Interview with Emmy Winning Make-Up Artist Paul Engelen (Game of Thrones)

Paul Engelen is is 2 time Emmy winner, and 2 time Oscar nominated Makeup artist. He has worked on some of the greatest/most successful films and TV shows in the last 40 years, including: Game of Thrones (2 Emmy wins), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Oscar nomination), The Legend of Tarzan (Oscar nomination), Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (dir. George Lucas), Gladiator (dir. Ridley Scott), Munich (dir. Steven Spielberg), Batman (dir. Tim Burton) and Reds (dir. Warren Beatty).

Many have stated that his makeup design for Nicole Kidman on “The Hours” is the key reason for her Oscar Win for Best Actress (see pic below). The same can be said for his work on Renée Zellweger for her Oscar Win on “Cold Mountain”. How those films received zero Oscar nominations for Makeup is still a mystery.

It was an honor to chat with Paul Engelen and talk about his art:

Matthew Toffolo: You’ve worked on over 80 Productions as a Makeup Artist in the last 45 years. Do you have a favorite experience?

Paul Engelen: Every new project presents challenges, experiences and memories. I would say I have been extremely lucky to have had a very wide variety and range of projects to work on. I suppose if pressed, I would mention working on ‘Empire of the Sun” and ‘Star Wars, The Phantom Menace’ to be particular highlights, but I would also name “Pink Floyd, The Wall’ to be a fascinating experience. My present project for NBC, directed by Tarsem Singh; ‘The Emerald City’ is proving just as interesting though!

PHOTO: Paul with Director George Lucas on ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’:

PE & Lucas.jpg

MT: Is there a type of story/film that you would love to work on that you haven’t worked on yet? Or have you covered all of your bases?

PE: I think I have covered most bases! Contemporary stories to science fiction, several medieval themes which I must admit, is probably my favourite genre. I’d love to do a ‘western’, directed by someone like Tarantino!

MT: You’ve won 2 Emmys (for Game of Thrones) and have been nominated for 2 Oscars. Does winning or losing mean a lot to you? Or it is really just about the film?

PE: It’s great being nominated, but winning is a blast!! It means your peers think your work is worthy.

MT: What is the main job being the Makeup Department Head on a production?

PE: Well, I would say, it’s about all the aspects of the running a department. Putting a crew together that would be the best for the production. The conversations and collaboration with director, production and costume designers are all paramount in going into production.

PHOTO: Paul with Director/Actor Clint Eastwood on ‘White Hunter, Black Heart’: 

PE & Clint.jpg

MT: What has been your most difficult job and/or production to date?

PE: Movies generally have a specific format regarding the production structure, which is the area I come from, so it was quite a shock when ‘Game of Thrones” came my way, and I had to put my mind to working on 10 scripts, with two, sometimes three separate units shooting in different countries at the same time! Very testing. Since then, I am being offered more of this type of production, which, although very challenging, I do find stimulating.

MT: You’ve worked on many fantasy and action movies/TV shows. Is there a reason why you seem to love working in these genres?

PE: Again, I have been very lucky in the type of productions that has been offered to me. I am comfortable with the larger type of production with big name directors, irrespective of genres. Often the actors can be a contributing influence on the reason for working on a particular project.

MT: How has the makeup department changed from 35 years ago to today?

PE: I don’t think things have changed much over the years. It has always been ‘challenging’ to put creative people together for months on end, and hope that the peace can be maintained!! I like to think people who work with me look forward to getting together on shows!

PHOTO: Paul with actor Val Kilmer on ‘The Saint’:

PE & Kilmer.jpg

MT: Besides the films you’ve worked on, what movie have you seen the most in your life?

PE: I still absolutely adore watching Gregory Peck in ‘Moby Dick’, which, incidentaly had Charlie Parker as the Makeup Designer, who was one of the finest artists in our profession. Such a wonderful film.

MT: Do you have any advice for high school and university students who want to work makeup in the film industry?

PE: It’s a tough business to be in, but incredibly rewarding when you see your work up there on display. – and to be honest, there is a certain amount of luck involved with getting work in the first place, but perseverance and striving to be the best is essential.

PHOTO: Paul with actor Mel Gibson on “Mutiny on the Bounty’.:

PE & Gibson.jpg

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

PHOTO: Nicole Kidman transforms via makeup in “The Hours”:

nicolekidman_the_hours.jpg

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The ART of ART DIRECTION and PRODUCTION DESIGN in the movies.

ART DIRECTING
FILMMAKING NOTES

Production Design – the domain of the art director – is the visual art and craft of cinematic storytelling. The most important job that no one outside teh industry knows about

The art director renders the screenplay in visual metaphors, a color palette, architectural and period specifics, location designs and sets. It also coordinates the costumes, makeup and hairstyles. They create a cohesive pictorial scheme that directly informs and supports the story and its point of view

SETTINGS ARE NOT MERELY BACKDROPS FOR THE ACTION, BUT SYMBOLIC EXTENSIONS OF THE THEME AND CHARACTERIZATIONS

REAL ISN’T ALWAYS BEST FOR THE FILM; CREATING A WORLD WITH ITS OWN INNER LOGIC AND TRUTH IS.

