Ep 16 | Donald Mowat - Makeup Designer (Daniel Craig, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eminem)

Credit: MGM

Transcript

Donald: 0:00 - First of all to be part of the Olympics and the whole Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen and all these secret talks we were having and it was so funny because, I said to Daniel told me, he said, “so we’re gonna do this thing, but nobody can say anything”. And I remember thinking, “oh my god!”, so I started telling it like, I start telling him and sort of, so let me just get this right. We’re going to go to a BP and we’re going to meet HMTQ number two, and we’re gonna set up and film a little bit, and the Queen’s gonna act. And this is so remarkable, it’s astounding.

Mike: 0:48 - Hello and welcome to Red Carpet Rookies. My name is Mike Battle, a film production junior working for Studios in London. Each episode I bring you advice and stories from film, TV and content professionals to help demystify and democratize the industries for juniors and fans alike. Thanks for joining me. Let’s get started. With a career spanning 30 years in the business, today’s guest is one of the most accomplished makeup designers in the industry, working his way through over 100 projects, including The Departed, Skyfall, First Man, Sicario and many more. He’s become a close collaborator of director Denny Villeneuve, an actor’s Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniel Craig and Mark Wahlberg along the way. I can’t wait to learn more about his career and advice for juniors. So, please welcome to the show, Emmy winner and BAFTA nominee, Mr. Donald Mowat.

Donald: 1:39 - Hello, hi, what a nice introduction. Thank you.

Mike: 1:43 - That’s quite alright. Now to get us going, Donald. I like to ask each one of our guests. What did your parents do? And did it affect your career decisions later in life?

Donald: 1:52 - Wow. That’s a very interesting question. And one I’m very happy to answer. And I’m really glad somebody has asked that, because I’ve never been asked before. My dad was a teacher, he was a very good one, actually a head teacher and my mom was a nurse, a registered nurse. And both my parents, well, all their lives as people did of that generation, right. But it’s really interesting. You asked me that, because sometimes I wonder where that thing of getting into, we inherit certain things because my mom and dad weren’t working in freelancers are working in what I’m interested in at all. But there’s some similarities, because I think they both gave very much of themselves and professions, especially teaching, which was the noble profession and all that. But I do think I inherited quite a bit from my mom and dad from their sense of duty and commitment to what they do for others. It certainly didn’t help teach me things, navigating snakes and ladders of the film industry, because I think my mom and dad would be quite shocked by some of the things we put up with, deal with as being so inappropriate. But yeah, so my mom and dad did. And I think they were very defined by what they did for a living and started very young.

Mike: 3:07 -Because Am I right that they’re from the UK?

Donald: 3:08 - Yeah. Yeah. So my dad grew up a little bit in England, and then went back up to Scotland during the war. We’re talking a long time ago. And my mom’s from up in Scotland. So, we have a very British kind of history in the UK and the whole family. Really, I think it’s just myself and my brother born outside the UK. So, I think that that sensibility, maybe you carry with you no matter where your family go, I think,

Mike: 3:32 - Yes, definitely. That’s pretty cool. And I know from some of my research that you were somewhat hesitant, I guess, about revealing your desire to want to be a makeup, did you ever consider following a more traditional path to kind of appease the older relatives and such?

Donald: 3:45 - Well, you know, I feel like because people listening, and I love that as younger people listening because let’s face it, we’re coming to a time at a moment where a lot of us who are getting more senior, older in the industry, need to pass along the knowledge and the experience. I think, when I started, it’s a hard thing to say, because on a certain level, and I really mean this, I think the job as a makeup artist, or a designer, a makeup man didn’t come with an awful lot of respect, in terms of the average person who thinks, “what do you do for a living?” I mean, how do you explain to someone and I think that at the time, it was difficult, because I was luckily around people who like going to the theater and like films and things, but to the average person, I remember people not having a tremendous amount of respect. I think that’s the thing I remembered, and I still think about it. I’ve completely not answered your question. I’m sorry, but I think it makes me think of so many things because I remember thinking when I was young, “but I love this” and I was I thought I was good at it, and people encourage you, and I always remind people that you don’t know when you are good other people tell you when you’re good. And being quite young and people saying, “you ought to do this for a living, you should do this” and thinking really like you can make a living. And once I figure it out, that’s when my mom and dad thought, “well, you can make a living”. Because I think people forget as a generational thing, my mother is 90. So, it’s a generational thing God while she looks incredible and she is incredible, but for people who lived through the war, and their youngest son says, “guess what I want to do”. When my mom went to nursing school, my father went to university and did a degree and literature and you say, I want to do, you kind of think “what the hell did we do wrong?” And as much as now it’s all good. We’re all good. But I think at the time, and I don’t mean to lighten that on anybody other than to say, why is it now all the makeup artists are doing degrees, you see, so really, I wasn’t wrong, there was a sense of lacking in something. And then now all these young makeup artists and makeup designers and to a lesser degree hair, it’s still the same, are doing the same thing. Going to drama school, going to film school, which is what I was desperate to do when I was young, but there was honestly, there was no courses, there was nothing. Do you know when I was young, you couldn’t even train at the BBC. If you take that BBC hashtag times. Me too. They wouldn’t train a boy Wow, boy, is what they said. Not a man a boy.

