Showbiz: Behind the scenes
Makeup artists have to be very social.
Even if you can’t act, sing or dance to save your life, you can still be involved in show business. We spoke to experts in two behind-the-scenes professions for tips on entering their fields.
Liz Lewis, owner of Liz Lewis Casting Partners, suggested getting an internship, which is how most people begin. “It’s a great way to learn,” she said. Unfortunately, it’s also often unpaid.
People then move on to become casting assistants, associates and, finally, directors.
“Having an acting background really helps, too, because then you know what goes into it,” Lewis said. “But more than anything it’s about having a good eye for talent.”
In order to find talent, you have to go out and look for it. “You need to look for untapped talent, go to showcases and smaller performances,” she said.
“New York is a great place to get started because you can walk the streets and see what’s out here.”
State of the profession
Work comes from different places. Casting professionals can be hired by directors, writers, advertising agencies or producers.
Lewis said the recession has changed the dynamics of the industry a little bit. “There are a lot more Internet-based commercials now and people are not getting as many residuals.”
The reality TV craze has also cut down on casting work. “There is some casting that goes on,” Lewis said. “But it’s very different from the traditional work.”
And, ever since the writer’s strike, Lewis said, a lot of production has left the U.S. “Even advertisers have become more comfortable shooting outside the country,” she said.
The starting salaries of casting assistants hover around $30,000, but directors can make well into the six-figure range.
HAIR AND MAKEUP ARTISTS
As far as hairdressing goes, cosmetology school is a must, said Diana Schmidtke, a celebrity grooming expert. “There’s no way for you to understand all the ins and outs of hair without cosmetology school,” she said. If you go into movies, the hair and makeup artist union requires a cosmetology license, she said. Cosmetology school is just nine months long.
“As a makeup artist I highly recommend taking beauty classes or cosmetology school, too. It’s important to learn about sanitation,” she said.
“For the most part I think hair and makeup are learned traits,” Schmidtke said. “It’s also 80 percent personality and 20 percent talent.”
Plus, Schmidtke added, putting makeup on others is much more difficult than putting it on yourself, so try practicing on as many people as possible.
N.Y. vs. L.A.
Schmidtke said New York offers more fashion jobs for hair and makeup artists. Shows such as the “Today” show and “The Late Show with David Letterman” create demand for celebrity work, too. “You can usually be a little more creative and avant-garde in New York. It’s closer to Europe than L.A. is,” Schmidtke said.
State of the profession
While the economy has affected the hair and makeup industries, it’s not all doom and gloom. “As people always say, alcohol and movie industries do well in recession. There isn’t really less work,” Schmidtke said.
But, she said, there are challenges for those getting started. “Some artists who are more experienced are dropping their rates and taking jobs they otherwise wouldn’t. That can have a trickle-down effect.”
But, because there are so many new media outlets, celebrity magazines and a growing demand for celebrities on covers of magazines, there is “always going to be work for freelancers,” she said.
When starting out, Schmidtke said, it’s very common to take jobs for no money. “Some high-end magazines don’t pay at all,” Schmidtke said. “But the tearsheets are priceless.”
“When you’re starting, you’re likely to make $150-$300 a day. But if you’re doing a big commercial campaign, you can be looking at $2,500-$10,000,” she said.
Corporate contracts are in the forefront now and can often be most lucrative, she said.