First off, tell me your name and a little bit about yourself. (Where you grew up, your interests, little fun facts)
My name is Beatrice Sniper, I grew up in a religious and traditionally russian background, I didn't have access to a-lot of movies because my mom was quite over-protective - didn't even celebrate halloween. I was introduced to Horror later in life, a part of me knew I just had to create and I was attracted to the darker side of life. Growing up in a yeshiva, I was the black sheep of the community, but it worked out for me in the end.
I currently have 3 pet rats (shout out to Ratthew, Rufus, and Squish!) . I love anything ranging from horror, scifi, steampunk, renaissance fairies, Viking/Pagan/Epic metal, never-ending DIY videos, anything weird, surreal and unusual. I suffer from an addiction to exploring and making dark art.
Were you into specific genre films growing up? What films specifically got you into watching horror movies?
Because I grew up in a russian family, We watched a lot of Russian cartoons and whatever was on basic cable. I went to a religious school where nobody really watched TV or Movies. My film knowledge was very limited, I joke that I grew up in a cave. I was into dark art though, everyone thought it was a phase. I remember getting my notebooks confiscated because of my drawings, I was sent to the principal's office for wearing black nail polish, and I was sent to therapy which made me feel more like an outcast. But it was only later when I turned 18, my first boyfriend was this horror VHS enthusiast (Shout out to VHSCollector.com) who introduced me to some classics like Friday the 13th, Cannibal, Evil Dead, Reanimator, Cannibal Holocaust, Necromania, etc. I didn’t really understand horror movies, because it was like nothing that I’ve ever seen before, the effects look so real and the budget/acting was questionable at times. They made movies about things I never even dreamed of. I don’t think I appreciated it then as much as I do now. I only developed an interest in SFX Makeup a bit after being introduced to these films.
What got you into being a makeup artist?
I was going to college for Computer Animation, and we were required to take a few elective classes that didn’t necessarily fall under our major. The class I took was called “Intro to Makeup for Film and TV” (taught by Paul J. Mason). I thought why not, it sounds like an easy A. It was there that I was taught the basics of makeup - how to apply straight makeup, cuts, burns, blood, etc with a kit that the class shared. It opened up a whole new world for me. I was able to see horror movies as an art form, and I kept gravitating towards learning/seeing more. People like Rick Baker, Clive Barker, Del Torro, David Cronenberg, Greg Nicotero, Ve Neil, Stan Winston, Dick Smith, Etc brought so much to the table that changed how we see movies. It was like a warm welcome for being different - which is what I was always told is bad.
Were you self taught or were you taught by someone else? If you were self taught, how did you teach yourself? And if you were taught by someone else, how were you taught?
I think it's a mixture of both. I'm still learning and I don't think I'll ever stop. There is just so much to know, so many products and techniques. The class I took was so basic and very limited, you cant learn it all in one semester. But it was a gateway class, because you're always going to pick things up here and there. It brought me to teach in several schools too, which usually consists of a lecture and a demo, then we practice on ourselves. I am a visual learner so I learn from watching others work, from practicing on myself. I'd attend makeup conventions, connect with artists, and pay to listen to masters in this industry talking about their craft (ie: Stan Winston School, Neil Gorton School, Prosthetics magazine…) . We are lucky to live in an age where we can get the information online, and I'm grateful for that. I soak in whatever information I can get because I want to be better, I'm always looking for ways to improve. You learn from experience and getting acquainted with the different materials. But you never stop learning and that's the beauty in this field.
If you could be best-described as 'in-your-element' working on a set, what would you be performing and why do you feel that way?
I really enjoy doing the special effects makeup because it branches out into so many sections. It can be making creatures, making gore, making someone older/balder/fatter/deformed/sicker, it can be body or face painting. Then there is stuff you do when you aren’t on set like lifecasting, sculpting prosthetics, molding, casting, building, using all kinds of materials almost like a laboratory. It’s science in art, and it's a beautiful thing. I get addicted to “being in the zone” feeling, where it's just me making art. It’s so self-therapeutic, almost like a form of meditation.
What was your first job in the industry? (Sephora, MAC, special effects, etc)
I don't normally do beauty makeup (unless it's in addition to special effects). My first few “jobs” were free because I was still getting experience in what its like to be on set, what to expect, and how to work alongside different people. So I took whatever I could get.
As you've become known for your attention to detail on a set, what tools and skills have you learned to help aid you with spotting those elements before they're an issue?
