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Covid x Production x MUAs

I've written this in hopes that it will help those in hiring positions within the tv production community. This entry will continue to be updated as more information comes to light. If you have something you think would be beneficial for me to consider adding to this post, please contact to discuss. I'd love for this to be a team effort!

We are in uncharted territory, folks. I decided to make it my mission to help our industry move forward by bridging the knowledge gap. With the help of my partner in crime, Ivey Ray, I spoke with 16 producers, production managers, production company & agency owners, and DPs, to get some ideas flowing. Never before has it been more important to have an open line of communication between our departments. Coming from a former producing background myself, I understand that there are certain aspects of a Makeup Artist's role that you either assume will be done or, quite frankly, don't think about at all.

Normally, you might trust that your Makeup Artist is working with clean tools and kit supplies. In the future, I recommend flat out asking them about their sanitation & infection control protocols prior to signing a deal memo, no matter how long standing the relationship. If they can't easily speak to the comprehensive system they have in place, that may not be an artist you should hire. Not only are you putting your talent at risk, but depending on the level of their filth, you could be putting the entire crew in jeopardy. It's a simple conversation that you'll need to start having. Any prepared, well versed artist should welcome this inquiry.

Hopefully you value the job of a Makeup Artist as more than a warm body with powder and a friendly smile. To that end, you should know that many of us have always gone above and beyond in our sanitation practices. In fact, out of your entire cast and crew, it's likely that we are the LAST people you'd need to worry about in terms of spreading germs around. In the last couple of weeks alone I have taken 6 different infection control courses and have a few others on my to-do list. I know many of my peers are doing the same. We are dedicated to keeping our clients and your talent as safe as possible. In fact, I'd bet there's a good argument to be made that they'll be SAFER with us there than not, based on our enhanced knowledge of infection control.

Full disclosure, you should expect rate increases across the board from all departments, but most certainly within the H/MU community as our $30k-$75k+ kits are continuously needing replenishment (always, but now more than ever before). With these new PPE & increased disposables costs, you will at the very least be seeing them reflected in our daily kit fees. At time of hiring, have the discussion about how you'd like us to invoice so you can have more control over which budget it's coming out of.

Some things to consider moving forward:

1. GET US INVOLVED! Please take advantage of us during pre-pro so we can help you with budgets, new unique supply needs, shoot day schedules, expectations, etc. Honestly, this should have always been happening, but over the years we seemed to have been left out of those meetings more and more. I encourage each and every one of you to contact us so that we can ensure all will run as smoothly as possible. I also invite you to get us involved in your proposal/job bidding process so that we can accurately estimate our department costs for you. How will you know how to pad your margins if you don't know what we'll be charging? Please, take advantage of your relationships with H/MU and tie us into the mix from the get go.

To expand on the above note about shoot day schedules, this could potentially be the most disruptive to a project. We will need to be allotted extra time to set up, clean, and disinfect our station before AND after each talent. This could mean an extra 20-25 minutes each time we need to clean, before we are able to do anything else (like start a new talent or go to set for touch ups). This may also mean that you need to hire a bigger H/MU team to get more people done in the timeframe you need. There will also be a need to drastically stagger talent arrivals, as we may not be able to have more than 1 talent in the room at a time to comply with social distancing & safety guidelines. Of course, this is dependent on the room size & the enhanced ventilation system that is in place. These new requirements are all the more reason to get us involved in your initial conversations. By having the lines of communication open, we can help avoid most unforeseen costs.

2. We will need to be put in a clean room with enough space to properly set up. Y'all, this one was hard for me to type without laughing, since there have been too many times I've literally been told to "set up" in a dirty corner of a closet, hallway, or bathroom because production either forgot I existed & therefore didn't plan for adequate space or didn't think to talk to me about what was needed (clean space, power, a table, and a chair) to do my job. On that note, please know that we can never set up in a bathroom due to fecal matter floating in the air and on all surfaces.

3. We will require Level 3 Surgical Masks (not just 3 layer), clear face shields (I like these), and some sort of eye protection. The Level 3 Surgical Masks are recommended for H/MU by OSHA, according to the certification course I took from OSHA Authorized Outreach Safety Trainer, John Cordes of Right Way Consulting. This course was specifically created for our tv production life. It is my understanding that most other crew members on set can work with any kind of fabric face covering, whether that be a simple Level 1 or 2 surgical mask or a bandana. Who is responsible for procuring these extra supplies? At the beginning, I think it will be whoever can get their hands on them. This should be part of our pre-pro calls. Production will end up picking up the tab, whether it be via kit fee, increased day rate, or otherwise.

4. We have always needed & used 70% iso alcohol for sanitizing our tools, palettes, and the like. As I'm sure you can imagine, 70% alcohol is still not readily available as of today, so this will be another supply that we'll need to discuss during our pre-pro calls. I'm happy to report that I have back stock of a few brand new bottles from before this whole pandemic went down, but haven't been able to find it since. Virus killing cleaning supplies are becoming more and more available (huzzah!), but are still not widespread easily found. I have yet to successfully order disinfectant wipes. Yet another pre-pro discussion to make sure someone has plenty of them for shoot days.

5. One-off brand new makeup kits per talent: Are they possible? With enough time to order it all and the right budget, absolutely. You'll be paying a very high premium for these one-off kits in addition to our rates (and prep day rates to compile & organize them). Pro quality skincare, makeup, and tools are expensive and what we need to do our job properly. I'll go on record saying that I believe going this route is overkill and not needed.

As mentioned earlier, this blog post will be updated as new information is learned. Please, please, please, feel free to ask your questions in the comments below or email me directly.

Edited on 6/23/20 to add a handful of the infection control & sanitation courses I have taken that I believe to be helpful. I have linked them below for your convenience & will add others as I sift through more of them.

I want to shout out the folks who helped me put this together. Thank you for your time and feedback: Ivey Ray, Jennifer Allocco, Heather Miller Reimels, Tracy Budge, Nick Benedetto, Jim Wirth, Sandra Russo, Bill Weinpahl, David Cohen, Sabrina Sahraie, Alexandra Beni Horowitz, Lori Schmon, Jackie Nelms, Amy Laviero, MB Welch, Giovanna Gatto, and Eric Botel.

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