Actor, Writer, Producer David Dastmalchian Speaks with Students at MUD Industry Speaks

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David Dastmalchian came to Make-Up Designory’s Burbank campus for an interview in front of students with Deverill Weeks. He shared some of the secrets of success to being a working and well respected make up artist in the film and television industry. He offered three simple rules. First, the right make-up helps the actor create the character. David believes that if the make-up is right, the character flows from there. He says that character development is 90% from the outside in, and that hair and make-up help a great deal with character development. Secondly, remember that the make-up artist is the first one the actors will be with during the day, and that the make up artist really sets the energy for the actor for the day. So be positive, professional, calming, and create an environment that lets the actor feel safe and comfortable. This will be a great help in keeping the production on schedule. Finally, do not complain. Actors and others may start complaining about the conditions, the producers, other actors, or the long day. Do not fall into the bad habit of complaining. Be empathetic and understanding, but not negative. Keep the energy positive and move on to another subject. This will keep the actors and the set more productive.

David Dasmalchian, who is co-staring alongside Paul Rudd in the upcoming film Ant-Man, has an impressive body of work. He was in The Dark Night, Prisoners, Employer, and many stage productions. He was raised in Kansas and grew up loving special effects make-up and comic books. Throughout his life, movies were an escape. He was on his way to college to play football when he became heavily involved in theater. He started acting professionally in Chicago, and then headed to Hollywood where he has been doing well ever since. He is now married with his first child. He recently co-wrote and produced his first feature length film, Animal, which is being released in theaters nationwide in May. The make-up on that film was expertly done by MUD grad Amber Talarico. Look for details, of the movie release and his Q&A sessions at the premiers, on the MUD Facebook pages.

Students had a great opportunity to hear first hand from a well known actor about how important make up is to character development and to setting the mood of the actor on the set. His closing advice was find your marketable strengths and spend time with people you respect and want to be like.

Industry Speaks: Make-up Artist Kenny Myers

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What do you get when you leave a napping mother around a 5 year who is more interested in mommy’s makeup bag than he is about sleepy time? An Artisan Award winner and three-time Emmy nominee for make-up, that’s what. Kenny Myers, known for his work on The Prestige (2006), X Men: The Last Stand (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) and The Last Samurai (2003) graced MUD students and industry friends with insight on his journey as a make-up artist in the film industry.

While his story has great twists and turns, a few nuggets of wisdom appeared with every tale. For aspiring artists looking forward to their own journey, Myers shared professional advice that can be used in whatever path one takes.

“Innovation comes from every direction” Myers shared with the room full of wide eyes. The next big thing is always on the horizon and can come based on the smallest thing. Even when you’re working late at night, that one new “thing” can happen.

“Don’t be afraid of showing what you know. It WILL come back to you.” As the artist began talking about how techniques of Dick Smith had come alive from one project, it’s apparent that the genius of Smith has lived on throughout the face of make-up artistry today.

For artists that are ripe into the industry, Myers advises, “Your job isn’t to show off. It is to bring your skillset to who you work for.” People know that you’re good, that’s why you’re there. Do the job and save the sales pitch.

MUD thanks Kenny Myers and his family for joining us for such an insightful Industry Speaks and we look forward to seeing you around the MUD campus again soon. You can find a more detailed look into the eyes of the artist soon in an upcoming edition of MUD Art, with photographer and writer, Deverill Weeks.

Industry Speaks: Special Make-up FX Artist Norman Cabrera

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“Never be discouraged…” This was just one of many pieces of advice that Norman Cabrera gave to a room full of peers, fans, MUD students, graduates, and aspiring make-up artists attending Make-up Designory’s Industry Speaks. With over 20 years of special make-up FX experience and a resume that is just as tall as he is, it was certain that this advice would leave a lasting impression and serve as food for thought for those who were hungry to hear more about Norman’s roadmap to a career as one of the most sought after special make-up FX artists.

It was an informal gathering, almost like having a beer with an old friend — discussing work, family and the thing you loved most, in this case FX make-up. “I want this to be informal, like a chat,” he said, and encouraged the crowd to throw out questions as he talked. The first being, “How did you get started?”

