Thursday, October 29, 2009

Overlooked crew

Today marks the birthday of Perc Westmore, and his twin brother Ern. If you watch enough movies, you'll probably recognize the Westmore name showing up all over the place, as they were part of a long family line of people in the make-up department. That having been said, make-up was historically one of the easier to overlook parts of the moviemaking business. The make-up people never got a screen to themselves in the opening credits the way that composers did. Also, achievement in makeup wasn't recognized by the Academy until the early 1980s, as opposed to categories like cinematography and art direction, which existed all the way back in the very first Academy Awards ceremony.

Still, I don't know that makeup is the most overlooked part of making a movie. The credit rolls of today are much longer than in the classic studio era, with a lot of actors in bit parts getting credits today in roles like "Third Tall Man" that they wouldn't necessarily have gotten 70 years ago. And the makeup artists at least got credits, unlike the lighting people or individual camera operators.

So, spare a thought for all of the people who combine to make a great movie. There's something to be said about the studio system that was able to keep all of this expertise together.

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