Behind the scenes of ‘The American Side’ - INTERVIEW
blog by Kathryn Przybyla • September 05, 2013 @ 12:35pm
When a movie gets filmed in WNY, Buffalonians take notice.
“The America Side” just wrapped filming on Sept. 2 after scouting, shooting and filming at some of the best spots that our area has to offer. The drama stars Greg Stuhr who also wrote the story and according to his IMDB page, is a Buffalo native.
Additionally, big names including Matthew Broderick and Janeane Garofalo are also set to appear in the film.
Here is a synopsis about the movie, from the film’s website:
In 1943, inventor Nikola Tesla died penniless in the New Yorker Hotel. Within 24 hours, the U.S. government seized everything in his room… but one design was already missing. Seventy years later, in Buffalo, NY, a brilliant young engineer has found it. And the only person she can trust is a low-rent detective with a pack-a-day habit.
We chatted with local makeup and photography extraordinaire, Katie Ambrose about working on the film as a makeup artist and got some behind the scenes scoop.
Take a look at our interview below and be sure to check out the movie’s trailer.
How did you get involved in the production for “The American Side?”
Katie Ambrose: It’s a social media love story. I saw a tweet about the movie coming to town and immediately googled the production. I sent very concise emails via Facebook to the producer, the director and the writer—and then to the general information email on the movie’s website.
I also posted a comment on a Buffalo Film Facebook group and within minutes I had the production coordinators phone number but the production coordinator called me Monday morning before I had the chance to call her. I had to read the script Monday afternoon before going to meet her.
Then another day interviewing with the producer, director and writer. Then a phone interview with the key makeup artist. The whole process of interviewing took about a week.
Have you ever worked on other major films before?
KA: I have not worked on a film of this size before. The majority of my experience with makeup is in television, commercials, print and ad campaigns. I have some very focused makeup career goals set for myself this year that involve beauty stories and fashion editorials.
The three movies I’ve done since setting my goals have been a bit off that path. I feel that doors usually open where they should and I’ve done all three movies in the past three months, so that to me is a sign pointing in a direction that I need to follow.
Who did you work on or work with for “The American Side?”
KA: There were so many well known actors on this movie. The actors that are being reported about in the news are just the icing on the cake of talent.
I’m sure people working at Buffalo International Airport had quite an exciting month watching the actors fly in and out of town. At one point, I was sitting in video village awe-struck at how amazing this film is going to be, based on the cast alone.
How does one prepare to do Matthew Broderick’s makeup?
KA: I was both nervous and excited. Before going into a job like this, I try to remind myself that celebrities are people too.
We all have the human experience in common. I always keep healthy boundaries with my clients. I never ask for a photograph with them and I go about my business of primping to make them look their part.
What do you think about more films like this being shot in or taking place in Buffalo?
KA: I had a discussion with one of the producers about this topic. He said that he thinks Buffalo is not just a great place to shoot a movie but an incredible place to shoot a movie and that the tax incentive that Andrew Cuomo is trying to pass will make Buffalo the leader in the industry with a 40% tax credit.
That is compared to 30% for most other filming cities.
Wow, that’s a pretty good opportunity for filmmakers.
KA: I think this is also an incredible opportunity for Buffalo, in many ways. Other than bringing business to our city, it’s also bringing an education and an opportunity for an authentic hands-on experience working on a film to the people of Buffalo.
This is knowledge we will all carry to our next job, that will elevate a lot of our careers, increase our paychecks and inevitably affect every aspect of our life, our home, our family, our future. It’s much bigger than just “isn’t it cool that this film is shooting here and so-and-so is in the movie?”
Photo courtesy of Facebook.
Has living here made any difference on where you see your career going?
KA: I am trying to keep my foot in the industry with a cell phone that has a my old NYC area code, but I have a new Buffalo mailing address. I sleep in Buffalo and I love Buffalo. My family is here. My home is here. My heart is here. I want to work here too.
That’s what “The American Side” provided for me while we were shooting. Otherwise, I have to go to another city to have this same experience.
Our neighboring city of Pittsburgh is a booming metropolis of movie making and television filming. There is no reason why Buffalo can’t be equally as great.
This city has the best of all worlds – beautiful cityscapes and architecture, a gorgeous lake, rivers, the falls, Olmstead parks, Frank Lloyd Wright homes, suburban sprawl and new urbanism.
Where else can we find some of your work?
KA: I have a website and a business Facebook page. I’ve also started a networking Facebook group called MU + H of WNY for all freelance makeup artists and hairstylists in Western New York to virtually gather and share ideas, post jobs and inspire each other.
I want to bring some change to the industry in our area and create an atmosphere of sharing information with love and not fear of losing a job to a competitor.
There is room for all of us here. Buffalo is a build-it-and-they-will-come type of city.
What kind of changes are you looking to bring?
KA: Too many times, artists get sucked into a job working for exposure. I want artists to ask themselves, “What kind of exposure is this going to give me?”
Once an artist realizes that they are not doing our industry any service by working for free, it’s easier for them to say no because it’s not just about them anymore. It’s about the big picture, for our industry, in our beautiful city.
That makes perfect sense.
KA: Just as in film, where continuity and character building is based heavily on makeup and hair—print, ad campaigns, television commercials and any production that involves a human being needs makeup and hair or grooming.
It’s a crucial and integral part of any production and it needs to be fit into every budget.
What is your favorite thing about doing hair/makeup as a profession?
KA: I get a great deal of joy out of seeing a final image, still or moving. There’s something about it that is so fulfilling to me, visually, artistically and spiritually. It could be an image that I create on my own or something that I collaborate on with a team.
Any quick makeup and/or hair tips for getting ready in the morning?
KA: Some mornings I’d wake up at 3 a.m. and have to be on set by 4:15 a.m. so I’d carry my Dolly Bag cosmetics bag with me every day.
In it, I kept a Laura Mercier palette of cream tinted moisture and concealer, a Laura Mercier bronzer, Benefit lip and cheek stain, an eyelash curler and some Clump-Crusher mascara in very black.
There weren’t many opportunities for me to freshen up but once and a while I’d be able to touch myself up while the actors were in a private rehearsal or after our lunch break.
Photo courtesy of Facebook.
Photo courtesy of Facebook.