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We are very excited to present a profile from prosthetics makeup artist and filmmaker Cameron Blumer (aged 20), that can hopefully provide some fresh insight and inspiration to everyone trying to be productive from home during the current Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation.
Following on from Archie's top tips on successfully working independently last week, Cameron's fascinating story shows that this can be a great time for young people to become immersed in their future career in the film industry and even get started on a filmmaking project. It also includes some essential advice on finding the best role for yourself, successfully networking and running workshops for younger filmmakers in a way that gives them creative freedom.
We live in an age where motivation and the internet are the only tools you need to become profoundly proficient in any given skill.Cameron Blumer
I have been interested in prosthetics makeup since I was 12 years old. It started with watching YouTube tutorials where they would often use cheap and accessible materials. After a while of practicing with latex and wax, I wanted to get more professional with my materials and techniques, and makeup artists like Stuart Bray (Shaun of the Dead) and Kiana Jones (Kong: Skull Island) were huge inspirations. We live in an age where motivation and the internet are the only tools you need to become profoundly proficient in any given skill. There are endless videos and essays produced for even the most niche of interests, from people coming from varying levels of experience, meaning there's always a place to start.
Around this time, me and some friends won a local film competition granting us £500, which I put towards camera equipment. I also wrote a script for a different film contest, with the prompt ‘A Sense of Hope' and titled it Snowball. For that, I wrote the music, created the shot-list and did makeup as well as organising, directing and editing the film. Whilst taking charge of so many roles showed me that I could feasibly follow any craft to a higher level, it also made me realise that I wanted to hone my efforts into one section of filmmaking. For any of the above, the necessary tools are always at your disposal these days, especially now we carry high definition cameras around in our pockets with built in editing and music production software. The only thing young people need is to find a compelling story to tell, which I've often found young people are better at than adults anyway.
I eventually decided to pursue the special effects makeup route in further education. By this time I was creating high quality encapsulated silicone prosthetics, again thanks to just YouTube. However, the only courses covering this subject were ‘Media Makeup' ones, which mainly covered beauty makeup with sections of very basic special effects makeup. This would have made me more of an all-round makeup artist but I felt strongly that my knowledge of prosthetics would put me into more of a specialist position. After a lot of searching I finally came across a course titled ‘Production Arts,' which was being run by Dudley College in the West Midlands. The course had everything I wanted - a practical, large scale take on special effects, props, puppetry, and prosthetic makeup.
During my time at Dudley College I began working with a filmmaker from the Milton Keynes/Bedford area, Andy Gilbert on a feature film project, The Brink. I was invited to be one of the special effects makeup artists, which was my first real taste of working professionally on a set with a crew and being paid for it. Through this project I was able to build a relationship with Mike Dixon of Mycho Entertainment and I subsequently became the lead makeup artist on their films Eric: A Tale of Thorn, CleaverS, and Pandamonium. I also have smaller credits on different projects and continue to work with the company to this day.
With both the experience of creating my own short films and working on multiple larger scale film productions, I decided to run a couple of filmmaking workshops for young people in the Milton Keynes home education network. The workshops were held over nine weeks and at the end we had made two short films. One was Hopping Through Space - a film about cowboys in space - and the other was Don't Kill Derek - a film about a girl writing a story-book in which she frivolously begins writing out her characters. These films were both completely bonkers but were 100% undiluted ideas from the minds of these children. I wanted to help them create the kind of film I loved to create when I was their age, free from constraints and boundaries. It was also great to show them that these concepts could be imagined from the space of their own homes - the majority of both films was filmed at my home where we held the sessions. Through the use of green screen and clever framing we were able to give the illusion of being on other planets, create miniature creatures or show characters popping up out of nowhere.
I entered these films into the 2019 Into Film Awards, and Don't Kill Derek was nominated for Best Film 12- 15. The awards ceremony completely blew us away! It was so professionally done and we all felt like superstars. It was such a genuine recognition of the kids' talent and it's so important we nurture and lift up children's passions and interests. I was lucky enough to grow up in such an encouraging environment and I don't know where I'd be now if I wasn't able to pursue my passions.
Stay tuned for more inspiring stories of young people and educators over the coming weeks, and if you're feeling inspired to get started on your own filmmaking project, you can submit them to our Film of the Month competition at any time in the year!
We couldn't be more excited to share this year's Into Film Awards nominees. Watch all the shortlisted films & find out if your Into Film Club's been nominated!
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