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I'm a complete beginner, how do I start learning prosthetics and makeup FX?

Neill Gorton’s Beginners’ Advice

If you’re interested in the world of prosthetics and makeup FX, the first question is: do you want to learn as the first steps towards a career, or learn for fun?

This matters because what you do next and how you approach your learning is different depending on which path you go down. Let’s look at each and why…

As a hobby: people who do makeup FX and prosthetics as a hobby will use their skills to create cosplay costumes or for Halloween events and parties. It’s all for your own pleasure and you create the things you want to create in the way you want to create them. This means the subject matter tends to involve more visually impactful creations such as blood and gore FX or re-creations of famous characters. There’s a lot more out-of-the-kit type makeup involved and most people will work off their kitchen table using easily available materials.

As a career: the key difference in doing makeup FX and prosthetics as a career is you work to someone else’s brief and to meet the needs of your employer or a client. Rarely will you be required to reproduce an already famous character, and blood and gore FX make up only a very small portion of the work you would be expected to do. It tends to involve far less time actually doing makeup and far more time in workshops making moulds and executing processes that are more akin to fine art.

Starting out

So how does this affect you when you’re starting out and seeking ways to learn? The most obvious first steps are to learn from free online resources such as YouTube. Some tutorials are very good and some are very, VERY bad. If you’re looking to learn however, this is still a great way to start – see the next section, ‘Is YouTube a good place to learn?’ – and the way these tutorials usually show someone applying makeup to themselves is the way you’re most likely to start learning. I know my first makeups were done on myself while looking in a mirror.

Is YouTube a good place to learn?

What YouTube offers

As mentioned in the previous section, the most obvious first steps are to learn from free online resources such as YouTube. Some tutorials are very good and some are very, VERY bad. If you’re looking to learn however, this is still a great way to start and the way these tutorials usually show someone applying makeup to themselves is the way you’re most likely to start learning.

Although hugely varied in quality, some YouTube tutorials can be handy. Keep in mind though that these ‘free’ tutorials do come with a price. Those YouTubers earn money by having you click on their links, so rather than focus on core skills that are useful to a professional, they’re instead going to focus on eye-catching and simple tutorials that mostly involve creating gore FX using out-of-the-kit makeup. While the results are fun and serve the purpose of being noticeable for online tutorials, the results are not film quality and the techniques are far too basic and fragile to be used for a professional film shoot. The reality is that professional prosthetics and makeup FX tend to take a lot more time to create than could ever be crammed into a 30-minute online tutorial. In fact, a professional prosthetic will usually take a number of weeks to prepare and involve a lot of technical processes that will make for far less exciting viewing on YouTube.

So if what you see on YouTube is the fun stuff you want to do as a hobby then certainly use that as your mode of learning. Should you wish to advance your hobby further or want to pursue this as a career however, then you’ll want to take a step up.

What's the most important piece of advice you have for a beginner?

Neill Gorton’s essential advice

So here’s the one piece of absolutely essential and pivotal advice I give everyone starting out about how to get hired:

We hire TALENT AND SKILLS.

That’s it. There’s no caveats to this, there’s no ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’, there’s no lottery or competition you can win that can get you a job and I certainly don’t employ people because of the number of likes and retweets they get, or because they have lots of followers on Instagram. I also don’t hire because you have certificates or qualifications. I hire…

TALENT AND SKILLS.

How do you show you have talent and skills? With a portfolio. With pictures of your creations. Detailed, clean, crisp pictures of your work and not just finished pieces; photographs of a process – moulds and sculptures and designs. All of that presented cleanly and in a manner that a potential employer can see and evaluate.

 

What are your quick-fire tips for beginners?

Neill’s quick-fire tips to help you on your way

  • Prosthetics is about learning to change the face in 3D, but first understand how the face can be shaped in 2D with theatrical highlighting and shadowing techniques and this will provide you with a very solid foundation on which to build. This requires nothing more complicated than a couple of art brushes and some black and white face paint to achieve.
  • Understanding anatomy is hugely important. Artists creating even the most fantastical creations have drawn inspiration from real anatomy to produce convincing creatures. You’ll find inexpensive anatomy books for artists in almost any bookshop; look for a local life study class or night school to join.
  • Stay away from blood and gore.
  • Find avenues for practising your skills. Volunteer for local theatre groups and help out on student films. There may not be any money in it but you’ll be working to a brief and a deadline and you’ll also be applying makeup to people other than yourself, which is a skill in itself.
  • In a similar vein, a part time job in a hairdressing salon is a good place to develop some fundamental skills. Prosthetic makeup artists need to know how to work with people, make them feel comfortable and confident. Even if it’s just washing the hair of someone you’ve only just met, there are a lot of parallels to the way a prosthetic makeup artist might deal with an actor who is being life cast or is having prosthetics applied.
  • Learn some basic photography skills and buy a decent point and shoot camera with a good lens. Photographs taken on a phone tend to be poor quality and get compressed in weird ways, which makes them hard to produce as good quality prints to go in a portfolio. There’s no point putting lots of time, effort and money into creating a great portfolio piece only to take a bad photograph of it!

Can you recommend any learning resources?

