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Getting Into the Movies - Get the Look

Apr 15, 2008
Although most women use cosmetics in their everyday life, they are lamentably ignorant of the principles of make-up. For example, not one woman in a hundred knows that she should never rouge her face until she has put on her hat, since the shadow and line of the hat changes the whole color and composition of her face.

The average man's knowledge of the subject is limited to the use of powder after shaving. And yet thousands of men and women secure work in the mob and ensemble scenes in the movies and find themselves expected to make up for the camera, the most difficult task of all, with no previous instruction whatsoever. No wonder they are discouraged when they see themselves peering out from the crowd scene with a face they hardly recognize themselves.

Nevertheless, almost all the stars of today Norma Talmadge, Constance Talmadge, Mary Pickford, and dozens of others have risen from these mob scenes. Their faces, even when seen among hundreds of others, attracted instant attention. Perhaps it was natural beauty. Perhaps, too, they had, by accident or design, solved at the start the great problem which confronts all movie actors, that of finding the correct make-up.
Movie make-up strives only for a photographic 17 effect and has no relation to street or stage make-up.

Almost every face contains numerous imperfections which are invisible to the eye, yet which, when enlarged many times on the screen, are very obvious. There are fundamental rules of make-up, but the only way to perfect your technique is by constantly viewing your own "stills" and movies, and changing your make-up to the best advantage. Red photographs black, and for this reason rouge is little used in the studios, except for special effects. Rouge on the cheeks gives the illusion of dark shadows and makes the face look hollow; it deepens the eyes, and is sometimes used on the eyelids for this reason. Light carmen may be used on the lips.

To start your make-up you will need cold cream, special yellow film powder, film grease paint, and a soft towel. Massage your face with cold cream and then remove it with the towel, so that the surface is absolutely clean. Then apply your grease paint with the fingers, and cover every bit of the face from the collar-line to the hair.

When you have a smooth, even surface of grease paint, spread special film powder upon it and pat it in lightly with a powder puff. There are a number of shades of grease paint and by changing the grease tint before applying the powder you can darken or lighten your complexion in accordance with your part. Before going further, make sure there are no blotches on your make-up's surface and that the grease has left no sheen.

The eyes are the most important and expressive features. The make-up which relates to them is all important. First you must ascertain by actual test the correct color with which to line your eyes. Almost every color is used, for the effect seems to vary with different faces. Black, blue, green, brown and red are all used in varying proportions and mixtures by different actors. Naturally, you should try to find the color which makes your eyes look deepest and most luminous.

The edge of the upper eyelid is clearly lined. Then the shade is worked back toward the eyebrow, getting constantly lighter, until it finally blends with the grease paint of the face. The process is reversed for the lower lid, which is darkest at the edge and grows lighter as you work down.

Your eyelids should be lined with black cosmetic. Do not bead them. This shows clearly in close-ups and looks rather ridiculous. The slapstick comedy people sometimes use beaded eyelids to burlesque the "baby-doll" expression. The corners of the eyes are shadowed with brown or red. It is this shadowing that gives most of the character to the eyes ; but at the same time it is apt to age the whole face. For this reason it must be done in conjunction with actual tests.

Finally, apply light carmen to your lips and make sure you do not overdo it. There are numerous special recipes for producing pallor, scars, bruises, and the like. Blackface make-up is done most successfully with charred cork dust mixed with water to produce a heavy paste. Tom Wilson, the best known player of negro parts in the movies, who played in "The Birth of a Nation," and more recently in our own special production, "Red Hot Romance," advises amateurs to use this recipe and, further, to highlight the natural lines of their faces by scraping off the cork with a sharp stick, wherever a line is to show, and letting the natural white of the skin appear.

Highlighting for most character parts is a special art. Such characters as Indian faces or the weather-beaten and wrinkled countenance of an old sea captain may be done in brown with white highlights. You should ask your cameraman to help you with highlighting, as it is very difficult.

There are tricks of make-up which alter the entire character of the face. For example, by shading the outline of the face with red you can make it appear much thinner. In this case the grease paint is slightly reddened or, if you desire, darkened near the ear-line. If you desire to make your face rounder and fuller reverse the process and lighten the grease paint at its outer edge.

If your eyebrows and hair are dark, you can tinge them gray by rubbing the hair with mascaro and then combing. If they are light, white and black grease paint, applied alternately and then combed, will do the trick. Beards and bushy eyebrows are made of crepe hair and glued on with spirit gum.

Finally, lest you be left in the position of the man who starts his first ride on a motorcycle without knowing how to shut the power off, we may add that all this nasty mess of grease paint and powder and gum and hair will come off in an instant when cold cream is applied. It is hard to feel natural in make-up at first; but presently you will forget that you have it on at all.

All of the necessary cosmetics may be secured through any drug store or theatrical costumer. If you want to find out how you will look in the movies, it is not necessary to have a film test made. Just buy some make-up and have someone take a few "close-ups" of your head with an ordinary camera. But do not retouch the negatives for movies are not retouched, you know.

Look for imperfections of every sort in pose and expression. Then try to find a make-up which will eradicate them. If you solve your make-up problem before you go to the studio you will be well repaid. Among the dozens of flat, uninteresting countenances a well made-up face stands out and attracts the attention of the director at once.
About the Author
Malcolm Blake has researched well all aspects of the field of the movies, including how to download movies.
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