Australian Hair & Makeup Artist Rick Findlater

In episode fourteen, host Brett Stanley is talking to Australian Hair & Makeup Artist Rick Findlater about his experiences working on films like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Impossible – a true story about the devastating tsunami in Thailand back in 2004.

He also talks about his time working on the Jacques Cousteau biopic The Odyssey, which took him all around the world including Africa and Antarctica.

Rick covers some of the techniques he uses to keep wigs on in heavy water scenes, dealing with the colour changing issues of prosthetics in cold water, and the stress of having divers go searching for a lost wig!

Discuss the episode in our facebook group.

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About Rick Findlater – Australian Hair & Makeup Artist

Rick Findlater is a makeup and hair artist in the film industry .

His work has taken him around the world at least twice . Some of his credits include Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Avatar and Mulan.

He works as both Makeup and Hair Designer and Supervisor and has worked as personal to Richard Gere and Naomi Watts .

Nominated for 2 Bafta and and Academy award for the Hobbit Trilogy and currently is halfway through shooting on the new film for Marvel as the Makeup and Hair designer .

Podcast Transcript

Ep 14 – Rick Findlater

Brett Stanley: [00:00:00] welcome back to the underwater podcast and famous owed 14 I’m chatting with Australian here and makeup artist, Rick fin later about his experiences working on films, like parts of the Caribbean and the impossible, a true story about the devastating tsunami in Thailand. Back in 2004.

He also tells me about his time working on the Jacques Cousteau, biopic, the Odyssey, which took him all around the world, Including Africa and Antarctica. It’s a beautiful film. And I really recommend it.

Rick also covered some of his techniques he uses to keep wigs on and heavy water scenes dealing with the color changing issues of prosthetics in cold water and the stress of having divers go searching for a lost week

All right Let’s dive in

rick. Welcome to the underwater podcast.

Rick Findlater: [00:00:44] Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

Brett Stanley: [00:00:46] Oh, where are you at the moment? I mean, I know you’re based in Australia. Are you in Australia at the moment?

Rick Findlater: [00:00:51] yeah. I’m currently on the gold coast, which is on the East side, um, Australia, about 45 minutes South of Brisbane.

Brett Stanley: [00:00:58] and how are things there? Are you, are you guys under quarantine? Australia is probably opening up a bit now, is it.

Rick Findlater: [00:01:05] Um, not as much as New Zealand parts, it is very exciting to relax. For example, before I took this call with you guys, um, you know, you were at a cafe, there must be 50 people there. I’m not sure what their rules are of, you know, separation, but it seemed like things are getting back to normal fairly quickly.

Brett Stanley: [00:01:21] Maybe you guys didn’t really lock down as hard as we did here in the States. I don’t think, retail and stuff was still open.

Rick Findlater: [00:01:26] Yeah, it kind of was literally other than any kind of social, um, service business, like a restaurant or, you know, whatever else everybody else just went to delivery and I’m sure Uber eats has made a fortune out of

Brett Stanley: [00:01:40] Oh yeah, I think it’s the, it’s the time to be an Uber eats driver. I think.

Rick Findlater: [00:01:43] Absolutely.

Brett Stanley: [00:01:44] Um, and how did it affect the industry there? I know, you know, Australia does a lot of international productions, but did everything kind of get shut down?

Rick Findlater: [00:01:51] Um, yes. And it was all a little bit strange. Like we knew a little bit of a lead into what was potentially coming up because, uh, one of the members of the crew had had a baby recently and had just caught a general common cold. But, um, we were back to film. With huge amount of extras, all in full hair makeup, it was pretty extensive.

And then that they literally didn’t make it to set because he’s one integral. This one person that was totally integral to the production had been stood down for two week thing, pending the results, which came back negative. But that was a good kind of lading for us. So, you know, the alarm bells went up and then I think within three or four days, we had stored all this stuff and most of us were back on planes, wherever we’re going.

Yeah, I don’t know. The U S contingency was probably got one of the last planes out back to the States.

Brett Stanley: [00:02:42] Oh, okay. So no one got stuck there. Everyone got out.

Rick Findlater: [00:02:46] nobody got stuck there, but I think there was also, uh, for those that had come in from overseas, the production was very nice and just said to them, we’ll accommodate you here if that’s your choice. So I kind of wish that they just made everybody stay and then I’d be back at work by now.

Brett Stanley: [00:03:02] Yeah, well, I have heard that we’re and I think in Australia, actually, a production basically quarantined in a small country town and they kept filming.

Rick Findlater: [00:03:10] They did. And they, um, there’s a really good article in variety magazine on it. And they basically self quarantined within the large group, whatever it was, it wasn’t such a big film crew, but, um, um, they very successfully completed the project with no cases

Brett Stanley: [00:03:25] Oh, wow.

Rick Findlater: [00:03:26] Yeah, really, really good. A job.