There are many, many different resources out there. Here are some we’re involved in and that we recommend:

Neill Gorton’s Makeup FX 911 group on Facebook. An invaluable source of advice for technical queries with many professional prosthetics artists on hand to share tips. It’s a closed group to prevent spammers, so please ask to join and you will be accepted

Neill’s Materials’ ‘how to’ videos: great demonstrations on how to use useful products

MFX Warehouse DVDs: step-by-step tutorials from Neill with online streaming options

Prosthetics Magazine: quarterly magazine full of invaluable tutorials and industry features – print and online subscriptions available

The Prosthetics Event: annual educational event in Coventry, UK every November – featuring back-to-back classes on two stages, demonstrations, specialist retail, career advice, exhibits and prize draws

Books: there are many helpful books out there – here are some examples:

No Strings Attached – The Inside Story of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop
Matt Bacon, published by Virgin 1997

Making a Monster – The Creation of Screen Characters
Al Taylor and Sue Roy, published by Crown 1980

Making Faces Playing God – Identity and the Art of Transformational Makeup
Thomas Morawetz, published by the University of Texas Press 2001

Special Effects – An Oral History
Pascal Pinteau, published by Abrams 2003

Sculpting a Galaxy – Inside the Star Wars Model Shop
Lorne Peterson, published by Insight Editions 2006

Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen: Making and Applying Prosthetics
Todd Debreceni, published by Focal Press, 3rd edition 2018

The Monstrous Make-up Manual
Mike Spatolla, 2 books available 2019

There are a lot of courses in prosthetics out there, how do I choose the right one for me?

There are now many places to study prosthetics, either as an individual subject or part of a broader course. Choosing what kind of course is right for you will depend on your career objectives, but here are some basic pointers that could help you find the right place to study:

Subject range: make sure this is relevant to the job you’re aiming to do; if you want to be a straight makeup artist you’ll probably only need a basic knowledge of prosthetics and this may be taught in one short module. If you want to be a prosthetics technician however, you’ll need a course that focuses on that rather than diluting it with a lot of other subjects you don’t really need. If you’re unsure, consider a general course in media makeup which will introduce you to all the disciplines involved before you choose what to specialise in.

Environment: it’s important you feel comfortable at the study venue, especially if your course involves being away from home. Go and visit it beforehand to make sure it’s the right kind of environment for you.

Tutors: you need to be sure your money is being spent on tutors who really know their subject – are you confident the school, college or uni has staff with the correct, up-to-date skills to pass on to you? Ask for examples and check their professional credits on the industry’s online database IMDB.

Promises of work: be wary of courses that say you’re guaranteed work at the end of them – they are likely to be deceiving you. Courses can give you the skills to equip you for work; however getting that work will be down to your talent, dedication and determination alone.

Alumni achievements: how well have past students from the course done professionally? Is there evidence of them being successful once they’ve graduated?

Qualifications: the most valuable thing you leave a course with in terms of starting a career in screen prosthetics is a portfolio that shows photographs of your work. Certificates and letters after your name have their place; however it’s the visual examples of your skills that will really mean something to prospective employers, so choose a course on the merit of its practical content and quality of teaching first and foremost.

Why are industry links important when you're training?

The film industry changes fast and you need to know the most up-to-date techniques and materials to stand the best chance of getting work. It also behaves differently to other industries, so you need to learn how it functions.

The most effective way to learn these essentials is at a school that has direct contact with the industry, so you can learn them first-hand. This can be through tutors who also work professionally themselves, or through access to a professional working environment. Our training studio shares a building with multi-award winning industry company Millennium FX and all our tutors also work in film and TV, giving us the strongest industry links available.

Which school exam subjects should I choose to help me get into prosthetics?

There is no standard prescription for this, but prosthetics artists need practical skills and the best way to acquire and develop these is by taking practical subjects. These could be subjects whose curricula include the following, all of which are relevant skills that tangibly translate into the world of special effects:

Art and design: drawing, painting, sculpture, life study, pottery, fine art, craft, metalwork and engineering, woodwork, needlework and costuming, model making, design technology.

Digital: The craft of prosthetics is using an increasing amount of digital processes and software in its everyday practice, so being adept in the digital realm is also an advantage and subjects like IT and computer technology will be beneficial to you.

Science: From another perspective, if you’re interested in science then chemistry is always useful as it will help you understand how the materials used in prosthetic manufacture work. This can be learnt at a later stage, but a head start is never a bad thing.

Are there any entry requirements for short courses?

Each course is different but there are rarely any formal entry criteria, unless the course is part-funded by an external grant giving organisation such as Skillset for example. Other than that we clearly state in the course description who it is suitable for and what level you need to be at in order to benefit from attending. It is then up to you to decide whether the course in question is appropriate for you.

What do I need to bring with me?

General: A packed lunch is a good idea, but you can also drive into Aylesbury or walk next door to Tesco to buy food.

Technical: Each course is different and if you need to bring anything this will be stated in the information you receive after making a booking. There is rarely any need to bring anything for a short course other than something to take notes with if you wish to.

What will I take away from a short course?

Anything you have personally made during it if it’s a participatory course. You are also welcome to take as many photographs and notes as you wish.

How many people will there be on my short course?

Each course is different and it will vary according to the curriculum. If a course is demonstration-based it is likely to be designed for larger numbers than if it’s more hands-on for the attendees, and some fully participatory courses such as life casting for example are designed for very small groups. The maximum number of students the course will comprise is always stated in the course information on this website, and in the information sent to you after booking a place.

