Friday, 9 July 2010

Tip #39: Low budget make-up options

By Itsuka Yamasaki (Producer)

It's ideal if you have at least one hair and make-up artist on set, but realistically your budget does not always allow for that. With Ambleton Delight, we had a professional (Louise Hart) who was on-set during key days of the shoot (especially scenes involving blood and scars etc -refer to photos below) but did the rest of it ourselves.

We have a basic make-up kit for shoots and below is a list of what we find useful. This kit is mainly used for male actors (if you don’t have access to a professional artist it's often better and safer to ask female actors to do their own make-up) and for contemporary drama films that don’t involve zombies, blood, scars or explosions!
  1. Translucent powder (soften skin tones)
  2. Brush (for the powder)
  3. Facial redness remedy cream
  4. Concealer or liquid-type foundation (in case someone has a pimple etc)
  5. Petroleum jelly
  6. Pocket tissue
  7. Make-up wipes
  8. Comb
  9. Gel or wax (for hair)
  10. A bag to keep everything together
Some notes here - we used only the translucent powder for Ambleton Delight due to time, but if possible use the cream for redness of the face as especially the HD format seems to bring out the red in skin tones.

Before you go ahead and buy the make-up goods, it may pay to ask friends who are into make-up. I have a friend who is a beautician, and when I told her about make-up for film shoots, she gave me lots of goodies, like sample make-up in small bottles, which are ideal for filming.

Above: Actor Jos Lawton having specialised make-up
applied to his hand by make-up artist Louise Hart
on the set of
Ambleton Delight.


  1. Hi,
    I am professional make-up artist and I know everyone tries to cut corners on the budget and make-up is the first choice to go without.
    Some products you mentioned are ok to have but what about the right colors or if an actor is sensitive to a product? You might spend $100 and not even have what can be used or will you use it properly? You should talk to a make-up artist to see if they can advise you and maybe work out a deal to help. This will only make your production look and be more professional and better, when you consider options,
    Thank you and Best of Luck,

  2. Thanks Marianne. Itsuka's make-up blog actually recommends using a professional make-up artist whenever possible and is certainly not saying that to cut corners make-up should go, quite the opposite! And of course specific advise and make-up for each actor is invaluable, as well as working out a deal with an artist to ensure they are on set as much as possible and at critical times during the shoot (as we did).

    However it is not always possible to be able to employ an artist for every moment of the shoot and Itsuka's basic kit above is what we used and recommend any other serious filmmakers use when in the same position.