A LITTLE MORE ON THE SUBJECT IF I'VE PIQUED YOUR INTEREST
Whatever the design, creating looks that are 'totale', and embrace the whole cast and 'speak' of the characters, their world and their journey's requires planning and more thought than many imagine, especially when multiple looks or periods need to be addressed in the same production. There's also often the need to adjust for the reality of a actor's looks when they come to the production (while often working simultaneously on another film), hair, no hair, hair too short, hair too long, hair colour etc. - all these variances have to be managed to chime with the look. Then, paring it back to be 'invisible', by that I mean instantly believable into a 'finished look' is the endgame. Having found the shape of it, the sketch is only part of the process, finessing it to be 'invisible', immediately believable takes the extra time that makes all the difference to the finish. Good prep not only saves time on the day, (and your artist's hours and overtime and TOC), but it's also essential to plan and use the budget most effectively. Good prep is essential to getting the cast looks camera and schedule ready. For slick timings and cool runnings it's essential to refinine the process to only that which is necessary - until there is nowhere for technique or surprises to hide.
To my complete surprise and joy the subtlety of my work was noted by the writer Tony Saint at a Q&A BAFTA screening of "Margaret Thatcher - The Long Walk to Finchley", which I attended to see how it would be received. A member of the audience commented on the feature quality polish of the look of the film and the writer, Tony Saint agreed that what he loved about the look was that Andrea Riseborough started the film as a 24 yr old and at the end of the film was obviously middle-aged, but that he didn't notice the progression of her ageing. That's what I call an accomplishment, especially as the schedule was only 25 days filming.
BAFTA Television nomination badge reproduced with kind permission of BAFTA.
And goodness me, the opportunities I have enjoyed have been wonderfully rich, varied and creative indeed.
"I am a hands on film-maker/make-up & hair designer. I 'do' rather than 'delegate', (though that is obviously also part of the job when necessary). I enjoy the satisfaction of delivering whatever the production/Director needs from the ordinary everyday to unusual or stylized using controlled palettes underpinned by sound skills and years of experience. I have been told that I feel like "a safe pair of hands". I believe that if I've done the work well it is not 'visible', it is so thin and effective you simply accept it, it helps tell the story. Character arcs, special or environmental effects and nuances should all be delivered in a way that supports the story beats and performances, going unnoticed. It's kind of rum but appropriate that your best work often goes unnoticed.
Ideally the same goes for set-cover and standing-by. If you are able to do checks adjacent to set, in light that is comparable with or brighter than the filming light, instead of some dingy, dark corner, it's obvious that it's much easier to maintain the work to an HD camera-ready standard and keep checks short and sweet, as they should be so that the set momentum is not interrupted. It is here I'd say, "So help us out guys! Locations, AD's, to have a suitable area for checks and my team will be able to serve you and the artists better." Keeping out of the Electricians, Props, background rehearsals way is essential, everyone has a job to do, but that is often the only area that is lit sufficiently for us to do checks. It's obvious we need to work around others, stay out of the way, work safely and effectively away from the set in a light that truly flags up the details we need to check - including wig lace and glue shine.
In short, to stay away and off the set, we need to do "Running checks" adjacently so that ideally 'Final checks' can be just that, a matter of less than 60 seconds, not minutes.
I especially love the moment of the actors and directors approval and when they leave the truck happy and good work is put on camera - that's the chemistry for me. That's what it's all about and what I 'joined up for'. It is my pleasure to serve the directors vision convincingly, skilfully and efficiently because the work lives on, and as you can see by the existence of all the links available in the "Trailers and Footage" section. So, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.
Preparation is key. Often just one image or a few images given to me by the director is sufficient to set me on the course to find the appropriate research and 'through line' for the production even if at first it may seem obscure. James Kent said I exceeded his expectations on "The Thirteenth Tale" for Heyday Films and Stanley Kubrick said "You did a great job" on my last day on "Full Metal Jacket".
I have worked with Stanley Kubrick, Michael Winner and Menahem Golan and all 3 were very challenging and forces of nature in their own ways. I have worked for HBO and HALLMARK as HOD and have done several shows for the BBC, most of which were period and which received BAFTA nominations. I also designed "The Fades" (BBC/BBC America), which was very heavy on effects and prosthetics for which I won an RTS nomination. The Director, Farren Blackburn, says of my work:
"The challenges set by 'The Fades' for all departments, not least of all Prosthetics, Hair and Make-Up were immense but Christine rose to those challenges and beyond with spectacular results." He also recently reminded me that I should mention that "The Fades" won a BAFTA winner for Best New New Series and I received an RTS nomination.
