Sophia has always loved make-up but didn’t know how to turn her passion into a career in film. Now the 23-year-old is doing just that - working as a make-up trainee on Steven Spielberg’ and Sam Mendes’s new war film 1917 with Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Firth.
“I didn’t actually know anyone in the industry,” she says. “ScreenSkills gave me that step up.”
Sophia, who is from Windsor, Berkshire, studied Make-up for Media and Performance at the Arts University of Bournemouth, a course which has endorsement from ScreenSkills as being relevant to a career in the industry.
She was keen to get any work experience she could while she was studying and sent out emails looking for shadowing opportunities. She secured experience at Cirque du Soleil, where she was inspired by the creative make-up they used, and on Funny Girl at the Savoy Theatre in the West End.
But it was during her work experience placement on the film Christopher Robin that Sophia realised film was where she really wanted to be. “There was such a buzz,” she says. “Something clicked in my brain. This is what I want to do.”
That’s when Sophia came across ScreenSkills and the Trainee Finder programme. She applied and got a place. She first got six weeks experience on Sarah Gavron's film Rocks - known at the time by the working title of Girls untitled - and then a month’s placement on Spielberg’s war film, 1917, directed by Sam Mendes, where she has ended up being taken on as an employee for the whole film. Even though the job is fast-paced, it “doesn’t feel like work because I love it so much.” she said.
Being a trainee is an important role. As well as make-up and haircuts, she prints out continuity sheets and takes reference pictures. “As a trainee, you need to have a clear idea how the actors should be looking because you deal with all the continuity. You have the important role of ensuring everything runs smoothly.”
Her favourite thing about working in make-up for film is that every day is different. “One day you might be doing make-up for someone just walking to work, the next it’s for a war scene.”
Trainee Finder was invaluable to Sophia as a way of getting her first step into the industry. “It provides a great support network, with someone always on hand if there are any problems. The other trainees also create a great support community. And the workshops on finance, CVs and interviews have also been great.”
To someone trying to get into the industry, Sophia says: “Get any experience you can. Just shadowing is really useful. It’s very competitive so be willing to use your own time to create designs. You have to show you’re really passionate.”
As well as getting on with everyone and having your own car, Sophia says the most important thing on set is to use your initiative. “Ask for advice on big decisions but being able to get on with it is really important. Think outside the box.”
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