Saturday, November 14, 2009

Old Pics & New Perspectives

I recently stumbled upon some old camera pics that I felt compelled to share. When I first seriously decided to approach learning the art of make-up and specifically special effects make-up, I struck up a cherished friendship with David Kalahiki on the set of a feature film, THE IMPERIALISTS ARE STILL ALIVE. David was serving as the Key Hair Artist, but I quickly learned that he is a ninja of both hair and make-up. He and I shared friends from previous jobs and I mentioned my intention of disembarking from my current production track as an Assistant Director to pursue what I felt was a more challenging and rewarding career as a Make-Up Artist.

David was more than helpful with tips about schools and the latest in a wide range of products I never knew existed. I asked if he would show me a few things since I was unable to afford the the cost or long term commitment to schooling at M.U.D. or Empire, two institutions of cosmetology in New York. He was gracious enough to endure my pestering questions and invited me to his home where he showed me a proper make-up kit and the necessities of the trade.

David even indulged me further. One day he called me and asked to assist him at the 2009 Robin Hood Gala Fundraiser. This event was to be hosted by Jon Stewart and include guests like Anna Hathaway, Eli Manning, and performances by Aretha Franklin and The Black Eyed Peas. I was flabbergasted. What would I be "assisting" with?

The Challenge: Transform

Comedian Jon Benjamin .........................................TO....................................................Bernie Madoff

I was a bit nervous to say the least. I felt a bit out of my element, but David assured me that it would be a learning experience that could not be duplicated in his apartment or a classroom.

To age Jon's face, we used a combination of applying liquid latex to to his face, mainly his jowls and mouth line to give that ragged hound dog look and to over-exaggerate his crows feet at his eyes. This is done by stretching the areas of the skin, applying a few layers of liquid latex and allowing to dry while the skin is stretched. Once it is dry, release your grip on the skin. The skin will bounce back with a wrinkled look that adds years to a person's face.

David blended darker tones along the cheekbones, temples, and neckline to add to the older look of sagging skin tissue. This accentuated the cheeks and forehead. Following this a lace front wig was applied that seemed to match the hairline seamlessly. Additional strands of like colored hair were adhered to the top point of the forehead to match Madoff's dramatic widow peak's.

Adding Bernie's signature eye-wear and a red velvet smoking jacket with his prison number from our friends in Wardrobe and we had recreated America's Public Enemy #1.

David and Jon had previously worked together on Demetri Martin's show Important Things with Demitri Martin which made the experience a lot more comfortable. Jon Benjamin was a true gentleman and a treat to work with. Being a HUGE fan of HOME MOVIES (he's the voice of McGuirk) and his other works, it's refreshing to witness how fun, vibrant and down to Earth he really is as a performer.

Jon's turn as Bernie Madoff was a huge hit, as he phoned in the benefit "live" via satellite. Many in pre-production felt that his skit opposite Jon Stewart would fall flat, with Bernie's legal troubles unfolding daily in the news. Nothing quite like watching a man that ripped off millions help raise funds for charity. Hilarity conquered all as our Bernie regaled the crowd with his current predicaments while incarcerated and Jon Stewart steered the ship to a port of absurd gut busting laughs.

All in all the benefit raised $56.5 million for New York charities and I was fortunate to work with funnyman Jon Benjamin and I got to meet Jon Stewart afterwards to thank us on a great job well done. All this on top of getting paid as a Make-Up Assistant! A true win-win scenario.

I can't begin to thank David enough for his integrity and good nature. He's a beacon in a fog of questions and doubt. If he's reading this I ask one thing; When's Salt coming out to play again?

David's IMDB film credits can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's a really cool story. Though it seems like the self-interested jerks of the film industry are in the majority, there is definitely a good share of people willing to help you out...sometimes they are just hard to find and we don't ask enough questions.