James Kent, Director of "The Thirteenth Tale" gave me a big hug on our last day and said "You exceeded my expectations." He was so happy with the look of the piece.
On three features I have been asked to step in at short notice to replace HOD's that have left either due to artistic differences or illness. In all three cases the Producers/Directors were delighted with the results - these productions were "Full Metal Jacket", "Hannah's War" and "Bitter Harvest". Stanley Kubrick said on my last day "You did a great job" and on "Hannah's War", when we viewed the rushes of her torture close-ups and confession, Menahem jumped up out of his chair exclaiming "I believe it! I really believe it!" and came right up to me and shook my hand.
I am a full voting member of BAFTA and avidly watch the screeners each year not just for voting purposes but to see what people are making and how they are working, particularly in make-up and hair. "It's been noticeable how VFX has become more and more conjoined with make-up and hair and that working with the VFX department is more common. I also watch a lot of older and classic movies for the story telling, hair reference and to appreciate just how much film making has changed over the years. Lately I've become a bit of an NCIS/CSI addict which has impacted my movie watching. I find forensics fascinating and enjoy noticing how individually each brand of show is designed." For example the very mobile camera work of NCIS and the warmth of the team, the yellows in the palette of CSI Miami's HQ and Horatio's stances and particular delivery, CSI New York's cold greys and quiet stealth, and NCIS New Orleans' drawl and perk. At least that's how I currently enjoy them - the great thing about these shows is they really grow on you and there's always something new to appreciate. Guys!!!! If you EVER come to the UK, PLEASE give me a call to be the UK make-up & hair artist.
I have served on 4 BAFTA make-up juries.
In 2007 I made a connection/introduction that provided a tranche of finance for an independent feature film, resulting in it being green lit.
In 2008 I attended the National Film School's short 1 week course on "How to Produce a Low Budget Feature" in order to better understand the Production development and financing process. You can draw your own conclusions from the timing of these last two tidbits of information and about how that went ;-)
I'm available for contracts as HOD/Designer for feature films. I also really enjoy daily work, either for additional principals or crowd. Sometimes it's nice to do the craft without all the responsibility of running a department, it's also a great way to meet new team members and established or upcoming make-up and hair talent. We're all in a mix and very few teams are 100% constant.
I am an Oxfordshire based make-up artist, special effects make-up artist and period hairdresser. I work on location in the UK and abroad.
It's important the make-up & hair department is a place where the cast are welcomed, the tea and coffee is good and perked, that the music, if played, is to everyone's taste. Setting the tone for the concentration and work for the day is essential and it also needs to be the place where we can crack on nicely, do good work enjoyably, safely and in an organised fashion. The cast also need to be confident that they, their character arcs, continuity and any nuance about which they or the director cares - is nailed efficiently. Having started the day to that level running-checks need to be thorough and timely, (not obsessive, which can be very irritating for the artist and other departments - we've all got a job to do). If artists are maintained with running and after-lunch checks to a "good for picture" standard and not allowed to deteriorate too much, final checks can be just that - quick and 'final'. To achieve this a good teamwork relationship with the AD's is essential and not to feel 'herded', but 'worked with'. After final checks, once shots are being taken it's really important to stay out of the set.
Sadly, it seems to have become the 'fashion' to leap in there after every cut and 'fiddle', but this is absolutely NOT how I work. Unless requested, or due to excessive perspiration or strict hair continuity, or an effect, I prefer me and my team to stay out of the set once filming a shot has begun. Jumping in disrupts momentum. I don't know how this 'fashion' came to be, all I know is that back in the day, on features, if you had been given the opportunity to do your 'running checks' and 'final checks' they were expected to last for at least 3 if not 5 or as many takes as were necessary. In fact, it was frowned upon if you then had to go in and 'correct' or 'top-up' your checks after a few takes AND you had to ask permission or get the nod from the First AD before doing so. Call me old-fashioned but it was the discipline in features and a fair one. It's also important for the make-up & hair department to understand that if a number of takes are being taken, especially on today's tight filming schedules, that if takes are numbering upward of 4 or 5 per shot, it's best to keep out because this is when refinement of so many others work is in process and it's really not the place for us to be - unless requested or absolutely essential. It has to be said that night interiors shot in summer with blackouts for lighting and closed windows and doors for sound are the worst scenario of excessive checks, but it hasn't changed in 30 years and it never will unless production see the value of decent air con (which "Downton" did - thankfully). Without it we just have to get efficient with fans, chamois, and make ourselves a nuisance with constant checking - it is simply unavoidable without the help of good air con and air circulation. On such days, it also has to be said that 'after lunch/tea time drowsiness could also be avoided with decent air con. So many times have I seen people both sides of the camera pushing through that awful enervating heat after lunch - and thank goodness, some productions are using air con - it makes such a big difference to the day and the work.
