Emmy-Winning Makeup Visionary Visits VFS

Todd Masters, the founder and President of MastersFX, gave a special talk last night to current students in Makeup Design for Film & Television.

“I don’t sleep much,” Masters joked from the behind the podium. Wearing a tie-dye Jimi Hendrix t-shirt, he clicked through decades’ worth of amazing, high-profile makeup work – from his teen years inside his workshop/bedroom, all the way to his two studios in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

An artist first and foremost, Masters broke into the industry at a young age (12 years old!) because he was so motivated to create – and it didn’t matter if it was aliens, puppets, or gore-y prosthetics; he just needed a three-dimensional craft to keep his attention.

“I’ve always loved sci-fi movies,” he said. “As an artist, you get excited by creation.”

And create he has: Big Trouble in Little China, Tales from the Crypt, Predator, Look Who’s Talking, Star Trek: First Contact, the Stargate franchise, Six Feet Under (for which he won an Emmy), Twilight: New Moon, and True Blood (to name just a tiny selection of his credits).

“I started working for free, and a lot of people still do,” he said. “I had a big mouth and could talk myself into certain situations.” Because he also had a deep voice from a young age, people often mistook him for being older than he actually was. That meant he was able to join pro-level production crews a lot earlier in his career than most.

Masters mostly attributes his success to allowing himself to make mistakes and continue moving forward. Throughout the evening, he consistently mentioned that he didn’t feel he was ever that good of a makeup artist, but his stubborn perseverance got him to where he is now.

“He or she who makes mistakes and keeps trying will succeed.”

On the topic of what he looks for when hiring new makeup artists, he said that above all he looks for good personalities – people who can handle pressure and not lose their cool. Often, he explained, you’ll be on set dealing with others who have a lot of stake in how a production looks or how they appear on camera. It’s up to you, the makeup artist, to not take anything personally and focus on doing your job as professionally as possible.

And the reverse is also true: “Leave your home life where it belongs. Come to work with confidence,” he said. Probably the most impressive part of the night came in just appreciating Masters’ work. You can see it on display in the Masters FX website demo reel.

Many thanks to Todd Masters for a great presentation!

Check out images from his visit on the VFS Flickr profile.

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