What is the student-teacher ratio on a short course?

This will vary according to the curriculum. If the course is demonstration-based it will be a higher ratio than if it’s more hands-on for the attendees, and if it’s a fully participatory subject such as life casting for example it will usually have a very small student-teacher ratio. If the course has one principal tutor they will sometimes have an assistant with them for all or part of the time.

Is there funding available for your courses?

Yes there is limited funding out there but every source has different criteria that are usually narrow. Here are some pointers that could be worth a look to see if you qualify…

ScreenSkills: the industry-led skills charity for the screen industries. They offer bursaries to existing film professionals who can demonstrate that they’re working as freelancers in the UK film industry and have at least two professional credits (above trainee or daily level). These bursaries from two separate funds are for up to £1,000 and up to £800 and operate under specific criteria and priority areas.

The Film and Television Charity: formerly the Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund – has offered support and financial assistance to film professionals since 1924. If you’ve worked in film or TV for more than two years and have ever faced financial, health or career challenges, they could help you find funding for training or retraining.

Grants and bursaries for adult learning: the UK government’s guide to seeking financial support for adult education.

Turn2Us: Free, easy-to-use benefits calculator and grants search tools to check what benefits you might be able to claim and what grants you might be able to apply for.

Money Saving Expert: Martin Lewis’ guide to finding funding for studying

Private trusts and foundations: there are many private grant-giving bodies including some that fund individuals for educational purposes; their criteria are usually published. You can find information about the main trusts and foundations by searching the Internet, but online directories and search facilities that list them are costly to access on sites such as ‘grants for individuals’ linked to in this section title, and competition for such funds is huge.

What are the payment options for your courses?

Short courses

  1. Pay in full: pay the full fee via the website with a credit or debit card
  2. Payment plan: choose an interest-free payment plan of 3 or 6 months’ duration via the website; monthly instalments are taken directly from your bank account. These plans are available to all students; UK students’ plans may run past the end of the course, international students’ plans must be completed before the start of the course
  3. Bespoke payment plan: contact us to arrange a tailored plan to suit you; monthly instalments are taken directly from your bank account
  4. By phone: call us on +44 1209 211144 to make your booking with a card
  5. Bank transfer: call us to check course availability, register your details and agree payment amount/s, then please use your surname as the payment reference and elect to pay all bank fees; Gorton Studio does not take responsibility for students’ bank fees. See below for bank details:

7-week courses

  1. Pay in full: pay the full fee via the website with a credit or debit card
  2. 3-step plan: pay an initial payment of £1,500 via the website to book your place, then two subsequent payments of £3,000 at 16 and 8 weeks before the course starts; we will email to remind you when these two payments are due, and provide links to our online payment facility for both
  3. Payment plan: choose an interest-free payment plan of 3 or 6 or 12 months’ duration via the website; monthly instalments are taken directly from your bank account. These plans are available to all students; UK students’ plans may run past the end of the course, international students’ plans must be completed before the start of the course
  4. Bespoke payment plan: contact us to arrange a tailored plan to suit you; monthly instalments are taken directly from your bank account
  5. By phone: call us on +44 1209 211144 to make your booking with a card
  6. Bank transfer: call us to check course availability, register your details and agree the amount/s you will be paying, then please use your surname as the payment reference and elect to pay all bank fees; Gorton Studio does not take responsibility for students’ bank fees. Here are our bank details:

Our bank details

Barclays Bank, Chipping Ongar Branch, 186 High Street, Chipping Ongar
Essex, CM5 9LJ

Account Number: 50252972
Sort Code: 20-29-86
Swift Code: BARCGB22
IBAN: BARCGB22 GB40 BARC 2029 8650 2529 72

Can I pay course fees in instalments?

Yes! We offer interest-free payment plans for all our courses; choose from a 3, 6 or 12 month plan or contact us to arrange a bespoke plan to suit your circumstances.

UK students can set up a plan on this website which may run past the end of the course. International students please contact us to arrange a plan.

If you would like a bespoke payment plan, please contact us to discuss your requirements.

What happens if I miss a payment in my payment plan?

If you are having difficulty meeting payments please contact us and discuss it; we can be accommodating if we are aware of your situation.

Missing payments prior to the start of the course could result in you being unable to take the course. If you default on payments after having taken the course, we may charge you for any legal or other costs we incur in recovering the debt, including a fee for our reasonable administrative costs.

Here’s how payment plan defaults work for all courses:

1st payment:
Non-refundable in all circumstances

Unpaid instalment with customer contact:
A new payment date can be arranged; if payment is then not received within 7 days of the new date all payments to date are non-refundable and cancellation of place actioned

Unpaid instalment without customer contact:
All payments to date are non-refundable and cancellation of place actioned

Cancellations, refunds and deferments

If you wish to cancel the place you are purchasing using a payment plan, the standard cancellation, refund and deferment policies apply places purchased using payment plans. These appear on this website on the course information page and in the document emailed to you after booking.

If I cancel my place will I get my money back?

