How to Prep Your Film Makeup SET BAG

Mar 12, 2023 | Film Makeup

What is a makeup Set Bag?

Curating, prepping, and packing your set bag can feel like a mystical art for some new makeup artists.

You need to think of your set bag as your on set survival minimal kit. Your set bag should contain all you need to maintain the hair and makeup looks you created on actors, at the ‘Makeup Call’, at the beginning of your working day.

You need your set bag to be light and portable enough for you to carry around all day on a film set.

But you still need the set bag to have enough space and compartments to store everything you might need for any possible hair and makeup requirement, during filming. Quite a dark art!

Think of your set bag as your makeup survival kit whilst working on a film set

Makeup Manifesto

The director and film crew will be waiting (and sometimes watching) whilst you do makeup checks on your actors. You are under pressure. You need to be able to work fast and effectively.

So, you need to be incredibly organized and create a system that works for you.

Why Do You Need a Makeup Set Bag?

There’s often limited space when working on film production sets, so you cannot take your full pro kit with you on set.

After completing the makeup looks early in the morning you will leave most of your makeup kit at unit base or in the makeup trailer, before travelling to the filming location.

So you need a set bag that contains an edit of your main kit – to take with you to set.

How do you know what to put in your set bag?

If there’s time, you will have a conversation with the makeup designer or crowd supervisor, prior to the shoot. They will advise you if there are any special kit requirements for the film production you will be working on.

You will also hopefully read the script and do your own research.

But sometimes you get the call late in the evening, the night before the job, especially if you are doing dailies work on a production.

That’s why it’s vital that you read the production CALL SHEET.

What is a Call Sheet?

The production Call Sheet will tell you what is being filmed each day on the film set.

Although the Call Sheet can be intimidating to new makeup artists, it will be your best friend.

The Call Sheet will help you understand what you need to pack in your makeup kit and especially your on-set bag, for each day of filming on set. Find out more about the Call Sheet HERE

Prep your Set Bag to Work with Actors

You need to make sure your set bag is well prepped for working with actors on set.

You can be on set for long periods of time and might not be able to get back to unit base, if you have forgotten a product or tool.

How you prep you set bag will also depend upon whether you are working with one or two principle actors, or with multiple background artists on large crowd scenes, as a dailies makeup artist.

Working on the Film Set

You need to prep your set bag so that you will be able to monitor and maintain the makeup on a film set.

You will need to:

  • Check the makeup between shots
  • Step on set to check the makeup when the 1st AD calls ‘Checks’
  • Check how the makeup responds to lighting and temperature on set
  • Maintain the hair and makeup during long filming days
Man hands holding movie clapper.Film director show viewfinder image catch motion in interview or broadcast wedding ceremony, catch feeling, stopped motion in best memorial day concept.

Carry out Makeup Touch Ups

Carrying out Makeup Touch Ups is not one specific job. It all depends on the character design and the makeup that was created each day, It also depends how that makeup holds up under a wide array of variables such as the temperature on set, how much your actor perspires, how energetic the scene is that they are filming, etc.

Generally you will be be expected to do the following when necessary:

  • Add more lipstick
  • Blot perspiration
  • Apply powder
  • Prevent shine on actors’ faces
  • Maintain any special effects/prosthetics makeup application
  • Maintain any hair and wig work

Develop Your System

You need to develop a system for packing your on-set bag that works for you.

The best set bags come with customizable compartments and lots of expandable pockets.  Set up a system so you always pack certain kit items in the same place in your set bag.

Work Fast on Set

As you will be working at speed you need to know exactly where everything is. You also want to have easy access to optimize your organization and the way that you work on set.

What do I pack in my set bag?

Grab my free Ultimate Set Bag Checklist HERE.

The Ultimate Checklist will help you ensure you have everything you need in your set bag, when working on a film production.



You might also like

How to Build Your Pro Makeup Artist Kit

How to Build Your Pro Makeup Artist Kit

Budget busting tips to build a better pro kit for new makeup artists Your makeup kit will evolve constantly so it’s a myth that you need to have every product and every cult range in your kit when you’re just starting out. As a new makeup artist, you are not yet...

Is Working in the Film Industry Right for You?

Is Working in the Film Industry Right for You?

A career as a makeup artist working on movie sets may sound glamourous and exciting but the reality can be quite different. The working hours can be brutal – you work long days. Twelve-to-fourteen-hour days are normal. It’s also an intensely competitive industry where...

Best Kit Bags for Makeup Artists

Best Kit Bags for Makeup Artists

As a new makeup artist your old makeup bag just won’t cut it. A pro makeup artist kit is bigger and more complex than your prized makeup brands you hoard at home for personal use. You need the best kit and set bags you can afford, as professional makeup artists spend...