Brett Stanley: [00:03:28] And how do you see things going forward? I mean, Australia is, I think you didn’t have many cases to start with, but are you going to start opening up for productions soon internationally or is it only local productions? How’s that going to work?

Rick Findlater: [00:03:41] You know, I think because avatar for those that don’t know that it should, again, New Zealand has just recommends doing so they brought everybody in from overseas that they needed to, and the purchase is a saying, you know, they only bought in the episode, people that way. Vital to the production. So it wasn’t like they just said, yeah, let’s go again.

And then I was seeing quite a few, um, photos online of my colleagues or wearing those big kind of medical grade, you know, full plastic shields around the face and stuff. So it’s definitely going to change everything. But, uh, I, it’s just an unusual time. I have to say I haven’t minded that downtime at all, like, but, but now it’s time to kind of kick back into things.

Brett Stanley: [00:04:22] Yeah. I think a lot of people I speak to in the industry have kind of been like, you know, it’s nice to actually not be able to work and not have to worry about it. Like to just sit down and do nothing for renovate your house or whatever.

Rick Findlater: [00:04:35] Yeah. There’s nothing like not working when you’ve been told not to work. It’s different. If you should work

and can work,

Brett Stanley: [00:04:42] because the guilt is there, but the guilt is being taken away.

Rick Findlater: [00:04:45] always the guilt.

Brett Stanley: [00:04:46] That’s all right. So let’s talk a little bit of your, your career. I know you you’ve been in the industry for quite a while now. Um, and in terms of working with water, um, and I know that, you know, like a makeup artist and a hairstylist is not a specifically underwater hair and makeup artist, but you do deal with water and, you know, the issues that come with it.

Where did you kind of come across that first in your career?

Rick Findlater: [00:05:11] Mmm. Well, funnily enough, one of the very first things that I ever did was the TV show called flipper. So yeah, I’m not even going to say what year that was, but it was a long time ago.

Uh, no, no, I’d be dead. Oh, no offense to anybody on flip for that. Isn’t that now it was the second, the second reboot they did and they shot it on the gold coast.

Um, so of course it was all water-based. So that was kind of my introduction to. Makeup and hair in combination with water

Brett Stanley: [00:05:38] Right. And how did you find that? Was it, you know, coming from whatever training you had, was there a bit of a learning curve to make things work in the water?

Rick Findlater: [00:05:46] Oh, absolutely. And even. No, the makeup and hair industries come along enormously product wise in the last 20 years. Like when I started it literally was still kind of a variation of a grace paint. It was just a bit thinner than what they used to use on theater. So, um, it was very limited. And then there was introduction of the same code, ink, pallets that are, um, activated with nicer purple alcohol, but they’re extremely durable and perfect for any kind of underwater stuff.

Brett Stanley: [00:06:14] Oh, okay. So that they had like a hard palate and then you basically mix that a bit with the ISO.

Rick Findlater: [00:06:20] that’s it. So you just, it comes out like, um, just this flat dried palettes with the colors in, and then you just pour in a ton, a little bit of us approachable alcohol, which then activates the whole thing into a liquid, which you can use with a paintbrush or, or any kind of micro brush that you want.

Brett Stanley: [00:06:36] Right. And so then going from, from flipper, what, what was the next kind of big production you did that you did a lot of underwater or

Rick Findlater: [00:06:44] Um, I’m kind of, I went for it. My startup me is I went from that to a thing called tells and South seas, which was another remake I’d ended. Another thing called a TV movie called mermaids, which you can imagine it was all under water.

Brett Stanley: [00:06:57] Yeah, I did look that one up and it looked very, uh, very 2004.

Rick Findlater: [00:07:02] Yeah, so it was still there. But I remember one of the funniest things that ever, ever happened was we were on a film. I’m not gonna mention the actor, but the, he. Was wearing a hairpiece and they had to do a jump off a boat, probably off the second floor of the boat, into the ocean surface up into a closeup.

And Bob’s your uncle was all kind of be gripe. I said, I said to the hair person, are we okay? Is everything locked on? We us need to lose anything here. So sure enough, they have to jumps off the boat. Dives down about, I don’t know, three or four meters and surfaces with no hair. Well, we then had to send the divers to the ocean, which again, wasn’t that deep looking for this hairpiece because we didn’t have another one.

Brett Stanley: [00:07:47] Oh my God.

Rick Findlater: [00:07:48] Yeah. So ever since then, I’ve learned to pay attention when you’ve got hair and makeup and water combined.

Brett Stanley: [00:07:55] Yeah. So what would you have done differently there? What have you learned from that in terms of getting a week to stay on in those kind of circumstances,

Rick Findlater: [00:08:04] Um, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that I’ve learned a few clips doesn’t quite cope with it. So what you have to do is make sure that there’s a secure base on the actor’s head. And most of the time nowadays, what we do is, um, we will apply a prosthetic glue to the actor’s head. We’ll put on another, it’s called a bold cap.