We operate cancellation and refund policies for all our courses. These are clearly stated within the course information on this website and in the paperwork you receive when you book a place on a course. Check the policy for your course here:

7-WEEK COURSES

£1,500 of the fee is non-refundable in all cancellation circumstances

Cancellations made up to 16 weeks before the course start date:
£1,500 non-refundable, all other payments refunded

Cancellations made between 16 and 18 weeks before the course start date:
£1,500 non-refundable; £3000 of payments received are refunded

Cancellations made less than 8 weeks before the start date of the course:
Regrettably no refunds

Place refill clause: if you cancel your place less than 8 weeks before the course start date and we are able to fill it again, a £3,000 refund will be given. However if we are unable to fill it the no-refund policy remains in place. This clause does not apply to deferred places – please see below.

SHORT COURSES

Cancellations made up to 42 days before the start date of the course:
90% of the fee will be refunded

Cancellations made between 41 and 28 days before the start date of the course:
50% of the fee will be refunded

Cancellations made after 28 days before the start date of the course:
Regrettably no refunds

Place refill clause: if you cancel your place less than 28 days before the course start date and we are able to fill it again, a 50% refund will be given. However if we are unable to fill it the no-refund policy remains in place. This clause does not apply to deferred places – please see below.

PLACE DEFERMENTS ON ALL COURSES

You may defer a place on a Gorton Studio course only once with a valid reason and must request deferment no less than 8 weeks before the start date of the course. After this deferment is not possible.

In terms of the cancellation and refund policy, a deferment works as a ‘freeze frame’ from the day it is agreed on the original course, to that same day in relation to the start date of the course you’re deferring to. If you choose to defer and then cancel the place 28 days or less before the start date of the course you have deferred to, there will be no refund even if the place is refilled.

You will not be eligible for a deferment Agreement if any one of these points apply to you:

  • You have previously cancelled a place on a Gorton Studio course
  • You have previously deferred a place on a Gorton Studio course
  • You have failed to complete a payment plan after attending the associated course

Do I need to buy a special kit to do a course?

No, there are no extra costs attached to our courses. The materials and basic kit you need to complete each course is provided as part of the course fee – if you already have a kit that you’d like to bring you’re welcome to do so, but please remember space is limited and power tools will be tested for safety standards prior to use.

Are there any entry requirements for your courses?

All Courses

You need to be 18 or over (with the exception of Summer School which is designed for 14-18 year olds), have a good understanding of spoken English and basic conversational use of English.

Short Courses

Each course is different but there are rarely any formal entry criteria, unless the course is part-funded by an external grant-giving organisation such as Skillset for example. Other than that we clearly state in the course description who it is suitable for and what level you need to be at in order to benefit from attending. It is then up to you to decide whether the course in question is appropriate for you.

7-week course

This course requires you to have some basic creative ability. In order to feel confident that you have this, you should have had a go at some hands-on work in any creative medium including painting, sculpture or 3-dimensional crafts. This can be through classes at school or college, or just in your own time.

Please read the self-assessment criteria below to decide. We recommend doing this so you get the most out of the course and receive value for money. In general, you will need basic creative ability through having done some hands-on work in any medium including painting, sculpture or 3-dimensional crafts. Students must also be over 18, have a good understanding of spoken English and basic conversational use of English.

This course is for those seeking a career in areas such as:

  • Makeup FX for film, TV and theatre
  • Prosthetic mask making
  • Maxillofacial and cosmetic prosthetics
  • Casualty simulation
  • Medical simulation
  • Hyper-realistic art
  • Cosplay
  • Haunts
  • Live events

To get the most out of it we recommend one of the following criteria should apply to you:

1. You have studied a course of any length in a subject such as makeup, prosthetics, prop making, costume making, model making, theatre crafts, fine art, ceramics, textiles, pottery, sculpture etc

2. You have previously attended one of our, or another provider’s, hands-on short courses on prosthetics/makeup FX techniques

3. You have some experience as a hobbyist or cosplayer that includes makeup, sculpture, basic prosthetics or hands-on craft work

4. You have worked in any kind of hands-on creative subject

If any of the above apply the course is appropriate for you. We’re certainly not expecting you to arrive with extensive skills, but as this is an intensive course that is very hands-on, and the processes and techniques being taught are at a professional level, if you are coming to us with no basic knowledge or no hands-on experience whatsoever you might find it difficult.

An example of this is sculpture. When you’re first starting out it takes a little time to get used to the feel of the clay and what it’s like to work with. It can take a day or two to really get familiar with it and it’s far better for you to do this before the course. Clay is quite inexpensive and easy to source, so you can experiment with this material at your own pace and on your own time. Then, when you start the course, you’ll get a lot more out of the tuition than if you’d never previously handled these materials.

After considering the above, if you feel the course is suitable for you please go ahead and book a place. If you’re unsure please contact us and we’ll advise you on your suitability. If you don’t think you’re quite ready, we can also suggest ways to help develop your basic skills to the right standard.

What are your terms and conditions of attendance?

