Applying make-up to corporate interviewee
For a long time i have been trying to figure out the best way to ask a 'typical' corporate interviewee if they would mind me putting some matte make-up on their shiny skin. Especially when using a full lighting set up.
Any one know the best way to approach this?
Usually just powder will do the trick. Try that first. Also, I always have the talent take some paper towels and just wipe their face. That removed lots of oil, and also the shine.
Of course the best alternative is a make-up artist. They usually help the corp interviewee feel like a "star" and be more open to having make-up applied.
I also explain that my job is to make them look great on camera. I feel some make-up will help.
Make it be the equipment's problem:
"These cameras, they are showing some hot spots in the image. To control that, I'd like to use some powder on your skin, if that's okay with you. It's standard procedure for this kind of thing. Do you mind?"
I agree with both Greg and Mark and would supplement their comments by offering that whether you use a make up artist (preferred but adds to the cost of the shoot) or have a few shades of powder with you and take a do-it-yourself approach, you have to do so with confidence. Practice first and do test shots with a spouse or companion. Don't let the shoot with Mr. Big be the first time you've attempted to use a powder puff.
As Mark said, act like what you are doing is perfectly normal and routine. If you are hesitant your subject will be hesitant. If you act like make-up is just another part of set-up before you can start shooting, your subject will go along easily. And if asked, say that a light powdering will be invisible on camera versus a big glaring spot that will stand out.
Let me augment Nick's story with a nightmare story from around 2000. Newt Gingrich was in town, and the news department at the station I worked for arranged for an interview for uplink.
We didn't have an in-house makeup artist, and the News Director called around and found a local Mary Kay rep who was more than willing to do the job for pay.
As a result of her lack of knowledge about the differences between street makeup, stage makeup, and television makeup, she put a very white looking coat of pancake makeup on Newt's face, so close to air time that there was no time to make a change. Add to the last minute makeup the fact that the producer never did a camera check to see what it looked like.
Gingrich looked like a Kabuki dancer, with a very white face on a not so white neck! It ruined the interview, which was being uplinked to one of the networks, and killed the makeup artist's chance for any future TV work. It's always best to hire a pro for makeup, if the budget can bear it. Or apply some simple makeup yourself, then check it, check it, and check it.
Gingrich and Nixon, hmmm....
Anyway, while we're trading makeup stories, we had a guy come in to do some stand-ups, he worked at a local TV station that had recently changed to all-flo lighting. To overcome a green spike in the lighting, the air staff all had their makeup chamged. This guy came in and did his own make-up, and when he showed up under our tungsten lighting, he looked like a desert sunburn victim, boiled-lobster red. We had to have him wash it all off because it just didn't work with our lighting, whatever that stuff he was using was, it made him look like he was about to have a heart attack.
A bigger problem, often, than makeup, is dealing with facial hair. I have taken to keeping a kit at the office with small traveler's style disposable shaving supplies, tiny shaving foam cans and disposable bic razors, and even a battery-powered electric razor (very cheap ones from Harbor Freight you can afford to use once and give away) and a nose/ear hair groomer, also of the "give-away" type. Some men get five o' clock shadow by 10 AM, some are showing up late afternoon on short notice and have no chance to touch-up.. and some have no idea how unforgiving HD close-ups can get. I have not yet had to suggest a customer use the nose gadget, but you know, you preface the sentence with a confidential: "Hey, our job is to make you look your best, it would be wrong NOT to warn you, if we can do something about it before the shoot... only a friend will tell you these things, etc". And hold out the bag with the grooming supplies. Then it's up to them, but you've at least offered.
You don't really WANT men shaving just prior to the shoot, if you can help it, because the irritated skin can stand out for a good 30 minutes or more, and if they cut themselves, well... I keep a styptic pencil handy in the kit as well. But neither do you want them looking like a hobo. Makeup can hide stubble, to a point, but why not solve the problem instead of cover it up.
We also had a thing happen a winter or two ago, where the live talent slipped on ice just outside the building, and drenched his only shirt with coffee as he fell. We rinsed off the shirt and used the engineer's heat gun (normally reserved for sealing electrical heat-shrink tubing), to speed-dry the shirt, but we had to be careful it didn't burn a hole thru the shirt.... and all the while I'm counting down to air... we made it with 5 minutes to spare. I bought a studio-use blow dryer the next day from the dollar store. I't's also handy for defogging camera optics and dew-jammed tape transports in the winter.
Thank you all for your wonderful tips and disaster stories. Confidence is key it seems. If you were to recommend powder, are there brands to look for, would I need different types of power for different skin colours?
If you're really trying to do this yourself - find a book on the topic first, or hire a real television makeup artist for a couple of shoots, and pay her extra to teach you the basics. Here's a book that looks pretty good:
That said, the makeup you use depends on your talent's skin tone, the lighting (tungsten, LED, HMI, fluorescent), as well as the look you're after. There's no one-size-fits-all solution, other than a kit which has a variety of choices. It takes experience to make those choices, and the last thing you want to do is jump into it.
One last horror story - the station I was working at had many daily newscasts and many on-air people, with skin tones varying from black, to tanned, to pale white. We hired a pro to come in (who did feature film and television makeup) and train the on-air talent to apply their own makeup. While it worked for the women, who were used to doing their own street makeup, the guys often looked as if they had been battered and bruised, because they didn't know how to blend the makeup - they'd just apply it in clumps and leave it. Sometimes having makeup is worse than not having it.
We just finished a studio shoot today. Knowing how modern HD studio cameras show every detail, we hired a makeup artist with some local tv and film credits. It can be a crapshoot without word of mouth references, but she did a good job especially with some shiny foreheads.
When on a run and gun shoot by myself I take my emergency kit containing a few shades of pressed powder, a hair brush and foam applicator wedges. You want to make sure you use a fresh sponge every time you need another hit on the makeup, so you don't spread germs. You'd rather have some shine on the CEO's head than give him an infection.
You can simply say to the talent, "hey we're getting some shine from these lights. You know I'm sweating a little too" and apply a little dab on other talent just so nobody feels singled out, especially males unaccustomed to makeup or television or both. But often a "dab will do ya" as you don't want a big shmear of powder. And zoom in and check the result on an external monitor. And don't let the talent see the monitor or that you are zooming into their face on ECU.
Years ago we were doing a shoot with some doctors in a hotel suite. One of the docs was married to an actress who had most recently appeared in Groundhog Day, and she brought some professional makeup for her husband's very shiny head and helped with the other doctor-actors.
So if you can get someone who knows what they are doing. My friend the tv sports reporter claims that he just slaps on makeup in 30 seconds before air, but he's been at it for 15 years.