So you can make actors look bold with this particular kind of rubberized plastic. And then now I would glue and FOS and the wig or the hip Hayes to, to that actual plastic. So it’s pretty much foolproof now, but then not so much.

Brett Stanley: [00:08:37] Right. Cause you did a film that was, and I saw it. I haven’t seen the actual film, but I saw the clip of it, which is it’s the impossible, which is the film about the tsunami in 2004.  Um, and there’s a scene in that where Niamey is basically hit by the tsunami and his, you know, through the washing machine.

What does she got on there? Is she, is she wearing any wig or anything? Hairpiece.

Rick Findlater: [00:09:01] yeah, she’s wearing a full week. And, um, that was probably the most terrifying experience of my life because to film that all those underwater sequences, we went to Spain and we shot in a city code like content. And within that. I had put the wig on the first time having now known what I knew from the previous experience of losing the half piece that we had to secure quiet.

Well, I didn’t really change too much, but Naomi would then be put into this tank that if you can imagine on the bottom of the tank, they built like a railway track. And within the railway track, they’d put these little cups that sat on the track. So the, um, The actors would dive down, secure their feet into the bottom of these cups.

And then they’d be dragged at force right through, through the tank. So that’d be passing all the art department stuff. Things will be hitting her in the head, blah, blah, blah, blah. Oh, rubber course. But the first time I said her wig at the end of the tank, I ran down to where she was going to the surface.

After all this, I just closed my eyes. And so finally she got to the end of the tank. She came up and the week was on and I was like, I was like, okay, I can do this. I can do this because for the whole film I had one week, but. Yeah, human hair, wigs at the front have a lice, um, vice that I then put in one hair at a time.

They’re very expensive. And to just double kind of lock that in. I made sure that I left the lights at least like maybe an inch long. And then I changed the glue that you use to stick down the legs to the skin with. So, um, I didn’t have too many problems, but within that film, there were lots of sayings.

That she’d be under the water and then she would surface up into a closeup. So there was no way to hide with any of it. But, um, I think the result was really good. And Brett, you should say the film. It’s fantastic.

Brett Stanley: [00:10:50] I’ve been meaning to it’s one of those things, but I think it, um, I think the idea of it freaks me out

and even watching that clip the other day was like, ah, man, that’s intense.

Rick Findlater: [00:10:58] it’s an intense film, but it’s the true story.

Brett Stanley: [00:11:01] Yeah. I think that’s what freaks me out the most is that these people went through this, you know, mean, it’s one thing talking about a week staying on, but seeing all the crap that she was being. Thrown through and that’s, you know, true story and that’s real life that I think was so confronting.

But yeah, I do need to say it.

So if you’ve got a week like that, so generally, and you know, my wife is a hairstylist, so I know a little bit about weeks. Um, and generally if you’re using a lace front week, you’re trying to hide that lace as much as you can. So the camera doesn’t pick it up, right?

Rick Findlater: [00:11:31] Yeah, well, the whole, I think the thing with wings is that you’re not supposed to know that week, so we do our best to conceal the fact that anybody’s wearing wig ever. Um, that’s, that’s primarily. Our objective. So the point and normally on dry land, you can attend to these things and you can add a bit more glue, um, and you can really make the lights disappear.

I mean, this system of wearing wigs has been around for a hundred years, that we’ve all done it the same way, but the products have become a little better. So in those circumstances, when you’re on land, you have access to them all the time. But once the underwater there’s hardly anything, well, there’s nothing you can do.

So you kind of have to get it right the first time. Because as you know, filming is a very expensive thing to do. And if you, as a hair and makeup artist is taking too much time, that’s then costing them money. And that’s not good for anybody.

Brett Stanley: [00:12:24] totally. And so when you’re in a situation like that, where you’ve got a wig that you’ve, you know, you’ve left a bit of the lace in there to hold it on for that one shot. Do you then trim that back for the, for the closeup shots that come later? Or are you just hiding it a lot better?

Rick Findlater: [00:12:41] no, I just had to, um, hide it a lot better. I use ended up using a product called Matthew mango is the artist’s name. Um, and he makes this. Spirit gum adhesive that kind of has been a client or something. So I use that and I found that the lesser touched the wi the better, but at the same stage, you have to have an actor, an actress.

That is a way that you’re trying to make something look like something real. And that there are limitations, like Naomi would know never to put her hands on her face or do any of that sort of stuff. So she was fantastic in helping me get that across alone.

Brett Stanley: [00:13:16] Yeah. And I guess the more that she buys into it, the more it’s it sells it as well, I guess.

Rick Findlater: [00:13:21] A hundred percent. I particularly with that film, I think when people go, they say, Oh, you did the impossible. I’m like, yeah, yeah. Like what were you there for? I’m like, well, she’s wearing a week, the entire thing. And they’re like, what?