Please abide by the following rules to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience for everyone:

  • You must be over 18 and have a good understanding of spoken English
  • You must have read the course information, curriculum and self-assessment entry criteria on the website and recapped above/below to ensure the course is suitable for you
  • You must have read our cancellation and refund policy for this course. This is on our website on the course information page, is recapped below and linked to in the email accompanying this document
  • All studio health and safety procedures must be strictly adhered to. Gorton Studio reserves the right to ask any student not following the guidelines to leave the course. Refunds will not be granted in this instance
  • Please ensure all working areas are cleaned and materials put away at the end of each day
  • Please do not smoke inside the studio or workshop
  • Please don’t eat in the studio
  • Photos/videos we take during the course will be used for future marketing purposes
  • The Gorton Studio classroom is situated in the Millennium FX building. Please don’t enter the Millennium workshop without permission; Millennium is a busy industry FX company and we expect students to respect this fact and act responsibly and considerately within it, and in all the communal areas inside and outside the building. Anyone failing to respect the environment, the staff, our guests or disrupting the business of Millennium FX in any way may be asked to leave the course. Refunds will not be granted in this instance
  • Please sign the non-disclosure/health & safety/media policy agreement provided on day one before your course begins
  • Please sign in and out of the building every day

How do cancellations and refunds work?

7-WEEK COURSES

£1,500 of the fee is non-refundable in all cancellation circumstances

Cancellations made up to 16 weeks before the course start date:
£1,500 non-refundable, all other payments refunded

Cancellations made between 16 and 18 weeks before the course start date:
£1,500 non-refundable; £3000 of payments received are refunded

Cancellations made less than 8 weeks before the start date of the course:
Regrettably no refunds

Place refill clause: if you cancel your place less than 8 weeks before the course start date and we are able to fill it again, a £3,000 refund will be given. However if we are unable to fill it the no-refund policy remains in place. This clause does not apply to deferred places – please see below.

SHORT COURSES

Cancellations made up to 42 days before the start date of the course:
90% of the fee will be refunded

Cancellations made between 41 and 28 days before the start date of the course:
50% of the fee will be refunded

Cancellations made after 28 days before the start date of the course:
Regrettably no refunds

Place refill clause: if you cancel your place less than 28 days before the course start date and we are able to fill it again, a 50% refund will be given. However if we are unable to fill it the no-refund policy remains in place. This clause does not apply to deferred places – please see below.

PLACE DEFERMENTS ON ALL COURSES

You may defer a place on a Gorton Studio course only once with a valid reason and must request deferment no less than 8 weeks before the start date of the course, after this deferment is not possible.

In terms of the cancellation and refund policy, a deferment works as a ‘freeze frame’ from the day it is agreed on the original course, to that same day in relation to the start date of the course you’re deferring to. If you choose to defer and then cancel the place 28 days or less before the start date of the course you have deferred to, there will be no refund even if the place is refilled.

You will not be eligible for a deferment Agreement if any one of these points apply to you:

  • You have previously cancelled a place on a Gorton Studio course
  • You have previously deferred a place on a Gorton Studio course
  • You have failed to complete a payment plan after attending the associated course

Are there rules about deferring my place?

Yes, you may defer a place on a Gorton Studio course only once with a valid reason and must request deferment no less than 8 weeks before the start date of the course. After this deferment is not possible.

In terms of the cancellation and refund policy, a deferment works as a ‘freeze frame’ from the day it is agreed on the original course, to that same day in relation to the start date of the course you’re deferring to. If you choose to defer and then cancel the place 28 days or less before the start date of the course you have deferred to, there will be no refund even if the place is refilled.

You will not be eligible for a deferment Agreement if any one of these points apply to you:

  • You have previously cancelled a place on a Gorton Studio course
  • You have previously deferred a place on a Gorton Studio course
  • You have failed to complete a payment plan after attending the associated course

What happens if I miss a payment in my payment plan?

If you are having difficulty meeting payments please contact us and discuss it; we can be accommodating if we are aware of your situation.

Missing payments prior to the start of the course could result in you being unable to take the course. If you default on payments after having taken the course, we may charge you for any legal or other costs we incur in recovering the debt, including a fee for our reasonable administrative costs.

Here’s how payment plan defaults work for all courses:

1st payment:
Non-refundable in all circumstances

Unpaid instalment with customer contact:
A new payment date can be arranged; if payment is then not received within 7 days of the new date all payments to date are non-refundable and cancellation of place actioned

Unpaid instalment without customer contact:
All payments to date are non-refundable and cancellation of place actioned

Cancellations, refunds and deferments

If you wish to cancel the place you are purchasing using a payment plan, the standard cancellation, refund and deferment policies apply places purchased using payment plans. These appear on this website on the course information page and in the document emailed to you after booking.

Can I visit the Studio to view the facilities?

Yes! Please come and look around but it’s essential to book an appointment in advance. To arrange to visit please email us or call + 44 1209 211144.

Why do I have to be over 18 to attend most courses?

We feel this is a sensible age limit as attending a course may require staying away from home. If you’re under 18 please do contact us however, as we can still offer you advice. Obviously our Summer Schools are an exception, as they’re designed for 14 – 18 year olds.

How do you choose your tutors?

The tutors have been chosen because they are well-rounded, highly accomplished industry professionals. Neill has worked extensively with all of them, as well as with our visiting specialists, who often collaborate with Millennium FX.

Will I get a certificate when I complete a course?

Do you award different grades to graduates of your 7-week courses?

No, there is no grading and students are not in competition with each other. Marking a course of this nature in that way would be irrelevant as it bears no relation to how the industry works.

Is there any funding available for your courses?

