6 Months on a Hollywood Set
My experience on Thor: Ragnorok
By Jodie Taylor
Over 6 months in 2016 I worked as a personal assistant to the makeup department and the Head of Department on the feature film Thor: Ragnorok, which was filmed at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast. It is safe to say that this experience was the most intense, exciting, draining, incredible, stressful, and satisfying of my professional life.
Leaving home in the dark and getting home in the dark was a daily normality. By Wednesday, I had usually already clocked in 40 hours! In the mornings, I had to ensure everything for the makeup department was ready for the busy day ahead, usually functioning on minimal sleep. On a daily basis, my jobs consisted of ensuring the makeup room was clean and tidy, makeup artists’ stations were organised and tidy, setting up the makeup designer’s station with whatever he had to apply to the cast that day, checking schedules, scripts and breakdowns so I knew what scenes were being shot that day and what looks were being done on which actors, washing towels and setting up the towel warmer, filling in timesheets and checking emails, at the same time as communicating with the ADs through radio to keep them in the loop of what was happening in the makeup department- and this was all before the sun came up, and before anyone else from the makeup department arrived. Needless to say, I definitely went above and beyond with my cardio!
The remainder of time left on a day was spent helping the makeup designer with design work, making things, running around town on errands, checking stock levels in the makeup room, ordering and processing makeup supplies, keeping records, organising petty cash, countless trips to the accounts department and production office- all the while standing by the makeup designer on set while he works on his actor, standing by actors and stunt people that I had worked on myself, assisted the key makeup artist and other makeup artists with makeups and tests, then helping remove it all at the end of the day and ensuring the actors leave feeling like themselves again AND doing it while trying to be the epitome of calm. Now that I write it down I realise just how much pressure there actually was, but there was no time to allow myself to feel it.
I can’t say that every day felt like a gift. There were amazing days of excitement and meeting talented people of every department, but there were most certainly the down days where I felt exhausted and over-worked and nothing was as glamourous as people may think working on a Hollywood film is. When I interviewed for the position I thought I knew what to expect, and to a point I did, but the position was so much more. I have never worked so hard, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
I was so fortunate to be part of a team of amazing, patient, and talented artists. They all accepted me as one of their own, and were an incredible help to me. I learned so much from all of them. My boss, Enzo Mastrantonio, was so accepting, and he put so much trust in me. He allowed me to expand my skills and knowledge by watching and doing, and really accepted me into that main team of artists.
I feel very fortunate to have been given this invaluable opportunity, and it would not have been possible if not for the trainers at the Australian Institute of Creative Design, particularly Danielle Fredericks. If not for their guidance, and their initial recommendation for this position, I wouldn’t be where I am in my career now. The support of these trainers is very special, because they want you to succeed. To still have that support from them, even after graduating, is precious.
After working 6 months on Thor:Ragnorok, I’m exhausted.
Who am I kidding? Bring on the next one!