I’m like, yeah. She’s in a week the entire film. They’re like, Oh my God,

Brett Stanley: [00:13:37] And so from that point, so why is she wearing a wig? Is it because the character needed to have a certain length of hair or she just didn’t have the hair. At the right length or was it an artistic decision?

Rick Findlater: [00:13:48] No, it was kind of Naomi’s decision.  until an actor, an actress actually gets a good wig in some good hands. Most people are nervous of the result. Well, I had worked with army twice before and same thing, always in wigs, but mainly the actresses will use a week if they don’t want their own head damage.

Brett Stanley: [00:14:06] right.

Rick Findlater: [00:14:07] Which I think is always a good idea. And, um, um, you know, sometimes it’s too short or the director could say, I need it longer, but if you cut the actor’s hair, then you go into a situation of extensions. And I didn’t want to have to deal with that underwater. That would have been a disaster

because one of the extensions got caught on something where it just ripped her hair out.

So the only problem I ever had, so in the water so long, the pins that I had used to. Because when you do it, when you get their own hair and you wrap it around the head, so it’s dead flat. So it should look like a hair skullcap kind of thing. But the pins that I had used to secure the hair coarser in salt water had started to rust and I then had to recolor her, take these bloody Russ Russ marks.

Brett Stanley: [00:14:49] That’s not something I’ve ever thought of. And I, you know, I work a lot with wigs in water as well, but usually those pins aren’t, you know, aren’t in there for that long. They usually just leave rust stains on the bottom of my pool, but,

Rick Findlater: [00:15:02] Yeah. Got ya.

Brett Stanley: [00:15:02] for it to have colored their hair, that’s interesting. I hadn’t really thought about that.

Rick Findlater: [00:15:06] Yeah, that was definitely something nobody was happy with.

Brett Stanley: [00:15:10] Yeah. So going from, from wigs, have you had to do stuff  underwater with, with prosthetics

Rick Findlater: [00:15:16] Yes. I’m just kind of,  I think obviously the Odyssey, I don’t know whether it was a film I did about the shock Cousteau, who was the underwater documentarian.

Brett Stanley: [00:15:26] And it’s an amazing film by the way.

Rick Findlater: [00:15:28] ah, thanks. Yeah. I was really happy with it. Um, Thank you. Um, so anyway, we had a whole family that was aging and lumbo Wilson who plays the lead.  had full face prosthetics. Yeah. Full face for setbacks and the wigs. So it just didn’t get any worse in that, in that field.  Um, I think I was saying to generally the other day that we at one stage had. Lumberg was in the water with his son that was also in a bead a week of prosthetics and a mustache.

And for those of you, that kind of don’t know what diving apparatus looks like. It’s a full mask and this really be strange looking regulator that goes in the mouth. Well, if you’ve got a mustache or a bead or anything that can be quite damaging and often lift off the whole setup, but. We were in Cape town shooting of, some Island in the middle of nowhere and my both in Zodiacs and support teams. So there was a  I was in the other one and I’ve got both the actors in the water, in the open ocean. Um, Doing this house sane because in 70 wetsuits it was so cold, their body was heating up.

But of course the prosthetics, which is a Silicon doesn’t change color. So what, yeah, we were getting this horrible kind of modeled effect where you could see these bright red lines around these prosthetics that was staying as horrible, kind of. Grainy gray color. So here’s me having somebody hang on to my legs.

As I’m bent over the front of one of those inflatable Zodiacs, trying to adjust this prosthetic color or the actors or the hating, even though they’re in praising cold water,

I’ve got masks with the actors are trying to take them off above their heads. So the wigs are lifting. Let’s just say it was not a good day to be on the water.

It was pretty

Brett Stanley: [00:17:14] a nightmare. Yeah.

Rick Findlater: [00:17:15] Well, it kind be a bit more crazy when three humpback whales decided that you come and have a look.

Brett Stanley: [00:17:20] Oh really?

Rick Findlater: [00:17:21] I don’t know if anybody’s been up close to them, but they are normally like, their tails are probably half the length of the boat and I’m outside South African on the dive supervisors, like, okay, we’re just going to give us another 10 minutes.

Cause it looks like they’re getting a bit pissed off that way in their domain kind of thing. But, um, um, Yeah, you turn around and you’d have these wild, like looking up at you and I’m like, Oh, okay. I’m not getting in that water.

Brett Stanley: [00:17:46] how far away from me with her.

Rick Findlater: [00:17:47] Oh, how tomato

Brett Stanley: [00:17:50] Oh. So they were really interested. They were coming to check it out.

Rick Findlater: [00:17:53] now that we’re really interested. They’d kind of come up half under the boat, which would then rock the boat of it.  Um, I think they were just curious as to what was going on and why there was so much attention on these two guys in the water that obviously looked like seals anyway.