His eyes lit up behind dark frame tinted glasses and with a reflective smile he began to talk about his start and journey as a make-up artist. “I’ve always loved monsters and make-up FX. I was obsessed with it,” he started. “I remember watching Planet of the Apes and it blew my mind. After seeing Rick Baker’s work I knew that was what I wanted to do.” He continued as he flipped through youthful pictures of himself surrounded by pictures of Return of The Jedi posters and masks he created. “I was sculpting by the age of 14. At 16 I, built up the courage to show people my work, and when I was 17 I sent Rick Baker pictures of my work.”

Realizing this was a teachable moment he briefly deviated from his story and took a minute to plant a seed of wisdom. “Always have something to show,” he advised. “Building your portfolio is one of the most important things you can do. No one is going to hire you if you don’t have anything to show them,” he added with a tone that was high-spirited yet still conveyed the importance of what he was saying.

Pens feverishly jotted down the tidbit of advice before Norman resumed telling the story of how he started his career. His moment of reflection took the attentive audience on a journey through his work and his experiences working on films like Hell Boy I and II, Drag Me To Hell, and Men in Black 3. He talked about his work with directors like and Guillermo Del Toro and fx make-up artists like Rick Baker, who had inspired and mentored him throughout his career.

“So, you knew beyond a hobby that this is what you wanted to do?” Gil Romero, School Director, asked.

Without hesitation and with a confidence supported by talent and years of experience, he answered, “For sure. I would always read magazines and I searched through the TV Guide looking for anything that had to do with make-up.” He talked about working in a supermarket as a teenager and saving his money to buy latex so that he could make masks.

“So, is the passion still there,” an enthusiastic audience member asked.

“Absolutely,” he answered quickly and assuredly. “I think about this stuff all the time. I’m always working on something. He then took another second to impart advice to the listening audience. “It’s important to always keep working. Do more stuff. Every waking moment you should be working on something.” He paused for a second and then added. “And always keep learning. Just as important as building your book you have to keep learning.” His words resonated with the crowd. But the wisdom coming from years of experience did not stop there. “Keep learning. Study anatomy,” he said adamantly. “Study all the creatures of the earth. You can find ideas and inspiration in all of this.” It was simplistic but still profound advice.

As Norman continued to talk about his experiences the audience hung on his every word, some writing them down hurriedly while others simply nodded in agreement. Before wrapping up his informal chat, he left them with some final words of advice. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to build your book. You have to have a kick ass book. This is a competitive industry but never be discouraged to follow what you want to do.”

As I wrote down these final words of advice I realized Norman’s gems of wisdom could be applied to all aspects of life. I recognized the motivation stirring in the room and the sense of inspiration emanating from the crowd. Just like the line waiting to shake hands and take pictures with Norman Cabrera, I left not only feeling the urge do more, but believing that I could. “Never be discouraged,” I thought as I scribbled the last notes before I closed my notepad. Wise words indeed.

— Jarrell Mosley

Make-Up Artist David Dupuis Speaks at MUD

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When you bring in award-winning artists that have a portfolio of creations from Pirates of the Caribbean, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Hunger Games, and Blade II, you never know what to expect. At MUD’s Industry Speaks event, David Dupuis did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, he wowed.

Students explored the world through the eyes of Dupuis as he walked them through a variety of his works using gels, appliances, and foam. When asked to name a memorable “McIver” moment in which he had to be quick on his feet, a lot of examples came to mind — including making eyes that are gouged out by a fork. His best advice: “While you’re studying, you are already connected to this world. Start saving for your union dues while you’re preparing for your new career in make-up artistry. Be ready, or close to ready when that window of opportunity opens up for you.”

As fans of his work, MUD thanks David for sharing his experiences with MUD students, and we looking forward to more amazing stories in the future.

Industry Speaks: Camden Toy

Gentlemen Camden Toy

Camden Toy is an actor, screenwriter, and editor whose love for acting and make-up runs deep into his childhood. He spent an afternoon with our students, graduates and fans discussing his passions, sharing his love of theater and theater performances, actors and artisans, make-ups and monsters.

