Victoria Down Visits Blanche!

August 31st, 2010 / Posted by natasha

Fact #1: I get a thrill out of action and horror movies filled with shootings, blow-ups, Neanderthals, gore, and special effects.

Fact #2: Victoria Down is the Head of the Makeup Department for these sorts of films!

We had the greatest honour (after 10 years!) to have top makeup artist and film makeup industry specialist, Victoria Down, come in to give us the behind-the-scenes look into her years of experiences as a makeup head and makeup designer for many well-known films. If you’ve watched Night at the Museum 1 and 2 (2009 and 2006), the X-files movie (2008), The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), John Tucker Must Die (2006), Thir13en Ghosts (2001), Juno (2009) or Percy Jackson and the Olympians (2010), then you’ve seen her work.  She’s also the chair and co-chair of the IATSE Union, local 891 (yeah, the Union) though she quits and is voted back year after year.  At the end of her visit, she gave a neat step-by-step demonstration on how to apply some handmade Pros-aide transfers – just like how it is done on set! You can imagine, we were pretty much glued onto her every word as she described her job and adventures.

Let’s take a peek at some of the things she gets to do:  jump off helicopters onto breathtaking snow-capped mountains, fly all over the world, touch (I mean, caress) beautiful faces of talented people – the pretty Amy Adams, Pierce Brosnan (whom she claims to be the nicest man she has ever met), and Dame Judi Dench (one of her favourites), and watch a movie with Uma Thurman in giant luxury hotel suites.

What I liked was how she didn’t hesitate to give us the honest, not-so-glamorous take: working in less-than-desirable conditions (ie. being covered in ash and applying makeup in extreme cold and heat), battling and finding solutions when being given no budgets, realizing your favourite celebrity is dealing with severe acne, and dealing with divas (not to mention, divos – high maintenance men).

Even so, they sure make great stories!

What’s even more amazing is that she’s self-taught! After initially working in theatre, apprenticing for films early on, tons of practice and the best work ethic resulted in her having an exciting life being constantly busy on sets for feature films. Yet, she stays so humble and is truly grateful to get to do what she does.

Victoria emphasized the importance of taking the job seriously, being extremely organized and prepared for each scene, coming in with a good attitude, being able to think of solutions, being present, arriving early, being able to work well in teams and to think on your feet and being prepared for actor’s requests… as odd as they may be.

Then, Victoria and Blanche’s own Celine Godeau (who Victoria claims is one of the most talented painters she has worked with) gave us a live step-by-step demonstration of an effect she created for the X-files movie – the after effects of a garden rake scrape across the face *cringe* using Pros-aide transfers.

First, Victoria taught us how to make the transfer:

Then, she “slammed” (a technical term, apparently) the self-made prosthetic she casted onto a volunteer’s face and used alcohol to smooth down the edges.

After painting the transfer with the handy Skin Illustrator kit and spritzing the final product with water, whala!


So, besides the importance of the right work ethics, here are five things to remember:

  1. “Never piss off the Director of Photography” – he has the power to make or break you
  2. Do not be afraid to make mistakes – watch and learn for next time
  3. It’s not a fashion show and it’s not about you: do not show up on set on a pair of stilettos.
  4. At the same time, it is about you – health first!
  5. The truth: you can’t learn solely on set anymore.  You have to go to school to get the right training and the Blanche Macdonald Centre will provide you with the training you need with their awesome instructors (all of whom Victoria has and loves to work with!)

Super informative, super inspiring, and no doubt, one super awesome job.

We Hug Pakistan

August 27th, 2010 / Posted by natasha

Even when we are unable to physically offer our services in times of need, we can always find a way to help. This month, Blanche Macdonald Hugs The World embraces the flood disaster victims in Pakistan – currently the largest catastrophe in the world. As the number of deaths and people left homeless and suffering from health problems continually rise, the amount of help and assistance intensifies. We have chosen to support the Canadian Red Cross by contributing $2000 to their extraordinary recovery and relief efforts.

To all the families, friends, and children involved in this emergency, our hearts go out to you.

We Invite You…

August 26th, 2010 / Posted by natasha

to vote!

We’re nearing the end of our Colin Grieve (aka Joyride) style-a-band competition!

Say hi to the band!

These guys desperately needed a makeover so we decided to put together a fun competition. Our fabulously creative makeup, hair, and fashion students and grads collaborated in teams of three to personally create a look to mould the band into the epitome of cool.

After an intimate meet and greet at our downtown Robson campus and piles proposals later, we’ve finally narrowed the teams down to five. The winning team, selected by our judging panel, will win up to $2000 and will have their ideas used for the band’s press and promotional material for 2010!

Now, you have the power to give one of these teams $500 in cash for the viewer’s choice award! All you have to do is watch each of the team’s short clips and click “like”!

Voting closes this Monday, August 30th at 5PM so click onto our online voting page to watch and vote now!!

Aren’t they fun? Updates to come so check back soon!

An Alexander McQueen-inspired Photo Shoot Exclusive

August 24th, 2010 / Posted by natasha

There have been all sorts of fun things happening around here lately… like the amazing photo shoot in Evaan Kheraj’s studio!  I got to witness what happens when you stick a bunch of young talent in a room for 8 hours – one incredible transformation!!

That’s Jenna (left), our fabulous makeup grad!! You might recognize her at our Uptown City Square campus with her distinctive blunt brown bangs and blonde understreaks.  She’s was the IMATS Award winner for overall talent in LA and Vancouver in 2009!  She invited her friend and dream assistant, Celine Godeau – another extremely talented Blanche superstar and teacher amazing at prosthetics who you may be lucky to bump into around our Uptown campus.

