44. How Film and TV Productions Function During a Pandemic with Scotia Boyd

Scotia Boyd a film makeup artist with an impressive roaster of working behind the scenes on major production companies like Netflix and Disney, and shows like Titans, Star Trek: Discovery, and Letterkenny. Fun fact, Scotia is also my cousin! The daughter of my mom's brother and photographer, Alfred Boyd.

Scotia has been working in film as a makeup artist for the past eight years in the Toronto area and is originally from Sudbury, Ontario. She is an expert behind the scenes and was an absolute delight to speak with to learn more about her personal history.

In this episode, we discuss how TV and Film production studios are managing under the pandemic, precautions taken, and procedures to keep the sets and cast safe. We also chat about the value of a Union, why it's important to support local Northern Ontario economies, and important things to keep in mind when working on a large set.

Enjoy this awesome episode and make sure to check out the latest project Scotia has worked on, Jupiter's Legacy!

Connect with Scotia Boyd, Professional Makeup Artist

Connect with Alex Leonard, Founder of AL Media

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Alex 0:01

Okay, awesome. Yeah, levels look great. Scotia. Thanks so much for coming here to be on the creative con podcast. It's a pleasure to have you. As many listeners may not know we're cousins. Here. That's a lot of people probably less that's fine. It's gonna be family so they wouldn't know that. Yeah. So for for people who aren't familiar with who you are or what you do, I talked to me a little bit about your talk to me a little bit about your profession, and the latest project that you've been working on.

Scotia 0:47

Okay, so I, I'm a film makeup artist. I've been working in film as a makeup artist for I think, I think this will be the eighth year in the Toronto area. I mean, I'm in a union, IATSE873. And right now I'm working on Titans my last year was Jupiter's legacy that finish and then there was a long break, obviously, over COVID I had a lot of time off. So my last show is Jupiter's legacy comes out may 7, I'm so excited.

Alex 1:18

Amazing. Congratulations and Jupiter's legacy that's premiering on Netflix. Is that correct?

Scotia 1:24

Yeah, yeah, Netflix on May 7.

Alex 1:27

Okay, so that's one thing that I think is quite impressive that you've had a, you know, out quite large roster with working with like different Netflix shows. Got some things with Disney? out? At what point? At what point did did you think that like things started to kind of take off and you started to get more and more consistent work was it really when you join the union was that like kind of a big breakthrough to access larger and larger projects?

Scotia 2:02

Definitely is very, very helpful. If you can do it, it was pretty hard. I mean, I still got in pretty young. But it felt like a major major accomplishment to get into the union. And I felt like after like, that was my goal. I didn't think that it would happen quite so early. But after that, I was like, Okay, I'm set, I don't need to worry anymore. It was it's still I was still getting to know people then within the union. And you still have to be like, picked or name hired onto a show, even though you're a member. It doesn't just happen automatically, like for different shows the Head of Department of the head of the mega department who's hired by a producer fast to ask you to join their team. So after I joined the union, which was maybe four years ago, it took maybe a year or so after that, for people to start really getting to know I mean, it's still happening. Like there are a lot of people that I don't, that I haven't worked with before, but now it's pretty steady. I've been so lucky that ever since I started when I was 20. It's been booming. Like last year, even though COVID shut everything down in March, and then didn't start up until September. That was the the biggest year for film in in Toronto ever. The year before that was severe before that, which would have been 2018 was the biggest year for film. I think I heard it did like 2 billion. And then it did 2.4 billion during your COVID where you're off for five months. And now we're set to do 4 billion this year. Because all of those shows now are going back to back like everything was pushed back. So now say for Titans they made you haven't heard anything yet, but a lot of shows will do. two seasons back to back was like a month off, which would have normally happened over the course of two years. So they need people like crazy. It's a lot easier now to get into the union than it was even like even when I even when I started and then 20 years ago, they would let like five people in once every four years.

