Monday, December 30, 2013

Some 2014 Hopes/Dreams/Goals

2013 has been an interesting year.  I'm a year older, but I feel like I've grown decades into my wisdom. Work has been fruitful, and I feel like I've gotten closer to God.  When I first moved here, I did so with the goal of becoming an Oscar and Tony winner.  I wanted awards.  The last couple of years have molded me into becoming a workaholic with realistic dreams.  Nowadays, I just like staying busy and helping artists execute their visions.  I don't think this is a downgrade, or me settling.  I think I've grown more passionate about my career(s), with the goal now being that I want to do it for me and my crew/team rather than me and my imaginary fame.  Less selfish, more selfless.  That being said, here's to the older, more mature me.
My Hopes/Dreams/Goals for the New Year:
-Listen To My Body More
"You can't argue with the body, Jerry.  Its an argument you can't win".  Kramer was oh so right.  I am not a machine, and its time I accepted that.  I need to rest more often.

-Filter out all the haters and the shitty people in my life


This is great because you just make my really good friends seem saintly. Like it takes a lot for me to just cut people off, so just know you're like way more fucked up than I ever expected. Remember, that is your problem, not mine, even though you try to make it seem otherwise. I also appreciate the amount of shit you talk about me. That just shows you have a rather unhealthy obsession with me....again, your problem, not mine. I know now to keep my heart guarded more than ever.  

Its emo for sure, but being a grownup presents grownup problems.  Unfortunately, grownups seem to know less and less about what it takes to be a good friend.  

-Lose 20 pounds
Its a healthy goal.  

-Get scuba license
I've put this off for too long.

-Quit putting off the Krav Maga
I've signed up so many times and have had to cancel.  I need to do this!!

-Wear More Black
I've decided to become one of those New Yorkers who dresses in all black.  Those who know me personally will find this a bit shocking since I'm known for my love of bright colors.  No, I'm not trying to be in the elitist clique…I'm just not "wowed' by fashion anymore.  I just don't see a point.  I'd rather just keep it simple and solid.  Just black.  We'll see how long this lasts.

-Do More Good
This needs to be the reason I wake up in the morning.  Not money, not glory, not work.  Simply do more good.  

-Skydive
I keep putting this off as well.  I just need to hurry up and get it over with.  

-Turn Down Work and Feel Okay About It

-Work More Outside of NY
I'm currently bi-coastal.  I was also blessed to work on 3 shows longterm that required extensive travel.  I need to get myself more acclimated with more production cities and just be ready to hit the ground running.  There is life outside of NY!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

12 Years an Oldboy


   I saw 12 Years a Slave and the American adaptation of Korea's Oldboy.  Care to guess which one was heaping pile of garbage?
    Steve McQueen is currently my favorite director.  I've pretty much enjoyed all he's put out because of his unapologetic style and charisma.  Spike Lee has also been a favorite of mine for sometime now, also for his unapologetic style, but I find myself questioning his choices this time around.
   12 Years a Slave, was a gruesome film to watch.  I must say that I really appreciated the period dialog used in this film.  It wasn't just people trained to speak in Southern drawl, it was people actually speaking as if they were in that time, heavily influenced by the King James Bible.   Except for you, Mr.  Benedict Cumberbatch.  Good try, but your accent was a dead giveaway.   I'll let it go because you're such a charming Englishman and otherwise incredible actor.  
   This was quite the all star cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Adepero Oduye, Michael Fassbender, Michael K. Williams, Brad Pitt, Paul Giatmatti, Paul Dano--I mean the list goes on, and not once did I feel like I was taken out of the story due to an all too familiar face.  However…what was up with the dude from Raising Hope and an SNL funnyman making their way in this movie?!  
   Anyways, I appreciate McQueen for tackling such a difficult project but I absolutely commend him, Fassbender, and Dano for really showing the PSYCHOTIC MADNESS of it all so well.  If I was to shake either of Michael or Paul's character's hands, my inner monologue would definitely be saying "yeah….this motherfucker is crazy.  He's smiling, but he's definitely got some crazy behind the eye that I don't think I want to get to know…" and back away slowly.

   I had some issues with costuming....I always will because that's what I was trained in.  The aging and dying of the costumes appeared almost nonexistent.  I found it rather hard to believe that Patsy and her crew picked over 500 pounds of cotton a day and were never offered soap but still had nice outfits on.  The fact that we "are working in mud and dirt on a scorching hot super humid day in the South and our clothes look brand spanking new"  sort of made me give a side eye but what can you do...Some of the nicer period costumes looked a little off as well, but I can't really put into words why/how.  Sorry about that.  If I can figure it out, I'll be sure to update.  