This was my make-up truck on "Bitter Harvest" supplied by On-Set Facilities. Isn't she lovely! It was a joy to work on; well lit with good storage and spacious work stations. Because it wasn't a truck with only just enough spaces for each member of the department, there was room to prep work and leave it out for discussion and finishing. It was also a delight for the cast to step on. Pukka! I wish more often one worked in such spaciousness - it makes working much clearer and more efficient.
Photo reproduced with kind permission of On-Set.com
Make-up and Hair has become one of the departments people like to discuss. Along with Lighting, how often do you hear firm opinions about make-up and hair, especially bad wigs in the media or at social gatherings. Audiences are more sophisticated than ever and not to be under-estimated. The work of the Make-up and Hair Department has never been more demanding due to more exacting formats and expectation of the design.
Make-up and hair matters. People are aware and it spoils their viewing experience if they are not convinced. I take the view that if I don't believe it I don't expect the audience to buy it either. It's not just about talent - effective preparation is key.
Christine's mother Connie Reeve (30 IMDB credits), two uncles, Harold Fletcher (59 IMDB credits) and his brother Gerald Fletcher (36 IMDB credits) were chief make-up artists who worked on some of the most iconic British feature films and Television series ever made. They are also listed on IMDB and have 125 credits between them. Her aunt also worked as a jobbing make-up artist (6 IMDB credits) and was a regular on the daily circuit in the 1960's and 1970's. She exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art.
I'd like to thank and acknowledge my mother, Constance Reeve who was Chief Make-up Artist on John Huston's "Beat the Devil" and "Moulin Rouge", she was also the Chief Make-up Artist on "The Tales of Hoffman" and "Gone To Earth" for Micky Powell.
She helped upload and inspired my artistic spirit and the notion of being a "maker of artistic things" when I was a child and although she helped me into the industry, make no mistake, I had to make my own way and win my own spurs. It was certainly not given to me on a plate. There are images of my mother at work and of some of her work in a password protected area, until I have secured the rights to use them. They are of Connie checking Gina Lollobrigida on John Huston's "Beat the Devil". Connie also Chiefed the original "Moulin Rouge" for John Huston and "The Tales of Hoffman" and "Gone To Earth" for Micky Powell. I am looking for the owners of the rights for those pictures to ask for permission to use some stills. At the moment the only one's I can use are below.
In hindsight I could have been more determined and pushed myself to do bigger budget pictures as a Chief but I am artistically very happy with the quality and variety of work for which I've been responsible for putting on camera. To me that's what will always matter most. I've enjoyed a lot of artistic freedom and easy collaboration, which enables one's imagination to blossom and get things done in good flow.
Here are some photos of Connie Reeve, my mother, who prior to being the first woman to be trained at Shepperton Studios by my uncle Harold Fletcher who ran the make-up department at the time. Connie can be seen here (left to right) - in her role as Chief Make-up Artist in the unit still on probably her first film as Chief called "Britannia Road" (or as it was released in the US - "Forbidden Street"), in the middle - final checks Gina Lollobrigida for "Beat the Devil", and right enjoying a chicken leg or ice cream on a french location, either Paris for "Moulin Rouge" or Monte Carlo for "Affair in Monte Carlo". Mum also went on to Chief the make-up for Michael Powell for "The Tales of Hoffman" - a film Morag Ross (Martin Scorsese's make-up artist of choice), who said Mum's work on "The Tales of Hoffman" inspired her to become a make-up artist. On that film, her assistant was Tom Smith who went on to be the Make-up Chief on "Gandhi" and who invited Connie out to join him to do the make-up for Geraldine James who played Mirabehn an acolyte of Gandhi's and Candice Bergen who played the photographer Margaret Bourke-White along with other members of the main cast.