While the genre has generated a steady supply of criticism throughout the years thanks to horrendous shows like ‘Jersey Shore’ and the IQ-lowering gem(s) ‘The Real Housewives of wherever’, reality television has been able to redeem itself by providing the platform from which audiences are able to catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of many of the world’s most intriguing and unconventional industries.
Before the age of ‘real’ T.V., viewers would never be able to safely experience the danger associated with being a crab fisherman (Deadliest Catch), learn what it takes to become a head chef beneath the tutelage of a culinary maniac (Hell’s Kitchen), or come to know just how tough and cut-throat the world of fashion can be (America’s Next Top Model).
And while many of the best programming that reality television has to offer is of the competitive variety, shows like Syfy’s Face Off is unique among the genre in one important respect: It gives viewers the kind of insight into the film industry that is generally reserved for those already working in the field, or those who happen to enroll in a qualified makeup school.
This ‘peeling the curtain back’ approach to television is arguably what provides reality programming with the kind of hook that keeps viewers coming back for more—it essentially acknowledges our need to know and understand how things work and how things come to be.
Face Off – Not Starring Nicholas Cage
Have you ever been watching a movie and thought to yourself, ‘How did they so effectively create that character?’ or ‘where did they get the idea for that special effects makeup?’. I think it is safe to say that we all have at one time or another; but did you ever expect to get an in-depth answer to either of those once rhetorical questions?
Face Off pits makeup artists from all walks of life against one another in a wide variety of makeup-based competitions—everything from beauty makeup to full-blown creature creation. Along the way, the audience has the opportunity to learn a thing or two about what makes movie quality makeups so believable, why things like a clean edge matters, and why an artist might choose to use latex rather than polyfoam to create prosthetics.
Hosted by McKenzie Westmore, daughter of makeup guru Michael Westmore (the hands responsible for creating some of the most memorable makeups throughout the Star Trek universe), the series is already well into its ninth season, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
No Substitute for Getting Your Hands Dirty
Obviously, as good of a job as a show like Face Off might do for introducing the idea of turning a passion in film into a career, it just isn’t a substitute for getting your hands dirty and trying it out for yourself. That’s why you might have noticed that there is no shortage of summer camps and academic institutions that are completely devoted to training the next generation of special effects makeup artists.
An additional benefit of the show is that it doesn’t really hold anything back in terms of depicting how demanding and difficult the profession is. Think about it. There are no graphic design or freelance writing shows, no shows depicting how difficult it is to be a plumber or the common issues that arise on a daily basis for an electrician. The point is, shows like Face Off act as a sort of ‘take your child to work day’ for those interested in pursuing the profession.
The Types of Programmes You’re Likely to Find
Sure, CGI is gaining ground on conventional special effects, but there will always be a need for those with the creativity and skill to bring any number of character designs to life—and make them believable. To that end, there are many academic institutions across North America that have developed a reputation for producing some of the best makeup artisans in the business. If you happen to be among the talented individuals looking to make your mark as part of the effects crew of a television, film, or stage production, consider one of the following institutions:
- Webster University
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Seneca College
- Cinema Makeup School
- Art of Makeup School
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Guest Author Bio
John Berwick may be a Technical Writer by trade, but he enjoys blogging and voicing his opinion on a wide variety of topics more than anything else in the world. He has written for many different sectors including health care, software development, security, marketing, and e-commerce industries.
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