June 19th, 2024

Film industry making a colourful career for local makeup artist


By Al Beeber on September 3, 2021.

Courtesy Lorelei Hoffarth Photography - Makeup artist Katt Panic says she has been solidly booked with film and television work for most of this year.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Alberta’s film and television industry is expected to bring $482 million in revenue to the province this year on projects that have net values of $995 million.
And Lethbridge makeup artist Katt Panic is seeing first-hand how many projects are being undertaken in this province.
Panic, who runs Katt Panic Makeup Art & Design in Lethbridge, has worked full-time since May in the film and TV industry.
Because of union confidentiality agreements, Panic can’t disclose which productions she’s working on but they are keeping her busy with days sometimes running as long as 16 hours and including a lot of commuting between sets and home. Most of the work she’s doing involves historical productions, she says.
“In Alberta, I don’t know if it’s just because of what we have for amenities here or our landscape, but we attract a lot of westerns. We had Hell on Wheels, we had Brokeback Mountain, literally mostly westerns is what Alberta specializes in.
“I’ve been working on a period piece in that era, I’m working on one that’s a little more modern but still a period piece,” Panic said.
“They’re really big, they are for production companies like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Crave, Disney,” she said.
“There’s people coming to Alberta, they want to film here, they want to use our crews. It keeps getting busier and busier,” said Panic.
Her boyfriend helps run a company that brings in Hallmark movie-of-the-week style productions.
“They’re kind of your made-for -TV movies, a little more easy to watch when you’re like home sick. That’s what he makes. And even then it’s still a substantial amount of money going to the Alberta economy,” Panic said.
“They employ so many different types of people from electricians to actors, makeup artists, hairstylists, set decorators, caterers. It’s amazing the impact this industry can make on an economy,” said Panic.
Among the productions being filmed here include the HBO series “The Last of Us,” one of numerous titles Panic lists as home-filmed movies or TV shows.
Panic, who has also worked on Herald bridal shows, developed a passion for makeup after designing costumes at the University of Lethbridge while studying for a BFA of Dramatic Arts – Technical Design. She then studied makeup artistry in Vancouver at the John Casablancas Institute, focusing on film and television. Panic has also studied fashion design and marketing at Lethbridge College.
She’s run her own local business for eight years but with the amount of work in the entertainment industry this year, her focus has mostly been on helping actors create their characters.
“It’s really hard to get into the film industry,” said Panic, whose first job was doing makeup on a zombie film that was shot in Drumheller several years ago.
She worked for free on that film after emailing a producer, said Panic, who is still trying to do bridal shows and help clients on weekends.
“It’s amazing the connections you can make with one movie, how many jobs you get later on,” said Panic.
“I made a bunch of connections from that movie. I worked for free on that movie because I had no job, I had literally moved back from Vancouver and didn’t have an idea how I was going to make this career work. Everyone wants to be a film makeup artist, everyone wants to do zombies and out of the blue I saw a casting for background casting in Drumheller for a zombie movie, so I emailed the producer,” she recalls, saying she would work for free and “I got a call within 10 minutes of the email.
“It’s really hard to get into film because you’re constantly working for free and its boom or bust. You’ll get a couple jobs some years, some you’ll get nothing. So I had to really fluff up my bridal and beauty business, my face painting. It’s been hard this year because with all these opportunities thrown my way, I couldn’t just turn them down. So lately I’ve been just run ragged. I’m trying to do bridal on the weekends and I’m trying to fit in all my clients and then I’m also trying to film Monday through Friday in Calgary. I’m a little stretched thin right now but it will slow down,” she said expecting October through December to be slower.
“I’m trying to be as busy and take as many clients as I can.”
“This year with how much has been going and how busy we’ve been getting with film, I literally quit my salon job and just launched right into the film industry 110 per cent. In March, I got my first film gig in 2021 and I’ve been solidly booked with film gigs since May. It’s been busy,” Panic said.
The demands of film industry work is not for everyone, she says.
“You’re going to be working insane hours, you’re going to probably have a very small friend group because you’re gonna not be able to be around them very often. You might miss weddings or funerals. There’s so much commitment to your career.
“You really choose your career over a lot of other things. I’ll be putting dirt on people or blood on people or whatever I’m doing that day and I’ll be like I’m making money and this is my job. This is pretty fricking cool. I could be pushing paper somewhere, working eight hours 9-5 but this is my job.
“It’s a pretty colourful career.”

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