Mike: 6:18 - Was there a moment where everything changed and suddenly the haters as it were all went “bloody hell this this is amazing what you’re doing”. And then that whole flipped to another way. I can imagine that.

Donald: 6:28 - I think it’s like anything you have to put up with a lot, don’t you? We all do. There’s a certain amount of, as you said, “the haters”, and I think it’s a great expression. I think that there’s a lot of competition. There’s people who are naysayers, that “No, he can’t You can’t”. There’s a lot of that isn’t there, people standing in your road. I think once you get to a point where somebody acknowledges you, and that you feel like you’ve done and it’s a point I would like to really focus on and let people know who are listening. And the one thing I’ve never loved about this business is this sense of people saying “I’m only” -like someone said that to me one day- “Well, I’m only doing a television show. I’m only doing the Makeup” I know what but don’t belittle it. Don’t make it sound like, not everyone is going to work on this film, not everyone is going to be an Academy Award winner, to everybody is going to the BAFTAs it just doesn’t work like that. What you want is your own personal happiness of what do you like, and I love working. I love it. I hate the business. I really do. People know that about me. That’s a new thing. I hate the business. I won’t say hate because it’s a terrible word. Don’t like the business, but I love the work. I love the actors, and I love the crew, most of them. And I love working. I love to create the design and the makeup and prosthetics and all that. But I want people to understand that when I started I remember getting a job somewhere doing makeup demos at Harrods for instance. I had a great time, some of the work was a little bit whatever but I worked I had a contract for Dior. I went to meet them over at Hyde Park corner. I went work to John Lewis, Peter Johnson at Sloane Square. Do you know I learned to do a lot of good things? I learned how to make up lots of different women, lots of different faces. It was a great experience. But I never would say, “I’m only doing makeup”. That’s how people feel. I know because they tell me they’ll say, “Oh, I’m only doing this thing” and I’ve met people who say that. And I feel like, “please don’t say that”. If you’re doing your job and you’re making money and you’re being paid to do what you love to do, it’s a win-win. Actors feel like that more than we do. I’m afraid I think the makeup world became a little bit elitist maybe, does that make sense? That it became much more, it was only interesting if you were working. And I felt that I think to some extent, I felt that people were only interested when I said, “Donald mo what are you working on?” Well, I’m working on, because I remember saying back to people. I mean, I was proud that I was working. I remember an experience once years ago where a much senior makeup designer rang me to ask me a question and I was working on my first day job and it was called Captain Power and Soldiers of the Future, it was ridiculous and I loved it. And it was when I look back on it 30 years ago, it was very, it was unique and extraordinary for its time and I knew that secretly and deeply. And people made fun of it because it was called “Captain Power and the Soldier for the Future” and they set it like that. But I remember a woman ringing me up and saying “So, how’s captain?” I just thought, “God! why would you?” I mean, can I put her back and I said, “Yeah, coming to the woman that I worked for meatballs. We’re gonna have this contest. So I’m working on Captain power and you worked on meatballs. Let’s get real here. Yeah, judging and what people are working on. So, my point in this whole long story for you is that I don’t really think it matters if you’re working on Saw or Meatballs or something, it’s what you’ve done with it and what your level of success is and that you’re working.

Mike: 10:02 - It’s interesting, you speak so passionately about it. And you clearly are really keen on sort of sharing your story and advice to juniors. As senior you do lots of inspirational speaking gigs and things like that. Have you had any notable figures along the way yourself that you’ve learned from?