Alex 4:24

Yeah, that's I mean, that's interesting. Like I wouldn't have thought it would be such a challenge to get into the union. I know as a union is like, you know, like the more people in it, the stronger the union. Exactly. Right. So yeah, so I mean that that's cool as well. When you talk about the power of say the relationships that you've built on different series and then not getting a one to another kind of you on the next show or something they're working on. Have you found that having those relationships like has that also been kind of a key to your growth, your professional career professional and personal growth is, you know, building strong relationships in your sector

Scotia 5:05

100%. The thing is that we work so closely with each other like we, the days are so long, they're, they're normally 12 hour days minimum, with your team of makeup artists, on crazy locations, so you spend so much time together, and then you're working at like, stations next to each other in a trailer for months, so people say it's like 50% of your skill as a makeup artist and 50% your personality, like do they want to be around you? Are you positive like it can be, it can be tough, it sounds silly, but some of the locations that we go to sometimes, and then I think probably the hardest thing is working exterior night shoots in the winter, like it can be really, really tough. People don't think about that, like because I'm a makeup artist, but it's hard work sometimes. So they want people that are going to be nice to be around. And then you have to have a certain personality to work with the cast, like you're working on their faces, it's so it's so personal, they're very vulnerable. It's you're doing their face for a camera, so they have to trust you. And you do have to have a certain personality type and, and build those relationships. So that either the cast want to have you around and have you back. Your boss wants to have you around and know that they can trust you. And it's all word of mouth. Like we're contract workers. So every single job, it's nothing is guaranteed. It's not like you just get hired, and then you work at a company and it takes a lot to fire you. Nobody has to fire you. They just don't have to hire you back. Then they can say goodbye to you and one or two months and then hire someone else. And the word of mouth gets around like crazy. Like the I get hired because whoever my boss has been will talk to their friends and then they hire me. It's a pretty like everybody knows everyone's pretty small industry.

Alex 7:08

Yeah, that's interesting. And I want to I want to dive a bit deeper and then kind of take because even while you're talking about the growth in Toronto, like I want to come back to that. But yeah, but for for doing. Yeah. When you talk about like how you have to like literally do their faces and I know you do as well, like prosthetics in terms of like gore and wounds and things like that have is that still kind of your your expertise? Or have you moved more into just like all around all kind of makeup? At depending on the series? Or do you still do a lot of like the the graphic stuff as well.

Scotia 7:47

Um, I think it depends on on, like the ends on the show that I'm on. And I think slowly I'm getting to the point where like before, a couple years ago, when I first started someone asked me if I wanted to work on a show, like I would say yes, like because I didn't have very many options. And now slowly now that more people are getting to know me and are requesting me, I'm trying to pick shows where I can use my skills more and stay practiced more like some of the shows are very let's say it's like a cop show or something like that. It's a it's very no makeup. So day after day, you're doing these totally normal makeup looks on peep on on people that are supposed to be playing everyday people so they don't even their makeup doesn't even change. Just like everyday people like they're not trying new fun things all the time. And that had but now it's all about super superhero shows and scenes, which is really fun. And you get to do a lot of cool stuff. But for a while just because of just because of the work that was available that I think that the steadiest work was doing those everyday straight makeup books. There are a lot of amazingly talented people that just focus on prosthetics. And then they can be super busy too, but you kind of have to be more of an expert. For me, for sure. Yeah. For me the study His work has just been like, the regular makeup and then we get to do fun things like there's they always ask for like black eyes, cuts and like easier things like that. Yeah, it's a little bit of a mix of everything for me at this point.

Alex 9:39

Nice. That's cool. Yeah, cuz I feel like making like the limbs and you know, all that stuff. Like that's like a whole other like department.

Scotia 9:48

Yeah. And so they do that stuff every day. They work mostly in in a shop so they're not on set. And then they'll come and then have it that way. Like shows don't need that stuff all the time. So they'll ask for if that comes up in a script, they'll ask the prosthetics people to come out and do that, like, a couple of days a month. And I, although it could have gone that route, I just prefer to, I want it to be on a show and not be doing like, day jobs. Yeah, that's how, yeah, I just ended up doing less prosthetics that way.

Alex 10:25

Okay, well, that makes sense. Yeah. And then so yeah, so it, it makes me think, right, like, like, cuz a lot of the shoots that I do as a videographer, or just like, you know, corporate, like corporate videos, they are one off working with nonprofits as well. But you're on like, massive sets, right? Yeah, like Netflix productions. So when you watch TV and things like this, has it kind of changed the way you you know, has it changed your bit of your perception of reality somewhat, when you

Scotia 10:57

totally and it's funny that you say, it's funny that you said reality, because the one thing for sure is watching reality TV shows, like, say, the hills