Yes there is limited funding out there but every source has different criteria that are usually narrow. Here are some pointers that could be worth a look to see if you qualify…

ScreenSkills: the industry-led skills charity for the screen industries. They offer bursaries to existing film professionals who can demonstrate that they’re working as freelancers in the UK film industry and have at least two professional credits (above trainee or daily level). These bursaries from two separate funds are for up to £1,000 and up to £800 and operate under specific criteria and priority areas.

The Film and Television Charity: formerly the Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund has offered support and financial assistance to film professionals since 1924. If you’ve worked in film or TV for more than two years and have ever faced financial, health or career challenges, they could help you find funding for training or retraining.

Grants and bursaries for adult learning: the UK government’s guide to seeking financial support for adult education.

Turn2Us: Free, easy-to-use benefits calculator and grants search tools to check what benefits you might be able to claim and what grants you might be able to apply for.

Money Saving Expert: Martin Lewis’ guide to finding funding for studying

Private trusts and foundations: there are many private grant-giving bodies including some that fund individuals for educational purposes; their criteria are usually published. You can find information about the main trusts and foundations by searching the Internet, but online directories and search facilities that list them are costly to access on sites such as ‘grants for individuals’ linked to in this section title, and competition for such funds is huge.

I want to visit from another country to study at Gorton Studio, how do I go about this?

We welcome international students and will be pleased to issue an official confirmation letter for use in immigration applications upon receipt of your deposit.

Many of our students have secured tourist/visitor visas to participate on our courses. These can be used because we are not a state-run institution but a private school, as long as you do not work while you’re here studying and you intend to take the skills you learn back to use in your home country.

How can I find out about accommodation near Gorton Studio?

Here is some of the accommodation available in private houses in and around Aylesbury. Please note, we are not recommending these as we have not assessed them; we’re merely passing on the contact information, and information shown may not be completely accurate:

36 Wedgewood Street, Aylesbury

Approximate Distance from Studio: 3 minute drive
Description: Double room with own bathroom in private house.
Contact name: Simon Bradford
Phone: +44 7974 074484
Email: sjbradford@gmail.com

Cannock Road, Aylesbury

Approximate Distance from Studio: 5 minute drive
Description: Single room in a private 3 bedroom house shared with owner (alumni of the 7-week course, and freelancer in the SFX makeup industry; often working at Millennium FX!) Available all year round. Access to kitchen, garden, Internet, washing machine and dryer, dishwasher, bathroom and workspace. £120 per week, £50 deposit.
Contact name: Tim Quinton
Phone: +447551 361172
Email: tim.quintonfx@gmail.com

Buckingham Park, Aylesbury

Approximate Distance from Studio: 5 minute drive
Description: Room in a private 3 bedroom house shared with owner and her young son, available all year round. Access to garden, Internet, washing machine, dishwasher and bathroom. £110 per week, £50 deposit.
Contact name: Emma Jane
Phone: +44 7913 8200 53
Email: emmajane74.ej@gmail.com

22 Taylor Road, Aylesbury

Approximate Distance from Studio: 5 minute drive
Description: Single room with en-suite in private house
Contact name: Mark and Viv
Phone: + 44 7796 532 775
Email: markk472@googlemail.com

2-room apartments near Aylesbury

Approximate Distance from Studio: 10 minute drive
Description: 2 sets of accommodation in thatched 14th Century home. Village location close to Aston Clinton; 5 miles south of Aylesbury off A41 and on bus routes to Aylesbury:

1. The Union Bedroom: 2 rooms: 11×10 furnished double and private lounge (12×9) with sofa bed and workstation. Shared bath and shower, access to kitchen with all facilities and large garden with outdoor heated pool (spring & summer). £700 per calendar month based on single occupancy, bills included, deposit £100.

2. Detached Garden Studio: (17×12) in grounds with heated pool access in spring & summer. Double bed, wardrobe, workspace, kitchenette, en-suite shower and toilet. £600 per calendar month based on single occupancy, bills included, deposit £100.

Both have 24hr use of a prosthetics workroom. 2 dogs and a cat in main house. Owned by a long-established industry makeup designer who did our 7-week course in 2016, so understands the need for a home from home!

Contact name: Jacqui
Phone: +44 7889 595990
Email: spareroomrental66@gmail.com

Two bedrooms available in the Centre of Aylesbury

Approximate Distance from Studio: 5 minute drive/bus or 25minute walk

Description:Just a few minutes’ walk from Aylesbury Waterside theatre, or an easy train ride from Wycombe Swan theatre, friendly and welcoming family offering a home from home in a beautiful Grade II listed period property while you’re away from your own, and busy working.

Both rooms are recently redecorated and are fresh, warm and comfortable, with tea and coffee making facilities. The main room can be made up as a twin or king size bed at your request. A large family bathroom (with shower and bath) is shared with the owner. A separate sitting room is available for your use with sofa, TV, dining table and chairs so you can relax downstairs away from your bedroom if you desire. WI-FI available.

Price Per week – 1 Guest £220, 2 Guests £250

Contact Name: Fiona Bull

Email:fmgbull@hotmail.co.uk

Phone:+447597592062

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We also recommend searching the following websites using the studio’s postcode HP19 8ZU:

Spareroom.co.uk
Rightmove Students
Nestoria (rentals)
Gumtree rent and Gumtree share
Airbnb

For hotels/bed & breakfasts, these websites are helpful:

Hotels.uk.com
Booking.com
Budgethotels.com
Homeaway.co.uk offers self-catering options.