  

   Oldboy….oh Spike, why'd you do it?!  As I said before, I do love Spike, but I'm sorry…I will be reading this movie for filth.  And…here we go:  Foreign films are better left as foreign…the language and the style used all supplement the story in its own unique way.  Just because a foreign picture is a huge success, doesn't mean we need an american version of it to make it more marketable!!  I honestly think American remakes are like a "dumbed down" version which makes audiences here seem rather....stupid...?  I will not fully blame Spike.  I know he was frustrated and lost a lot of creative control, to the point of even removing his usual "Spike Lee Joint" from the title cards.  
   The makeup was awful.  Do you know why it was awful?  Because I could tell it was makeup.  Bad makeup.  The wardrobe looked like it was all shopped at Walmart, in the clearance bin full of things from 1998 that no one would take, even after being marked down to nothing.  The effects were cheap.  The music sounded like the free loops you get on Soundtrack Pro or even Garage Band.  What the hell was up with Samuel L.  Jackson's look?!  Apparently, he's some sort of gay space alien who has his own boy band??  ....and I won't lie.  I was a bit offended by the asian ninja girl who protected Adrian...


   WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT HAMMER SCENE!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
   The whole way this relationship happened between Joe and Mari was so artificial and forced…I'll stop there and go back to what I know:  wardrobe.  We've already discussed Samuel L. Jackson….how about that flashback??  One of the best ways to convey a flashback is through wardrobe.  I feel like all they did was change the lights and hairstyles but kept the same shitty Walmart clothes.  Don't get it twisted…I'm not saying they should have been in head to toe Armani…I'm just saying it shouldn't have been so obvious that you had a shitty budget.  
Semi-Conclusion: 12 Years a Slave=yay; American Oldboy=nay
I don't think I could work with either director simply because the pattern I see in their work is that they don't really care what their characters are wearing and neither do their producers and probably cut as many corners as possible starting with wardrobe.  
I will say, I loved seeing both directors' trademarks in their respected films…its always good to see those.  McQueen's excrutiatingly long takes and Lee's floating actor


   While 12 Years was the better film, the experience of watching Oldboy was more fun.  The theatre was about three quarters full.  In front of me was an African man and his girlfriend.  To the right of me was a group of younger black adults.    (I only mention race here because of an interesting exchange of words that occurs later)  The group was being loud so the African man got angry and yelled at them.  So the group retaliated and they were at each other's throats during the movie, all while the African man's girlfriend was sitting there saying "seriously?"  over and over again in what sounded like her impression of The Nanny.  It doesn't stop here.  
The African man threatened to beat up the entire group and call the cops on them.  One of the guys felt hurt by this and walked up to him in the middle of the theatre, pointing his finger in his face, "Calm the fuck down, brah.  Don't even joke about calling the cops.  I am black just like you.  You ain't no different.   If they take us, they're gonna take you too.  WE ARE BLACK LIKE YOU. CALM DOWN."  The man actually did in fact calm down and even apologized.  It still doesn't end here. 
The group eventually got louder and apparently drunker.  One of them even drunkdialed his girlfriend, Josephine during the movie and started yelling at her.  In his frustration, he lit a cigarette.  This caused management to step in and force the group to leave.  They did not go quietly.  All of this was happening during the big sex scene in the movie.  The group was finally taken out right at the climax, to which the African man applauded, causing the group to call him and apparently the rest of us all 'faggots' and threw a water bottle at him.  Thankfully, I was not in the splash zone.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Schenanigans


