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Jakarta Post

Makeup effect artists: Forgotten people of scary movies

  • Kwan Saleephol

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, June 27, 2015   /  11:29 am
Makeup effect artists: Forgotten people of scary movies The making process: Various production stages of Tuyul, from drawing a storyboard to preparing a character for the silver screen.(Courtesy of Billy Christian)" border="0" height="259" width="510">The making process: Various production stages of Tuyul, from drawing a storyboard to preparing a character for the silver screen.(Courtesy of Billy Christian)

In the 1990s, those movies disappeared because of censorship. Now the cycle has started rolling again and makeup effects artists are lining up outside the door, trying to make their voices heard.

Billy Christian, the director of Kampung Zombie (Zombie Village), said the major difference between the present special effects makeup and that the ‘80s is computer technology.

“Nowadays makeup effects are being made by manual makeup then finished off with CGI [computer-generated imagery] effects, while in the 80s it was all manual.”

In the old days, special effects makeup was mostly done with poor techniques.

However, Makbul Mubarak, a film critic at Cinema Poetica, thinks the uniqueness of makeup effects in Indonesian movies is its artificiality.

“You can actually see it’s very bad, but you enjoy it because it’s bad. I think they do it deliberately, which is totally the opposite of European and Hollywood films,” he said.

“For example, The Warrior [Jaka Sembung] is the greatest masterpiece of artificial makeup effects in the ‘80s.”

Unfortunately, special effects makeup is currently not in the limelight like it used to be.

“There are a lot of drama and love stories [...] which rely less on special effects. Recently, there were a lot of action movies such as The Raid, but not more than that,” the movie critic said.

Billy thinks this results from the flawed mindset of most filmmakers.

“From the producers’ point of view, it’s not cheap to afford an artist. So they tend to be very reluctant when it comes to granting movies with lots of special effects makeup,” he said.

Final touch: A makeup artist transforms an actor into a movie character.(Courtesy of Reza Pramesworo)

The making process: Various production stages of Tuyul, from drawing a storyboard to preparing a character for the silver screen.(Courtesy of Billy Christian)

In the 1990s, those movies disappeared because of censorship. Now the cycle has started rolling again and makeup effects artists are lining up outside the door, trying to make their voices heard.

Billy Christian, the director of Kampung Zombie (Zombie Village), said the major difference between the present special effects makeup and that the '€˜80s is computer technology.

'€œNowadays makeup effects are being made by manual makeup then finished off with CGI [computer-generated imagery] effects, while in the 80s it was all manual.'€

In the old days, special effects makeup was mostly done with poor techniques.

However, Makbul Mubarak, a film critic at Cinema Poetica, thinks the uniqueness of makeup effects in Indonesian movies is its artificiality.

'€œYou can actually see it'€™s very bad, but you enjoy it because it'€™s bad. I think they do it deliberately, which is totally the opposite of European and Hollywood films,'€ he said.

'€œFor example, The Warrior [Jaka Sembung] is the greatest masterpiece of artificial makeup effects in the '€˜80s.'€

Unfortunately, special effects makeup is currently not in the limelight like it used to be.

'€œThere are a lot of drama and love stories [...] which rely less on special effects. Recently, there were a lot of action movies such as The Raid, but not more than that,'€ the movie critic said.

Billy thinks this results from the flawed mindset of most filmmakers.

'€œFrom the producers'€™ point of view, it'€™s not cheap to afford an artist. So they tend to be very reluctant when it comes to granting movies with lots of special effects makeup,'€ he said.

Final touch: A makeup artist transforms an actor into a movie character.(Courtesy of Reza Pramesworo)Final touch: A makeup artist transforms an actor into a movie character.(Courtesy of Reza Pramesworo)

Moreover, cinema-goers are losing their trust in Indonesian movies because of previous horror films with low-quality makeup effects.

'€œLocal audiences distrust Indonesian movies. We'€™ve tried our best, but in the end they don'€™t buy it,'€ the film director said.

'€œIf special effects makeup is not working, the audiences won'€™t believe in these monsters such as zombie and tuyul. People will laugh instead of being frightened.'€

Similarly, Reza Pramesworo, the makeup effects artist who created mythical creatures in Tuyul (2015), believes makeup effects play an important role in character building in order for the film to effectively tell the stories and some producers are starting to pay attention to makeup effects.

'€œDirectors give us a lot of attention, but the budget is small,'€ he told The Jakarta Post.

The artist said that at the moment there are only 7 to 10 active makeup effects artists. '€œThose who were working in the '€˜80s and '€˜90s are all retired. It depends on the demand. If there'€™s demand, there will be supply,'€ Reza said.

He said there was still confusion between beauty makeup and special effects makeup in Indonesia.

'€œPeople think it'€™s the same thing, but in practice it'€™s totally different,'€ Reza said. '€œMakeup effects not only require makeup skills, but also painting and sculpture skills.'€

He added that to become a makeup artist, '€œyou have to become a scientist and make a new breakthrough by improving new techniques'€.

Dennis Adishwara, founder of Layaria Network, said at World Intellectual Property Day: DIY Makeup Effects Workshop held recently at @america that makeup effects was one of the most important aspects of filmmaking, conversely, it was also one of the most overlooked departments in the Indonesian film industry.

The Indonesian Film Festival (FFI) with its Piala Citra (Citra Award), an annual ceremony comparable to the Academy Awards in the US, does not have any award for makeup and hairstyling.



While the Piala Maya (Maya Award), which was initiated in 2012 by online Indonesian film enthusiasts, includes makeup effects in their awards categories.

'€œPeople care more about visuality and computer-desk technology rather than craftsmanship at the shooting location,'€ Makbul said.

'€œWhat Maya is doing is good. We need more of that.'€

Billy agreed with Makbul, saying, '€œPeople should rethink how everyone in the crew must be appreciated, not only actors and actresses.'€

While he was working on Tuyul, he found the problem with the makeup effects industry was the lack of adequate material, as the existing material was usually inappropriate for skin contact.

'€œWe have to import makeup material, so we need more money and it takes longer for the delivery,'€ the director said.

'€œInexpensive silicone substitutes may cause an allergic reaction on the actor'€™s skin and it smells really bad.'€

Billy also suggested there should be more workshops from professional special effects makeup artists from abroad for local artists and the industry to thrive.

He is also planning to start a production house that specializes in special effects makeup to gather talented artists and assist them by providing workshops and general knowledge.

Dennis said makeup effects are very secretive in nature.

'€œThe more professionals share the secret of creating makeup effects, the more people can learn and practice it,'€ he said.
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'€” The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post.

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