June 10th 2014 06:21
THE SFX FACTOR
With credits that include The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and both JJ Abrams Star Trek movies, it’s no wonder award-winning make-up effects artist Brian Sipe was a key player in bringing Mystique to the big screen for X-Men: Days of Future Past.
What made you want to become a special-effects make-up artist?
Growing up, I was one of those kids who always watched Godzilla, King Kong, Star Trek – all that stuff. And I had a fascination with magic. I think I got fascinated with the thought of the illusion and fooling somebody.
Tell us about your job on X-Men: Days of Future Past.
That was a great experience. The producers knew going in that they had Jennifer Lawrence, who had just come off Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook and was the frontrunner to win the Oscar. The last time she was Mystique [in 2011’s X-Men: First Class], I was told it took seven artists up to eight hours to do her make-up. And then it would take them two to three hours to clean her up at the end of the night. I mean, that’s 11 hours, not counting how much time they could shoot her during the day, so I think they figured, “We’ve got this hot actress and we need to tighten this up.”
How did you streamline the process?
By the time I got the call, the process of how we were going to move forward streamlining the make-up was already in motion. But then it came down to me to be like, “OK, we gotta make this faster and we gotta make it last all day so we have minimal touch-ups and we’re not holding up production.” I did countless tests with different make-up materials and we knocked it down to three artists, three-and-a-half hours on and 45 minutes to get her out at the end of the night.
What was Jennifer Lawrence like to work with?
Jennifer was great, a real trouper. We would go through three-and-a-half hours of make-up and she would still be smiling. We watched a lot of South Park and Family Guy… got us through the 4am call times. When we put Jen in make-up, a lot of the time we also put her stunt double, Renae Moneymaker, in make-up. She is also a sweetheart and was very patient with all that we did to her.
What’s your best piece of advice for any aspiring make-up effects artists?
Really make sure this is where your passion lies. If you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life, but you have to have the drive and passion to know this is really what you want. I’ve had a pretty fortunate career and good opportunities.
Finally, what’s your all-time favourite movie make-up?
I like Rob Bottin’s Darkness from Ridley Scott’s Legend . There’s something pretty epic about that design. It’s really simple, but it’s just done so well.