I spent today prepping for the upcoming job.  Its going to be a doozy.  It will be filled with white supremests, murders, and club kids.  All actors, of course. 
I started the day traveling to NJ to cut one of our main actor's hair.  MOHAWK.
Next, I went to a tattoo parlor I used to frequent to get some unique stencils.  Stencils are what the artists use to transfer the image onto the body before using the needle.  It leaves a blue copy of the image on the skin. I had to go to a tattoo parlor because these pieces are going to be rather big.  This isn't something I can just buy at the local Party City.  One of those pieces happens to be a swastika.  The first artist turned me down.  She's Jewish.  I felt awful having to make such a request in the first place.  I'm happy to say that all of us collectively felt uncomfortable projecting a large swastika out in the open like that.  I now have 12 of them, along with some other large chest and naval pieces.  I WAS supposed to go to church tonight but I just felt really really uncomfortable walking around with a bunch of delicate swastikas.  
While I was at the tattoo parlor, the owner, Hellen studied me and said I was pretty but there was one thing wrong with me, "You're too smart.  And worse, you actually look too smart.  You don't have a boyfriend, do you?"  I shook my head 'no'.  "That's why.  You look so smart, the guys are afraid of you.  Try to look a little stupider."  I stuck out my overbite and drooled on myself.  "That's it!  Now the guys will be all over you!".
Thank you, Hellen but I'd rather stay single than act stupid to attract stupid.  
Super tired, now...gotta wake up at 4:30 to go back to NJ tomorrow.  We start with the swastikas tomorrow.  I wonder if this will mess with the actor psychologically at all.  Its one thing to have it on 'your' body as an actor but I wonder what will happen when he gets home and looks at himself in the mirror and sees that symbol on his chest...?  stay tuned.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

3 piece & a Biscuit!


I recently had the pleasure of doing Paul Feig's hair and makeup for an upcoming segment honoring Steve Martin.  Paul is responsible for hilarious works like Freaks & Geeks, Bridesmaids, and The Heat.  He looked extremely polished and rather dapper, all thanks to his bespoken three piece suit.  I complimented him numerous times.  I just could not shake how amazing he looked.  Paul admitted that if it wasn't for Steve Martin, he'd never have come to terms with the importance of the three piece suit.  It lengthens the torso, it holds your tie in place, and it separates you from the rest of the dudes in the room who are probably sporting clip on ties from TJ Maxx.
Gentlemen, if you have the right type of body (as in NOT short and stout),  go for it....and I mean go all the way.  If you half-ass a three piece suit, you run the risk of looking like an old time door to door salesman.  Get tailored.  Go bespoke.  Don't you dare be cheap and do not go boxy/American.  Do not be afraid to go slimmer than what you're used to.  Experiment with colors--ties, shirts, pocket squares, even socks.  Paul was wearing a navy suit with fuschia socks with yellow accents, along with a pink & white shirt and matching pocket square.  In text, the outfit sounds like it would look a bit loud, but in actuality, it was a perfect outfit for the fall for a rather modest looking gentleman.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Importance

I decided to blog examples of why Hair, Makeup & Wardrobe are so important in this industry.  These are positions that are getting screwed more and more with the ever shrinking production budgets.  They end up being jobs for the director's girlfriend or wife or something of the like.  Sometimes, one person ends up doing all three.  That is happening to me lately, and while I am grateful for the work, I end up getting paid for only one of the three jobs that I do.  To the outsider, its like "Pff...its not that big of a deal.  Its just clothes, some light powder and getting rid of flyways...."  
Idiots. 
Its so much more than that.  I've preached so many times before and I won't stop until vanities are given the respect they deserve.  
Here are some unexpected films that had excellent vanities departments.  I mention that they are unexpected because they're not period or fantasy pieces.

Short Term 12:
It takes a lot to make well known actors look normal, to make them blend in with a cast that isn't so well known.  Can you pick out who is who in the cast photo?  I couldn't either when I first watched the movie.  I only found out after I researched the movie that Brie Larson and John Gallagher were the leads.  Everyone looked extremely natural to the point that I could imagine what these people smelled like in that california heat.  I highly recommend this movie, not only for the looks but for the story and the performances as well.



Fruitvale Station:
Wow.  Just wow.  From the main characters to the very cops that bring the story to a brief halt, this film is full of veteran actors.  You never would've noticed it  because this movie felt like you were watching some goings ons in the Bay Area.  From the look, to the overall swagger, this film is a great example of vanities excelling in dressing characters to fit their environment.   Definitely catch this flick as well!  Its fantastic.


Invictus:
Hair, Makeup and Wardrobe did a great job making Morgan Freeman look like Nelson Mandela.  Unfortunately, Morgan Freeman did not do a good job portraying Nelson Mandela.  His cringeworthy performance is similar to Halle Barry as Storm.  I hate inconsistencies in speech or impediment work.  That just goes to show that vanities can only do so much...


A large responsibility vanities have is to make actors not look like actors, but to make them look real in the world they are living in on stage or screen.  It is up to the actor to exist in said world.

