A Message from Melanie Weekley, BAMM’s principal & founder
You heard it here first…things are getting better and the make up industry is not only surviving but it is beginning to thrive again. This comes straight from the horse’s mouth, Oscar-winning Peter Swords King and BAMM’s Creative Director who is on the set of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and working alongside him are two graduates from his flagship course.
I had a great catch up with Peter, tutor Kirstie Stanway (BBC Series Designer, Casualty) and some former students who are all back on set, make up brushes in hand…and masks on faces! I thought this would be a good moment to give you all encouraging updates from the front line as I am sure, like me, you are fatigued by the never-ending news cycle of doom and gloom.
Without doubt this has been a challenging year and we at BAMM are very aware of the uncertainty that has been hanging over not only the film and TV industries, but every aspect of life. All our courses will be back as soon as we are given the go-ahead and having already successfully completed a covid-safe term, we are completely prepared and equipped to not only teach students in a safe environment but also train them in new practices required on set as they step out into their new careers.
I was extremely encouraged to hear from Peter and the team that big productions are now back up and running. Pinewood and other studios are operating at full speed once again and we are soon to be expecting a huge boom with many new productions on the horizon. The industry is definitely revving up. Peter told me to pass on to you all “hang in there and actually now is the time to start applying for work and to consider getting training under your belt because there is soon to be an influx of work”.
You might be curious as to why some filming productions are able to resume while others are not. Larger production companies are able to budget millions of pounds on covid safety measures to be put in place for all of their contractual employees for the duration of filming, while smaller production companies simply cannot afford this expense. A nose and throat swap test (Lateral Flow Test) costs approximately £150 so you can understand the cost for large productions will be escalating into the millions.
On big budget film sets, such as a Disney, you will be expected to do a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) every 3 days throughout the duration of your working contract and will also need to make yourself available 2 days prior to work commencing for this test. Once the results are back (and negative), you can begin work. You will be required to have a temperature check every day and MUST wear a wristband to identify you as safe. If you forget to wear it, you will be removed from the set. A mask and visor must be worn.
I have also had a catch up with Kirstie Stanway (Casualty Series Designer) and she is very optimistic saying new productions are starting up within the BBC, so the industry is certainly springing back to life! The BBC is filming a variety of series and soaps such as Casualty and EastEnders but the makeup and hair departments are restricted on what they are able to do and at times are guiding actors to style hair etc. LFT’s are now available but are not mandatory and “hands, face, space” awareness is deemed the safest method of continuing to work.
Over at Netflix the protocols are strict but thankfully all is running smoothly. Crew get tested regularly and must wear full PPE when near cast or on set. They have introduced colour-coded zoning which dictates access for certain crew.
At BAMM all courses will be simulating the real working environment in the film industry. Our class sizes are limited to ensure adequate spacing (so book in advance). Students take temperature checks on arrival and there are hand sanitiser stations throughout the building. Visors and masks are mandatory, just like on set!
In conclusion, there is work out there and there will be more and more in the near future as the vaccine is rolled out and we at BAMM are doing everything we can to train MUAs in the best practices to keep you safe and very employable.