Considering a career in prosthetic makeup? Read on and see if you have what it takes.
currentMood: How did it all start? When did you decide that you wanted to become a prosthetic makeup artist?
Clover Wootton: I don’t remember the exact moment I decided to become a makeup artist but when I was younger I was always plucking my friends eyebrows or making them look silly. I enjoyed making people look different. I’d completed a Fine Arts degree from Leeds University and came to India when I was 21. Here, I met a makeup artist who months later recommended my name to a prosthetics team. Prior to this I had no experience or understanding of what prosthetics was. I was assisting them and literally just washed their brushes and watched what they
were doing for a couple of months. That’s when I decided that this is what I wanted to do. I fell in love with prosthetic makeup because it was creative, artistic and I loved the transformation process. So after that I went on to study it.
I’ve been really lucky to have people help me out and give me opportunities. My prosthetics teacher from Leeds was working on a Bollywood project in India and I assisted him on it. This time around I stayed back in India because by then I’d created a network: I had friends and I knew people. That’s when I realised that there’s a lot of opportunity in this industry and India suits me. I really like the heat and the food and the chaos.
+ Deepika Padukone in Chhapaak
currentMood: How much research goes into creating looks?
Clover Wootton: It depends on the kind of film you’re working on. If it’s a period film you need to know specific details about that time. From the costume to the hair and trying to understand what their day-to-day routine might be like. Whereas if it’s a contemporary film, the research isn’t as intense. But you still have to think about stuff like: what does my character do? What is their thought process in the morning? What do they do at night? And how does that reveal their character and life choices. It’s all about using hair and makeup to help tell a story. Cause that’s what it’s there for really, to help build a character and to help narrate what happens to that character during the course of the film. A lot of people haven’t been utilising hair and makeup for this in India. It’s been more about pushing star appeal and now they’re understanding what a tool it can be.
currentMood: How long does it take to create a look?
Clover Wootton: If prosthetics aren’t involved and it’s a regular beauty look, it takes about an hour or 45 minutes on set. But there’s research that goes into it. It might not entail going through history books but it’ll be about understanding the character. Which comes by speaking to the director and the team and understanding what they’ve envisioned for it. It’s about what you take away from the story once you’ve read the script. After all this, you have a clear idea about which direction you need to go in. Then you work together with the costume designer and work on look tests and look trials to see what works and what doesn’t. This can be a long process, even longer if prosthetics are involved because then it’s about how far you want to push it.
+ Anushka Sharma in Pari
currentMood: Favourite movie you’ve worked on so far?
Clover Wootton: I really enjoyed working on Pari, just because shooting it was really fun. But also, Anushka is always seen as a bubbly, pretty, gorgeous girl and we got to take that away from her and transform her look. I really liked doing that.
currentMood: What’s been the most challenging look?
Clover Wootton: Most challenging looks have been Chhapaak and Sanju. Both these films required so much work, a lot of back and forth and long hours in the chair (on set). We were also doing this in India when it was really hot, lots of traffic and lots of people. It was exhausting.
currentMood: How long does it take for looks like Sanju and Chhappak?
Clover Wootton: Sanju took about 3.5 hours and 3 hours for Chhapaak.
currentMood: What was the best part about working on Sanju?
Clover Wootton: I loved the team. We worked on the film for a long time and it was nice to make friends there. I’ve been extremely lucky with the people I’ve worked with: Deepika, Anushka and RK (Ranbir Kapoor), have all done trying films. They’ve all required the actor to really suffer quite a bit and they’ve all been patient and professional. So that made my job easier.
“Cause end of the day, you’re getting filthy, your fingers get cut and it’s really messy. It’s not glamorous, it’s not like doing regular makeup.”
currentMood: Prosthetics for Sanju – what was the process behind it?
Clover Wootton: We weren’t sure whether we wanted RK to look exactly like Sanju (Sanjay Dutt) and use prosthetics, a bit of post work CTI to change his eye shape (the stuff you can’t do with prosthetics). Or whether we wanted to kind of have a feel of Sanju and let RK age as he would age himself in a similar way. We did look tests for both the approaches and eventually met in the middle. We worked with the bits that gave us a Sanju feel and let go of the others. For example, we tried to figure out if we should give RK hooded eyelids. But would that separate the distance between his eyes to match Sanju’s or will it restrict his movements? So it’s about finding a middle ground that gives you the essence of what you want. Which is why look tests are so important.
currentMood: And for Chhapaak?
Clover Wootton: It was nice to be a part of a film that has a good heart and intentions and tries to change peoples attitudes. Also, the team was great. I really enjoyed working with Deepika; she’s fun, easy going and professional.
currentMood: What advice would you give someone who want to take this up?
Clover Wootton: I suggest assisting somebody before signing up for any makeup course, just to make sure that you’re aware of what it entails. For example, a girl who was assisting me sometime back had done a three day workshop in prosthetics and was like, “I can’t do this. It isn’t what I thought it would be. It’s too much work and it isn’t what I thought it would be.” Cause end of the day, you’re getting filthy, your fingers get cut and it’s really messy. It’s not glamorous, it’s not like doing regular makeup. Also, the course, prosthetics, materials and space is expensive. So you should be 100% certain that you want to spend your money on this. Sign up for a good prosthetic makeup course because a lot of it is science. You have to understand silicons, what reacts with what and what’s allergic to dust. This stuff is complicated and you need to learn it.
Once you’re done with this, you can start small: start by making small pieces of prosthetics that you can apply on your friends. Then work on projects that have earning potential and help you experiment more. It is tough. So just keep researching and watching what’s out there. After mastering the techniques, all that’s left to work on is a good aesthetic and understand what good blood, casualty makeup looks and feels like.
+ Clover Wootton on set
currentMood: Any good courses for prosthetics in India?
Clover Wootton: Fat Mu Academy is good, they have short courses that one can take up. But to really get a comprehensive view, you need to sign up for longer courses.
currentMood: You’ve been known to use cruelty free makeup and vegan makeup. What products do you use?
Clover Wootton: I have been using cruelty free products for a long time and now I’m steering towards using less toxic makeup
brands that have a sustainable ethos and packaging. So products that I love are RMS; the cheek tints are really nice and it comes in glass and tin packaging. It also lasts for ages and has a really nice texture. Kjaer Weis has really good products as well. They come in the most beautiful packaging that looks like jewellery boxes. I’ve also started using Ilia but some of these brands aren’t affordable and hard to get hold of in India. I really like the colours of Ruby’s organics as well. There are several conscious beauty brands in India but it’s a difficult market to get through because if you don’t want to use plastic then you have to amp up your prices a bit and you end up excluding a lot of people.
+ Ranbir Kapoor in Sanju
Also, I don’t think India is a big market for expensive, luxury makeup. For the ones who do end up spending on makeup, they often end up getting Chanel and Tom Ford; brands that still test on animals and are definitely toxic.
currentMood: Whats next?
Clover Wootton: I’m going to start working on a new project in April. Until then I will work on shoots for magazines and commercials. I love that my job allows me to do different kinds of makeup.
Last modified: February 18, 2020