haught, Darlene Brumfield, Frederic Aspiras

Best Special Make-Up Effects
American Horror Story: Hotel
Make-Up Artists: Eryn Krueger Mekash, Michael Mekash, David Anderson

Commercials and Music Videos:

Best Make-Up
American Horror Story: Hotel Promo
Make-Up Artists: Kerry Herta, Jason Collins

Best Hair Styling
American Horror Story: Hotel
Stylists: Nicole Alkire, Marissa Smith

Theatrical Productions (Live Stage):

Best Make-Up
Alice In Wonderland
Make-Up Artists: Vanessa Dionne, Rheanne Garcia, Deborah Bryan

Best Hair Styling
Alice In Wonderland
Hair Stylists: Vanessa Dionne, Cassandra Russek

Children and Teen Programming:

Best Make-Up
Henry Danger
Make-Up Artists: Michael Johnston, Patti Brand Reese, Melanie Mills

Best Hair Styling
Henry Danger
Hair Stylists: Joe Matke, Roma Goddard, Mary Lum

Daytime Television:

Best Make-Up
The Young And The Restless
Make-Up Artists: Patricia Denney, Marlene Mason, Kathy Jones

Best Hair Styling
The Real
Hair Stylist: Roberta Gardener Rogers

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