FINDING THE LOOK OF THE FILM
-The looks of a film comes out of the content and the director’s conception of the story.
-A working metaphor, a specific psychological, atmospheric and emotional image of what you want to visually project
-What emotional impact does the story have?
-How does the environment of the narrative reflect the character?

-What is the psychological nature of the story?
-How can the atmosphere of the architecture and physicality of the settings contribute to telling the story visually?
-What is the art director’s attitude toward the story?
-What is the art director’s point of view?
THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER’S VISUALIZATION TEAM

THE ART DEPARTMENT
-Nucleus of the Art Department staff consists of the art director, set designer, set decorator and property master followed by a support staff.
-Support staff includes the buyer, construction coordinator, construction crew, production illustrator, scenic artist, set dresser, greensman, draftsman, location manager, painters, carpenter and location scout.

Art Director
-Runs the show during production
-Responsible for dealing with vendors and the logistics of getting materials to and from the set
Set Designer
-Responsible for designing and supervising the construction of sets
-Drafts blueprints based on concepts, descriptions or drawings and then oversees construction of the set

Set Decoration
-Begins after the set has been built or after a real location has been selected
-The set consists of the walls, floor, ceiling, windows, doorways and doors
-The decoration includes rugs, furniture, wall hangings and window treatments
-Make a list of what decor elements are necessary for each location in the script
-They include paint, wallpaper, floor coverings, furniture, paintings, photographs, books, magazines, newpapers, appliances and audio-visual equipment.

Props
-Items handled by the Actors are designated as props
-They are gathered, designed or purchased by the PROPERTY MASTER who is responsible for their placement and care during the shooting phase of a film

Hair and Makeup
-The hair crew researches, creates and administers the proper hairstyles for the characters, story, place and time period to serve the director’s point of view
-The on-set hairdresser is invaluable to cut, style, color, set and maintain the hairstyles
-Wigs, hairpieces and hair extensions can transform an actor into a character
-Make sure the actors are willing to change their hair before hiring them
-The makeup artist on a movie must understand how the tools of foundation, rouge, lipstick and eyeliner will read on film
-Makeup and hair impact the look and personality of the character and help establish period, mood and atmosphere.-The script will indicate specific props necessary for the story and representation of the characters
-Every visual element should complement, support and develop the cinematic narrative and fit into the overall design plan
-The Property Master includes items that will give the film distinction

Special Effects
-Digital technology has made a tremendous impact on production desinging.
-CGI is employed for budgetary and logistical reasons. To created impossible shots and to augment, change and enhance

Constuction Coordinator
-Responsible for the building of sets, follows the working drawings drafting of the art department and supervises the construction crew
-The set is built around the idea that cameras will be shot around it so therefore wild walls can be moved around for a specific shot

Construction Crew
-The construction crew is made up of many artisans
-Carpenters and painters are the key to a great set

Location Scout/Manager
-Searches for the places indicated in the script
-Takes still photos and shoots video to aid in the search process
-Once location is selected, a deal is struck with the owner or managers of the property

Costume Designer
-Creates or selects the clothing to be worn by the actors
-Color and texture concept will be established and agreed with the Production Designer and Director
-Most Art Directors will let the Costume Designers work from their own inspiration based on their interpretation of the story and characters
-Different Actors will look good in certain costumes

Scenic Artist
-Art department specialist who creates all painted backgrounds, prop paintings, signage, any illustrative material, magazine covers, book jackets and murals indicated by the story

Production Illustrators
-Artists who pain or draw a conception of the Production Designers ideas for a set
-A full color description of sets and character’s look can sell a film

Draftsman
-Makes technical drawings that detail a plan to build a set
-LIke drafting for architecture

Set Dresser
-Works under the supervision of the set decorator and is responsible for laying the decor on set
-Have a great sense of style

The Production Designer supervises the entire design team. Art and commerce go hand in hand in moviemaking; A Production Designer must carefully plan and budget so the film gets the look it deserves
-The blueprint for the production process included detailed information concerning use of the camera, the physical action and dialog
-The Production Designer breaks down the script into individual components determining the days in the shooting schedule each scene and each shot is to be photographed

The Pschological Nature of Production Design
-Environments can have a metaphysical impact on how the audience perceives the story and the characters
-How do you want the viewer to feel?
-The atmospheric qualities of the sets, location and environments are essential in establishing a mood and projecting an emotional feeling about the world surrounding the film
-Takes an idea and translates it visually to communicate or comment upon the themes of the story
-A visual metaphor may act on the subconscious level, presenting subtle layers of poetic imagery that can impart ideas, concepts and significance in the narrative

RESEARCHING
The art director must be specific and precise in a number of areas:
-Authenticity
-Emotional truth of the story and the characters, through the environment
-Interpreting the director’s intent
-Details and details within details
-Ask what is needed for each scene
RESEARCHING IS A TIME FOR DISCOVERY

An art director should have a romance with color

One should never seek to recreate a period – One should attempt to reinvent it.
-Christopher Hobbs (Production Designer Gothic, Visual Effects Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)