AfterEllen.com has interviewed countless lesbian and
lesbian-adjacent actors, writers and directors over the years. But behind every
star, film and TV show, there are hundreds of artists and professionals working
to make it all happen. Enjoyed the sex scene in Bound, did you? You have
dozens of people to thank, including the crew people who picked up and moved
parts of the set mid-shot, as the camera swung around on Jennifer
Tilly showing Gina Gershon how to “see again.”
Production jobs, commonly referred to as “below the
line” in the biz, require creativity, stamina, gifted hands and the desire
to wear a baseball cap to work every day. It’s a match made in career heaven
for lesbians. Here are five such women who work behind the scenes, all of whom
have stories to tell, brushes with fame and some of the coolest jobs ever.
Tami Lane, Prosthetic
Tami Lane with Howard Berger
Photo Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage
Tami Lane is an
Oscar-winning prosthetic makeup artist. From her first job on Rescue 911 for a local TV station in
Peoria, Ill. — where she created makeup effects for accident re-enactments of
limbs caught in brush cutters, among other things — to her latest project, the
upcoming film Surrogate, starring
Bruce Willis, Lane has worked on some of the biggest fantasy/adventure films
ever imagined, including The Lord of the
Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.
is a prosthetic makeup artist?
Tami Lane: I paint people’s faces and bodies for a living. I scare people. I
make people laugh. I age people. I get to work with amazing people, over and
AE: How did you break
into your field?
TL:I was an art major in college and did a lot of theater as a hobby,
volunteered at haunted houses and things like Rocky Horror Picture Show. My first blood was made of ketchup,
barbeque sauce and something like maple syrup. It’s gross.
AE: And strangely,
that’s also my signature marinade. How did you get from Peoria to Hollywood?
TL:I came to L.A. on a class trip [during] my senior year. I toured K.N.B.
EFX Group, a creature shop famous for From
Dusk Till Dawn, Evil Dead 2 — the big slasher films of the ’80s. And
I met the owner, Howard Berger, who said to me, “Go back and graduate,
move to L.A. and call me.” So I did. He interviewed me, a length of time
went by, and finally, he called and said, “We have this big show and I
need some people in the shop — some grunt workers — sweep the floors, clean the
molds out.” So, they hired me. That was in 1996.
AE: And a mere 10
years later, you won the 2006 Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the
Witch and the Wardrobe.
TL: That was a dream come true. It’s indescribable. It was literally 10
years from the time I knew nothing, to being on that stage.
AE: Did you think you
TL:Everyone thought we should win, but we were up against Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. And I
thought, “Aw, they’re going to give it to Star Wars.” Beating out Star
Wars was pretty cool. [laughs]
AE: Beating anyone
would be cool. Where do you keep your Oscar statue?
TL:My mother has it. She has it on the mantle at home.
AE: What was it like
working on Narnia?
TL: I was the key prosthetics makeup artist, overseeing 40 makeup artists, [doing]
quality control. I also had key characters that I would do every day. I did Mr.
Tumnus, the faun [James McAvoy], and Ginarrbrik, the White Witch’s little
minion. We’d go to work at 2:30 a.m. in the morning, and probably get home at
10:30 p.m. at night, five, sometimes six, days a week, for seven months.
AE: How long did it
take to make up Mr. Tumnus and Ginarrbrik?
TL:Mr. Tumnus took three and a half to four hours, [with] a couple of us
working on him, because we had to glue body hair all over him. Then, I did the
face. But all of the makeups would generally take two hours to four hours.
AE: Do you ever have
actors falling asleep on you?
TL:Oh, all the time. I prefer them coming in hung over and just wanting to
sleep. They don’t talk. But sometimes, they twitch, so you have to be ready.
AE: What films were
the most fun to work on?
TL:My favorite has to be Lord of the
Rings. I spent four years working in New Zealand on the Creature Unit. It
was, creatively, the best working environment because we had no idea what the
Orcs [characters] looked like. Usually, they were made for close-ups, which
meant they were going to get killed by the good guys. So, we’d have a box of chins,
a box of foreheads, a box of noses.
AE: A lot of women in
Beverly Hills have the same thing in their bathrooms.
TL:[laughs] I know. I’m trying to patent that. “You want a new nose
AE: Well, you’d have
your day nose, and your evening nose.
TL:Yeah. We could create new creatures every day. It was exciting. And we
were getting choppered everywhere. In the morning, I would be at the studios in
Wellington, and in the afternoon, the character would be required on the other
side of New Zealand. So, I’d climb aboard a helicopter and get choppered out
there, film the last part of the day, and get choppered back to Wellington.
AE: Are there many
women in the prosthetic makeup field?
TL:No. There’s a lot of female, regular, straight makeup artists, but as
far as the blood and guts and creatures, it’s all men.
AE: It’s a boy thing.
TL:Yeah, it’s a boy’s club.
AE: Has being the
only woman on the team ever been an issue for you?
TL:No, because I can out-drink any of those guys. [laughs] No, seriously,
I’ve proved myself over and over again. At least that’s what they tell me.
AE: Do you get calls
from friends on Halloween asking, “Tami, can you make me zombie
TL:Yeah, it depends. My real friends don’t ask me because they realize it’s
work. Plus, I have enough problems getting my own costume together. It’s a lot
of pressure to be an effects makeup artist on Halloween.