Donald: 10:16 - Oh my god, so many. So, I think it’s really interesting. And I’m so glad because you’ve done this, you’re really good at this. Because I think when people have a sense of it’s an understanding other people and empathy and how we view other people, I think I was very good at that maybe as a young person, because actors talk to me, and I felt that I could show that sense of, I understand, I think going through my own hardships in my own way we all do. I mean, no one is suffering more than anyone else. But I’d like to tell that story now. Because I am getting to an age where I feel like a lot of things were not talked about that now everyone’s sharing in their hashtag times on Me-too movement. But I also would like to share and I didn’t get that opportunity. But I worked with wonderful people who never got recognition and I always feel that if I don’t say it, I mean, I’m just today’s sadly, I’m remembering a great friend of mine who died a year ago, the late Shirley Douglas, who was an actress and activists and she was sort of a girl after my own heart because this was the woman who was not only my best friend, but represented to me everything I wanted to be in the industry of Trailblazer, a pioneer, whatever you want to call it. She was an activist, a creative, an immensely kind and good to people. So, everybody looked up Shirley Douglas and what she did in her life, and then you think what have I done and so Shirley taught me how to help other people and how to you need to be a kind of a mentor to people. So, I think back and I’ll just say, when I worked in Toronto, I very first started Shawna DeVore, Shawna DeVore did lots of Telly. She did the early David Cronenberg films. He showed the makeup lovely she did very nice work natural, beautiful work. Shawna took me under her wing, she recommended me to Stefan Dupli, who is by far so one of the most remarkable prosthetics makeup artists ever. You look him up what he did, I mean his career, and he must be slowing down now too, I guess. But she recommended me to Stefan Dupli who is doing a film called The Fly. He needed an extra set of hands to work alongside himself, Chris Wallace and Margaret Sarah. And I was the guy and I saw I had this unbelievable amount of support from people who were exceedingly talented and extremely kind to take a chance and which is why I take chances on people who are often younger and do some foolish things. But I do hire them sometimes over somebody who may be perhaps on paper more qualified. So you see, we have to remember all those people who helped us and a few of them really went that extra mile and said, “call this guy” and I think that’s something that’s missing today. And I think there’s also a culture of people who also don’t publicly say that and I I’m not trying to shame anybody, but I do think it’s really important to say that people like no matter whether we’re friends or we’re not friends, you must always acknowledge the people who started you. So, I think of producers, production managers, costume designers, people who were very good to me actors.

Mike: 13:25 - That’s a fantastic answer. And you mentioned there an important word which is clearly something you have as a trait is empathy. Do you think that part of the reason you’ve succeeded so much as a personal makeup artist you’ve developed those relationships?

Donald: 13:37 - The one thing I would say that anybody, one thing with actors I’ve always known is people want you to care about what you’re doing and sometimes people don’t. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s they don’t know how to express it. And I think the English language as we know, it’s very difficult. It’s very awkward sometimes to say how you feel or feel how you what you’re saying is coming across and some people have a kind of odd behavior, which is why maybe they work and Phil and a lot of people are on the spectrum, which is not a bad thing, but it’s something we have talked about and say well, like some actors will see daunting but they just don’t understand that they’re not getting it well maybe you didn’t explain it properly. But there’s also a kind of an actor I remember working, being very young working with Linda Preston, who was a very good department head. We were doing the second Anna Green Gables. It was a lovely actress called Marilyn Lightstone. She was fabulous. And I went to check her makeup and she said to me, and I’ve always been touched by this. She thanked me because she said, I said “well that’s what I do, that’s my job” and she says, “Yeah but you care” and it always stayed with me because she really meant that I had taken, I had done something that made her feel a little bit more, that I was watching for her and I think that’s an important thing. Of all the other stuff, you know, grabbing people cups of coffee, can I like your cigarette? Can I do this? That doesn’t believe me, you can host all the dinner parties you want, buy bottles of wine, and all baby sit, and all dogs sit, let me clean your house for you, that doesn’t work, if you’re trying to show- Do you know what I mean? I think that there’s a sense that somebody really believes that you’ve thought of them. And then you meet some remarkable people who equally think of you and I never I mean, Daniel Craig. I mean, it’s just, you know, I can’t think of anybody who’s a better, nicer, kinder human being who will think of you. It may not even be that he’s ringing for something because he doesn’t, you know that thing, not everybody’s calling you because they want something, which is what I’ve learned in Los Angeles. And I love Los Angeles, but there is a point. And it’s not just in LA, it’s everywhere. It’s London, it’s Toronto, it’s everywhere. But you know that thing, where out of the blue, someone will call you and say, “Hey, Donald, how are you?” Just like that. And I think that it’s a moment where I feel very touched by it, because we don’t have a sense of that sometimes. And that somebody hasn’t expressed it. So, I think that that’s a very good thing to emotionally be connected without the falling apart all the time. But it makes me a little bit emotional, because I think 30 years and how many people really care and really are good to you, and who you’ve been good to as well. And, so I think of Daniel and thank God, Boy, was I lucky when that whatever star happened that brought us together, no matter what happens, he’ll always be someone I care about, and who cares about me. And I’m very touched by that. 

