Our union officers are trying to encourage more
professional and conscientious behavior among all
members. Some old-timers, myself included, have
been asked to add our viewpoints. I believe that
our craft would be much more respected if all
our members followed the practices which I will
outline, but I realize that individuals seldom
change much just for the sake of their group.
However, there is a chance that people will change
if they realize that they could make more money.
Actually, that is my main motive for doing these
things: I get more jobs and better pay. It does
not even take great talent. A make-up artist who
acts professionally will seem more competent than
a highly skilled man who goofs off. Acting
professionally means the following to me:
1. When you receive an assignment, get as
much information about it as possible so that you
will be properly prepared (Color or B&W? Num-
ber of performers? Type of commercial or show?
Type of make-up that will be appropriate? Time allowed for make-up? Any special make-up or
hair problems? and so forth).
2. Keep your kit and materials clean and neat,
and use sanitary procedures. A decent personal
appearance is also essential. Nothing makes a
worse impression on a performer than a slovenly
make-up artist with a dirty kit who tops it off
by offering to apply lipstick with a soiled brush
and a pot of rouge that has served a thousand
others. You might just as well spit on it! That
couldn’t make it worse. Dirty combs, sponges,
puffs, and other items are almost as unpleasant
to most performers, and the chances are that some
will insist on putting on their own make-up rather
than let you use yours. The rest will silently pray
they never see you again. My system for lipstick
is to scoop out a small portion from the lipstick
jar (or tube) with a clean spatula, and put it on
a disposable butter chip. I use a clean lipstick
brush for each person, and make it obvious that
I am picking up a clean one. If you want to save
the lipstick for later use, you can fold the butter
chip in two, and write the person’s name on it
with an eyebrow pencil. I carry plenty of clean
sponges, puffs, brushes, and towels. The rest is
just a matter of cleaning out my kit once in a
while when I am waiting around on set.
3. A kit should not only be clean but also
adequately stocked. Nowadays that means that
everyone should carry color make-up even if he
is not warned ahead of the assignment.
4. Reporting on time is obviously important.
It’s also a good practice to try to get your make-
up done in the scheduled time. If you find that
enough time hasn’t been allowed for the job, tell
the A.D. as soon as possible, and tell him how
long you will take so that he can adjust the work
plan whenever possible and explain to the director
and so forth.
5. I believe one should do all the make-up he
can. No make-up artist should sit around and
watch a performer apply any kind of make-up,
even hand-make-up, if the performer would per-
mit him to do it. Nor should he tell any performer, no matter how unimportant, that he
doesn’t need any make-up if he has nothing else
to do. Of course, this means more work, but
that’s what we are getting well paid to do. When
a job is simple or dull, it’s tempting to loaf, but
if you do an easy job poorly, why should anyone
believe that you could do a difficult job any bet-
ter? You have to treat all work seriously if you
want your work to be respected.
6. Handling performers with courtesy and un-
derstanding is obviously sensible. A happy actress
may give you good publicity and get you more
jobs. The opposite is also true. When your pa-
tience is at the breaking point, remember that a
performer’s face may literally be his or her for-
tune*. How he or she looks is tremendously im-
portant both on the emotional and financial levels.
7. It is most important to apply make-up in
a way that is suitable to the job. Find out as
much as you can before you start. Go on the set
and look at the background colors to see if they
would affect the make-up. If the director isn’t
present when you start, keep the make-up natural
until you are told otherwise. It is easier to add
than to remove.
8. When you finish everyone, tell the A.D.
so that he knows the performers are not being
kept in the make-up room, and you won’t get
the blame if they are late getting to the set. If
the crew isn’t ready to start, tell the A.D. where
to find you if you are going out for coffee, etc.
In fact, anytime during the day that you want
to leave the set, you must tell the A.D. or some
other appropriate person.
9. At the earliest opportunity, check with the
cameraman to see if the make-up is satisfactory
to him. In some cases you should check with the
director as well. It is particularly important if
you haven’t worked with these people before.
10. Putting the make-up on in the morning
is only half the job, and often, the easiest half.
Keeping it fresh throughout the day can be a lot
of work. What makes it harder is that it is very
tempting to take it easy and do as little retouch-
ing as you can get away with. But you are doing
yourself harm if you wait for the cameraman to
shout. Some of them are too occupied with other
things or not observant to notice the make-up
until it’s half off. You should be more critical of and more interested in your own work than any-
one else. It’s a good idea to do your retouching
before the camera is ready to roll and the A.D.
looks around and yells for make-up. You can
usually tell when the time is near for a take and
get your work done beforehand.-Then you won’t
be in the position of making everyone else wait
while you do a hasty, patch-job. Of course, there
are some things that have to be left till the last
minute, but keep them to a minimum. When
there is a long break between scenes, tell the
A.D. how many minutes you will need to get
the cast ready so that he can warn you when it
is time to do the retouching.
Retouching after lunch is important, and
should be planned with the A.D. before lunch.
Sometimes make-up should be done over instead
of retouched. If there will not be enough time,
explain the problem to the A.D. and perhaps,
he will give only a half-hour lunch to certain
performers and you. If he doesn’t, you can’t be
blamed for holding up shooting after lunch.
What I have outlined above seems obviously
business-like to me, and yet, I have found that
many artists feel and act otherwise. Many times
I have received warm praise for a simple job only
because the make-up men who had preceded me
had not observed these practices. They disap-
peared from the set, or they held up production,
or they didn’t get along with someone, or they
failed to keep the make-up fresh. A frequent
complaint of directors was that the artist did not
follow his instructions. If the director says he
wants only a touch of make-up, don’t try to prove
how great you are by using every trick you know.
The chorus-girl make-up you give him will only
make him wonder if you understand English.
That situation is just one example of not follow-
ing what is probably the most important rule:
Adapt the make-up to the particular require-
ments. As I said before, always get as much in-
formation as you can, do your make-up
accordingly, and the director will think you are
I hardly think much can be added to these astute
thoughts by Dick Smith. They completely express his
philosophy and show the need to understand the pages
in Part I of this book before attempting to do any
make-up procedures.