If I cancel my booking will I get a refund?

We operate cancellation and refund policies for all our courses. These are clearly stated within the course information on this website and in the paperwork you receive when you book a place on a course. Check the policy for your course here:

7-week courses

£1,500 of the fee is non-refundable in all cancellation circumstances

Cancellations made up to 16 weeks before the course start date:
£1,500 non-refundable, all other payments refunded

Cancellations made between 16 and 18 weeks before the course start date:
£1,500 non-refundable; £3000 of payments received are refunded

Cancellations made less than 8 weeks before the start date of the course:
Regrettably no refunds

Place refill clause: if you cancel your place less than 8 weeks before the course start date and we are able to fill it again, a £3,000 refund will be given. However if we are unable to fill it the no-refund policy remains in place. This clause does not apply to deferred places – please see below.

Short courses

Cancellations made up to 42 days before the start date of the course:
90% of the fee will be refunded

Cancellations made between 41 and 28 days before the start date of the course:
50% of the fee will be refunded

Cancellations made after 28 days before the start date of the course:
Regrettably no refunds

Place refill clause: if you cancel your place less than 28 days before the course start date and we are able to fill it again, a 50% refund will be given. However if we are unable to fill it the no-refund policy remains in place. This clause does not apply to deferred places – please see below.

Place deferments on all courses

You may defer a place on a Gorton Studio course only once with a valid reason and must request deferment no less than 8 weeks before the start date of the course. After this deferment is not possible.

In terms of the cancellation and refund policy, a deferment works as a ‘freeze frame’ from the day it is agreed on the original course, to that same day in relation to the start date of the course you’re deferring to. If you choose to defer and then cancel the place 28 days or less before the start date of the course you have deferred to, there will be no refund even if the place is refilled.

You will not be eligible for a deferment Agreement if any one of these points apply to you:

  • You have previously cancelled a place on a Gorton Studio course
  • You have previously deferred a place on a Gorton Studio course
  • You have failed to complete a payment plan after attending the associated course

Why do you have a cancellation and refund policy?

If a place is cancelled at relatively short notice, a lot of work will have already been done by then on the assumption that it will be filled. For example materials will have been purchased, the tutor and assistant booked, and the pre-course administration completed. It can be difficult or impossible to secure a replacement student in the weeks leading up a course; even if people are on a waiting list, it’s often not possible for them to alter their schedules or find the funding to take up the place at the last minute. The cancellation and refund policy is there to make this as manageable as possible for us, and to cover the administration costs that will have already been spent on the cancelled place.

Can I defer my place on a course?

You may defer a place on a Gorton Studio course only once with a valid reason and must request deferment no less than 8 weeks before the start date of the course. After this deferment is not possible.

In terms of the cancellation and refund policy, a deferment works as a ‘freeze frame’ from the day it is agreed on the original course, to that same day in relation to the start date of the course you’re deferring to. If you choose to defer and then cancel the place 28 days or less before the start date of the course you have deferred to, there will be no refund even if the place is refilled.

You will not be eligible for a deferment agreement if any one of these points apply to you:

  • You have previously cancelled a place on a Gorton Studio course
  • You have previously deferred a place on a Gorton Studio course
  • You have failed to complete a payment plan after attending the associated course

Are courses ever cancelled?

Very occasionally circumstances out of our control may arise which prevent a course from running. If you’ve booked a place, we will notify you and refund everything you have paid immediately.

What are your terms and conditions of attendance?

Please abide by the following rules to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience for everyone:

  • You must be over 18 (unless otherwise specified), have a good understanding of spoken English and basic conversational use of English
  • You must have read the course information, curriculum, and self-assessment entry criteria on the website and recapped above/below to ensure the course is suitable for you
  • You must have read our cancellation and refund policy for this course. This is on our website on the course information page, is recapped below and linked to in the email accompanying this document
  • All studio health and safety procedures must be strictly adhered to. Gorton Studio reserves the right to ask any student not following the guidelines to leave the course. Refunds will not be granted in this instance
  • Please ensure all working areas are cleaned and materials put away at the end of each day
  • Please do not smoke inside the studio or workshop
  • Please don’t eat in the studio
  • Photos/videos we take during the course will be used for future marketing purposes
  • The Gorton Studio classroom is situated in the Millennium FX building. Please don’t enter the Millennium workshop without permission; Millennium is a busy industry FX company and we expect students to respect this fact and act responsibly and considerately within it, and in all the communal areas inside and outside the building. Anyone failing to respect the environment, the staff, our guests, or disrupting the business of Millennium FX in any way may be asked to leave the course. Refunds will not be granted in this instance.
  • Please sign the non-disclosure/health & safety/media policy agreement provided on day one before your course begins
  • Please sign in and out of the building every day

Is this the right course for me?

Please read the self-assessment criteria below to decide. We recommend doing this so you get the most out of the course and receive value for money. In general, you will need basic creative ability through having done some hands-on work in any medium including painting, sculpture or 3-dimensional crafts. Students must also be over 18, have a good understanding of spoken English and basic conversational use of English.