Brett Stanley: [00:18:07] right?

Rick Findlater: [00:18:08] And they wet suit and flippers and stuff.

Brett Stanley: [00:18:10] Well, at least it was humpbacks and not, not kill the whales.

Rick Findlater: [00:18:13] Yeah, exactly.

Brett Stanley: [00:18:15] So, I mean, that’s really interesting with the prosthetics, cause I hadn’t really thought about the, the body temperature changing and the prosthetics not, not matching. How do you, I don’t know. Have you had issues of that in other situations?

Like, does it depend on the, what the prosthetic is made of?

Rick Findlater: [00:18:31] um, no, because unless the prosthetic is obviously, you know, it’s just a, it’s a basic plastic to be really blunt about it.  the only way to change the color is with. Pinks or something that’s, you know, sits on top that we can’t inject that with anything. Once it’s pretty colored, it’s pretty colored, but you’ll have, you’ll have these problems on land.

If you’re going to that film. Also, even though we’re in Cape town, we also went to the Antarctic and shot. I had exactly the same problem about that. And we, I remember them. We sailed into Antarctica. This court is by and they had a whole heap of floating ice around and the director’s like, okay, we’re going to shoot up there.

And I was like, wait there. And I’m like, but that’s not even land. Okay. Here we go. So let’s say I have a photo of a very small Concord on this floating piece of flat ice. Thank God we didn’t with the act of dialing getting in and out, back up onto the. Under this floating eyes. And then that’s when I have to go in all the time and adjust the color because it just will change by the minute

Brett Stanley: [00:19:33] Oh, okay. And is it easy enough for you to change? Like can you take off the color and put a new color on, or are you kind of adding on all the time?

Rick Findlater: [00:19:41] Um, that depends. A lot of people would like to see all their prosthetics to take this stuff on. I tend to like to not see all them so I can make those adjustments all day long if I want.

Brett Stanley: [00:19:50] Right. Yeah,

Rick Findlater: [00:19:52] but if you do see all them, it does become problematic. So you better make sure you get the color perfect from the stuff.

Brett Stanley: [00:19:58] Yeah. Is there a difference between how you do stuff? Whether you’re in like a chlorinator tank, as opposed to like salt water outdoors.

Rick Findlater: [00:20:05] I’ll tell you what the, um, When it comes to car and I did stuff, it’s more about weed color change because chlorine, as you know, will bleach a lot of things. It will also send a lot of things green. So if you’ve got an actress, that’s in a blonde wig, you have to really monitor the color change is not happening all the time.

Um, also I find that if you’re in a car and I to pool colors, read. Dell down a lot more than they do in salt water. I don’t know why that

Brett Stanley: [00:20:31] Oh, right? Yeah.

Rick Findlater: [00:20:32] I’m always tending to pump up the color in chlorinated pools, salt water usually reads a bit more true to life

Brett Stanley: [00:20:39] Oh, interesting. Is there, is it maybe because of the actual sunlight as opposed to, you know, whatever lighting they’ve set up for the tech?

Rick Findlater: [00:20:47] Oh, I think most of the time, like if you’re shooting in open water, Nobody’s pool looks like the ocean. Do you know what I mean? Like most pools have always got that horrible of a really saturated blue color and blue on anybody’s skin. Never looks any good. So you’ve always got to pump up the red. So I think predominantly that’s where that comes in, but like I said, as well, the chlorine can have a horrible effect on people’s skin.

When we’re talking about this too, it’s I don’t do things where it’s like a one or two day shoot. Normally they’re in the water for up to a week.

Doing complicated sayings. The actor will often have to come to the surface and hang on to a one of those pool noodles or something and get their breath, And then I will be in a support boat waiting to do whatever I need to do

to get in and make the changes.

Brett Stanley: [00:21:28] Yeah. And do you have a preference for like, which one do you enjoy more in tanks or open water?

Rick Findlater: [00:21:34] Um, it’s always that little bit more controlled in a tank. Yeah. And you know that once, you know, you leave. Base camp. If you’re going to shoot on the ocean, you’re not coming back for maybe 10 or 12 hours. The other thing with working with were in those locations, you know, it’s one of the facilities like on the boat, you have to take enough spare stuff because you’re not going to be able to get anything set up.

Um, and it always looks Epic. So I do like the open ocean, but I like that. I like the ease of working in a contained tank. I remember we did. I did a prosthetic on Orlando bloom for the last part. It’s the caravan. And that was interesting. Cause he started on the water and then came to the surface. Um, and we had to test that quite a few times.

I almost had to do like an underwater makeup and then have to change the colors once he got onto the surface. Cause he had half a face full of crustaceans and stuff.

Brett Stanley: [00:22:21] why, why would it change? Was it just the difference between the light going through the depth of water or was it the water itself was changing the color of it.

