Manchester Movies

On Location - Video Maker April 1990 issue


Geoff Stafford meets BBC make-up designer Julie Vincent

If your actors look spotty, shiny and unattractive on screen, then perhaps they need a little make-up. But where do you start? I visited BBC North-West to find out.

The location: the BBC's Liverpool studios; a hangar-like building on the Mersey Docklands, filled with outside broadcast lorries and portacabins, one of which is the make-up room. The programme: On The Waterfront, the Saturday morning children's show. The expert: make-up assistant Julie Vincent, acting as make-up designer on this programme.

In her ten years with the BBC, Julie has worked on a wide variety of programmes: from Hi De Hi to The Sword Divided and Top of the Pops. She chatted with me as she busily made up actor Andrew O'Connor.

"We put make-up on people on programmes like the news, so that their skin has a good finish to it," Julie told me. "It takes away the shine. Lights in the studio do put a lot of glare on the face, so the majority of people do need something."

Julie studied my haggard features for a moment (the result of too many late nights trying to meet magazine deadlines). "If you came to be interviewed on television, I'd probably use a very light base on you, hiding any blemishes or bags under your eyes with a colour corrector, usually slightly paler than your own shade of skin. Then I'd powder lightly with a loose powder on a puff and finally dust off any excess powder. We don't put very heavy make-up on men for normal interviews.

"We have some anti-flare creams which stop the shine on the skin. Sometimes, if a man has a good complexion, with no blemishes, you just need a little of this on the temples, which pick up light. The creams we use can be bought from a shop in London called Cosmetics a la Carte.

"Every person has a different tone to their skin and now there are lots of make-ups for Black or Asian skins. Shades of Black comes to mind, Fashion Flair is another."

Make-up kit at the BBC

Julie's own impressive array of brushes and cosmetics were laid out neatly in front of the mirror. "People think we use very heavy make-up, that's a fallacy," she told me.

"In television, the camera is very critical and goes in close, so make-up must be applied quite lightly and it must be well applied. In fact, we use ordinary make-up of the kind you might buy in any of the department stores. We all have our favourites, make-ups which sit well on various skins, such as Clinique or Elizabeth Arden. We use Max Factor face powder a lot and Clinique."

Filming On the Waterfront at BBC Manchester

Does that mean that women can wear their own everyday make-up in a similar interview situation? "If it's well-applied, then certainly," says Julie. "If a lady has a nice skin, then she might not need a foundation on, just a bit of shaping to her face. A little shader or blusher just to highlight the cheekbones."

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