A simple little hair/makeup kit for no-budget filmmakers… a crucial weapon against Murphy’s Law
Imagine this scenario: you and your minimal crew of two or three people meet up at 9am on a Saturday for a guerrilla shoot at a slightly out-of-the-way distinct location… a ravine with a great vista, a creepy old barn, a horse stable, a honky tonk diner on top of an erupting volcano, whatever.
You have coffee & food for your people, and all the gear you need, so you’re good to go. Then an actor shows up with beard stubble, even though in the scene before and after this one (that you shot last weekend) he’s clean shaven. And you’re a fifteen minute drive from his house. Which means at least forty minutes to send him back to shave. Not to mention that he’ll hate doing it, because he probably already hates being there at 9am on a Saturday. And he’ll probably mutter some comment about not having enough gas to get to work after the shoot. Basically what I’m trying to say is that your actor hates you 14% more now.
This will happen to you. I’m not putting a voodoo curse on you. Because I don’t need to. Because it naturally will just happen to you.
Maybe you’re thinking “my actor is awesome and would never show up unshaven!” Well, what about your friend Jason who has a small part making snarky remarks while helping him carry a dead body to the car before being melted by alien lasers? Jason is usually hungover before 1pm and hence totally like forgot to shave this morning.
So, be readyz for dat. Go to Walgreens or whatever and grab a few things for a simple, minimal hair/makeup kit. I figured this out so early on that I had completely forgotten about it… I just happen to come across mine as I was cleaning my workshop. And now this little blog post is born… ah, the miracle of life.
So here’s what I would recommend you have in your lil’ kit…
1. A bag of cheap disposable razors.
2. Shaving cream.
3. A hairbrush.
4. The strongest hair gel they gots. Satan loves being a stubborn rear cowlick incarnate. Because ruining your film is a top priority for him, duh.
5. Good quality, name-brand absorbant paper towels. In remote locations, they can hold water like a sponge for when washing hands etc. … in a way that’s much less wasteful than pouring it out of a bottle. In school I once actually ran out of drinking water on a remote shoot because we had to use water bottles as wannabe faucets to clean stuff. Also bring a bone-dry oil-sucking soap like Neutrogena for getting all the potato chip grease off your hands before touching gear again.
6. A few dryer sheets in a ziplock bag. This can help if a piece of costume or wardrobe smells unpleasant and bothers an actor. If actor A had a scene with a chain smoking character a few days ago and now their jacket wreaks of Joe Camel, you can rub a dryer sheet all over it (not joking) after first shaking it out. Dryer sheets are also helpful if you have stale-smelling, “dry clean only” thrift store wardrobe that you can’t afford to dry clean.
Okay I need to preface the next part by saying I don’t know anything about makeup, so keep that in mind. Luckily, I have pro makeup artists for shoots nowadays, but these suggestions worked for me back in my no-budget days…
7 a. Baby powder. If an actor gets hecka shiny, you can put a little on a paper towel and dab away (if the paper towel alone doesn’t do the trick). It’s not exactly the best way to handle this, but for no-budgeters, it gets the job done. There’s probably better powder options at Walgreens in the makeup section, but I have no idea what they are. But worst case scenario, if you’re shooting in the middle of nowhere and your only nearby shopping option is a gas station, baby powder can work.
7 b. Kryolan Colorless Anti-Shine Powder. This is a more effective and more professional alternative to baby powder. If you’re gonna be shooting a lot in hot, humid environments, or for long hours under hot lights, I’d recommend you buy some.
8. Powder puffs. These work better than a paper towel for powder. If you know you’re gonna need to powder actors, get some, they’re cheap.
How did this article end up being like twenty paragraphs, when it should’ve been like three sentences? Anyways, I hope that somehow helps someone.