As the majority of productions grind to a halt because of the rapid spreading of coronavirus, some productions in the U.K. (“Coronation Street”) and the U.S. are still ongoing. Film crews are exercising social distancing — but they’re still being put at risk.
Makeup and hair designer Nadia Stacey, who worked on “The Favourite” and is currently on hiatus from “True Things About Me,” says social distancing is not an option for some members of a crew. “Makeup and hair artists can’t do their job as we are touching faces and hair,” she says. “It’s exactly what we are told not to do [in coronavirus health care guidelines].“
While taking extra measures to ensure sanitation, Stacey says she still has to work in close proximity with the actors and will wear gloves as she carries out her work. But as recently as this week, Stacey was still on set. She stresses that while productions are doing everything they can, no one knows how to deal with this new virus. “My production has been amazing with the crew and super vigilant but our country is still behind everyone else so it’s only now productions are shutting down.”
Stacey’s concerns are not just for the health and safety of herself — she’s also worried for her crew and other makeup artists and expressed concern about the lack of support and guidance in production amid the pandemic. “I haven’t found any advice anywhere to help us, as I guess everyone just thinks the productions are down so we aren’t working,” she says. Because Stacey is based in the U.K, she does not have access to union or guild support unlike her fellow US crew members.
Stacey also points out that the majority of makeup and hair designers are freelancers, and without film or TV shows in production, there’s no work. “There is no funding or plan in place to help,” she says. “Even when productions eventually come back, I think the bottleneck effect of things happening at the same time will cause so many issues.”
She wonders if, after this, actors will want to start doing their own makeup, and whether film crews will be reduced in efforts to prevent another outbreak. “That’s a huge issue for a makeup artist,” Stacey says. “I think we are all so unsure of the future and at the moment, it looks bleak for a freelance film crew.”