I Wanna Rock!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with one of the OG dragqueens, Mr.  Dee Snider!  His entourage made me concerned that he was going to be a jerk, but he turned out to be absolutely wonderful.  
We were shooting bits for an upcoming documentary for a Syrian heavy metal band and Dee had plenty to say about it.  We owe a lot to Mr. Snider.  He has done so much for artists and our right to freedom of speech & expression.  He is extremely intelligent and surprisingly humble.  I can't wait to work with him again!
 I'm kinda disappointed I didn't get to do Dee's makeup like this....that would've been so awesome.  "Ya've got to BLEND, hunty!"


That's me doing his hair and makeup.  Dee sure is a tall glass of water!  That hair of his is something else...I almost broke my hand when I accidentally grazed the top of it.  Dee keeps his hair the way he keeps his body and his lifestyle:  ROCKHARD

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Witch

Every once in a while, I am called to do H/MU for a show on Discovery ID.  Its a re-cre show called Deadly Sins.  Its my third year working with this crew, and I love it.  The show features dramatizations and retellings of gruesome murders, and while that scarred (yes scar, not scare) me the first few months, the crew has been able to keep a light vibe on set, easing the sometimes nasty and horrendous mental journeys.  My job is to make certain cast members look "dead" or paint some sort of laceration or the like when needed.
This time around, I was to make an actress look like Marjorie Nugent, who some called the wicked witch of East Texas.  The actress portraying her was stunning and full of life.  At a mere 70 years old, she had been acting for 8 years and wore clothes from H&M and Forever 21 and bragged about doing yoga and hitting the gym everyday.  Marjorie on the other hand, was known as someone who people hated so much, that when she was murdered, no one even bothered to look for her 9 months.  The actress and I had our work cut out for us.  She had to really get to a mental spot where she could be so evil and emotionally abusive that someone would want to kill her, and I had to make this beautiful woman look mean and haggard.  You'd think that being so happy-go-lucky that this lady would be pretty comfortable in her own skin, right?  Wrong....
I turn into a therapist whenever people sit in my chair.  She was no exception.  The actress started by telling me how madly she was in love with her husband, but later as I applied the makeup, she'd say things like "You know, I just wish I could know what its like to be pretty.  Even if its for a day."  I assured her that she was gorgeous, and in fact she was so gorgeous, I was being paid to make her look ugly.  She wasn't buying.  
That really broke my heart.  This actress was sitting before me, a fierce queen and still she felt "unpretty".  What's it gonna take to make every woman feel good about themselves??  I'm totally guilty of this too, but my gosh--what a terrible feeling of not feeling pretty, on top of that--not having words that are good enough to lift that person up.  Whether you are as hateful as Marjorie or as spry and lively as the actress, I hope you take a moment to love yourself.  I will if you will.
In the immortal words of RuPaul:  "If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gon' love someone else?  Can I get an Amen?"  AMEN, Ru.  

 I just had to include photos of this lady.  Yeah this queen is 70.  FIERCE.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day

There are some weird fashion rules out there and I hardly abide by them...One of them being the rule about wearing white after Labor Day.
Listen, I think all white outfits are pretty gross anyway, wedding dresses included.  It...just...kind of creates unnecessary bulk...?

As for white shoes, Keds have inevitably made their comeback so I can't really say much about that.  

Aside from all that, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on Labor Day.  
I have worked a lot in this life and I feel like I've learned something from every job which has lead me to the life of a Costume Designer.
As a child of a Korean immigrant, I have worked illegally from ages 8-15 at my uncle's wig store.  That place was terrible but that is where I had my first experience with drag queens and well...you know what happened after that :)

My first legal job ever was at Baskin Robbins.  This is the place where I saved every single paycheck and bought myself a brand new car.  Woohoo for being lactose intolerant!  
Every week, the school for the deaf would come in and order all kinds of everything and it would be chaos for about 45 minutes because none of us knew sign language and their attempts to speak their orders were beyond difficult to understand.  Everyone dreaded this day because it would get so crazy and my coworkers had less than kind things to say.  I took it upon myself to learn some sign language, concentrating on food and the alphabet so that the ordering process would be educational for both parties involved.  Over a decade later, I am still signing.  
Next, I worked as a Beauty Adviser for a salon under the Regis corporation.   This is where I fell in love with hair.  I am a hair product junky and I can spot a bad haircut a mile away.  You wanna brag about your ugly $5 haircut?  I will read you to filth like its field day at the library!
I also worked as a greeter for Wet Seal.  I learned from here that if you're not a traditionally pretty teenager, management (aged 20+) will treat you just as bad as the popular girls at school.  I lasted 2 weeks there.  I could not take the hatred.

