Last summer, I had the opportunity to work on a Feature Film as the Makeup Department Head. It was a period film, based on a book called "The Iron Orchard" published in 1966. The story was set in the late 1920's to the 1950's. Having a hefty cast of men and women that spanned the 30 year time frame, I knew it was going to be an exciting challenge. We filmed during the month of June mostly in Big Spring TX, with some dates in Midland and Austin, TX.
Taking on a film set in this time period, with this amount of talent and a small crew was a life, as well as a career changing experience. I was responsible for designing looks with the Director - Ty Roberts as well as coordinating with the Hair Department Head - Ashley Rihel, Wardrobe Designer - Juliana Hoffpauir, and at times the Art Designer and Practical Effects Designer. As I type "looks" mind you, this includes beauty, spfx, dirt, creating crude oil, synthetic sweat mixed with natural sweat, making sure the talent is properly protected from sun and wind, and dealing with slight aging. Because we were filming 80% of the movie outdoors, that meant their skin has the opportunity to become more dry or oily. All of those details need to be recorded into a continuity bible, (books) with descriptions, photos, drawings and product listings. Having a second pair of hands as my Key Makeup Artist - Cassie Cole, made it a lot easier to handle, but we could have used more help, (this is a common indie film occurrence).
You may be thinking, this all sounds like a lot of work. Why would you take on this challenge in West Texas with the summer heat indexing at 118 degrees at some locations? Well, I love a challenge, and I have been collecting vintage makeup for 22 years now, including beauty advertising. I am a makeup geek and a vintage beauty lover. I was so excited to rock this movie.
Then we began to create a beautiful film. So much happened in the next 5 weeks, a book is needed to tell the stories of just awesome, fun, stressful and life-changing things that happened, but I digress. I walked away from this movie the proudest I have ever been of all of projects. I hope you enjoy the trailer. I haven't had the opportunity to watch the film yet, it has only screened at the Dallas International Film Festival earlier this year. Hopefully y'all can watch for it this winter!
I want to thank the entire cast and crew, for making this experience so rich and so memorable. Especially the late night Karaoke singing, (until we got kicked out) every weekend we were off work. I still have some blackmail videos stashed away, teehee. Check out our IMDB listing, because without them, this film would not be possible. THE IRON ORCHARD
I also want to thank my awesome makeup/skin care sponsors that helped us with our product needs:
Make Up For Ever
Those are my Art Department kids from the June session of summer camp, (Austin Film and Arts Academy). The talent and heart those girls have is so inspiring. I really give them credit. They begin filming on Monday, thier first indie film. So excited that I got to be their teacher.
The two girls on the left in the first image are my set design/prop team. And the girl on the far right is non other than the makeup, hair and wardrobe stylist. We were ecstatic to reveive help today from other film students for prop building. And they really brought it! They did 3 banners, made a hook for a hand, blow-pipe weapon, darts and began to acquire the set design elements.
The last two photos are of Charlotte learning how to make prop/wounds along with adhesion to the skin. I cannot wait to see their finished product!
I am a very lucky and thankful Jessi!
Jessi Pagel is a makeup and hair artist working in commercial, lifestyle, corporate, editorial, tv and live events. This blog has everything from how-to's to the adventures of her life and works in progress.