Rick Findlater: [00:22:29] Yeah, there was a bit of the water itself because it was quite grain. And then once he got up onto the boat, it was, it was, it was all at night. So the lighting within the boat was quite cold looking, you know, they put those gray kind of lights on to be with that night effect. So that was kind of, it was supposed to look like it was, um, um, Crustaceans are like bone, basically.

So it was supposed to have this phony effect, but when he got out of the water, that kind of changed a fair bit. So we had to manipulate that.

Brett Stanley: [00:22:55] Did you end up having to do a separate makeup for the, for the water, as opposed to the dry

Rick Findlater: [00:23:00] No luckily enough, within the same, there was a cut point where as he rises up out of the water, it then cuts to the act that he’s acting with, which was his, I think it was the sun. So this is the beauty about filmmaking is that when you know that they’re gonna be on somebody else, you get that amount of time then to go in and make you adjustment.

So that by the time they come back around and they shoot him, you’ve already made the adjustment, but nobody’s seen where it’s taken place and you’re supposed to do it well enough that nobody can tell other than you basically

Brett Stanley: [00:23:30] yeah. And that’s the skill of it really? Isn’t it making it seem seamless.

Rick Findlater: [00:23:34] Yeah. Pretty much we hope. Yeah.

Brett Stanley: [00:23:36] Yeah. when you get prosthetics made or when you get wigs made, are you, are you letting them know that they’re going to be used in water or does it not particularly matter?

Rick Findlater: [00:23:44] no, always I am mining with the wigs, because if you can imagine when people are making a week, it’s like making a carpet. So everybody’s, you know, most people know they did it in school. You know, that basic nodding thing where you do it with a crochet hook and you do one of the time and you make a little not, well, if you can imagine it on a week, every hair is put in one at a time.

So it can take up to three or four weeks to get made. Now, within those notes, what they can do is instead of just doing a single tie on the night, if they’re going under water, I always ask for double, not because they’re not the knots itself or, um, Hey, expands and contracts when it’s wet or dry.

Brett Stanley: [00:24:21] this is human hair. As opposed to

Rick Findlater: [00:24:23] Yeah.

Human hair. Um, so what happens is, does not till eventually become loose. And because of the motion underwater, you know, it’s that soft kind of billowy thing. It just tends to loosen all those little knots it’s holding their hair to this framework of the week have loose. So if you double, if you double knock them, it’s a lot easier and you get a bit more longevity out of them.

Brett Stanley: [00:24:44] Oh, that’s interesting. And that’s something I would never have thought of is having it done at that base level to keep those hairs in.

Rick Findlater: [00:24:52] Yeah.

you want to do whatever you can indicate those Hayes in and on her head.

Brett Stanley: [00:24:56] Yeah. And I think anyone who’s ever been on an underwater shoot or an underwater, um, um, production, the amount of hair that ends up floating around the pool

or the tank it’s quite horrendous. Yeah,

Rick Findlater: [00:25:06] Yeah. Hey and have for you must be a tricky one too, because I know it’s, I know a lot of tons of us, the divers to take down, um, like a, a small propeller or something or a fan so that when they’re shooting on the act, I can get them to turn it on and create a current that flows towards them. It’s a bit like being in a fan on land, so it’s blowing the hair back.

But, um, I remember a couple of times I was getting in so much trouble because the hair was getting in her face and not to anything that I had done. It was just through the motion of the water. I think the current was going the wrong way and that had a, they have to face them a particular way because of the life.

And then, so I just said, can you please take one of those? I don’t know what they call little submersibles down and just blow the water towards her, which fixed the problem straight away.

Brett Stanley: [00:25:49] Yeah. It’s like having The leaf blower or the, you know, the wind machine kicking in that hair up and stuff. Yeah. I mean, here underwater water is it’s, it’s a nightmare, but when it works, it’s amazing.

Rick Findlater: [00:26:00] It’s beautiful. Absolutely. I’ll tell you something about hair and underwater was, um, um, parts of the Caribbean, where I went with your lovely wife. One, we had, um, heavy about them, plays the lead character, captain Salazar and. What I did was I got us to take a couple of weeks and secure them on a headlock, which is this call kind of thing, like ahead.

So you pin the week. Under the block, they then took the block underwater into a green screen environment. So they just green out a pool, use a blue pool.  Um, and then they just filmed the hair moving around in the water and sit there the whole time through the film. When you see a heavy air Salazar and parts of mental health, He had no hair on his head ever.

Brett Stanley: [00:26:43] Oh, so he was like an old cap when he was


Rick Findlater: [00:26:46] Yeah. Complete, full cut with just dots on and they put the wig on after just so they could get the movement, which I thought was a genius.

