Become A Makeup Artist for Film and Movies

The amazing makeup and effects in movies are often what inspires someone to become a makeup artist. Can you imagine seeing your work on the big screen? Movies have forever been a cherished medium for makeup artists. Historically, film is our most important, most celebrated, and longest standing medium. It was the invention of the moving picture that created a demand for highly skilled artists and products in the early 20th century. If you are interested in working in film, it is good to acquaint yourself with the makeup unions. Because film crews tend to be unionized, many large budget films are union. The presence of unions varies from state to state, however they are the organizations setting the standard for expectations, rates, and benefits. The two makeup artist unions in the US are part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. (IATSE)

Local 706

Local 798

Working as a Makeup Artist in Film Movies can be lucrative because they film over long periods of time, however the hours are long. Many days go more than 14 hours and often a makeup artist will work 6-7 days a week until the film is done. Days begin very early and go until the last shot is finished. Movies require a great deal of preparation and also a lot of waiting. Once the talent is ready an artist might sit for hours waiting for a shot to be set-up, and then filmed.

Pay Rates Pay for makeup artistry for film depends on 2 factors. The first is whether the film is union or independent. Union films and artists in the union have scales on which they have to be paid. For information on the film unions please visit links above. The second factor is budget. The higher the budget, the better the pay. Independent films will pay a set day-rate and occasionally offer a kit-fee. Typical day rates for independent films are $100-400. Kit fees are meant to cover the cost of the makeup you use during the production.

Insights into the World of Film and Movies

  • Movie makeup artists tend to be away from home for weeks or months at a time.
  • Production companies tend to hire the people they have worked with and like. They are very tightly knit.
  • The process of watching a film being made is an incredible opportunity.
  • Although FX and straight makeup are often seen as separate, many makeup artists are expected to be able to do both.