Jenna handed the model (right), super pretty Alison Burke (of Lizbell Agency) with dimples like Rachel McAdams, a set pasties, laughing that it would be all she would be wearing.  Turns out they remember each other as they went to the same high school!

I also got to hang out with Blanche’s awesome Creative Director, Kelly Schmidt, and Art Director, Tyler Udall (who, by the way, is an ex-ballet dancer with one heck of a list of credentials including being the Design Associate for Marc Jacobs in NYC (omg) and the editor at the Daily Telegraph – not to mention being the Senior Fashion Editor for the hottest and edgiest magazines on the planet such as Dazed and Confused)!! He’s also the Fashion Styling instructor at our Downtown Robson Campus!

Suddenly, I found myself in awe as the artists deftly unload their spread of makeup, tools, and equipment in an organized mess onto two tables. It’s easy to tell that this is a regular routine for them. Jenna averages four photo shoots a week on top of working at the MAC Pro store downtown Vancouver – no wonder!

In between setting up, Jenna flipped to a page in her sketchbook to a rough sketch of the plan for the shoot – a full body paint and airbrushing inspired by the late Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer ’09 and ‘10 collections featuring his flesh lace leggings and bold, distinguishable reptile, insectal print in vibrant watercolour shades and geometric black lace overlay. (By the way, one of the three categories Jenna won the Canadian Makeup Show in Vancouver in 2009 was for body painting/airbrushing – how perfect is she for this?) Unlike how they usually go about painting and preparing, Jenna and Celine decided on how everything would turn out after looking at the reference photos and Jenna’s rough sketch and collaborated during the painting process.


The painting began by sponging on a white base using aqua colour and large sea sponges to create a textural white canvas. I was amazed at Jenna’s pre-made, handcrafted texture stamps made out of FIMO, which she used to layer in gray tones to create the perfect animalistic effect. Genius.

For body painting tools, Jenna swears by MAC Pro Chromacakes and GOLDEN Airbrush paints.  She told me that the great thing about GOLDEN Airbrush paints is that they blend nicely, since they are water-based. Plus, they don’t dry in a crusty way when she mixes in a bit of MAC’s water-based mixing medium.

On Alison’s front, Jenna and Celine used a regular spray pump bottle to mist the skin with layers of alcohol-based paints, which created a watercolor texture and helped the colours from becoming muddied.  The makeup artists had precut pieces of mattress foam in shapes inspired by Rorsch blots and butterfly wings. After dipping them into the paint, the designs were lightly stamped just below the collarbone and on the stomach.  Other products that keep colours from mixing together and allow artists to continue to work overtop of them are Wolfe paints, MAC pigments, and Skin Illustrator in liquid form to airbrush – all of which Jenna loves to use.

Celine created a really cool design on Alison’s back by dipping string into paint, pulling it taught and pressing them against the skin.

Take a look at their McQueen-inspired intricate lace-legs! Jenna and Celine used MAC Penultimate Liner to achieve very precise fine lines.

The makeup on the face was quite a contrast from the body painting, yet it really pulled the look together. Jenna pulled out her strong fashion-makeup skills to create a bronze-based and fully contoured face with pops of metallic colour using MAC pigments.

Layer upon layer and various contrasting textures later, Alison’s sweet and innocent appearance is transformed into an unrecognizable creature, which, at first glance, could very well be mistaken as a distant cousin of an Avatar. The results? Wow.

Then, for the next hour and a bit (which really felt like only 15 minutes), fashion photog Evaan bounced around the white studio backdrop, climbing up ladders, covering all light exposure with coloured cellophane and waving various smaller pieces in front of his lens to get a film negative effect.

Suddenly, I found myself huddled with the rest of the crew around Evaan’s macpro, ooohing and aaah-ing at the shots.

The always suave Tyler approved, “rad”.

Presenting: Line&Form Fashion Show

August 20th, 2010 / Posted by natasha

Come take a look at the newly released footage from our sold out 2009 graduation fashion show, Line & Form, at the Westin Bayshore!

With one full house, an upbeat emcee (Nira Arora from The Beat 94.5), forty-nine collections from our Fashion Design school graduates, goodie bags, and an elegant venue filled with well-dressed attendees, media personnel, and proud family members, it was one fabulously inspiring show exuding delightful creativity and personality!

Hello, Let’s Be Friends

August 17th, 2010 / Posted by natasha

We, at The Blanche Macdonald Centre, are so excited to share with you the launch of our new blog, The Que! As our school is constantly growing and expanding and as we continuously help our students evolve into the best they can be, we thought we would show you what we’re all about in all aspects: makeup, fashion, hair, and esthetics.  Think of it as a personal inside scoop into our world!

Here, we will highlight what we’re currently into, what inspires us, and our take on fresh and newly emerging trends. We can’t wait to share with you all sorts of fun Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects, product reviews, and exciting industry updates. You will also have the opportunity to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into photo shoots with our amazing students and grads who work with some of the best of the best in the industry, special events, our travels abroad, our hilarious Blanche family (staff) and our extraordinary campus scene. Wait, did I just see a guy with an eyeball hanging out from his socket walk past in a full-bodied spandex suit? Yeah, you did. No biggie.

We totally invite you to become a fan on our Facebook page for more announcements, fun contests, give-aways, and retail and service specials!  Interested in joining us? Come learn about our programs on our official website!

Welcome! Check back soon!

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