Next I worked as a barista at like 5 cafes.  It was brutal but I really got into coffee and espresso culture.  My palette matured and learned to be picky about the types of drinks I pay for as a consumer.  I also learned caffeine addiction is a very hard thing to kick but its an amazing feeling once you've beat it.  
As I got older, I got my bartending license and branched out from coffee to adult beverages.  Again, my palette got to learn new things like pairing wines or sipping limited edition bourbon.  Sometimes I waited tables during this part of my life and I learned that bartenders get way way way more respect than servers.  Also, due to my background, I learned that white waitresses who are [again] traditionally pretty, get better tips.
There was a moment in my life when I was a music box technician and worked with miniature tools fixing-yes you guess it-music boxes.  I learned that one doesn't necessarily have to be called a surgeon to perform "surgery".

In college, I joined a work-study program as a janitor for 2 years.  Yep, I totally cleaned shitters.  This is probably the most humbling job I've ever had, but it was full of lessons and fun memories.  I got to rock out on my Sony discman and think of cool stories to write while I'd be elbow deep in waste.  The shift in respect from certain students and faculty always fascinated me because they'd feel that by knowing me, the janitor, they'd somehow be allowed to bypass "cleaning time" and just use the bathroom while I was in there, thus often leaving an even bigger mess for me to clean after them.
Years later, this job would come in the most handy when I'd start working as a production assistant on motion picture sets...

I know there are a lot more jobs I've had, but those are the ones that stick out most in my mind.  
I am now a Costume Designer, Wardrobe Stylist, Makeup Artist, Reiki Master and Master Barber.
I am in 2 unions and though I don't particularly feel the solidarity I'm supposed to as a member, I just feel good that I worked hard to be considered a "sister".  What I failed to mention is that I held most of these jobs at the same time to support my family and then to pay for my education.  I hardly slept and worked my fingers to the bone.  I never lived a glamorous lifestyle, nor do I live one now....do not let the fancy titles fool you.  
But you know what?  I'm earning my money by working hard and having the day kick my ass.  I wouldn't have it any other way and I wouldn't trade my work ethic for anything.  
HAPPY LABOR DAY.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

the Future

I just did a photoshoot for a German department store catalog.  They flew to NYC and shot exteriors in Brooklyn and SoHo.  It became a combination of things I don't want at a photoshoot:
1.)  Outdoors in hot, humid heat
2.)  Heavy down coats as wardrobe
3.) Child models

One would think this would be a deadly concoction for things to go terribly wrong.  I was sure of it.  We were all cranky and the kids were getting overheated and even more cranky.  Things could've gone way worse, but there was one particular model, 13 year old Simon Jimenez.  Like wow, his parents have raised him to be a model human being!  (yes, pun intended)
This young man never once complained, and wore 5 layers of a clothing, a down coat, a wool hat and scarf, and skateboarded, all with a smile on his face!  There was a moment when I had to section off each of his 8 sleeves (layers upon layers) to show on camera, and the poor kid actually tried to keep his arm straight for the entire time.  I told him, "No no.  You just hold my hand and rest your arm".  I cannot begin to describe to you the amount of weight I felt when he relaxed his arm and held my hand. He was really trying to create less work for me and wasn't going to say anything about it!  
When we went on break, I took off his layers until he was down to his base: a long sleeve thermal shirt.  The kid was actually going to keep his sleeves rolled down to keep from getting wrinkled.  "Nope," I said, "You roll those sleeves up to your armpits and get some air on those arms.  You will not suffer!!!"
At the end of the shoot, Simon went up to every single person of the crew, shook their hand, and looked into their eyes.  With a genuine grin on his face, he said, "Thank you.  Thank you so much for everything."  You can tell he meant it and it was real every time he repeated it.  When asked what he was going to do with his new earnings, he said "I'll probably save it for my education or something.  I can't really think of anything I want to buy so...yeah.  My education."
I was told Simon has a twin named Spencer who was equally wonderful the previous day.  Since they were identical twins, the client thought it was only fair to book both of them for a day.
Readers, I am gushing about these young men because we don't see this anymore.  I don't experience nearly enough of this behavior on set and we certainly don't see this in our "regular" kids.  I don't want to go on a tirade about these newer generations and a failed system and all that....no.  I just want to say that moments like that make a sweltering day full of hardships totally worth it and if your child has potential to do that, I suggest your raise them to do just that: be wonderful people.