After my three-part interview with NOIR and WAR writers Lee Anthony Smith & Greg Bradley, I thought I would approach them to see if I could interview their talented NOIR make-up artist, Lisa Kubica.
I’ve always been fascinated with the actual ‘behind the scenes’ creations of the characters – I once read that it took 5 hours to apply Brad Pitt’s Benjamin Button face, so was keen to learn more about the process behind the NOIR characters she had to create.
When did you become fascinated in make-up and creation?
Lisa: I’ve always been interested in the arts since I can remember, any paint brush, or piece of Play Doh I could get my hand on I could never put it down. I just never really knew I could make a career off of it, until I saw the show called Face off, and realized there’s a whole field dedicated to make up (especially special effects make up). As soon as I found out I could make a living out of my passion, I signed up for cosmetology school, and started on my way. I went to cosmetology school, along with high school at the same time in order to graduate at the same time to move out to Los Angeles to attend cinema make up school to learn special effects.
What skill set do you need to become a make up artists?
Lisa: Color theory is a very important part of becoming a make up artist, especially because the basis of make up is under tones, and understanding the shading and lighting, and colors you’re working with and how colors affect each other. Also, patience is a very big part of becoming a make up artist. For our line of work you have to pay attention to detail, and make sure that if you’re working on a shoot/film that goes for more than a day, you have to make sure that you’re make up has continuity ( making sure that the make up is the same for each time that you do it). Patience is also a virtue in the make up industry, because shoots can go for more than 12 hours and you need to be ready and on deck to do touch ups, and make sure the make up is holding up together throughout the whole shoot.
Patience is also a virtue in the make up industry, because shoots can go for more than 12 hours
Would you say it’s easier for a woman to become a make up artist?
Lisa: Being a woman in the make up industry is a tricky thing, because everyone assumes when you say “make up artist” that you’re a beauty make up artist, and are surprised when I tell them that I can also do special effects make up. I have often had it where I’ve gone to set or met people in the industry and we’ll be talking about make up related things, and when I start using special effects terminology, people have a shocked looked on their face and say “Oh! You know how to do special effects make up as well!”, whereas if a male ever said he was a make up artist I have seen it in the reverse where they automatically assume its special effects and that they cant do beauty make up. I have also had it where when I’ve told people about my occupation, and I have mentioned that I prefer special effects more, their response is, “oh you don’t look like the type of person that does special effects make up”. That’s why for a woman in the industry you have to be a little more assertive and prove that you have the skills, to do the job the same as a man in the industry. While the special effects make up industry is still more of a male dominated industry, women are standing up for themselves more and becoming a bigger part of the special effects industry. Girls don’t just get you foot in the door, kick it wide open!!
What attracted you to the characters in NOIR to work on this project?
Lisa: What attracted me to the characters in NOIR was the feel of old school Hollywood. I’ve always loved the classic horror movies, such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Bride of Frankenstein, and Nosferatu. This was especially exciting when I got to pull elements from Nosferatu into creating the vampire in NOIR. It was an amazing experience to get to bring to life classic Hollywood horror with a new age twist on it! Aside from the monsters too, I really loved the two main characters and how they interacted as well. Max Specter and Lilly Thorpe are such complex and well rounded characters, they are really quite a dynamic duo!
“oh you don’t look like the type of person that does special effects make up”
What film (apart from NOIR) would you have liked to do make up for?
Lisa: Anything Guillermo Del Toro!! I’ve always been in love with his movies, and its been a dream of mine to be able to one day work on one of his films. I used to love watching Hellboy as a kid, and it’s still my go to movie to watch. I have just always fallen in love with his creations and his passion for the special effects department as well. As you can tell, I love doing monster/creature make up the most so being able to work for the man behind thousands of creatures would be the most amazing experience of my life.
Do you have free reign to create the character or are you working against a template?
Lisa: Greg and Lee pretty much gave me free reign on him, as we were discussing what we had in mind for the monster, Greg was thinking of a Nosferatu kind of feel. Wanting to give it the classic feel to it, I agreed with Greg on that choice, but decided to do a little bit of a twist on it and give it more of a Hollywood demonic vampire look combined with Nosferatu. I wanted to give the creature individuality to stand out within the movie, but as well as going with the flow and theme of NOIR ; that’s why I decided to take some of the features that I’ve seen of Nosferatu, the brows, ears and teeth, and combine them with some more demonic themes such as a more pointed sinister nose and more devilish looking eyes.
I wanted to give the creature individuality to stand out within the movie, but as well as going with the flow and theme of NOIR
Do you specialize in a specific genre?
Lisa: From what I’ve seen in the industry you either specialize in a certain niche or you diversify yourself to be able to do anything. I try to diversify myself in every genre, especially as a starting out make up artist, because I don’t want to limit myself just as I’m starting out to a world of possibilities. I also love learning about each genre, whether it be fantasy to gore, because I love getting my hands on any project I can ( especially if I get to play with monsters and blood).
How do you prepare for your creations – is it a long day?
Lisa: I’m a very big worry-wart so as soon as I hear about a new project that I’m working on I don’t stop thinking about it until the job is done. There have been some days where I literally will be prepping for a job for the whole week and just be tossing and turning in my sleep with dreams of the job that I’m going to be working on. The day before and the day of is very crazy for me because I get so excited for working on the job, so all I can think of is just how I can keep prepping and prepping my make up case and just checking in every hour to make sure I have everything set up and a game plan ready. I tend to stress myself out a bit too much about this, a bit of stress is good, and I’m trying to work on myself from over stressing myself and trusting that I have the necessary things after I have packed them and checked them twice.
I’m trying to work on myself from over stressing myself and trusting that I have the necessary things after I have packed them and checked them twice
What are your further ambitions as a make up artist? Theatre?
Lisa: My future ambitions are to join the local 706 make up artist union, to be able to work on union jobs, such as Guillermo Del Toro’s films. I’ve also always had an ambition and kind of goal to work on a superhero movie. I have always loved Marvel and DC comics, as well as the movies that have followed, and would love the opportunity to see my name in the credits. Another ambition as a make up artist and a life long ongoing one is to never stop learning new techniques and tricks. As I have heard many professional make up artists say that once you stop learning is the day you retire.
Are there any special hints and tips you would pass over to someone wanting to get into the industry?
Lisa: A very helpful tip I can give to anybody wanting to get into the industry is to get networking! Just being able to talk to people in the industry and getting tips and advice from them is a great start. This industry is all about networking, and getting the right start is utmost importance. Also just start practicing on family and friends. If there’s any project you wanna work on or any kinda special make up you wanna try, family and friends are good test subjects to work on. If after you practiced your make up on them and want some feedback, try going to some make up groups (you can find them on social media AKA Facebook is the one I’m on) and see what their advice is to you of your make-up. Being able to accept constructive criticism is a huge part of advancing in the field. Lastly, as I said in the beginning of the questions, colors are the basis of make up artistry. I would recommend getting a few books on color theory and contouring (shading and lightening) to start you off. Once you know those basics you are right on your way to becoming a make up artist extraordinaire.
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The Mighty Dragon interviews with Lee Anthony Smith and Greg Bradley