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I Am An Artist t-shirt, originally available from He Said Tee Shed

In my Lessons for Aspiring Artists™ Workshops I conduct a segment on how to decipher the utter nonsense jobs that are posted on various online boards daily. I’m going to take a little time to talk about how to avoid all of these bad “makeup hair wanted” jobs that are proliferating in our profession. This one got my gall today:

Hi there, we are a low budget production looking for an up and coming hair and make-up individual.
Needed for a film shoot on Date X and Date X.

Nothing fancy. The pay is $50 per day and will give you on screen credit.
Please send any samples of your work. Thank you.**

Ugh. There are just soooo many things wrong with this posting. Let us go through it, shall we?

1 ) They are looking for one person to do both makeup and hair. This is a norm in print, this is NOT the norm in production. In fact, for those of you who have Union*** aspirations, you will need to choose one or the other because the Union does not let people register as both. As such, when you are doing projects to gain your Union hours you need to be listed as one or the other. Say you do 10 hours as Makeup and Hair. Instead of getting credit for 10 hours, you would be credited for only 5 hours as a Makeup Artist. The other 5 hours would be counted towards Hair Styling. Obviously these things matter when you need to work 180 qualifying hours per year for three years within a 5 year period in order to gain Union entry.

speaking of which…

2 ) To get into the Union you need qualifying hours. In other words – you need to be paid. It has to be a professional production in order to count for the Union. Micro-budget project like these are only beneficial for the most novice of novice makeup artists (and honestly, you would be better served assisting under a Key artist on a real job than being a “Key” yourself on most of these micro-projects). Once you have any experience working on a set you need to start working on legitimate low-budget projects that will help you further your career. A legit low-budget film will pay from $200 – $300 per day. I have a former student currently working on a film in Ohio and even in that small market she is working within that rate range. $50 is a Kit Fee not a rate.

speaking of which…

3 ) What is the film? How many talent are involved? What all is entailed for the makeup artist? Where will you be working? Studio? Location? Is there a makeup room or a trailer? These are the types of questions that need to be asked before you just jump up and say “Yes” to something. $50 might cover your Kit Fee or it might not. If you have 5 female talent, $50 is covering nothing. Bear in mind they also did not say anything about your consumables (kleenex, sponges, paper towels, mascara wands; anything that you use once and throw away) nor did they mention expenses (wig rentals, gas to get there, transportation if there are location changes, etc.). Further, if you are shooting outdoors with no trailer or indoor protection of any kind, items in your kit are likely to be lost or damaged and this “production” is not likely going to cover that for you (imagine dust or sand getting in your product – it happens. Often.). If $50 per day is supposed to cover everything chances are you are spending more money by being there than they are paying you. This is the makeup artist version of paying to play. Unacceptable.

speaking of which….

4 ) “Nothing fancy” – what does that mean? As stated above, you know nothing of the details of the project. Further, how would they know whether or not the makeup will be anything “fancy”? Respect your profession; “nothing fancy” “easy makeup” and like statements are patronizing phrases that people use to downplay your work and try to convince you to do their wack little job for a lower rate. No No No! It goes without saying that hairstyling is a skilled trade that takes many YEARS of studying and then apprenticing to truly master. Likewise, makeup for photography is a SKILL which also takes YEARS to master and that bares no resemblance whatsoever to makeup for street wear. Even if I am applying makeup for 15 minutes and I will be standing around set for the next 11-hours and 45 minutes – because oh yeah, a movie set you are going to be there for At Least 12 hours – my time and knowledge deserve the respect of a decent rate. If they are so versed in makeup and hair that they are qualified to say it will be “nothing fancy” they can do the makeup and hair themselves.

speaking of which…

5 ) Again – for a film you are going to be there for a minimum of 12 hours but on a film that is not in Union jurisdiction (or following Union guidelines like a SAG project, or the like) you could easily be there for 16 hours. Hmmm… $50 for the day divided by 16 hours = $3.125/hr. For your time, knowledge, expenses AND kit. And this particular listing did not mention feeding anyone. I leave it to you to decide if that is worth it….

Actually, there are even more issues and I could go on (screen credit is only useful if someone is actually going to see the finished project – more often than not projects like this never make it past the initial shoot) but you get the point. As an aspiring artist you will have to take many grunt jobs in order to get where you are trying to go. I always instruct my students: make your grunt work COUNT. If you are serious about building a career your grunt work – be it low/no paid jobs, assisting, testing for your portfolio, whatever – should benefit YOU as well as the person/people for whom you are working. If a potential stepping stone seems too one-sided do not be afraid to walk away. If you keep working hard a real opportunity is always just around the corner.

**some info was omitted to protect the guilty…

*** All Union information is based on my knowledge of the entry requirements for IATSE #706. Other unions may vary.

**** The photo above is a T-shirt originally from He Said Tee Shed.

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