The ‘FX’ of Runaway Production on Makeup Artists

The ‘FX’ of Runaway Production on Makeup Artists


A make-up artist is an artist whose medium is the human body, applying makeup and prosthetic for theatrical, television, film, fashion, magazines and other similar productions including all aspects of the modeling industry.

With so many film productions having “runaway” to other states, work has been scarce in California. A great many of Hollywood’s makeup artists have had to follow productions that have moved elsewhere as production companies travel in search of the greatest incentives. Where there are local “gigs”, they are often reserved for the industry’s most experienced. Support and assistantship positions are harder to come by. What does that mean for someone trying to make a name for themselves? Not much, seeing as entry level work is scarce.

For film industry employees out of work, it can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars to become educated in another profession, in addition to time spent looking for a job. Moreover, the hours involved in part-time film work are not exactly conducive to attending school or running a full-time job search.

So with the number of film and television projects heading out of state, why do local artists continue to try? Why are they so invested in their respective arts?  The answer is much more complicated than their need to make a living. The film industry is populated by artists who are passionate about their crafts. They love what they do and love the city that, until recently, had an abundance of opportunities to allow them to do what they love.

Film Works LA recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Brenda Salamone, a Beauty and Special FX Makeup Artist who gave us some insight into her life as a freelancer and how she has been affected by runaway productions.

Originally a native of Tucson, Arizona, Salamone one day decided to “pick up her makeup brushes and follow her dreams” to San Diego, California in 2001. This was where her “art became inspired by the untamed beauty of the desert, crashing waves and giant cliffs of the Pacific Ocean”.

In 2011 she completed the Master Program at the Makeup Designory. Following her formal education, Brenda hit the ground running doing makeup and special makeup effects on films like Till Death Do Us Part (2012) and To Hell with a Bullet (2013).  Salamone has also done makeup work on Saving Lincoln which premieres in 2013.  She has done music video work, worked in a SPFX Shop, worked on web series and done some things for print.  Stage makeup can also be added to her professional credits, and on the side, Salamone does special events. To look at her schedule, one could think business is booming for freelancers, but according to Salamone that’s not true.

—— Q and A with Brenda Salamone —–

Q. How long have you been doing makeup?

“Officially, for about a year. Unofficially, for the past 5 or 6 years. I used to do fancy makeup for belly dance performances and Halloween and stuff like that and now I get to do it all the time and that’s great!”

Q. Is there anyone in your profession that inspires you?

“I have worked very closely with Michael Spatola. He’s my mentor.  He’s someone I highly admire. He’s written amazing books on special effects makeup. He’s just great!”

Q. When Film Works researched your background, we learned that you belong to a painting society? Are you still painting? Do you miss it?

“ I love to paint. I don’t get a chance to do it as much because I’m looking for work. I don’t look at it like I’m not painting [anymore], I look at like I’m painting on faces instead.”

Q. What do you like most about what you do?

“I love being on set. I love the energy of it. Working with all the different people, set design and costuming, I just love being on set.  It’s fun!”

Q. Do you have a message or something to say about the state of the industry in the LA Region?

“Makeup is definitely my passion and I’m happiest when I’m doing it. I hate to see production going outside of California. There are so many independent artists suffering as a result of runaway production. We’re freelancers and we work in California and film needs to be brought back here.”

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