You won’t find a Melbourne Polytechnic Specialist Make-up student sitting in a classroom for too long. They are more likely to be found backstage at an old Melbourne theatre, or at a TV studio, on a film set, out in the field, or by a catwalk.
Getting in there and working at her craft is what drew student Rebecca Gason to the course, “Lots of the make-up and beauty certificates you can get in Melbourne are very specific, very beauty-oriented, the Melbourne Polytechnic course has beauty but also has aspects of prosthetics and special effects leading into other industries of film and television and theatre,” she said.
Rebecca has been involved in theatre for over 15 years and has “moved from onstage into the make-up department and it really piqued my interest“.
“So making something that I love my full-time job is a dream and that’s why I’m doing the course. I go to work and have fun.”
Students working towards their Diploma of Screen and Media (Specialist Make-up Services) are very hands-on and everything they learn has a practical basis. Teacher Lynn Hunt said: “We have a classroom that’s what we call our clean room which is all lights and mirrors and we also have an art-based room which is part artist, part scientist where we do all of our live casting and silicone work.
Specialist Make-up students need to do at least 40 hours of work experience during their one-year full-time course and halfway through the year Rebecca is already at 193 hours and having a great time doing it.
“Currently I’m really enjoying historical make-up and special effects, the level of in-depth knowledge and design that go into just a cut and the basic little things you see on TV but the work behind it is magnificent,” the 22-year-old said.
“My favourite prosthetic in the whole world is Voldemort. You cannot get a bald cap and a nose quite as perfect as what they’ve done in the Harry Potter series.
“That’s some impressive work there, to get the nose hole like that, to really smooth it out and the texture in the vein work that you can see in his face is amazing.”
So where does Rebecca see herself after graduation?
“I definitely want to be involved in make-up, whether it be film and television, or theatre-based it does not bother me, I just want to be in make-up,” she said.
“I want to work for a TV show on one of the major Australian networks and in 20 years I want to be continuing, I see myself doing make-up and working in the field for the next 40 years hopefully. That’s the plan, I have my ideas of where I definitely want to be.”
Lynn Hunt says the course is an enjoyable qualification to undertake because it is all hands on and it’s a process “students start with quite simple tasks and then we build up - everything has a layering effect,” she said.
“The characters get bigger through the year and the hair gets bigger and more complex. It’s very rewarding for me to see students and how they grow through the year and to see the level of expertise.”
Lynn says the students do a lot of collaboration with photography students, visual arts students, theatre students production, hairdressing awards – “a constant stream of placement opportunities, always collaborating and gaining on the job skills, and there are lots of excursions through the year, such as hair and makeup conventions”.
Lynn warns it’s not all fun and glamour all the time, “it’s hard work and so that’s the gritty side of our industry. We work on outside locations on films, on a hard concrete floor, you’re hanging around a lot waiting for the scenes to be shot and with theatre it’s go go go, running up and down four flights of stairs.
“It’s an industry that does require stamina and a lot of accountability.
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