Students at the local community college and stylists with a local salon had the opportunity to make their dreams come true last month, as they worked with a talented makeup artist on the set of a movie.
Cosmetology students from Sampson Community College and stylists from JLily Co. worked with Tarnished Notes makeup artist Jennifer McCollom, whose credits include Hunger Games and Taledega Nights.
According to Loreta Jones, instructor and chair of the Sampson Community College Cosmetology department, eight of her students were asked to assist with makeup and hair on set by movie producer Sherry Matthews. It was an offer Jones said she couldn’t refuse.
“This was a huge opportunity for our students,” Jones said. “It gave them a chance to experience doing makeup and hairstyling. Our girls were exposed to things they don’t have the chance to experience sitting behind a chair.”
Jones and fellow instructors Shirley Pharris and Dana Wright chose eight students to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Working on a movie set is one of the many career options cosmetology students have after finishing the program. Unfortunately, Pharris said, many students don’t get the chance to do so, but working on the Tarnished Notes set gave them that chance.
“It’s a lot different than working in a salon,” Pharris said. “Our girls had to work at really fast pace.”
During an hour of time working on the set, Pharris said the girls were responsible for doing the hair and makeup for 31 people. The SCC cosmetology students were on set for two days working.
The biggest challenge, Jones added, was going back into the 80s and making the hairstyles and makeup look just like they did in that era.
Jones said the girls stepped up to that challenge.
McCollom, who teaches at Piedmont Community College, said when she was approached about using the students from Sampson Community and JLily, she was more than excited about the opportunity to show them an upclose look at the film industry, from the standpoint of the makeup artist and stylist.
“I love to see people who are hungry, and I certainly saw that among those from the college and JLily, the desire to learn something new and apply what they learned,” McCollom said.
The girls, McCollom said, were a huge help, particularly on large days when there were 30 or 40 extras on set, in addition to a lot of the cast and day players.
“The funeral scene was one of those days, and the church picnic was another,” McCollom said. “I couldn’t have paid as much attention to our leads had it not been for all those folks.”
When Jones and other instructors chose which of their students to use in the experience, the department chair said they knew they had to use students who weren’t in it for fame or fortune, but for a chance gain knowledge from the opportunity.
McCollum, who said makeup artists can work 12-18 hour days, said she likes to tell those interested in the movie business exactly like it is.
“This isn’t all glamour, far from it,” McCollom added. “It’s hard work, long hours. You have to work in the cold, the heat, the rain, whatever to ensure the film is done on time and as the director wants.”
She said it’s important to learn the basics, know the ingredients and learn to respect the actors on set.
“I teach a lot of etiquette. It’s hard not to want to talk to some of the actors you encounter but as a professional you have to give the actors time to get into character, study their lines, things they often do while they are sitting in the chair getting their hair styled or their makeup placed.”
Janalee Strickland, owner of JLily Co. and who worked on the set, alongside four of her stylists, said the experience of working with McCollom and the students was great and rewarding.
“I really enjoyed the people that were there and I had the chance to work with,” Strickland said. “The opportunity was good for all of us.”
In the end, Jones and McCollom had one thing in common to say about the students and JLily stylists — they all worked hard.
“I really appreciate all the hard work and attention the students and JLily girls gave to their jobs,” McCollom said. “They were extremely busy, but they were always smiling, or laughing, and always giving 110 percent. This is a great community, and those who helped us were a great example of that.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.