MUD Celebrates Our 20th Anniversary with Gil Romero

Our Associate Director of Education, Gil Romero, has been with MUD since the beginning. Choosing to become a make-up artist because of his childhood love for monsters, Gil has not only worked administratively but has also taught in our schools and acted as our Burbank location’s School Director. In 2009, Romero co-authored the second edition ofMake-up Designory’s Character Make-up textbook and has demonstrated special make-up effects techniques on behalf of MUD around the world.

As an independent make-up artist, Romero’s work has been seen on television shows like ScrubsPrison BreakThe ShieldAmerica’s Next Top Model and films like Midnight Movie and Route 666. In addition, he’s produced prosthetic make-ups for Universal Studios Hollywood and Tokyo live-action stunt show WaterWorld, the Anubis puppets for The Mummy II: Chamber of Horrors, Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream character “Jack,” and live musical performers including Lady Gaga. With his extensive experience and personable nature, Gil Romero is a central piece in maintaining all of MUD’s schools, studios, and partner schools.

Q: What makes MUD different from our competitors?

A: I think there’s a lot of things that make MUD different from our competitors–the quality of teachers that we have and our structured and organized curriculum, primarily. As an organization we truly do care for our customers and our employees. We will make extra efforts for each customer and for each person that works for us. MUD is also unique in its approach, because we’re not just a hard sales atmosphere. We really try to investigate whether this is the right choice for the student and I think we do the same when we’re looking at people who are working for us and who are teaching and are in contact with these students. We want to make sure this is what they really want to do and we want to make sure that they’re well trained and well prepared to make a difference in the kids lives. Overall, it’s a sense of caring that comes from the company and from the employees that I think makes us different.

Q: MUD says it’s focused on the needs of the professional makeup artist. What is it about the MUD schools makes our grads so professional?

A: First and foremost, I’d say it’s our strict adherence to cleanliness, sanitation, and our ability to establish professional work habits. Beyond that, we try to immerse them in an atmosphere that feels safe and constructive and allows a student to learn. But we still hold the students to that same level of professional standard inside of the classrooms as far as behavior. Our opportunities to expose the students to professional industry speakers I think really helps us to set an expectation of the student.

Q: Are there any new directions that you see the schools being developed in the future?

A: I think our core classes are going to remain the way that they are right now. We’re looking at how we can separate these out and bring in some different levels of education that will then speak to people at different levels of learning. I’d like to see us develop avocational courses–courses just from a hobby standpoint–and, definitely, the continuing education aspect for different levels of professionals. I’d also like to see us bring in some emphasis on some traditional art studies, like maybe some more developed classes in color theory, or foundational art and drawing type classes.

Q: How did you envision the future of MUD back in 1997?

A: I never thought it would get this big! In 1997 I was just excited to be a part of something that was so new and what I felt was, at that time, so unique to the other institutions. Everybody was so close and everybody worked so hard to make sure that the school succeeded. We were really focused on student satisfaction and making sure that students not only progressed through the school, but also that they had the support they needed to be successful after their time with us. I don’t even think at that point in time I thought we would ever have a second campus, and then in 2005 New York happened. It’s amazing to see the level of growth that we’ve had in the last 20 years.

Q: You didn’t think MUD would reach the size it has now?

A: Yeah! I lose count every time I try to think about the amount of partner schools and studio campuses we have. I am fortunate enough to travel to some of these locations and spend some time with their educators, faculty, and administrators, and it’s amazing to be able to help them establish the quality of education that we offer at our primary campuses in their local markets. But I don’t even think that many of these locations ever thought they were going to have something of this quality and this caliber. It’s pretty cool to see the standard of make-up challenged and I’m really excited to see what the next 10-15 years is going to bring. It’s awesome to see how qualified graduates are out there making a difference.

Q: Where do you see MUD in the next 20 years?

A: I would like to see more of our primary campuses established in the United States. I think there’s still some very large international markets that I would love to see us develop a primary campus in, as well. I’d like to see something in the United Kingdom, and I think it would be nice to see something in an emerging area in Spain. There’s definitely room for more primary campuses and more growth to help out artists in all different avenues be it print, fashion, or film and television. I would also like to see cosmetics opportunities grow and the cosmetic company expand. I’d really like to see more distribution centers and more retail spaces inside of the US. I feel like we’re on the verge of seeing all that happen.

Q: What’s the most memorable moment from the last 20 years? Or is there a funniest moment that comes to mind?

A: So Burbank is a very eclectic neighborhood, and occasionally we would get people wandering in off the streets. Somebody had called my desk and asked me to come into the store. They didn’t elaborate. When I had rushed to the store, I saw a young lady inside the store causing a little bit of a ruckus. She was going through all the cosmetics in the display and going through some of the back stock and opening it up and physically trying the stuff on and dropping the package. I asked her to leave the store after staff had already asked her to leave, and she just blocked us out. She really wasn’t there all the way. So, I got on the phone with the police quite calmly and they said “is the woman located in the store now?” and I said “yes.”

