Sian Miller is one of the top make-up artist in the film and television industry. As a tutor at Delamar Academy, she brings a wealth of knowledge and anecdotal humour to class. Working with A list stars like Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones, Sian’s job is often considered to be really glamorous… sometimes is it, but often it isn’t. Sian had one such story to remove all the perceived glamour, likening her experience on a recent Hollywood film to a scene fresh out of Bear Grylls The Island… Except Bear is probably in a 5 star hotel somewhere, and just like the poor subjects of his show, the make-up team were trekking through mud, in tropical temperatures and torrential rain.
When prepping for this job in Hawaii we heard there could be some rain. There wasn’t some rain; there was a full tropical sideways rain never-ending monsoon. Unit base was 2ft in mud and everything else was almost 2 ft deep in mud too. We needed to wear galoshes on our feet. I packed with this weather in mind, but others had not heeded the advice of the person who filmed there last time.
Everything they teach you about filming, that you never believe could happen, did happen. We were stationed on a tropical mountainside and in the thickest deepest jungle. We worked in excessive heat and humidity, rain and wind all at the same time. My average sleep was 3.5 hours each night. We did very long hours with giant spiders and insects so big they could steal your make-up brushes. The toilets were literally as bad as festival toilets at the end of the festival. The glamorous life we lead.
Inside the make-up truck the air conditioning was either freezing cold or did not work at all. It hit break point and the make-up truck transformed into a steam room.
We were transported about in a van that threw us about like beans in a rusty tin. The night bus in Harry Potter came to mind. Our driver was constantly shouting at his phone and if this hot, nauseating journey couldn’t get any better, a cockroach appeared on the ceiling over our heads… hysterical screaming ensued.
It’s all mashed into some strange ludic dream that I will never forget! We all survived and I’m glad I did this job for the stories. Coming home was equally onerous. The man paying for our excess baggage to transport our huge kits, kept on getting his card declined and our plane didn’t take off because the windscreen had smashed. Finally, we were put on another plane and I’ve never been so happy to watch beautiful islands beneath me, disappear.