I would say that when you’re finished applying makeup, and the talent is placed in front of the camera, you should always be behind the monitor to check that everything is as it should be. What we see in real life vs what we see on the screen can be very different. An edge might be more visible on-screen, the colors might have changed based on the tone settings of the camera. Always be on top of it, but also always stay respectful. A lot can happen on set, there is a lot of stress that everyone carries with them, it’s not always an ideal situation (like doing makeup in the backseat of a car, or being jammed into a tiny bathroom). Just gotta pull through and stay positive and do your part. There are times where I had to step up and start directing as well because the set really needed it. Supporting your fellow crew-mates is crucial too, I think. Making movies is difficult, that's why contributing whatever you could because you love it, because you want the best for whatever you’re working on. Film is the one medium where you need a TEAM to complete it, so learning to work together is a must, even if it means helping to bring out the best in each other.
You founded Beahive Studios to expand your boundaries working in the industry. What are some of the more memorable projects the company has afforded you?
So many to choose from, really. Each project is another adventure, another excuse to test yourself and help you step outside of your comfort zone by making something you’ve never made before. Even creating make-ups for conventions is another favorite of mine because I get the freedom to create what I want, and then walk around with the actor and see people's jaws drop because being next to a character in makeup is a surreal experience. Traveling also adds to the fun. I got to spend 3 months in Hong Kong doing a bunch of make-ups daily. I sometimes get flown to different parts of the USA to do SFX makeup for military training. I once got a job to create 2 costumes in 5 days, and I was like I don't know how to use a sewing machine but I'll be able to by next week. Anything that kicks my butt usually tends to be most memorable because I get to push myself to achieving goals and I watch myself grow. And I see it in my art throughout the years, I'm constantly learning more and applying the lessons to my current work.
What’s one thing that surprised you while working in the industry?
A lot of us don't know what we’re doing and that's okay. There are always random curveballs being thrown at me such as last minute changes (constantly!), being thrown in a small area to do a heavy makeup, or my favorite - the unexpected really awesome locations. It helped me travel the world and still experience it with a goal in mind - to make movie-magic.
Where do you find your inspiration to create makeup?
Honestly, from the life breathing around me. There is beauty everywhere. An understanding of human anatomy can help me towards making zombies, biology can help me understand the phases of death, the colors on fish & flowers can aid me in color techniques and patterns, the wrinkles and pores of an elderly, the skin texture of elephants, reptiles, birds feet. The hair directional & growth of a dog. Studying nature helps bring reality into my work.
And movies are a great reference too. Oh gods, the INSANE amount of work put into so many masterpieces that continue to act as a reference guide for current movies. You soon realize you start collecting reference photos that turn to libraries. I have so many categories of things I want to create. It’s keeps me inspired and consistently shows me that anything is possible with a bit of creativity.
What are some challenges that you’ve encountered while working?
Realizing your self worth is a constant struggle, negotiating your rate, because there are so many micro budget projects that will try to exploit others. I’ll settle for a lower rate if I have faith in the project - if I like the idea and the people behind it, I know I’d want to be a part of it, because sometimes its not always about the money but having the opportunity to do something you've never done before. It's a matter of putting a price on yourself and your work, and thats still an challenge at times.
Another obstacle is to be among different energies on set. Everyone has a story, and being able to adapt to a stressful environment and stay professional can be tricky because art/money/ego affects us all.
"We of the craft are all crazy. Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched.” (Lord Byron). I think at the end of the day, your goal should be to stay kind, to be respectful towards yourself and others.
What is your ultimate goal to reach?
To be better than I was before. I have yet to get into the union, which will help me gain work on bigger projects. My goal is to be happy, and to love what I do.
What’s your favorite thing about being a makeup artist?
The fact that I get paid to create things is pretty awesome. And I really enjoy creating. I never thought I would fall in love with it and I'm so happy I discovered that its a possibility for me.
Working on a gig-to-gig basis can be a plus, so you can stress about a project but its all temporary. You’re working with a cast and crew - once shooting is done, you can move on to the next project. Everyone walks away with experiences and new connections. You network with a bunch of interesting and talented souls, you get to hear their story and experience the movie set with them. You bond through the struggles of making an epic film.
But I think my most favorite part is overcoming challenges from projects, it encourages me to do a bunch of problem solving, and level up. I get a high off of that.
What’s your personal favorite project that you’ve worked on?
Its hard to choose, there are so many. Usually the ones that stand out are those that kicked my @$$ during the process, cause I know I learnt so much. I'm able to step back and see what I did, to be happy that I made something kinda cool. And I cant wait to see what I come up with next.
If you could give any advice to someone wanting to come into the industry, what advice would you give?
It’s a lot of hard work, but its worth it in the end. Don't stop working, don't stop believing in yourself, don't get discouraged. Thats the struggle of an artist, but you have to REALLY WANT it. Once your heart is in it, nothing can get in your way.