The Make-up and Hair Department is responsible for the design, application, continuity and care of hair and make-up during shoot production. On smaller stills shoots, personnel are often required to be multi-skilled in both Hair and Make-up, and the departments are often merged.  The resulting position is known as a Stylist. Stylists also take on many of the roles and responsibilities typically handled by the Wardrobe Department.

The work involved ranges from creating contemporary looks, to recreating period designs and styles, or transforming a model’s face and body using prosthetics. For more complex shoots, hair and make-up effects also include the application of facial hair, bald caps, wigs, tattoos, body-paint, and medical effects such as scars, wounds and blood.  Hair and make-up are key elements in the overall design of shoots, creating a look that is appropriate for the characters and time periods.

Stylists oversee Hair, Make-up and Wardrobe on Stills Shoots. They assess make-up and hair requirements, and set up the department: preparing the budget and schedule, hiring staff and organising facilities.  They research and create the Make-up and Hair design, supervise its application, and oversee its continuity throughout the shoot. They carry out research into the appropriate Hair and Make-up for the production, present initial ideas to the Photographer, and discuss colour palettes.  Having created individual designs, Stylists make sure that the Models are comfortable with their look, and check for any allergies.

Stylists work with the Photographer on test shots to see how the Make-up and Hair will look on camera. They are allocated their budget, and may negotiate for increased funds.  They assess the creative and technical requirements of the work, carry out a full risk assessment, and oversee the preparation of the departmental budget breakdown: estimating costs of staff, facilities, resources, hired pieces, and any wig or prosthetic construction.

Prior to the shoot, the Stylist may prepare accurate call times for performers, and draw up and distribute continuity notes for principal and supporting talent.
These notes detail the scene-by-scene Hair and Make-up looks and changes that are vital to maintaining continuity.  They supervise the Make-up and Hair process throughout the shoot, possibly working as Personal Make-up Artist and Hairdresser for one or more of the Models.  They ensure that continuity is maintained.  When shooting is complete they are responsible for the return of all hired pieces.

Being a Stylist requires excellent leadership, communication and interpersonal skills and a great deal of self-assurance.  Stylists must be highly organised, with good presentation skills, and confidence in team management and motivation.  They should be effective team-builders, able to organise the right mix of personalities and skills.  They must be able to work under pressure to external and departmental deadlines, be adept at creative problem solving, and flexible to changes.  They should be able to listen to the ideas and concerns of others, whilst at the same time trusting their own opinions and instincts.

Since Stylists work closely with Models in a physical sense, they must be tactful, sensitive, patient and able to put people at their ease.  The work can be physically demanding, and requires stamina, as it involves many hours of standing or bending over Models.  They also need the keen attention to detail required to oversee continuity.  Stylists should have a large cultural knowledge base, not only in terms of contemporary fashions, make-up and hair, but also in costume, art, literature, film, etc.  They must have creative flair, a strong sense of colour and design, and drawing abilities.  They need the artistic and technical skills, and manual dexterity, necessary for the application of Make-up and Hair products and effects.

Stylists need to translate abstract ideas into practical applications, quickly and efficiently.  They must be adept in strategic planning, scheduling and budget control.  All members of the Make-up Department are expected to have their own kits.

Stylists is not an entry-level position, and considerable knowledge and experience is required to design for stills shoots.  No standard qualifications are required to work in Make-up.  However, competition for work is fierce, and most new entrants have a qualification or diploma.

Stylists do need a wide network of contacts, and experience of working with Hair and Make-up suppliers etc.

They must compile and maintain an extensive portfolio of their work.  Knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures is essential when dealing with different substances, materials and skin and scalp reactions, and when drawing up risk assessments.  Good IT skills (Mac and PC), and a full driving license are very important.

Career Progression
Progression towards being a Stylist is usually based on skills and experience.  Personality and the right attitude are also extremely important.  Experience is gained through on-the-job training, while assisting established Make-up Artists and Hairdressers.  Stills Make-up and Hair Department personnel work on a freelance basis, and must be prepared to travel.

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