Mike: 16:51 - Did you feel heavy pressure when you had to take on a character like Bond to design?

Donald: 16:57 - It was terrifying. I don’t recommend it to people. So, it was very interesting time for me, because Daniel had asked me if we’ve done a few films already. And he asked me very nicely, he said, “Would you come and do Bond” and I thought, it was never on my bucket list. I saw the films as a kid like everybody, I didn’t even know people, I told a few people and they said, are trying to think what I told Daniel, “I said, I think I’ll let you know, let me think about this”. Because that’s the person I am I’ve never been, I don’t want to say I’m not easily impressed but I’m not and I love him. But I really had to think about it, because it wasn’t a genre I’m familiar with. And I knew the people involved I met Sam Mendez, who’s such a remarkable director. And my friends, though he was going to be doing Daniels hair, and Naomi Dunn was, I mean, it was great. But then we were taking this prolific character who was, I mean, just so ingrained in our culture, and then having to do something different with him and make bond not look as good as other bonds and this character is going through a really tumultuous time in his life. And so when I read Skyfall, I understood the reason they wanted me was I guess it’s a compliment. I’m kind of good, I’m messing people up. I’m also pretty good at making people look good. And I think it was a balance of Daniel sort of saying to Sam Mendez, we need to do something that’s a bit different and make me look a certain way. But we also have to, and he so he suggested me, and I remember going being in London, and I was terrified. It’s no secret. I was terrified because I thought what if I just screw this right up? And Daniel was really, it was just so good because I thought I worked really well. But I know it was difficult and Sam Mendez said, “this is very difficult what you’re going to do”, because we’re not making Daniel gorgeous right away and, and we’re doing this sort of disheveled unsaved and that took a lot of planning and a lot of breakdown and how we can do this and how we shoot around growing stubble and then shooting out of sequence etc. But it was alarming because the first couple of days I am so fired. I mean when they take a look at him with bleary eyed and but yeah, when I see it now I know we did the right thing. I know it was right. And then when you see him and was in Macau when he’s on the boat, and he’s back as bond. You kind of go Yeah, I kind of killed it but it didn’t come easily. There was a lot of sleepless nights. Yes. And I think Daniel had his moments of doubt what the hell was I thinking? But I’m very proud of it. And I think it’s a great film and they were very nice, too.

Mike: 19:45 - Yeah, it’s absolutely iconic. And you mentioned the phrase, how Bond is ingrained in culture there and something that I feel like you might not have spoken about much in interviews before -which, as a Brit, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up- is I would love to hear about your experience on the Olympics Because that is something is now ingrained in our culture as a skit that moment you worked on.

Donald: 20:05 - It was really fantastic. I mean, I think one, to first of all be part of the Olympics and you know, the whole Jubilee you know of Her Majesty the Queen and all these secret talks we were having. And it was so funny because I said to Daniel told me, he said, so we’re gonna do this thing, but nobody can say anything. And I remember thinking, oh my god. So, I started telling it, like, I started telling him and sort of, so let me just get this right. We’re going to go to a BP and we’re going to meet HMTQ number two, and we’re going to set up and film a little bit, and the Queen’s gonna act. And it’s so remarkable. it’s astounding. I mean, it’s really pretty brilliant. And I was, it was fantastic. And we went we did the whole thing. And it was a moment because one is the best Olympics ever. I mean, we can all agree, right? Absolutely. Yes. Beijing Come on. The best Olympics ever were London, the Queen’s Jubilee in the same year, and 50 years of Bond. Yeah, and the Jubilee and the Queen at kind of her best, her it was and going to the palace and meeting people who I’m still in touch with. And it was just, I mean, honestly, I think that impressed anybody I know more than anything I’ve ever worked on. And to be in the presence of also a moment where the Queen did something that she’s never done before that she acted, she pretended to be the Queen. It was remarkable. And boy, you can see it, it was really Daniel had such a good time we all did with a wonderful time. And he was like she was really pretending to write. I mean, we just thought it was the whole thing was fantastic. And it made me very proud to be part of it all. And yeah, I mean, that was something else.