This course is for those seeking a career in areas such as:

Makeup FX for film, TV and theatre
Prosthetic mask making
Maxillofacial and cosmetic prosthetics
Casualty simulation
Medical simulation
Hyper-realistic art
Cosplay
Haunts
Live events

To get the most out of it we recommend one of the following criteria should apply to you:

1. You have studied a course of any length in a subject such as makeup, prosthetics, prop making, costume making, model making, theatre crafts, fine art, ceramics, textiles, pottery, sculpture etc

2. You have previously attended one of our, or another provider’s, hands-on short courses on prosthetics/makeup FX techniques

3. You have some experience as a hobbyist or cosplayer that includes makeup, sculpture, basic prosthetics or hands-on craft work

4. You have worked in any kind of hands-on creative subject

If any of the above apply the course is appropriate for you. We’re certainly not expecting you to arrive with extensive skills, but as this is an intensive course that is very hands-on, and the processes and techniques being taught are at a professional level, if you are coming to us with no basic knowledge or no hands-on experience whatsoever you might find it difficult.

An example of this is sculpture. When you’re first starting out it takes a little time to get used to the feel of the clay and what it’s like to work with. It can take a day or two to really get familiar with it and it’s far better for you to do this before the course. Clay is quite inexpensive and easy to source, so you can experiment with this material at your own pace and on your own time. Then, when you start the course, you’ll get a lot more out of the tuition than if you’d never previously handled these materials.

After considering the above, if you feel the course is suitable for you please go ahead and book a place. If you’re unsure please contact us and we’ll advise you on your suitability. If you don’t think you’re quite ready, we can also suggest ways to help develop your basic skills to the right standard.

Can you guarantee that doing this course will get me a job?

No, and any course that says it will is likely to be misleading you. What we can guarantee is the best standard of education of its kind available, the most relevant to the industry and in the most up-to-the minute techniques.

Because we are affiliated to Millennium FX which is an employer, we fully understand what employers are looking for and can therefore equip you with the correct information to point you in the right direction to seek work. Actually getting work however will be down to your talent, dedication and determination.

How much is Neill involved in day-to-day teaching?

Like all our tutors, Neill is a working industry professional which means his schedule is difficult to lock down in advance, but usually he’s able to teach a sculpture and design class in the first week of the course and is also there at the end to see the final projects come together. In between, whenever he’s around the Millennium FX workshop, he always stops in to check your progress, talk through your projects, and answer technical and creative questions – the general studio work and specialist areas will be led by the tutors and visiting practitioners.

How much contact will I have with Millenium FX?

There will be regular visits to see ongoing professional projects, plus students will be able to access Millennium’s archive of moulds, prosthetics and make-up FX to help them with their projects. Members of the Millennium team will also be available at certain times to advise individual students on their projects, show their portfolios and share their industry experience. There won’t be unlimited access however as Millennium is a busy workshop.

Is there any preparatory work I can do before my course?

It isn’t absolutely necessary to do any preparatory work, but the more knowledge you have before you arrive the better as the course is intensive, and hitting the ground running will ensure you make the most of your time with us.

Practising some sculpture before the course starts is an advantage; while we do teach the subject on the course to an extent, it’s a great help if you are already a little familiar with the materials and the basics of anatomical sculpture when you arrive. When you’re first starting out it takes some time to get used to the feel of the clay and what it’s like to work with. It can take time to really get familiar with it and it’s far better for you to do this before the course. Clays are quite inexpensive and easy to source, so you can experiment with this material at your own pace and on your own time. Then, when you start the course, you’ll get a lot more out of the tuition than if you’d never previously handled these materials.

This can be done simply using regular pottery clay and books such as the following, which we have quoted the International Standard Book Number for, so you can find them online and in shops:

  • Modelling the Head in Clay – Margit Malmstrom. ISBN 10: 0823030997
  • Modelling in Clay – Dorothy Arthur, ISBN 10: 0713667494

Also have a look at books and YouTube videos by sculptor Philippe Faraut.

Keeping abreast of trade publications such as Prosthetics Magazine is a good way to familiarise yourself with the industry beforehand.

What do I need to bring with me?

General: A packed lunch is a good idea, but you can drive into Aylesbury or walk to Tesco next door to buy something to eat during the lunch break.

Technical: We will provide all the makeup and modeling tools you’ll need to complete the course, however if you wish to bring any craft tools and equipment with you please do. All the necessary power tools will also be available, but you’re welcome to bring your own which will be checked by a tutor to ensure they meet health and safety standards prior to use.

The basic modeling tools supplied are yours to take away at the end of the course.

What will I take away with me from this course?

The photos we take of your work will be sent to you on a USB. You will also leave with all your moulds, casts, finished pieces of work and the basic modelling tools supplied for use on the course.

How many people will there be on my Makeup FX & Prosthetics Creation course?

No more than 6. These courses are fully participatory on the part of the students and therefore require space and a very small student/teacher ratio to ensure maximum attention and guidance for each individual.

What is the student-teacher ratio on the Makeup FX & Prosthetics Creation course?

1:6. We never exceed this as it’s the level at which students get the necessary individual attention for this curriculum. At times there will also be an assistant in the studio and other professionals visit from time to time.

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