The Supply Corps
Not many people can imagine how much work is done behind the scenes in a movie. There are a lot of people dedicated to taking care of the actors. Drivers, caterers, assistant directors, sound recordists . . . They are the supply corps.
Closest to the actor is the makeup artist. They know everything: bruises, tattoos, the hottest gossip, how to make you look older.
I WAS MADE to look twenty years older for a role by first applying latex on my face and drying it with hair dryer. Then my face was powdered, and lube was applied on the fake wrinkles. Yes, lube.
The removal is a long and uncomfortable process, but everyone is willing to suffer to get their younger face back.
WHEN YOU ARE surrounded by a team of highly skilled professionals who take care of everything, you tend to drift away into other dimensions.
The supply corps bring you back to reality.
“Where’s your cardigan? Your braid was in the back in the previous take, not in front of your shoulder. You took the cookie with your left hand, not with your right!”
IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, the actor regresses to childhood.
“When will I be dressed up?” I once asked in a makeup trailer. One time, very early in the morning, I came very close to calling the makeup artist “Mom.”
The supply corps are endlessly inventive. When an actor was so drunk that he couldn’t stay standing up during the take, he was tied up to a tree. The take was shot from behind.
AN ACTOR’S LEVEL of human decency on the set is measured in terms of how they treat the supply corps.
Actors can make the supply corps’ work difficult in many ways: by being late, snapping, or throwing brushes around if they are not happy with their makeup.
My advice to aspiring actors: no, no. The word travels fast, and you can very soon find yourself without work.
SOMETIMES BOUNDARIES become blurred. A makeup artist’s phone rang at around nine on a Saturday evening.
“My head is exploding. I need a massage!” a young actress commanded on the other end.
The makeup artist calmly explained that they were spending the weekend with their family. The young actress no longer has work.
I HAVE BECOME friends with many makeup artists. I share a pastime with one of them: we regularly visit karaoke bars to belt our hearts out.
One time, when sitting in a makeup chair, I saw her reaching out to my hand. I gracefully shook her hand.
She stared at me in disbelief.
“I need to do your nails.”
© Anna-Leena Harkonen 2023
New Terrain Press 2024. All rights reserved.
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