The Coterie returned to London last night, with a blockbuster event focused on life on film, TV and music video sets. An all star cast of panelists debated everything from the future of static editorial shoots, the impact of instantaneous video via social media and just how different the demands of moving imagery are to photographic work.
“You have to be very organised and factor in different things such as lighting and time,” explained producer Ateh Jewel, as the panel began discussing how different video and film is to a static shoot.
“Yes! Basically a lighting director can ruin or improve your work in a second, added session stylist Darren Fowler. “Especially with colour. That beautiful shade you’ve created can end up looking… black!”
Darren also highlighted how continuity adds additional pressure when working with a moving image. “When working, I’m constantly thinking in frames,” he told the audience. “And hair is so tricky as it moves!”
“Everything is always shot out of sync as well,” admitted Aaron Carlo, who is responsible for Little Mix’s hair. “Especially on music videos… Often directors and producers won’t get that it takes longer than ten minutes to dry a client’s hair as they’re men with no hair,” he quipped. “Sometimes you just have to have that argument if you physically cannot make a ten min changeover work… Wet to dry and back again won’t happen in that time frame.”
“It’s all about communication,” said international make-up artist Maria Comparetto. “Where you’re going, who’s the right person to speak to etc.”
“That’s true,” agreed fellow make-up artist Lauren Murphy, “and you all need to have the same vision.”
“Sometimes you just have to lose your ego as the hair or make-up in a moving image is often lower down the importance scale,” admitted Aaron. “And it can sometimes just be a second of screen-time for that look!” added Maria.
“It’s not usually a personal thing if you encounter conflict,” concluded Lauren as the panel discussed ‘settiquette’ and hierarchy. “You have to just forgive or forget and move on.”
“[It] lets you step inside someone’s life or mind for that moment,” explained Darren. “Our job as the beauty creatives is to make sure [the result] is aspirational and consumers want to be part of it.”
“I think it’s important because it shows you the stages in creating something,” added Lauren. “It proves to the person watching they can do it and add their own style or twist. It’s almost more creative… and you can show off your skills more.”
Ateh agreed: “There’s nowhere to hide with video. Seeing is believing – especially, I’ve found, when it comes to ‘going natural’ with afro hair. People want to see product, curl pattern and so on.”
“I get that – it’s like ASOS and the catwalk feature,” Lauren added, “it brings things to life.”
“And video lets you create a story,” said Aaron, “even if it is just 5 seconds long. That’s engaging.”
As for the drawbacks of the video boom and working with moving images? Our panel had a number of different bugbears…
“It levels the playing field,” said Aaron of YouTube and social media’s role in democratising video content creation, “but there’s SO much more to wade through.”
Ateh argued that representation as a result of social video is a positive thing, especially in the black beauty sphere, but agreed that sometimes messages and the value of knowledge can get diluted. Brands often have to make the choice of whether to pay for a vlogger and influencer to take part in a promotional campaign or hire traditional experts in the beauty field, she explained.
“I do feel under pressure to produce videos now,” agreed Maria. “Followers are a new way to judge status now… I’ve actually lost jobs because the other candidate had a higher follower count,” she admitted.
“The way I see it, my followers aren’t going to get me a job – they’re 15!” Aaron joked, as he revealed that brands have tried to control his social media activity by stipulating conduct in contracts. “It’s not (or shouldn’t be) about you or your profile, it’s about your work… You have to think ‘Do I want to earn X amount, or do I want to do a really good job and be hired again?'”
“I do also think that brands are now moving back to experts with smaller followings to get better and more meaningful engagement,” he added.
“Don’t worry about the money, worry about the work,” said Ateh of her mantra, as she explained that there are enough things to be thinking about when on a film or TV set.
“There’s a lot more potential for unexpected circumstances and situations in video,” Aaron agreed. “When you’re working a fashion job, it’s condensed. You’ve already tested, prepped and know largely how it’ll play out.”
“You don’t want to be that person holding production up!” said Darren.
“I always say ‘No excuses, bring me solutions!’ in those situations” added Ateh.
As the evening drew to a close, the panel all agreed that no matter what their role on set, a passion for creating great work united them.
“Working on film, it’s a lot about creating a character and not a style a lot of the time,” said Darren.
“And on TV,” added Lauren. “”At Sky News and Sky Sports, there are almost given standards – formal for news (both hair and make-up), whereas a bit more glamour is allowed for sports presenters.”
“You cater to a certain audience with looks on TV, on celebrities… and actually in salon,” explained Aaron.
“Yes, you’re always creating characters with hair, whether for Mrs Smith down the road or for actors on multi-million pound jobs,” agreed Darren.
“Ultimately, it’s all about juggling tasks, building relationships, thinking on your feet and what’s key is that on set, we all want to do the most amazing job,” said Maria.
Ateh added: “And especially in video, it’s all about the details… details and recognising the money shot!”
We want to extend a huge thank you to our sponsors for the evening, Revlon Professional, who not only provided goody bags packed with make-up and hair care products for all guests, but hosted a prize draw in which one attendee won a Flip HD video camera!
Don’t forget to check out more photos from the night on our Facebook page, and keep your eyes peeled for a gallery full of quotable quips from our speakers!