In Praise of Mentors
A number of years ago, I was watching “CSI”, thinking “What I wouldn’t give to work on a show like that!” My dream came true when I wound up in the Makeup F/X Department of “CSI:NY,” thanks to the efforts my mentor, John Goodwin, an artist who took a chance on hiring a kid eager to get a break in Hollywood. John is not only a wonderful makeup artist, but also a graduate of the USC film school and an alumnus of The Groundlings. This man is a consumate professional, working tireless hours, sharing as much knowledge as he can impart, and always conscious of all facets of the filmmaking craft. For several years, I was his right hand man, schlepping blood and guts from makeup lab, to autopsy room, to distant locations and everywhere inbetween. These were the salad days, elbow deep in blood every day and loving it.
As years have passed, we’ve left the show and gone on to other projects, working together when we can, but often focusing on less F/X heavy makeups. I’m sure I speak for both of us when I say I miss the old days now and then.
As fate would have it, I’m working with John today on a film, and we’re actually shooting on our old soundstage, adjacent to our old offices. The deja vu is palpable. I’ve scaled down my set kit in recent years, carrying the TSA friendly 1oz bottles of blood and state of the art silicones, but today it’s old school, with giant bottles of NON-non-staining blood and gobs of hot gelatine. Just like old times… Wouldn’t trade it for the world.
As many of you grow as makeup artists, learn all you can from the seasoned veterans you meet. That goes for skills, as well as etiquette and grace. And be aware of those you meet who look to you for influence. Never take for granted a skill that you may posess, as someone else may be happy to learn it. There will always be new makeup artists out there. Help guide them to become great ones.
-Brian Kinney, Guest Blogger & Makeup FX artist working in Hollywood