A Day in my Life as a Makeup Assistant in Film

day in the life of a makeup assistant

Guys, I’m so sorry for the lack of content on the blog these past few months. The makeup assistant job I’m currently on has taken most of my attention. So I thought I might talk about what my days are like at the moment. A sort of ‘Day in the Life…’ rundown, in case anyone’s interested. Feels a bit cliche, but I’m a bit nosy myself and love digging into other people’s schedules. It helps me to understand more clearly what makes people tick.

The job I’m on now started back in July and we are well into the routine now. I’m working with a hugely talented bunch of girls who I can call friends and the best thing about this job is that EVERY DAY IS DIFFERENT. The below is an example of one of my days, but honestly, no two days are alike. Crew call, scenes, and cast members will all affect how your day runs. This makes life all the more interesting and exciting!

What My Day On-Set currently Looks Like as a Makeup Assistant (On Location)

0430 – Awake to the unwelcome sound of my alarm. I always allow more time than I need to get ready. I hate rushing. Hence why I spend a leisurely hour to wake up, shower and get ready. I will leave the house at 0530.

0600 – Once I arrive on location (always slightly earlier than required), I will grab something to eat for breakfast, and then make sure my station is ready for any doubles I might need to help do hair and makeup for.

When you’re on set, and that clock is going, every second you spend doing something is a second you spend not doing something else. That’s true of all of life, but it’s very vivid on a film set because you’re always managing that. – Greta Gerwig

0630 – CREW CALL (general call time and the official start to the day)

0630 – Cast members start to arrive in their chairs for hair and makeup. If I don’t have to do any hair and makeup on stunt or picture doubles then I’ll assist the other artists in the truck and prepare bags for set. All crew will then head to set to begin shooting.

0700 – Sometimes I’ll go to set and help standby. If my help isn’t required, I’ll go back to the truck and take care of any admin/PA work. I catch up with the HOD/Designer and curate my to-do list for the day. This includes anything from ordering products and filling out paperwork to tidying the trucks and prepping for the next day.

1130 – On a ‘continuous’ day, there is not an allocated break where everyone sits down to eat lunch. They make lunch available for a certain time period, and you are permitted to get lunch at your discretion, or when you have a chance to. For those who can’t leave set, lunch is boxed up and delivered. It’s around this time that I grab something to eat.

1300 – I usually spend a period of the afternoon as the makeup assistant doing more admin work, and making sure the petty cash logs are up to date. I will then help the HOD as they start to plan the next day, and book additional artists as required.

1630 – If shooting is on schedule for the day, we’ll wrap at the 10-hour mark. The makeup team will return to their bus and prepare to wrap cast. The talent will return to unit base to change and have makeup/hair/wigs removed if needed. I make sure my station is clean and that any wigs have been cleaned and blocked, before asking if anyone else requires assistance.

1730 – Hometime! Once the cast has been wrapped and the bus is clean, we sign out and head home, ready for another early start tomorrow.

All departments and teams will have different systems and routines and no job will ever feel the same as the last. As a makeup assistant, it’s important for you to adapt to the needs of the department you’re in, and also remember that you do play an important role in the team, just as much as anyone else. Learn to know your place, respect your colleagues and make life easier for the people around you when possible. Like I always say, ‘attitude is everything!’

 

That’s all she wrote,

Lexi

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4 Comments

  1. Hi, I really like SFX (and VFX) and am thinking of it as a career after school. The only thing I’m a little worried about is that I don’t really know how to do the ‘glam’ make up stuff and was wondering if you have to know that stuff to be a make up artist for the more monster/cuts/disease kind of thing. Or does a make up artist have to know all of it?

    1. violentmaiden

      A makeup artist (whether beauty or FX) should ALWAYS know the basics of beauty makeup. It helps grow your skills and knowledge of working with different skin colours and textures!

  2. I’m in makeup school right now, and do makeup assist on the side when I have time. Whether or not I am getting paid. Now and again, I’m hit with imposter syndrome and I ask myself if I am good enough for the job, if I should be here, etc.

    I’m confident, but sometimes, it’s just a whirlwind of “I think I’m doing everything terribly”

    Have you felt that before? I know that schedules are always 12+ hours, so I’m unfazed. But man, being totally levelheaded–that’s something I don’t know I’ll figure out.

    1. violentmaiden

      Hi Jess, all makeup artists go through phases of feeling ‘not good enough’, and it’s completely normal! Even artists with decades of experience still have those moments. Don’t think too much of it. When you’re working, don’t waste energy worrying, just focus on the task at hand. We never quite figure it out but it will get easier with time. Just keep getting involved!