Friday, January 24, 2014

A few thoughts about wearing make-up to auditions

An actor emailed me recently asking about wearing make-up to an audition. My first advice was pretty standard: women should wear a minimum of make-up and men shouldn't wear any at all.

But then I got to thinking a little more about it and realized that I occasionally wear a tiny amount of make-up to an audition. I have a small birthmark on my upper lip, which because I usually play character roles, doesn't matter. But sometimes when I get the job (after wearing no make-up to the audition) the make-up people on the set will cover my birthmark before we shoot. It all depends on how "rough" they want my face to look.

This means I do occasionally cover the birthmark for a commercial audition. If the role is for a butler or a professional (like a teacher, or doctor), the clients usually don't want an actor to look too "charactery." A birthmark, even one as small as mine, can be a distraction for the viewer, so the director or clients may not want it to show (especially in close-ups). 

For these types of commercial auditions I may cover it with a bit of make-up before the audition. (I don't wear the make-up to the set - I let the pros in the hair and make-up department take care of it.) The key here is that I use the absolute minimum necessary to cover it. The last thing a guy should want is for the make-up to show up on camera (actually, this is true for women as well - less is better).

But what if I'm going in for the part of a zombie or other "weird" type of character? No make-up! The people in charge know that their make-up person can make you look like a zombie, they just want to see if you can do the role - how you say the lines, how you move (like a zombie), etc. There are all different types of zombie looks, so if I were to wear make-up, it might be really different from what they have in mind for the character, and that would probably cause them to not hire me. (See the two different zombie pictures below - one was for a video game commercial, the other for a sports website in Australia). For both auditions I went as myself - including my birthmark. 

One last thought - I hate wearing make-up and try to avoid it whenever I can. When I'm on the set, I can usually I get away with the make-up people just giving me a light coat of powder to take the shine off my face. The zombie make-up I wore in the pictures above took hours to put on and over an hour to take off. In fact, for the one on the left, I was in the make-up trailer for four and a half hours! That's not a mask - everything on my face was put on by hand. And, man - what a relief to get it off at the end of the day!

And don't forget - if you have questions, drop me an email or write it in the comments box, and I'll get you an answer.



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