Blake Evernden and Tara Abrahams are two Complections graduates who prove that getting work in the make-up industry is all about where you go to school and who you know.
Tara and Blake began the 32-week Complete Make-up Artist Program in January 2010. “When I first came to Complections, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. I knew I had an interest in film and effects make-up, but I was open to the other types of work,” Tara said with a smile. Enrolling in the 32-week program allowed her to explore the different areas of the industry while continuing to develop a keen interest in film and television and special make-up effects.
Blake, on the other hand, already had a keen interest in film and television and special make-up effects. He shot his first independent feature, Living Proof, in 2007. He had also acquired several college degrees from institutions including the Vancouver Film School for filmmaking and the University of Lethbridge before attending North America’s leading school for make-up artistry.
After graduating in September 2010, Blake pursued work with independent short and feature films. He worked on one short film while still in school, and this contact led to another film that hired the same crew. Through these jobs, Blake gained experience in the film industry working with different make-up effects, including various aging techniques for actors of different ethnic backgrounds. He landed his first paid feature job through a reference from 2009 Complections graduate Cameron Scholes.
Before returning home to California, Tara had the opportunity to work on an independent short called Open Window, which was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). During the shoot, Tara worked with lead actress Kelly-Marie Murtha, whose recommendation led her to work with Kelly-Marie again for another independent film.
After graduation, Tara secured an internship at a prosthetics studio in Southern California called Proteus FX. Tara worked for esteemed make-up artist Barney Burman assisting in the preparation of prosthetics and working with the raw materials. She also worked on several fashion shoots, as key make-up artist for a 3D web series called The O.D. (Overly Dramatics), and on various commercial contest entries for Doritos and Samsung/Current TV that went as far as the final round.
Despite the distance, classmates Blake and Tara kept in close touch. So when Blake landed his second feature film as key make-up artist and special make-up effects artist, he contacted her, and Tara returned to Canada to work on her first feature film as his assistant. Complections graduate Sephora Xuereb also worked as an assistant for much of the production, and another graduate, Emily Skoggard, was brought on for effects assistance.
The film, entitled Scars, is a psychological horror about a pair of female serial killers. The film shoot took place from April to May of this year, and is currently in post-production. During the shoot, Blake, Tara and Sephora were responsible for the fabrication of the bloody deaths of about 16 male characters including effects such as stab wounds, eye gouges, dismembered hands and a decapitation.
“The mechanics of horror effects are complicated,” Blake said about his work as special make-up effects artist for the film. “I was learning how to use and improvise with new materials, and figuring out mechanical effects with tubing, sprayers, burn effects and blood packets.”
“You’re learning something new every day,” Tara agreed.
When asked what Complections students can do to delve into the film and television industry, Blake and Tara were full of advice.
“Take everything you can,” Tara emphasized. “You never know where anything is going to lead you. You will always get something out of a job – experience, pictures, contacts… Always do the best you can. People will remember your work, and pass your name along. And once it starts going, it just rolls. Who you know is probably one of the most important factors in this industry.”
“Actors and producers want to work with real people that they can trust,” Blake added. “Be humble, be a perfectionist and enjoy yourself. It’s a privilege to work as an artist in any respect.”
As for their future goals? “Right now, I’m just taking whatever type of work I can, but I would love to do more film work. I’m basically trying to work my way up, build my portfolio and resume, and hopefully get into the California chapter of IATSE,” Tara said.
“I have plans for the summer, make-up related and not make-up related. I’m working on other short films, including my own, and planning for the fall,” Blake said. “Ultimately, I’d like to find more work on features, independent or otherwise.”
A mere nine months after graduating, Blake and Tara are well on their way.