I never anticipated being covered in blood. And I certainly never expected to like it.
I was never a “makeup girl” growing up. That was a weird and mysterious ritual that my mother did every morning without fail. I dabbled from time to time with blushes and lipsticks, but never had enough interest to go out and purchase my own. By the time I turned 28 and left the Navy, my makeup collection was still small enough to fit in a pencil case from grade school.
And I hated scary movies. And haunted houses. And anything that caused me to jump and flail about. So how in bloody blazes did I arrive in the SPFX field? I can honestly pinpoint that path beginning with a single choice I made during my third semester of my second attempt at college – to take an acting class.
The people I met during that first class were amazing, and through those individuals I quickly and enthusiastically became a theatre kid. At the age of thirty I found myself surrounded by a bevy of strong, independent, goal-oriented, hilarious women and I didn’t care how much of an age gap there was. I learned so much from them during the remainder of my college career, and even discovered a few new things about myself. One of which was that I am really good at making people look really, REALLY bad.
It was only 5 years ago that I discovered that hidden talent, 3 years ago that I started pursuing it seriously, and a little over 2 years ago that I moved to Atlanta to do it professionally. In that time I have met, worked with, and learned from so many people that I find it crazy to even imagine not being where I am right now.
Working with and seeing women succeed in this industry is a reassuring thing. Like many fields, special effects used to be pretty male dominated. But with the burst of social media over the past few years, it’s becoming less of a rarity- and that is a good thing. Being able to reach out to fellow artists, talk shop, and compare notes is a huge resource that is often overlooked. And I’m not just talking about special effects. Beauty makeup gurus, drag queens, drag kings, traditional art mediums, street artists- I follow so many of them because I have learned something from the product they put out. Having a community- even a small one- that you can trust and go to is a precious thing.
Passing on that sense of community is something that I’ve recently become more active about. I started a YouTube channel earlier this year with the idea of helping out those who have no money to start with and yet want to get into this side of makeup. I want to be able to show newbies how to safely do those things they see on TV without breaking their budget or putting anyone in danger. Using social media to talk about the boring and mundane parts of a seemingly glamorous job is a good thing. Keep those stars in your eyes, but know where the earth is in case you have to land.
Oh, and those strong, independent, goal-oriented, hilarious women that I mentioned? There are many more in that group right now. Some of them are even featured on this page. And they continue to astound me with what they do, and I continue to learn from them every day.
Follow Bethany on her Social Media Sites:
YouTube: Blood & Beauty on a Budget
Bethany Michel is a late-blooming theatre kid who makes things ugly. She currently lives in Atlanta and continues to watch her IMDB page grow. Her company, JackMonkey FX, can be found on Instagram and Twitter under the same name and her YouTube channel is Blood & Beauty on a Budget. She recently held her first panel at DragonCon and will be working at Netherworld Haunted House this upcoming haunt season.