Scotia 11:10

back in the day

Scotia 11:12

rewatching. That and thinking like, they definitely this whole interaction that they're having, they had more than once, because if there was a camera there, you would have seen it. In the like, I just have a better sense of this, the camera setups, yeah, and how they film things. Like before, I remember my very first movie said, we spent like, hours doing one scene. So the actors were saying the same lines over and over and over and over again, even, like, I knew that they would have to say it more than once to get to get the right take. But it's like they set up the cameras here. There's two cameras, they get that it like they get the master the wide. And then, and then they move the camera say there were like, the first movie that I did, there were eight main characters all it was like in an old house, it was a scary movie. So they find some abandoned house, there's eight high school students, then they'll move the cameras and focus on two of them separately. Say everybody says all the lines again, then they move the cameras to focus on two more people, everybody has all the same lines. Again, I always pictured that there would be like however many cameras needed. Getting it all at the same time, not like not that you have to stop do it with a separate camera. So it changed reality TV for me because I'm like you can't fit two cameras, like your opposite angles like that. So they obviously reenacted this moment. And I always look at the background, I find it kind of funny. I always noticed the background when I'm watching TV, it's because they're not allowed to speak. Because it would ruin the sound for the actors acting

Scotia 13:02

like nothing. So they're

Scotia 13:04

melting, but they're still trying to have conversations outside. They're still trying to have conversations with each other to keep it real, I guess in the in the background of the scene. So the mouth things but really dramatically so that they can understand each other still, even though they're not speaking. So when you watch TV, they're just like,

Scotia 13:29

in the background. Yeah,

Scotia 13:32

it's awesome. Interesting. I'll have to catch an eye out for that. Yeah.

Scotia 13:36

And even like club whenever you watch a club scene, where it's like, really, really loud, people are dancing, you assume that people are drinking like those all happen silent, silently. So that you can hear if if the two main actors are having like a close conversation whispering to each other. And it seems like everybody's dancing and partying around them. Like they're all dancing they have to do with music.

Scotia 14:00

Yeah, and it probably happens at that point. I was like, all that music and everything's mixed in the afternoon post. Yeah,

Scotia 14:06

yeah, exactly.

Alex 14:08

Yeah. No, that's cool. What like what would you say for for, as a piece of advice for say other? Anyone else who's considering getting into the film sector? Who wants to take like, professional route that you did as a makeup and the makeup sector? What would you say a piece of advice that like, you know, now that you kind of wish you knew before you started?

Scotia 14:37

Um, so I tried to remember back I think I've waited a little bit long. I think that this is just how life goes in general. Like if you want something, take that step. Like don't wait and don't think that you're not ready yet. Like there's no harm in just trying. I remember you have you have to become a permittee of the Union to be allowed to work. unsex before you get hired as a member, and I always thought I even though I had some work been working in film for a couple of years, I thought, Oh, I don't have enough yet. Like, I don't have all of the requirements necessary to apply even as permitted. But it's just been so busy and way busier now, even than then, I filled it out and sent it in. Like, with even without all the requirements that they asked for, and I got accepted as a permit to you, which is the first step you have to do that. So I would say, right now, it's so busy, you have to have gone to school. But what if you've, whatever experience you have write it down in a way that's going to make it seem like it's, it can apply to working on a set, and, and, and an apply, because I see sometimes people come out on shows, and it's like, this is the first time on a show ever. Which I didn't know, which is fine. Obviously, everyone starts somewhere, but like, it's a pretty big deal to start on a big union set. So I would say just just go for it, get all of your stuff in and apply and then go and pay attention. Listen to what's going on, it's like you really do, you can't get too distracted when you're on set, because you'll you'll miss things like no one's going to be holding your hand babysitting you and coming to you and saying okay, like, let's say you get hired as a as a daily makeup artist, you'll probably be doing background first, making sure that all of the background look good. And then and then it's your responsibility to maintain them throughout the day. But you're going to look silly, if you're going to touch up a background person that's like 100 feet away from the camera. So you can't you you don't want to get in anybody's way. But you need to kind of keep an air out to keep an eye out for what the shots are, see what the camera is seeing, and then go in and work as necessary. And you have to you have to be paying attention to do that. Sometimes people just you know, they wander off. And they think that someone's going to tell them like go and do that. So I would say stay stay quiet and and try to keep an ear out for what's going on on set. Because it's changing like crazy. You just have to kind of be on the sidelines and listen to everything that's going on around you.

Alex 17:25

It's really, really good advice. And well, it makes me wonder as well, something I wanted to kind of come back to here. You talk we've talked a lot about the union. And like you again, like you mentioned, like, you know, you've been with the Union for years, but you've been doing things in the film sector for longer than that. Is that like, Is that the only way? Like what what's the benefit really of joining the union? And do you see people on set who aren't part of the Union? Like how many unions are there in in the industry?

Scotia 17:56