Camden has had a fascination with the world of fantasy, classic horror and the make-ups that brought these characters to life from an early age. His father Malcolm was a make-up artist who had worked under Wally Westmore at the Paramount lot.

Camden shares a story of his first experiences with make-up. As a boy of no older than about 8 years old, his father found him rummaging through his make-up kit. Camden fondly recalls how his father leaned into him and quietly asks his son, “Do you want me to show you how to use that?”  Learning to apply old age make-up, with a putty nose and a fake beard, Camden’s lifelong love of make-up began.

“Dick Smith was a huge influence…” Camden describes how thrilling it was to transform himself into all sorts of characters and creatures using Dicks Smith’s Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-up Handbook.

Over the years, Camden has had his fair share of wearing all types of make-ups, but some of his most recognizable characters and monstrous creatures don’t resemble Camden at all. He has been described as a suit performer and character actor who has acted in over 100 independent films. On this afternoon, he shared his professional reel and photographs of his most outstanding and identifiable prosthetic characters on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

“I don’t like to think of myself as a suit performer. I like to think of myself as an actor who is able to integrate full prosthetic suits into my performance.”

Camden’s introduction to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer began with his principal role portraying one of the characters called the Gentleman on the episode “HUSH” This episode was one of the most highly rated and viewed episodes of the series and many would recognize his now infamous grin alongside his fellow Gentleman, Doug Jones.

Each of the make-ups Camden has worn for Buffy and Angel were designed so that he could fully express and act through the make-ups.  He explained how he appreciated the care and concern the make-up artists and craftsmen put into each aspect of developing the creatures, including contact lenses, claws and teeth.

“Almost Human had a wonderful dental technician and teeth guy…[James Conrad]” Camden explains how James was always gracious and considerate in taking his ideas into consideration when designing some of the most amazing sets of teeth for many of his characters on the Buffy and Angel series.

At the conclusion of the Industry Speaks event, a guest asked about the types of characters he preferred to play. Camden exclaimed with a dubious and sinister smile, “Bad guys are SO much more fun to play!”

The Man Behind IMATS and Make-up Artist Magazine: Michael Key

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With IMATS Los Angeles just around the corner, the buzz surrounding this huge industry event is deafening. To give you an idea of how big, let’s just say 10K tickets were sold and over 200 vendors will be present. The show offers excellent make-up educations classes taught by the industry’s best, live on-stage presentations, special make-up effects demonstrations, show-only offers by the best make-up brands, Battle of the Brushes student competition and more!

How did something that was just a “trial” become so popular? Last night, when Deverill Weekes interviewed Michael Key, make-up artist and the man behind IMATS and Make-up Artist Magazine, we got a simple answer: there was a need for it.

Michael is a musician who was caught in a twist of fate. When asked what started his career in make-up, he replied, “music was my first love, but it wasn’t taking. I’ve always loved movies, and I came across ‘Cinefex’ a magazine that covers behind the scenes movie make-up. It had a step-by-step on how to sculpt, and I thought, `I could do that’. So, I went to a hobby store, purchased plaster and clay and did everything wrong.” It turns out, that after 7 weeks, he successfully sculpted a head. He and his friends used it as a prop to scare people. Then, he got his friends to pitch in to purchase foam latex, so they too could have their own props. Project after project Michael was able to make somewhat of a portfolio, although, he credits his “gift of gab” for getting him his first make-up effects studio job.

Michael’s make-up career includes five Emmy Award nominations, and two wins for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His make-up credits include Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Planet of the Apes, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Charmed, Batman and Robin and more. (IMDb: Michael Key)

Deverill asked, “Who were your heroes and mentors?” With no hesitation, Michael names Michael Westmore, Jack Dawn, Christopher Tucker, Jack Pierce, Rick Baker, and Dick Smith. He credits Michael Westmore for teaching him lessons you don’t learn in a text book, like how to work with a producer and how to present yourself as a class act. He is grateful for Dick Smith for agreeing to be a part of the first IMATS stating that because of Mr. Smith, it was a success.

