Livia Toso took our Special Effects Makeup for Film and Television course in Spring 2019. She told us about her inspiring experience on the course, working in a film set and her plans to change career.
Livia Toso: Work from Special Effects Makeup for Film and Television
Student Stories: Livia Toso, Special Effects Makeup for Film and Television
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I was born in a very small town in Brazil, from the third generation of a family of Italian farmers who immigrated in the late 1800s. Even though I spent most of my time watching films I never considered it to be a valid dream to pursue a career in the industry. It was just so far away from my reality. That being said, I went to Uni like everybody else and I got my degree in International Relations. When I graduated from Uni I was in that stage in life where you don't really know what to do or which path to take. I was never one of those people who are born and know immediately what they want to be as grown-ups. All I knew is that I wanted to live abroad for a while and try to find myself. I always had the dream of coming to live in England, which is a country that I identify with, so after I graduated from Uni, I got a job in customer service, worked and saved money for six years in order to be able to come to Italy and get my double citizenship sorted out, as the country gives you the right to it if you have Italian background. After six months eating the most amazing pizzas in Italy, I could finally come to London, a city that is so diverse and where you can do and work with anything, that it is giving me the opportunity to start dreaming of not only watching films but helping make them. The short course at LCF will be my first step in this amazing journey.
What was your motivation for choosing the Special Effects Makeup for Film and TV course?
I already had done a few courses on straight/fashion makeup but this isn't really the side of makeup artistry that I want to explore, as I really want to go into film. My main motivation for choosing to do this course was really my passion for films. I felt that I needed to be more than just a spectator and I found in special effects make up a way to create what I think is the best expression of art.
Why did you choose to study at LCF?
When I decided to go into SFX makeup I started to search around for courses and the LCF short course caught my attention for its complete approach to the subject. It covers everything you need to know, from natural HD makeup to wounds to applying facial hair. The tutor is active in the industry, which was a huge deal breaker for me, as she would be able to provide us with relevant and contemporary information about products and techniques used, as opposed to retired professionals who went into teaching. I also have to say that the cost was very affordable and fair, which is always an upside.
What did you like most about the course?
The part that I most enjoyed was making and applying a bald cap. It was the most different and new set of techniques that I learned and it was definitely a challenge because it is not just applying makeup. You actually learn how to mix the products and create your own bald cap. Not every artist has this skill. It was definitely a game-changer and the most fun class.
What was most challenging about the course?
For me, the most challenging aspect was to learn all the products and how to use them properly. There is a whole range of things that can be used, depending on the effect you are looking to create. To get used to all the different materials and know which ones you can or cannot mix can be tricky. I had zero experience with SFX products before so getting acquainted with them was definitely the hardest part. Another challenge was the period makeup look class when we had to make a full 1920's look, including hair. I had never done hair before so it was quite tricky.
What skills have you built on the course?
I can now work with principles of light and shade to age a person for example, through understanding the face anatomy. I've learned more about skin tones and undertones to perfectly match the skin you are working on. I can make, apply and colour a bald cap, create realistic wounds, bruises and skin disorders with silicone application and colouring. In the last two classes, we will learn how to apply facial hair and do a frozen makeup look, which I think will be amazing!
How will the short course at LCF impact on your career?
Considering that I had no previous experience with SFX makeup before, the main impact the course will have on my career will be giving me the necessary knowledge of products and techniques I'll need to be able to work. I can now start building my portfolio the proper way. Another great impact the course will have is the network I made with the people in my class, the tutor and even the models. We already follow each other on social media and talk about future work opportunities.
Who would you recommend the course to?
I'd recommend this course to anyone who wishes to go into the film/TV industry. It is a great start to those with no experience in makeup, as it will introduce you to all the products and techniques currently used in the industry. If you already have some experience or are self-taught, this will be a great opportunity to refine your skills and learn new ones.
You recently got offered a job in a short film, can you tell us how that went?
It was a very nice experience and it came through the school. I think the producer contacted LCF looking for makeup artists and the school e-mailed us in case we were interested in the role. That was an amazing thing for me because as you know it can be very hard to get jobs in the industry when you don't have many contacts, so the school aftercare in that sense was perfect.
It was an independent production so money was short and we had a few infrastructure issues on set. We were on location so we had to deal with the weather changing all the time and there wasn't a proper place to set up our makeup products, but we made it work. None of it, however, spoiled the experience and I learned a lot from it.
What was the most challenging about working in a film set?
Being an independent production, I can say that the most challenging part was the lack of resources. We had to be creative and make things work with what we had available.
What would you say are the key skills for starting your career in SFX makeup?
I'd say being creative is the key, if you can think outside the box you can go a long way. Having a good and easy-going personality is also appreciated. Of course, you also need to know about your craft, knowing the look/effect you want to create and the necessary products to create it will help you start and then you can only improve.