Films' makeup department run by Dudman

As production on the Harry Potter films comes to a close, so do thousands of jobs in the U.K. that supported the $6 billion (and still counting) franchise, the most lucrative in the history of motion pictures.

Many of those jobs were in the films’ makeup department, run by effects makeup and creature artist Nick Dudman, who’s been with the pictures since “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” began production a decade ago.

As he finished work on film number seven — “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” skedded for release in 2011 — Dudman reflected on the enormous changes in his art over the life of the series, which has journeyed from the physical world of animatronics to the ones and zeros of the digital age, making things “cheaper and easier,” he said.

For an outsider it’s hard to fathom the sheer scope of an operation like the Potter franchise. The size of Dudman’s makeup department often approached 200 people. “A movie of this scale is like a military exercise,” he said, with different lieutenants in charge of such areas as accounting, purchasing, sculpting and painting.

Dudman stays focused on the artistic side of his job by applying makeup on at least one character. On parts one and two of “Hallows,” shot simultaneously, he chose Griphook, played by Warwick Davis, whom he’s known since Davis was a boy.

But creative tasks on Potter pale next to the challenge of running the department and keeping everyone happy, said Katy Fray, prosthetic makeup artist on the final three films and Dudman’s second-in-command. “A lot of makeups are quite difficult, but they’re not so much of an issue as keeping the team happy and making sure no one is causing any upsets,” she said.

Another trick to making things go smoothly was adapting to the style of each successive director. “Chris Columbus (who helmed the first two films) bounced about with loads of energy,” said Dudman. “Mike Newell (director on the third) was more straightforward (though not) completely familiar with what we do. Alfonso (Cuaron, who helmed number four) works completely emotionally, thinks quickly and changes things on the spur of moment. David (Yates, who helmed numbers five and six as well as both parts of ‘Hallows’) is introspective. You have to get out of him exactly what he wants.”

David Heyman, producer on all the installments, has helped maintain continuity because he “has always had a direct line to J.K. Rowling,” added Dudman, “so we’ve always been able to get to the bottom line of what something is meant to look like. On a couple of occasions when something was about to be filmed, Jo would go, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you.’ But she wouldn’t say why. We never had any more advance info on the story than the public did.”

Dudman is looking forward to some time off, and after the break would like to tackle a completely different kind of project. Fray is planning some vacation travel that will take her to New Zealand, where she “may speak to some people working on ‘The Hobbit.’?”

Bookings & Signings

Paradigm signings: production designers Tom Southwell (“I Am Number 4″) and Mark Worthington (“Ugly Betty”); editor Mitchel Stanley (“Legendary’); line producer Ted Gidlow (“Lincoln Lawyer”). Bookings: d.p. Mark Doering-Powell on ABC Family pilot “What Would Jane Do” and Sam McCurdy on Marcus Dunstan’s “The Collection”; production designers Paul Peters on USA pilot “Necessary Roughness” and Patti Podesta on Showtime pilot “Homeland”; editors Hunter Via on Starz/BBC’s “Torchwood,” Peter Amundson on Mike Mitchell’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks 3D,” Craig Wood on Carl Rinsch’s “47 Ronin,” Heather Persons on Tina Chism’s “We The Peeples” and Niven Howie on James McTeigue’s “The Raven”; and costume designer Cynthia Summers on Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego’s “Apollo 18.”

Innovative Artists has signed d.p. Theo Van de Sande (“Grown Ups”); editors Jacques Gravett (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Pattye Rogers (“Mad Men”); and line producer – Dennis Murphy (“The Gates”). Agency has booked exec producer Butch Kaplan on Hany Abu-Assad’s “The Courier”; d.p.’s Phedon Papamichael on George Clooney’s “The Ides of March,” James Carter on CBS’ “Hawaii 5-0,” Chuck Minsky on Garry Marshall’s “New Year’s Eve,” Checco Varese on ABC Family pilot “Nine Lives of Chloe King,” Van de Sande on Jon Benito’s “Carjacked,” Alex Nepomniaschy on Nickelodeon’s “Supah Ninjas,” Steve Yedlin on Rian Johnson’s “Looper” and Zoran Popovic on Julian Richards’s “Shiver.”

Montana Artists signings: line producers Buddy Enright (UPM on “Burlesque”), Lena Cordina (“Committed”) and Bill Wilson (“The Dragon Pearl”); 1st AD Bruce Speyer (“388 Arletta Avenue”); costume designer Simonetta Mariano (“Immortals”); d.p.’s Alejandro Martinez (“Memories of my Melancholy Whores”), Gregor Hagey (“The Yard”) and Lloyd Ahern (“Army Wives”); production designers Eloise Stammerjohn (“Unanswered Prayers”) and Patrick Lumb (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”); and 2nd unit director Eric Schwab (“Valkyrie”).

peter.caranicas@variety.com

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