Brett Stanley: [00:26:52] And so did they take that week down and film for, just for reference or was the, was that footage used,  uh, in the, in

the final,

Rick Findlater: [00:27:01] no. I think I asked us, um, um, Give them one of his waves.  Um, so like, so I dunno how much they reference it or whether they mapped out the hair or something, but it looked pretty good. I thought I was just fascinated that I could do that at all. I thought it was

Brett Stanley: [00:27:15] Oh, yeah. I remember seeing that film when it came out and Jamie had given me a bit of an idea of what was happening with, um, with heavy as, you know, kind of look, but then seeing him Steph step onto the ship for the first time and then going, is his hair,

his hair still moving. That’s incredible.

Rick Findlater: [00:27:33] Yeah, it was good.

Brett Stanley: [00:27:34] That’s amazing. And have you done a lot of that sort of thing? Um, like where it is that sort of special effects based kind of look for underwater stuff.

Rick Findlater: [00:27:43] Um, well, Not so much. I think other than like that TV, maybe ma’am I had to change some stuff up, but I’ve never had to do any more than just a facial prosthetics or maybe it’s a bite Mark or something from whatever it is on the water, but you don’t usually, there’s not that much for it. I tell you why it’s, because unless it’s factual historical, like the impossible or the Odyssey.

Um, underwater shooting is very, very slow and very, very expensive. So I think studios would prefer it. If you know the script broadest didn’t brought too much stuff incident. It doesn’t lead to much for us. I think that that whole thing with member Waterworld with

Brett Stanley: [00:28:25] Kevin Costner.

Rick Findlater: [00:28:26] Kevin cos and Jane Chippewan, that blew out and doubled its budget.

Cause the problems I had shooting in water.

Brett Stanley: [00:28:32] Yeah. And that was a huge, I recently spoke to the, um, The underwater DP for that. And yeah, he had lots of insight on, on that. And it was, um, it was a huge film,

uh, in terms of extras and cast and crew and all that sort of stuff. So, yeah. And even like avatar, uh, the new ones, I think, um, I can’t even imagine how long it’s taking them to shoot those.

Those kinds of scenes that are mostly underwater for those who don’t know, the new avatar coming out is, is mostly set on a, on a water world. So they’re doing a lot of underwater motion capture,

Rick Findlater: [00:29:06] okay.


didn’t know that

Brett Stanley: [00:29:08] yeah. So instead of doing the motion capture, like they do normally in a, in a mocap studio, James Cameron’s actually got them doing motion capture under the water.

Rick Findlater: [00:29:17] because he totally has the fascination with everything under the water.

Brett Stanley: [00:29:21] Yeah, he does. Yeah.



Rick Findlater: [00:29:23] he’d be a good one for your podcast.

Brett Stanley: [00:29:25] Oh, can you imagine trying to get James Cameron on here? That would be


Rick Findlater: [00:29:28] Paul, hurricane, you probably love it cause it’s totally it’s it’s his jam.

Brett Stanley: [00:29:33] yeah. Yeah. I need to find someone who has an in, in with James.

Rick Findlater: [00:29:38] Well, I might be able to help you out with that.



Brett Stanley: [00:29:44] Rick. Let’s keep it. Okay.

Rick Findlater: [00:29:45] When the record button is off

Brett Stanley: [00:29:47] exactly. Um, so for you, in terms of, I remember talking about shooting what they call dry for wet, which is, um, you know, when they kind of fake.

That it’s underwater.

There was a bit of that in, in, prior to the Caribbean wasn’t there, where they had built underwater sets, but they were dry.

Rick Findlater: [00:30:05] Yes. Correct. Um, and then that’s when I would put in the hair and stuff to say, like sell the whole thing. But, um, um, when we do dry for wet, it’s more about costumes and just keeping the skin, like if you’re completely underwater, Skin doesn’t look, wet. Skin only looks wet when you’re above the water and it’s been wet.

So for us, as long as it’s got a nice chain on it, and then CGI goes through whatever they want to do with the hair, whether it’s a wind machine or they slow it down on post or blah, blah, blah. But then the costume department has to work double time. As soon as I do wet for dry, dry for wet.

Brett Stanley: [00:30:39] Yeah. Right. And do you have to do anything for the skin? Cause I mean, once you go under the water, you kinda, you know, the colors start to dull a bit, the warm colors kind of disappear a bit. Do you

need to, kind of dial down their skin

or is that a post thing?

Rick Findlater: [00:30:53] that’s the posting pretty much. And speaking of posts and underwater stuff, I remember, um, I just had an experience with our shots in Toronto. And in regards to film and stuff and TV or whatever, the level of technology is crazy because I could walk up and inside of the DOP.

Oh, you know, I think, you know what, that’s a Brown week I’ve got on her and it’s reading to read and they’ll be like, What I’m like, it really does read, read on camera. You just go over to the of provider who then would adjust one little control and then we would be back to Brown.

Yeah. It’s so

Brett Stanley: [00:31:30] So they grading it on set as they’re going

Rick Findlater: [00:31:32] they’re grinding it as they’ve gone.