During Michael Key’s early career, he noticed that there weren’t enough resources for aspiring artists. Everything he learned was from trial and error and knowledge shared by his peers and mentors. Because this knowledge was so valuable, he was inspired to get it in writing and thus Make-up Artist Magazine was born. He admits that he’s shocked it went beyond the first three issues, but today we celebrate 106 issues of a great publication.

The interview concluded with a raffle for two sets of sold-out IMATS tickets.

Thank you Michael Key for sharing your story with us, and thank you fate for putting Cinefex in his hands!

Michael Westmore, Part 2

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A couple of months ago, we had the honor of hosting Michael Westmore as a guest speaker for our Industry Speaks series. The students and staff were inspired tremendously by Mr. Westmore’s experience and knowledge. We wanted more — and to our delight, he agreed to return.

Last night, Mr. Westmore walked the audience through an impressive make-up career reel featuring his work from Rocky, Raging Bull, Masters of the Universe, Star Trek, and Mask (for which he received the Academy Award for Best Make-up) just to name a few. He shared behind-the-scenes make-up secrets and stories that promise a fascinating autobiography.

Mr. Westmore has worked with many Hollywood legends, his credits are extraordinary, and he continues to offer his knowledge and make himself available to our students. For that, we are grateful.

Watch Michael Westmore as he shares his expertise and mentors the next round of talented make-up artists, including MUD alumni Nicholas Gonzalez, Cat Paschen, and Bethany Serpico, in the extreme make-up competition reality series Face Off.

Face Off Season 6 premieres Tuesday January 14.

MUD Welcomes Kevin James Bennett to Their Campus

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What do you get when you place make-up brushes in the hands of a guy in a storefront window in New York City?

Kevin James Bennett.

As MUD’s Industry Speaks weekly event invited Kevin to speak to MUD students, he wanted to do more than simply give words of encouragement. Prior to the event, the Emmy Award winning artist casually visited the classrooms, talking to students as they worked on their current projects. During their discussions at the Industry Speaks event, Kevin pointed out a few keys to success based upon his own experience.

Have a plan — long and short-term.

Be confident, but know the difference between confidence and arrogance.

Preparation for the future includes lots of practice and sharing your ideas.

It takes a variety of skill sets to go from an artist to a brand. Learn as many as you can.

As students circled the artist after the event, Kevin gave personal attention to their questions while sharing his own aspirations. MUD thanks Kevin for always being an amazing asset to their education program and looks forward to seeing him in January at IMATS 2014 in Pasadena where he will be a keynote speaker. To find out more about Kevin, go to

MUD’s Industry Speaks Event Features Michael Westmore

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There are only a few families that are considered true Hollywood Dynasties: Barrymore and Fonda (ask your parents) come to mind, but there is only one name that is considered Hollywood make-up royalty: Westmore. For almost one hundred years the Westmore family has played a role in the films and television shows that inspire new generations of make-up artists.

You might recognize Michael Westmore from his appearances as a mentor on Syfy’s hit show, “Face Off,” where he often accompanies his daughter, host McKenzie, on a walk-through of the lab, offering advice to the awe-struck contestants. What you may not know is that before these recent appearances in front of the camera, the Westmore clan has been working behind the scenes since before television even existed.

Michael’s grandfather, George Westmore, started the very first studio make-up department back in 1917. His father, Monte, worked on “Gone with the Wind!”

Michael joined in on the family business in 1961 at Universal Studios, where he quickly rose to become the make-up department head, working on shows like “The Munsters” (he’s still friends with Eddie Munster) and “Land of the Lost.” He also apprenticed under the legendary make-up artist, John Chambers, from whom he learned the importance of passing on knowledge. Chambers agreed to teach him as long as he didn’t keep anything a secret from other artists- an attitude Westmore still values today. The pair maintained a lifelong friendship and even worked together making disguise kits for CIA operatives.

