A piece of advice given to me by the entertainment law professor at SMU was that I should choose key personnel myself so as to ensure not only their loyalty to me, but to help guarantee that I would be satisfied with them. Not following this advice more closely is a sincere regret. And no better example exists than my experience with the first makeup artist.
One of the early requests our Director, Roger, made to me was that he be allowed to select the hair and makeup artist—a friend of his. She had a good resume and I wanted him to have someone in whom he had confidence. However, alarm bells went off during my interview of her. She was glib, wasn’t prepared to answer makeup questions based on a review of the script, and full of early demands such as what meals she would require. When I expressed my reticence to Roger, he assured me that I would be satisfied with her work or he would himself dismiss her.
Although the cast were genial and inclined not to complain, there were some early grumblings that the makeup artist was requiring them to put on their own foundation and basic makeup before coming to work. I let it be known to the makeup artist that this was unprofessional, but she ignored me. More importantly, I repeatedly had to intervene to try to tone down the heavy black eye makeup on the lead actress and the stringy, vampy look to her hairstyle. And I was unhappy that actors some days had product on their hair and other days, not. It needed to be consistent or it could be noticeable in the film that the hair had changed from one scene to the next.
Although these problems made me think about firing the makeup artist before the end of the first week, I hesitated. I was worried about offending Roger. This is the very point about why I should not have agreed to let someone bring on a friend. My indecision was costly.
It was day 4 of filming when a makeup problem occurred that I didn’t learn about until the following day. An actor had to be made up to be a dead, decaying body. But his makeup didn’t make him look like an authentically decayed body. And, the makeup used on him was unprofessional; it was a black material that would not wash off. The actor had to shower for over a half hour, scrubbing until his skin was raw, and still he had residue on him.
We were on the sixth day of filming, just having had a weekend during which I got most things caught up, when I concluded firmly that the makeup artist needed to go. That morning, she was holding up the filming process because she was talking rather than doing makeup, and decided she needed a break when it was clear that it would put us further behind. When I quietly informed her that she needed to keep working, she replied loudly in front of cast and crew that she didn’t need me telling her how or when to do her job.
Because we were on day one of the second film week, I couldn’t dismiss her immediately. I told Angel and Zubi to get a replacement in for weeks 3 and 4. She was going, soon to be gone.
I was extremely happy with the replacement hair and makeup artists. Not only did they take the job very seriously, they were exceptionally good at it.