Brett Stanley: [00:31:34] well, that, that must make things a lot easier for you What would you do if that, that wasn’t the case. If you came across a wig that was not looking, not reading the right color, is it, did you have to go back and recolor it or

Rick Findlater: [00:31:44] No,

no, that would,

I would just go and see the day I pay and then I’d go and see the GAFA and undecided. Is there anything you can do to help me out then? The next step is, is it, is it a filter that they put on the camera that’s doing that or is it the processing? Within the computers. So there’s a whole heap of things and luckily enough, you know, everybody wants a good result.

So it’s also extremely distracting that if they’ve seen her in another sane and she’s got Brown hair and all of a sudden she’s in the next room and it’s red, it just doesn’t make any sense.

Brett Stanley: [00:32:14] Yeah. And it takes them out of the, out of

Rick Findlater: [00:32:16] Yeah. Yeah. Completely,

Brett Stanley: [00:32:18] So for you, um, with this kind of career, have you got, I mean, you’ve probably told me the stories already, but do you have any kind of horror stories of things that. That have happened when working with water. I mean, apart from your actor coming up bold.

Rick Findlater: [00:32:31] Yeah. Oh, look, there’s been heaps of times when you’ve just, it’s not a horror story for me, but it’s been horrific to watch that, you know, you’ll have an act underwater. It’s not necessarily makeup or hair at all, but to have an actor underwater, but you’ve got the scuba divers at either side, they then have to take some air, do the scene and then get to the other support over to.

Get more air so they can stay submerged on that for as long as possible. And I’ve seen a couple of beauties where, you know, they just almost never made it to the other

Brett Stanley: [00:33:02] Oh,

Rick Findlater: [00:33:02] You’re just like,

this is not going to be good. But as far as hair and makeup stuff, I don’t think so. I mean, I’ve had people. You know, their mask is torn their nose off for, or their mustaches floating around.

And the fish is eaten at somewhere and I’ve had to put another one on, or there’s been all those sorts of things. So, or you get the actor and they’ve wrapped them for the day. And all of a sudden they walk in with their wig in their hand and you’re like, Oh, okay. I guess that just

Brett Stanley: [00:33:27] right. Well, yeah, that’s done. Yeah.

Rick Findlater: [00:33:29] that’s done.

Thank you.

Brett Stanley: [00:33:31] And what about the most exciting thing you’ve done in terms of water?

Rick Findlater: [00:33:34] Oh,

Brett Stanley: [00:33:36] Is there something that you were really proud of?

Rick Findlater: [00:33:37] I think like I really liked the Odyssey film, that I thought it was amazing. And I’ve got to say most of my breathtaking moments, you know, have been on the water, like to sail around the Antarctic with a film crew. And be put into, you know, getting out on the, they call it sheet ice and you’ll be in the middle of the film, you know, doing this highly dramatic, same with people in prosthetics and waves.

Yet the road covered up in these clothes and all of a sudden you’ve got this emperor penguin just decides to jump out of the ocean and come over and check out what you’re doing, which by the way, I’m five foot six. And it was almost as tall as me.

They are huge. You like David Attenborough. You’re not doing him any justice at all and

messy, but, but I’ve also been, you know, trying to get back into the, um, the small boats, the little DS that took you back to the main ship.

And we were stuck between two sheets of ice that was closing in on us. And you could say the boat start to fold, keeping in mind that you can survive in that order with no particular gear for about 90 seconds.

Brett Stanley: [00:34:43] which is, yeah, that’s a fairly long time.

Rick Findlater: [00:34:45] Yeah on enough time to hopefully get you to some rescue. If the Alderman’s done it, you’ve

Brett Stanley: [00:34:51] that’s true. Well, the penguins.

Rick Findlater: [00:34:53] follow the penguin.

Brett Stanley: [00:34:54] That’s awesome, Rick, just all that kind of information has been really, really cool and hearing about, you know, all the things that, that you have to take into account when you’re, when you’re working with water on set, have you got anything coming up?

I know the Cove has probably put the kibosh on a lot of this, but anything exciting coming up.

Rick Findlater: [00:35:10] well currently, I mean, halfway shooting the last mile we’ll film,  um, until we’ve been stood down. so I’m just waiting to resume to go back onto that. Um, and then after that, who knows, but I, I feel like those quirky films, the, um, you know, the things like. The Odyssey, but you really do have to watch the impulsive.

We’ll just get a box of tissues when you do it.

Brett Stanley: [00:35:30] Yeah, I think that might be on the couch, but it’s not actually

I’ll uh, I’ll I’ll sit Jamie down. Yeah. Hey, thanks Rick. It’s been awesome to have a chat with you.

Rick Findlater: [00:35:38] Anytime.

Brett Stanley: [00:35:39] you. Ma’am.

Rick Findlater: [00:35:40] Thanks. See ya.

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