Sci-fi prequel make-up nabs Oscar
Make-up artists Mindy Hall, Barney Burman and Joel Harlow were all first-time Oscar nominees—and winners—at this year’s Academy Awards. The trio accepted the Achievement in Makeup award for Star Trek at the 2010 Oscar ceremony, held March 7 at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. All three described the lead-up to the award, featuring Ben Stiller in Avatar-style make-up, as surreal.
“I remember watching Ben Stiller and laughing and wishing they wouldn’t call anything out, so nothing would change,” Burman said. “I was thinking, ‘If they don’t call us out, smile, other great work will come along. When they did call my name, I felt like I was in a dream, watching myself. I remember grabbing my wife, kissing her and saying, ‘OK, we gotta go.’ I got up to escort Mindy so she wouldn’t trip on her heels.”
In a brief acceptance speech, Hall (who had been elected to speak) thanked the academy, Star Trek director J.J. Abrams, Paramount Pictures and “an amazing staff of artists, over 40. We share this with you and we’ll be giving your names backstage at that backstage thank-you cam[era].” Burman, whose 13th wedding anniversary was that day, wished his wife happy anniversary before the three were escorted offstage. Harlow, who didn’t get to speak onstage, later thanked his parents, who also attended the show. “I was very thankful that all the years I spent destroying various rooms in their house while I was starting on this make-up special effects journey were paying off for them,” he said.
Hall later said that Stiller’s introduction cut into the team’s speaking time. “There is always more to say—your mind is a bit numb, and you get a bit more emotional backstage,” she said, noting that an unedited video of the team’s comments on the thank-you camera had been posted after the event.
Along with thanking their crew, the artists spent their backstage time describing some of the tattooing and prosthetic make-up that the team created for the film: “… the mythology of Star Trek was that the Romulans and the Vulcans sort of began as the same race and the Romulans followed their more animal tendency and the Vulcans followed their more logical tendency,” Harlow said. “So in designing those prosthetics, we want to make a Romulan stand out as more animal, so we adjusted their brows, the bone on their nose, you know, the ridge of their brows. And then this particular band of Romulans were tattooed to sort of single themselves out from all the other Romulans.”
With all the characters, Burman said, “As make-up artists, I think we all try to make people as believably realistic, whether it’s a strength or beauty or some kind of extreme prosthetic make-up. We make them as realistic to the eye as we possibly can … the three of us strove for perfection, I think, every day and with an amazing army of make-up artists that were of like mind to make things as realistic and believable to the eye as possible.”
Harlow seconded the thought. “I’d like to thank our make-up crew—talented artists all,” he said.
The Academy Awards were preceded by the Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Symposium, held March 6 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Star Trek team made a presentation at the event, along with fellow make-up and hairstyling Oscar nominees Vittorio Sodano and Aldo Signoretti (Il Divo) as well as Jenny Shircore and Jon Henry Gordon (The Young Victoria).
Photos, top to bottom: Mindy Hall, Barney Burman and Joel Harlow accepting their Oscars; Ben Stiller presenting the award; backstage at the photo booth; Burman watching Mark Psaros and Claire Lockhart engrave his award at the Governors Ball; Harlow looking at his newly engraved Oscar; Oscar-nominated artists at the Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Symposim.