Sarah Elizabeth, Makeup Design for Film & Television grad, can now add ‘Reality Star’ to her resume! Sarah will be appearing as a contestant on the third season of Face Off, a successful reality series featuring a group of makeup artists all vying for a 2012 Toyota Camry hybrid, $100,000 cash, and the opportunity to teach a Makeup Forever Master Class in New York and Paris. The show premieres Tuesday, August 21 at 9/8c on the Syfy network in the US and 9E/6P on Space in Canada. We chatted with Sarah about her experience on the show and how her time at VFS helped prepare her for this incredible and rewarding challenge.
How did you hear about Face Off?
Sarah: I had heard about the series during the first season through various sources. In Spring 2011, I learned about the auditions for the second season from Stan Edmonds, the Head of Makeup Design for Film & Television at VFS. I was competing at IMATS (International Makeup Artist Trade Show) in New York and the show was holding auditions in town so I decided to try out since I was going to be there anyway!
Why did you want to be on the show?
Sarah: Well, at first I almost didn’t want to try out! I’m behind the camera for a reason, not in front of it! I like to make people look good on camera but I’m no actor! But I thought it would be a positive and challenging experience, and that it would definitely be good exposure. To be honest, even after auditioning I still wasn’t sure I had the skills to compete as I wasn’t 100% confident or familiar with all of the materials they used and hadn’t done some of the molds I’d seen previous seasons do.
Plus, the show is so fast paced and the time constraints are so intense that it was very intimidating! Even up to the day I left for filming I was super nervous about whether or not I’d have enough experience and be able to compete on the same level as other artists.
What was the audition process like?
Sarah: I initially auditioned in New York and after some callbacks (all interviews are on camera for producers), I was able to go down for the semi-finals in Los Angeles. It involved a two-hour makeup application on yourself using prosthetic pieces you’ve made, as well as interviews with various people.
I didn’t make it onto Season 2 but when they started the process for casting Season 3 I was asked if I would like to interview and be a part of the process again, to which I said yes! Initially I didn’t think Season 3 was a possibility either as I was in the process of prepping and filming as Key Makeup Artist on my first feature film. However, they contacted me a bit later and I was able to go through the audition process again, thank goodness!
Did the VFS Makeup Design program prepare you for that kind of competition?
Sarah: If I hadn’t gone to VFS there is no way I would have been able to compete! I learned all of my prosthetic, molding, and sculpting for prosthetics skills from various teachers at the school. I have also stayed in touch with some of these instructors beyond graduation and have been able to pick their brains, which was incredibly beneficial in being competitive on the show.
What was your experience like on Face Off? Did you get along with the other participants or was it very competitive?
Sarah: I loved my time with the other contestants on Face Off! I made some good friendships while I was on the show and I definitely now have 10 new friends that I want to work with, work for, and keep around for a long time!
There is definitely a level of competition, but I think almost everyone on the show came into it knowing that even if you don’t win, you go home with your experience and that experience is what you make of it. I went in wanting to have a good time, make new friends, and learn a lot. Anything beyond that would be cherries on top!
You were the only Canadian resident on the show. Did you feel like you were representing Canada?
Sarah: In a way, yes! I’m not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (yet!) but I was happy to bring all the knowledge I’ve learned from so many people in Vancouver with me and I sure did my best to make Vancouver and Canada, my surrogate home, proud!
Would you recommend participating on the show to other makeup artists?
Sarah: Yes. I think it is an amazing experience and a great time. Even if you’re still fresh in the industry, you will learn a lot! I learned a couple of new molds right away. There is no time to think about making it pretty. As long as you have a solid base, I think you can do it.
How did you first get into the makeup industry?
Sarah: Actually, it was my high school art teacher, Eric Kauffman, who helped get me interested! In grade 9, I was brought in to take over my high school’s makeup department as the current girls involved were graduating. I kept with it in both high school and university and learned a lot on my own.
It wasn’t until after I’d moved to Chicago and was working with The Right Brain Project and Nathan Robbel that he saw my passion for makeup and encouraged me to actively pursue classes and formal training. That is when I looked into VFS, and here I am today.
What is your favourite kind of makeup to do?
Sarah: I love creatures. I have come to realize I’m not a super scary, gore artist. I do like that but I love fantasy and science fiction creatures. Most of my creatures tend to have a dark edge to them and I really like beautiful grotesque! That said, I like doing beauty too. It’s satisfying to make people feel good about themselves, plus you can play with some really fun things in beauty.
What were you doing before your time on Face Off?
Sarah: Well it’s only been a year and a half since I graduated but I’ve been trying to do as much makeup as I possibly can! I’ve had a full time day job but I’ve worked on as many student and independent films as I can fit in. I just got into ACFC (The Association of Canadian Film Craftspeople) as a permittee member in both Makeup and Special Effects so I’m hoping that very soon I can start working on bigger projects!
What are you doing next career wise?
Sarah: I’m trying to transition into a full-time makeup artist and move away from the day job, which has happened a bit sooner than anticipated but it is a blessing in disguise I think. Being a makeup artist is not an easy thing to do when you’re self-funded because you have to figure out how to pay bills and finding paid gigs can be difficult when starting out. So I’m still building up my network in Vancouver! The bottom line is I just want to work on fun projects with fun people! I have a project with [filmmaker and VFS instructor] Nicholas Humphries coming up that will have some really fun makeups!
Thanks for chatting with us Sarah and good luck on the show – we’ll be rooting for you! Don’t forget to tune in this Tuesday to catch Sarah in action.