5 Things I Learnt While on a Movie Set

Ever since I was little, I’ve always been a ‘behind the scenes’ kind of gal. I never really liked being the centre of attention, I was shy and I can’t act, sing or dance. If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know that I didn’t really find my beauty passion till about 2-3 years ago and it wasn’t until a year ago that I realised I can make something out of this new found love I had. About a month ago I applied for a make up artist job from Gumtree for a short film that was being created – with little knowledge about Special FX make up, I really didn’t think I’d have a shot but the head make up artist accepted me into the team and I was absolutely stoked.

I didn’t know what I was expecting as I had only had hair and make up experience in bridal or glamour events. I came in with positive energy and an excitement to learn all about the short film industry. Instead of giving you guys a detailed account on the 2 days, I’m going to tell you what I learnt instead! Here are my top 5 lessons learnt whilst being on a short film set.

Lesson #1: Be friendly but assertive

From a very young age, I’ve always learnt to be kind and friendly to everyone, and I was. However, when I was in my teens, my mum often called me a push-over or that I was far too kind and quiet. She feared that I’d get stepped all over as I grew older. But in high school, I really learnt a lot from my friends, broken relationships and even my teachers that I had to be friendly yet remain assertive.

When I stepped into the world of beauty, I knew that there would an array of different personalities – some of which you’d love and some you’d probably hate. There’s a tonne of artistic competition and everyone’s trying to get to the top – so there will be aggressive personalities. I was prepared for this though – so I walked into this film set as positive as possible, assertive but still remain extremely friendly.

I was able to talk to the other make up artists as friends as well as colleagues for the weekend. I was also able to work with my co-workers as a team and do my part for the job as a professional make up artist. I think when working in the beauty/fashion/media industry, it’s important to find the balance between having fun (which I did) but also remaining professional and knowing when it’s go time. Similarly, it’s important to find that same balance between friendliness and assertiveness – don’t let people push you around but listen to instructions from the director, producer and head make up artist.

Lesson #2: Never work hungry – always come prepared

I’ve heard so many make up artist stories who go on a job from 3am to 9am without a drop of food in their body. I’ve learnt how my body functions and when I’m hungry, I’m hangry – so I always come prepared with my water and an apple, a protein bar and maybe a packet of chips in my bag.

On this film set with Adamas Production, the whole crew were lucky to be fed a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner at the correct times (coffee and all). However, I know that there may be budgeted film productions who just can’t afford that, so always have food in your bag and ALWAYS carry a bottle of water.

Lesson #3: Learn as much as you can

Not only was this short film a job for me, it was a huge learning experience as well. Besides being completely sleep deprived with a 4am wake up call, I knew I had to have one thing walking onto set and that was an open mind. There’s no better trait to have when working in an industry like this – you need to be open and willing to learn as much as you can.

The makeup crew was a team of 3 – we had never created a bullet hole wound before so after Googling some images, we had basically one chance to get it right. Once created, we had our specialised armourer from Arms and FX throw us some amazing ideas that really enhanced the shooting scene by 1000%. I learnt so many different techniques that would help me in future scenarios.

Lesson #4: If you’re on set, just be quiet

I think I heard the Director, Assistant Director and Producer shout ‘Quiet on set!’ about a hundred times. So to set the scene, the actors and film crew would do their thing and make up artists were usually on set but on stand by as well for majority of the filming process. We’d run in for touch ups once the scene was cut – but for most of the part, we’d sit aside and talk about the actors and their make up, what needs to be fixed and what we needed to do the next day. But if you can’t whisper and you tend to talk loud, it’s better to not talk at all. It’s such a small thing but trust me, you don’t want the crew in post-production editing the film and being able to hear your laugh in the background.

Lesson #5: Keep your connections

And finally, the most important lesson of them all – make sure you keep all your connections. My biggest mistake? Not having my business cards on hand. But thank god for the contact sheet, Facebook and phones! We were able to exchange contact details for future projects – I think this is such an important step after working with a whole team of talented people who are pursuing their dreams through film. You never know when they might need extra hands for their next project and your name comes to mind! Keep in touch with the crew and always tell them that you are more than happy to participate in the next short film.

Thanks so much to Adamas Films crew, you guys were so welcoming and friendly! I cannot wait to see Hunger in it’s completion – it’s going to do so well! Thanks to the make up team who I learnt a wealth of knowledge from, you girls were so much fun to work with! And thank you to the actors, thanks for being the perfect canvases as well as making 5am starts a joy (kind of).

Be sure to like and follow Short Film – Hunger on Facebook to see how the crew is going as well as behind the scene photos! Show your support because these guys deserve it more than anything.

PS – Unfortunately, I cannot share BTS photos with you guys yet but will definitely upload some when I can 🙂


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  1. Whoa! Congrats Vee, what an awesome job and opportunity! Sounds like you learned a lot for the future too, I can’t wait to see some pictures of your work once your allowed to share them! Xx

    Kez | acaciasdreams.com