Director Amber Talarico knows firsthand the struggle of aspiring make-up artists. Since graduating from Aveda Fredric’s Institution of Indianapolis and Make-up Designory MUD Los Angeles, she has had make-up experience in retail, bridal, film, commercials, fashion, music video, special effects and editorial. But her career hasn’t been a glamorous journey, as evidenced in her new film, What It Takes. Inspired by what she was witnessing in the industry, she decided to make the documentary to illuminate how to become a successful make-up artist. The film features firsthand accounts from industry favorites Joel Harlow, Eryn Krueger Mekash, Cary Ayers, Kim Greene, Steve Johnson and Make-Up Artist magazine publisher Michael Key. Below, Talarico shares insight on the making of the film.
What was the driving force behind creating the film?
I’ve been doing make-up for a little over seven years now, and this will be my fourth year working specifically in film. Something I have always been somewhat obsessed with is researching my industry. I would carry a particular book, Shortcuts by Diana Schmidtke, as if it were a bible! It is a book about how to become a successful make-up artist in fashion/entertainment. One day, I was reading this book and thought, “How cool would it be to create a documentary that visually shows the realities of how to become successful?” At that particular time in my career, I had seen so many artists who were getting into this industry for the wrong reasons, and on the flip side, artists who were leaving for the wrong reasons. Fast forward three years, and it was nothing short of a snowball effect. One idea turned into something I never knew would happen!
Were there any hardships or obstacles to overcome in the making of the film?
Yes, there have been many obstacles! The biggest challenge being lack of funds. We have had to do a lot of stop-and-go filming because of this. Plus, I was still working my full-time freelance gigs as a make-up artist, so my focus and dedication wasn’t always 100%. I specifically took a month off from doing make-up jobs for that reason. I have been so lucky to have amazing crew members and major artists who believe in my film and pushed me to make sure I never gave up!
What was your favorite moment during production?
There have been so many moments in the process of making this film that have made such an impact on me. Having some of the biggest artists like Eryn Krueger Mekash or Joel Harlow tell me that they are excited about what I am doing was one of the biggest compliments I have ever gotten in my life. We recently released our new trailer, and the feedback we have gotten was really touching. Fellow artists who I’ve never met commenting that the trailer brought tears to their eyes! Seeing this impact people in such a way is what has been my favorite part.
How has the film affected you?
I have grown so much as an artist by making this film. It has opened so many doors that I never, ever thought would be possible. It has challenged me to truly push myself to a level I never knew I was capable of achieving. Aside from being a make-up artist on the journey to success, creating What It Takes has proven my message: Dream big, but know what it takes to get there!