In the 1970s and 80s he ventured into feature films, creating special FX for “Rocky” and “Raging Bull.” At the time there was no Academy Award for make-up, but Westmore earned wide praise for his elaborate injury make-ups, including one scene in “Raging Bull” where a boxer’s nose had to break on camera. He pulled off the trick by rigging a plastic “teeter-totter” underneath a collapsible wax nostril that would cause the foam nose on the opposite side to pop up when hit. He did take home an Oscar in 1986 for his work on Eric Stoltz in “Mask.”

It was that year that he landed the job that would change the trajectory of his career- Make-up Supervisor on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He would spend the next twenty years creating thousands of creatures over hundreds of television episodes, films and video games in the Star Trek universe. The amount of different alien species that had to be created might seem daunting, but Westmore often turned to nature for inspiration. “You go crazy if you try to think of something original,” he says of his work on the shows. Insects, fish, microbes, all influenced his designs as he strove for creations that were “familiar but not familiar.” The Klingon foreheads were actually inspired by dinosaur vertebrae. His work on the Star Trek shows “The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine,” and “Voyager” earned him five of his nine Emmy Awards. (He’s been nominated at least once every year from 1984-2005 plus 1976-1978. That’s over 30 nominations if you’re keeping score.)

The past few years have found Westmore semi-retired. In addition to mentoring young artists on “Face Off” he is working on an autobiography, On November 7, excited MUD students welcomed Michael Westmore to their Burbank campus as part of the “Industry Speaks” series. Current students, alumni, and industry professionals packed the room to hear him interviewed by photographer Deverill Weekes. He spoke about the qualities that make a good artist citing a good attitude, time management and respect for “every single step of the process” as being very important, as well as the ability to do whatever is asked of you. “If I get a job, they’re going to get the best possible work.”

Westmore even brought a surprise guest with him, actor Armin Shimerman, who played Quark on “The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine” for many seasons. Shimerman commented on Westmore’s caring and willingness to collaborate on set. “Be as kind as Michael Westmore,” was his advice to the audience.

Everyone in attendance found the afternoon inspiring, Westmore’s words of advice clearly taken to heart. Beauty 101 student Ashley Eyster felt humbled to be sitting in the same room as an Oscar winner, but was encouraged that “a little bit of kindness can take you a long way.” Graduate Cat Paschen loved how he continues to give back to the make-up community, “Being a good person will help you be successful.”

Westmore’s final bit of advice for the room full of artists: “Don’t forget to do the hands and ears.”

Michael Westmore will return to “Face Off” as a mentor in season 6, which airs on Syfy starting January 14th.

Industry Speaks: Cory Bishop with Stila Cosmetics!

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Cory is a makeup artist from New York City with 15 years of experience. He has traveled the world to share his passion with celebrities, models and real women across the globe. Cory was the International artist and educator for Temptu, and he presently works for Stila Cosmetics as the Manager of Pro Artistry and Sales. He was kind enough to step in at the last minute as our guest speaker this week, and we’re beyond grateful that he did. Cory not only came with a wealth of tips for our guests, but also with gifts! He encouraged questions from the audience and rewarded participants with Stila mascara and 3-pack lip glaze. Here are some take-aways for you:

Assisting- If you are going to assist, do your research regarding the event. Take initiative, you always want to be three steps ahead.

Charging- Do some research. Find out what others are charging.  For example, bridal; compare yourself with what others offer.  You don’t want to out-bid yourself.

On Make-up:

Always prep the skin before applying any foundation.

Keep your ingredients very simple.  Cory loves the silicone based makeup because you don’t need powder to set it and he loves the way it looks on the skin.

He uses STILA’s convertible color for lips and cheeks.  It’s a great color corrective.

He loves the Kajal eye pencil for the waterline because of its rich black color.

He uses STILA’s convertible color for lips and cheeks and mentioned that it’s a great color corrective.

Given that he has done fashion, celebrities, and retail, Cory was asked what he likes doing best.  He said he has loved it all.  He can see himself writing a book on how to apply makeup and maybe one day owning a makeup line.

For more information on upcoming Industry Speaks events, please see our Facebook Events Calendar. They’re free and open to the public!