(EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL F. BLAKE – CONTINUED)
I would definitely tell every person who wants to do makeup, LEARN EVERYTHING and be good at it. Learn beauty makeup, learn how to do a beard, learn old age makeup, etc. I know some makeup artists who are great with effects makeup, but cannot — and will not — do beauty makeup. And I know many makeup artists who can do beauty work, but couldn’t pout a beard on or do a Klingon makeup to save their life!
Learn everything. Be able to do a decent job on every aspect in the makeup craft. “The more you know, the more you’ll work.”
WONDERLANCER: Excellent advice.
What are the make-up specialties in which artists can find more possibilities of obtaining work nowadays?
MICHAEL F. BLAKE: It is kind of split. There are those who do beauty primarily, and those who do effects work. Personally, I think if you can “cross that border” – so to speak – you have a greater chance of working more often.
WONDERLANCER: Are actors and actresses usually patient with the make-up and special make-up effects processes or have you witnessed many tantrums in your years of work?
MICHAEL F. BLAKE: You know, in 36 years of doing this job I have NEVER seen an actor/actress pull a tantrum over the makeup. Most actors will grumble over sitting in the chair for a few hours. But they stop complaining when I suggest that they stand and I will sit down and finish the makeup!
Most actors know what they are in for, and it is up to the makeup artist to help them along. Lots of time we have music playing that is soothing and we talk very little to let them rest. Then again, one morning they may want to chat while they are getting in makeup. It depends on the actor.
WONDERLANCER: The make-up results you have felt most proud of, the actor/actress who you always love to work with, and the artistic director you would like to collaborate with would be…
MICHAEL F. BLAKE: Many years ago I made up actress Carolyn Jones (best known as Morticia in the TV series The Addams Family) and she was suffering from cancer. She came in looking poorly, and when I finished with her she looked great. I was very proud of that job.
One other one was when I was doing the pilot of MAGNUM, P. I. In the script, Tom Selleck’s character was to have an entry and exit bullet wound.
Now keep in mind, this was in 1980 and we did not have all the new “toys” that makeup artists have today. I couldn’t do a foam piece, as in one scene Tom swims out of the ocean and you see the wound.
So, the deadline to do it was getting closer and I had no idea what to use. Everything I thought of wouldn’t work. One day I’m looking in my makeup case and I asked myself “What would Chaney have used?”.
There was the answer: rigid collodion!
I tried it on myself, made a bullet wound and then came up with the idea of a scar along the top of the shoulder. I colored it, showed it to the producer and he loved it. That was how I did the bullet wound and scar. Thinking on your feet and “pulling the rabbit out of your hat” is a great feeling.
As far as actors, I would love to work with Robert Duvall and Gary Oldman. I like their work and how they let makeup help “build their character.”
When it comes to directors, I have no preference.
As long as they don’t yell a lot, which I think is rude and unprofessional, I can pretty much work with anyone.
My years of doing TV shows taught me that, as you’d have a new director for every episode.
WONDERLANCER: From your fantastic literary works on the legendary Lon Chaney, which one would you especially recommend to those who are just embarking in this artistic career and where can they purchase it?
MICHAEL F. BLAKE: LON CHANEY: MAN BEHIND THE THOUSAND FACES. It is the first book I did, which was a biography and includes details on how he did his amazing makeups. It is available on Amazon, or check out eBay.
WONDERLANCER: We included a Top 10 for Best Sci-Fi Movies Ever in our first digital magazine, The MDM Wonderlance. According to your experience working in this genre and, of course, from your perspective as an outstanding professional, which sci-fi movie shows the best special make-up effects (regardless of awards) and why?
MICHAEL F. BLAKE: STAR TREK would get my vote. First, the variety of characters, which all were created with makeup, shows just what our craft can do. Secondly, the team on that film worked so terribly hard to make things work.
WONDERLANCER: Great choice, for all the right reasons. What projects are you working on at the moment or planning to work on and what is the best part of working with Cinema Make-Up School?
MICHAEL F. BLAKE: Right now I am writing a novel, between makeup work. It’s about the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, told from the perspective of the townspeople who had to endure three days of bloodshed. I am also working on a book of quotes from classic Western Movies.
The thing I like about Cinema Makeup School is that it offers a student a comprehensive education. Like I said before, the more you know, the more you’ll work. At the school, you have the opportunity to learn everything.
For me, the best part of working at the school is when you see a student “get it”. When they finally do a beard correctly, they have hit a home run and they smile. It brings back a warm memory of when I started out and did the same thing.
WONDERLANCER: They are very lucky to have you, that’s for sure. Mr. Blake, again, we feel honored. I am sure both the professionals in this field and our non-artistic readers will have enjoyed your interview very much. Thank you and may even more successes accompany your current and future projects.
MICHAEL F. BLAKE: Thank you!