Learning from Reality TV: “Face Off”

Three-judge panel for Syfy TV's "Face Off"

I love to watch “Face Off,” the Syfy channel’s reality show featuring make-up artists competing to take their careers to the next level.

Every week, competitors receive a crazy tight deadline to create a fantasy character according to the week’s theme. The artists take inspiration from a specific location, then return to the lab to create characters with backstories who can stride or, in the case of the zombies, shamble onto the big screen.

The judges are top movie makeup artists Glenn Hetrick, Ve Neill and Neville Page. Even host McKenzie Westmore has movie makeup chops from having been the test subject for her father Michael Westmore’s Ba’ku makeup for Star Trek: Insurrection, according to McKenzie’s bio at the Star Trek wiki.

The winner of each season of Face Off lately has received a $100,00, a new car, a new makeup kit and a position as a guest instructor at a makeup academy.

Aside from the excitement of imagination unleashed to create visual feasts (or frights), there are many things to love about the show:

Respectful judges

No Simons here. Even when the judges don’t like a makeup – and their expressions of disappointment can be strong – they’re still respectful to the competitors.

The camaraderie between contestants

No back-stabbing. The artists support each other, help each other with heavy molds and even lend an ear when the Doubt Monster hovers and, worse, sets up camp at their workstations in the lab.

Story matters

When I hear artists tell their character’s backstory in a single sentence, like an elevator pitch, my gut feels either eager anticipation or suspicion of problems lurking ahead.

Fashion

To most, the fashion maven of “Face Off” is show host McKenzie Westmore. Let’s check out some of her outfits in this video montage. Click on the link in the highlighted text, if you can’t see the embedded video.

Those gorgeous sheath dresses with pencil skirts and dizzying heels make me sigh, even though I’m fully aware I won’t wear anything like them anymore in this lifetime.

That said, my true fashion muse on “Face Off” is Ve Neill. Every time Ve shows up, I all but pause the DVR to study what she’s wearing. She tends to wear slacks with jackets and great chunky jewelry.

Check out this great outfit, along with one of the many clever and amazing contestant makeups, in this Meet the Judges bio of Ve Neill. Click on the link in the highlighted text, if you can’t see the video embedded below.

I may spend my days in hoodies, tees and bootcut pants, but I like to spiff up when I go to events like writer’s conferences.

Some of my writer pals successfully channel outfits similar to McKenzie’s daytime outfits, but wearable and fun ideas for me come from Ve. Besides, day-long standing and schmoozing in killer heels? Pass.

That’s all so very “Face Off” — imagination and fancy tempered by resources and time.

 

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