08 August 2011

Illamasqua Interviews Film and TV Make-up Artist Nadia Stacey

I am delighted to bring you an exclusive interview with the lovely Nadia Stacey. Nadia has worked with the stars of Prince of Persia, Blitz, Make Up BAFTA winning This Is England 86/88 and next years highly anticipated War Horse [which I am dying to see having seen it in the theatre last month!].

I caught up with her on the set of Simon Pegg’s latest film called A Fantastic Fear of Everything where she is the make-up designer …

1. What prompted you to get in to make-up?

I just fell in to it! I have an art based background and had never seen make-up as a career choice until I found out that Yorkshire TV used to run a make-up course where most of the learning was on set! It was very difficult to get on to such a highly prestigious course, so I saw that as a challenge!

I spent two years on the course and was always told “don’t try and move to London – the competition is very high!” So of course, I moved to London. [laughs] I worked as much as possible, sometimes three jobs at a time. I really put in the hard work, but I was working at places such as the BBC, the National Theatre – it was just fantastic and helped me to gain contacts. It was during this time that I met a make-up designer and got work experience on Miss Potter, starring Renee Zellwegger. I spent two and a half years as a trainee, then I worked as an assistant before my new exciting role as a designer! I couldn’t be more thrilled!

2. What was your first big job?

After Miss Potter, I worked for 4 weeks on Notes On A Scandal, starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench. Someone I met on Miss Potter introduced me to the make-up designer for the film.

I remember filming Notes On A Scandal – it was so surreal at the time as I was sitting in a car with Judi Dench on the way to Hampstead Heath! I mean wow. I couldn’t wait to ring my Mum!

3. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

From a designer point of view [this is the fourth time that Nadia has been a make-up designer on a film – her debut as a makeup designer was Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur], it’s really sunk in just how much there is to do. I mean, a full hair and make-up for each character, creating ideas that will inspire the actors and the director, keeping to budgets, motivating and managing a team, set times… it just doesn’t stop. We work an 11 day fortnight [2 day weekend one week, one day weekend week after] with a 5am call time so this job definitely requires stamina! We had a 16 hour day quite recently…

Saying that, I am so very grateful and humble to have such a brilliant job where I get to meet fantastic people and work with amazing teams. That’s the thing with make-up artistry – you’re always learning! Plus, I thrive on a challenge!

4. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I love the fact that I no longer have to clean the lace of wigs! [laughs] it’s something that I can now delegate to my assistant. That’s great. I hate cleaning lace. [Spob – “and having breakfast brough to you every morning!”] I also love that the ultimate responsibility of the make-up vision falls to me – I recently worked on a film called ‘Tyrannosaur’ which won awards at this years Sundance Festival, and as the credits rolled and I saw my name up in lights… it was the most wonderful feeling.

I also love that I have been all over the world shooting. We filmed Prince of Persia [starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton] in Morocco and we stayed in the finest hotels, with beautiful sunsets and the sights and sounds of a wonderful city with the Atlas mountains as a backdrop. That was one of my favourite experiences of my career. 

5. What does Illamasqua mean to you?

It’s about not conforming – you know that any colour you have been dreaming of can be found at Illamasqua that you can’t find elsewhere. I used to visit make-up counters and feel so jaded, until I saw the Illamasqua counter that was so colourful and brave. Also, the pigmentation of the products are fabulous!

6. Any favourite products?

I love the Precision Inks, the Eye Liner Cakes and the Sealing Gel is fantastic too. The strength of the colours mean that all the products are appealing to me! I used the primers [Matt and Satin] a lot on my most recent projects.

7. What’s the biggest misconception you think that people may have of the film make-up industry?

Many people think it’s easy and glamorous. The first day new assistants come to set, they dress up, put on their heels, full make-up and hair and you think “yea right, that’s not going to last!” within a fortnight they are in jeans and converse like you!

7. Do you have any advice for budding film make-up artists?

You have to work. Hard. I worked for many years as a trainee and assistant and it took six years to get to design Tyrannosaur. It takes a long time, but I am respected because of it, hard graft is respected in this industry.

You also have to know how to handle people; remember, when an actor or actress is coming to set they are sitting in your chair before meeting anyone else, so sometimes you have to wake them up, get them motivated – it’s not unusual to have 4am call times - especially if you are working with prosthetics – so sometimes they are coming straight from their bed to your chair!

You must also be able to keep calm under pressure when you are on set – you only have a small amount of time to jump in and touch up that all important smudge before the Director wants to roll again.

Finally, you have to be able to make contacts! Most jobs in this industry are by word of mouth, so get to know people and it could be your next job!


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