BTS Heroes: Zombiepura’s Makeup Extraordinaire – June Goh
June (2nd from left) with one of her horrifying creations.
It takes a lot for a production to succeed. Audiences tend to know much about the casts and the director, perhaps to a certain extent, even the producers involved.
However, the truth is that a production involves many additional unsung heroes who help to make the final product into what it is. Without the hard work by these said individuals, great cinematic pieces would never be as great as they are.
Through an original series known as BTS Heroes, Premise TV attempts to explore the hidden world of production and meet the wonderful faces behind the scenes.
Featuring veteran make-up artist June Goh, who was the brains behind the ghoulish looks of Zombiepura, the Singaporean zombie-themed comedy directed by Jacen Tan.
June began training under renowned tattoo artist, Jap Loh, where she fine-tuned her skills in airbrushing and body art and she later enrolled in the Make Up Forever Academy, where she returned as a successful trainer.
She eventually became a freelance makeup artist, working at large scale events such as the Gucci Fashion Show in KL & Singapore and with celebrities such as JJ Lin and Rebecca Hall. June was selected by Resorts world for her makeup skills, which led her to the role of Head of Hair and Make Up for Universal Studios, Singapore and Resorts World Sentosa.
June continues to tirelessly extend her skills through professional makeup company, The Artists Inc.
Premise TV caught up with June to talk about her career beginnings, her experience on the creepy set of Zombiepura and much more.
(1) What was your main inspiration for the look of the zombie soldiers?
JG: Me on a Sunday morning without coffee after a late night out…ok, Train to Busan meets Walking Dead season 1.
(2) Did your experience with the Halloween Horror Nights at the Universal Studios play a significant role in your ghoulish designs for Zombiepura?
JG: Being there for 9 years if you count this year as a trainer and consultant. I had the opportunity to work with many talented producers who gave me the chance to develop many different characters from Sci Fi to local Folklore.
Just another day at work on the set of Folklore.
Being part of the universal brand also made me aware of the international standards (Universal Studios) around the world and making sure that Singapore (USS) is keeping up with the brand.
June receiving the long service recognition from RWS.
This helped to push me to new limits in terms of techniques and what was practical for live shows which is different from film. You can’t yell “cut” for touch ups, so the makeup has to be functional and meet the aesthetic standards. All these played a big part during the makeup design process.
(3) What was the most challenging aspect in creating the look of a zombie?
JG: We had to create something original to Zombiepura and because the whole turn of events happened within 24 hours in camp, we couldn’t have anything too extreme in terms of decomposition or rotten flesh falling off.
We also had to use prosthetic that were able to hold up in our heat and humidity so silicone (due to weight) and gelatin (heat sensitive) prosthetic were not practical.
Makeup done by June for Zombiepura.
(4) Are you impressed by any makeup techniques observed in other Zombie-themed programs? Do you have a favourite?
JG: Train to Busan was great. Makeup was kept simple yet effective with a lot of focus on the painting and airbrush techniques rather than use of heavy prosthetics which can be very costly.
(5) How was it like working on the set of Zombiepura?
JG: It was great fun and my first feature film that was special effects heavy.
I did face some challenges trying to pull a team together as there are only a handful of makeup specialists in Singapore who are prosthetic-trained, so we had a week of makeup boot camp, training hard to perfect the makeup application.
In the end we all pulled through the tedious hours and challenging locations.
June and her makeup team on the set of Zombiepura.
(6) Zombies, are basically human bodies turning bad. Were you required to browse through medical sources to determine the location of exposed bones, etc. and to create a realistic look of decomposition?
JG: I did some research and spoke to a good friend who is a surgeon on the topics of rigor mortis and the process that happens after death such as discolouration on the skin, veining and mottled textures that is realistic and subtle yet disturbing at the same time.
As I mentioned earlier, because it was all within 24 hours, we did not have much decomposition. We had simulated wounds from the fights such as the light stick in the eye.
(7) Do you ever get spooked by your own creations?
JG: Believe it or not I don’t really enjoy watching horror, it does give me nightmares. It’s the research that spooks me, not the actual creation because they are like my babies… I know… Morbid.
(8) You have worked on a variety of projects in your career, how different is the process between make up in the world of fashion and that involved in creating a character?
JG: Beauty and fashion is a whole different ball game. Symmetry in the face, perfect skin and hidden flaws. Character design can go from gore to fantasy.
June with one of her fantasy-based creations.
Zombies for example, we play up the flaws, the imperfections. We highlight the facial features to an abnormal extreme… Not the usual contouring that every beauty addict loves so much.
(9) Is there one item in your makeup kit that you swear by?
JG: When it comes to special effects? Skin tite silicone by smooth on. It’s like my version of a 1st aid kit. Can be used as an adhesive, cut, burn, or for an emergency prosthetic piece if there is a mold available.
(10) Are there any misconceptions that you wish to clear regarding makeup artists?
JG: We don’t just do bridal makeup and we are make-up artists… Not magicians.
(11) When did you realize that your passion streamed from the world of makeup?
JG: I didn’t even realise that I had the potential, working at the tattoo studio I did a lot of body painting, so I thought I should learn how to work on the face as well.
I enrolled in a makeup school. Went to make up for ever academy to further my special effects skills and next thing I knew I got sponsored to further my education in Paris and returned as a trainer in the academy and landed my job as Head of makeup with RWS purely by chance.
(12) You have worked with talents from the world around, including Brendan Fraser and Aaron Kwok, which is your most memorable experience?
JG: Working with Aaron was an unforgettable experience. The revolving stage set up was out of this world. We worked under the stage for the quick changes, not backstage.
June & team with Aaron Kwok.
He was a great person who appreciated the team’s efforts and bought us all a fantastic seafood dinner in East Coast, dined with the crew and spent time going to every table to thank us and of course the customary photo sessions.
(13) Constantly being on set can be grueling, how do you typically recharge away from your craft?
JG: I take solo travels to recharge very often. Painting and sketching whenever I can. I am also a mother of 2 grown children so I do try to spend time making dinners at home for the family which rarely happens when I’m on projects.
But my daughter is in performing arts, so she understands my schedule. We spent our last flight to Japan reading different scripts while on our way to our family vacation.
(14) How was it like training under veteran tattoo artist Jap Loh when you started out?
“Jap & June.”
JG: Jap is a natural born artist who like myself, never been formally trained in art school. Everything comes from his heart and translates to his work. I remembered when I just started, I had to spend many hours with the light box practicing my lines and strokes. He was the first person I inked, and I was sweating buckets from being so nervous.
There is no room for mistakes when permanently inking on skin. It’s a big commitment… Bigger then marriage.
(15) Is there one dream production that you would love to become a part of?
JG: I did once dream of being on a travelling show like cirque de soleil after spending 2 years working in the theatrical circus, Voyage de la vie. But plans have since changed after leaving RWS.
The focus of The Artists Inc and myself is to hopefully build up the makeup industry in Singapore so that we can rely on local talent to produce films/shows that are on par with international standards.
I still have a long way to go but one can only dream right?
June continues to hone her talents while inspiring newcomers to her field.
If you are interested to learn to do zombie makeup, check out her upcoming workshop on 19th October: How to look like a Zombie: Basic Makeup Workshop with Makeup Artist June Goh
Connect with June at www.premise.tv/@JuneGoh
(Credits: images by June Goh)
Author: Laurenzo Jude
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