They asked me to give a description of the woman, and I gave them a physical description of her when they said “what is she wearing?” I said “well, she’s wearing some sparkly woman’s underwear, fluffy slippers, a pearl necklace, a pink feather boa, and an old Sony walkman strapped to her waist.” The police officer on the other line just started laughing hysterically. She said “you’re kidding me?” and I said “no, absolutely not.” Of course, the police officers came in and helped the lady out, but it was definitely an odd moment for all of us who were standing there.

Q: Is there anything else that you want to include?

A: I’m proud to be a part of Make-Up Designory for almost the last 20 years. I’m always excited to talk a little bit about the company, the organization, the students, and the quality of our faculty. I’m happy to have the opportunity, like I said before, to go around and visit the other campuses and sights and I really do feel a sense of pride when I’m able to talk about what we do for our students. The best sense of pride I think comes from when we see the little bit of impact we make on our graduates. To be able to see what they’ve taken with our education what we’ve given them and how they’ve been able to grow and establish themselves in the industry is amazing. I think now, 20 years later, we’re really starting to see many of our grads making a big impact and it’s amazing. I’m proud to be just a small part of that.

 

MUD Celebrates Our 20th Anniversary with Stephen McCallum

Who is Stephen McCallum? A true jack-of-all-trades, Stephen has filled just about every position we have at MUD. In the beginning, McCallum and CEO Tate Holland did all the paperwork for the school side-by-side, including admissions and contracts. His greatest accomplishment at MUD is perhaps applying for the school’s accreditation–even in the face of a full software crash three days before the site team visited MUD’s Los Angeles location. In his own words, “if there’s something to be done around here I’ve done it–except that guy’s job,” pointing to Holland’s office, “and I don’t want it.”

Now, McCallum jokingly calls himself “the most overpaid secretary in the world,” but that’s not really accurate. McCallum always stays tied to Operations and management here at MUD. But his most important task of all? Keeping our office running with his mischievous sense of humor and opportune life advice. Full of laughs and stories, Stephen McCallum is the behind-the-scenes expert on all things MUD.

Q: How has the MUD team changed over the years?

A: In size and scope, we have changed enormously, from a small three-room school to an international corporation with two primary campuses, schools Europe, Latin America, and Africa, and many other educational partnerships around the world. However, in our essence and mission, MUD has changed very little in 20 years. We started as a group of friends, and very high goals…now, our goals remain ambitious and our friends have grown.

Q: Looking back, what do you think is the biggest challenge MUD has overcome?

A: The biggest challenges MUD had was being accepted as a real school, then as a real cosmetics line. However, with our true work ethic and a line of outstanding products, we quickly earned the respect of our students, our grads, and our professional friends in the industry. And, for twenty years, we have maintained that ethic and that respect.

Q: How did you envision the future of MUD back in 1997?

A:  The guys were good at their jobs, but risked their homes, their families, and their careers. I was a wandering leftover from the 60’s, not afraid to fail. But, they put their livelihood in my hands, asking me to manage the paperwork that is demanded in the business world. With the help and support from Crystal Wright, editor of “The Make-up and Hairstylist Guide,” Maurice Stein of Cinema Secret, Dana Nye of Ben Nye Cosmetics, and Wolfram Langer of Kryolan, we built a school ready to represent the film and television industry. And, the support of the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education set standards worthy of being lived up to, and have supported the school since the very beginning.

Q: What’s your most memorable moment from the last 20 years? Your funniest moment?

A: The most memorable moment was March 20, 2001, when the California State Senate made it “Make-Up Designory” Day, with State Senator John Scott presenting us with an official Resolution. The ceremony was nerve-aching. There were lots of people touring our brand-new facilities in Burbank, only two years after our start.

My most memorable moment was the original application and process for our Accreditation through ACCSCT (now, just ACCSC). It required five weeks of effort, 69 pounds of paperwork, and having our computer software completely crash two days before the on-site visit. We received the Commission’s approval on our first attempt.

There have been plenty of funny moments. However, the two best were:

  1. a) In 1998, our first year, we were on Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake. Right across the street was Trader Joe’s. After Paul completed a very descriptive injury demonstration, the student (not realizing the effect) walked across the street to get her lunch, sending the store into complete chaos. The staff even called 9-1-1 thinking she was in shock! We were asked to refrain from our students doing that again.
  2. b) In 2005, we had just opened our New York campus. Then, during the character class, students were so excited by the “characters” they were, they wore their makeups home, to show their families, on the subway. This, of course, created a whole new series of panics, resulting in NYPD sending us a letter to instruct our students they could not wear their makeups on the subway!