Mike: 22:01 - Another person who’s on your CV, who famously didn’t act, and then did and you were a part of that, which I would love to hear about is M&M on Eight

Mile.

Donald: 22:11 - Oh, yeah. Well, with Marshall, I mean, M&M, it was something else because he, he’s forget that he’s remarkably talented and genius and brilliant. And it was from another time when I think back, it’s 20 years ago. So that’s, considerable time in the business. I worked on that it was quite by accident. Somebody rang me a producer who knew that I’ve worked a lot with Mark Wahlberg, and I think they thought it was a similarity. Well, there is close similarities and so I did. I went to meet M&M as you call them, Marshall, when you know him, I went to meet him and it was very strange. And I remember people thinking, “Oh, that’s going to be... what’s that going to be like?” I love the music. I loved it. I’m a fan. It was a very tough time in America was around the time of 9/11. That was a deeply sad time. When the film was delayed. I finished the film and had the time off. So, I prepped it. I went to meet him and it was a wonderful meeting and he was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known in my life. And it was hard for him. It was hard for me. Was it a tough director, the late Curtis Hanson, he was a tough director, very tough and we had Brian Grazer producing it was a huge movie. Everything about M&M, Marshall was for me a win-win. I love the experience of working with him. It was a sad time. I mean, Brittany Murphy died, after we had De’Angelo Wilson had died, Curtis has passed on. So, I feel like it makes me a little bit sad now being, looking back 20 years. What’s happened in 20 years because I don’t feel that different. But I miss Brittany. I think of her every year Christmas time. I always think she gave little beautiful Christmas decoration. She was a really lovely girl; she really wasn’t makes me deeply sad. Marshall and I worked together he would ask me to do everything with him. We did a tour, we did music videos, album covers, the Grammys, the American Music Awards, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was kind of remarkable considering I never really wanted that type of career. 

Mike: 24:27 - Yeah, I wouldn’t have said you were necessarily the hip hop entourage guy Donald

Donald: 24:31 - No, but you know what, I’m really good at it, and I love it. And I love it, because sometimes when you’re not, it’s not your field, you can become a sort of a very, I felt quite expert on it. And I loved the feeling Marshals got a way about him. I can’t quite explain it. He’s so clever. And I bought him as a gift, a thesaurus, which people thought “What a strange thing to give to him.” And I said, “Well, no”, because he used to come to me all the time and say, “What’s another word for this”. I’m not that, I know what you need, because my dad bought me a thesaurus when I was maybe, I don’t know, seven or six. Who does that, but I was that kid, I would read. And I thought with Marshall, we bought him a rap gift that said Hollywood Marshall, we put it on a chair. He thought that was hysterical. He’s a deeply profoundly kind person and was very good to me. And through the course of filming, I don’t think I’ve ever had anybody acknowledge I think how hard you work. I know how hard it is, you know how hard it is. But when you’re working on a film, and you’re doing those hours and I mean, I know we can’t use terrible language here. But when you’re doing some FA work you are well as we say, in Scotland, knacker which is still not very polite, but when you are knacker, you are just cream crackered you’ve done it. And Marshall said to me one day and almost no one’s ever said it to me. You know more than most people because he went, “dog you work so hard today”. And I was like, “wow”. And that’s one of the best things anybody has ever said to me is that he acknowledged as hard as he were being number one. Greatest rapper greatest hip hop. Number one Grammy Oscar winning, he recognized what I was doing. And it was hard. I’m not kidding. The movie is a nightmare. How you don’t even want to know crew problems and staffing and makeup and hair drama. And I don’t even want to talk about it. Because I feel like it was one of those films where you see you can’t have it all great team. I struggled and he was fantastic.

Mike: 24:49 - He saw you.

Donald: 26:38 - He did, I think he recognized that I really kicked ass, I killed it on that movie. And I had to run around after my crew after I trained a lot of people on that film. Actually, they were nice actors. And Curtis was very good to me, my friend Heartbreakers that the costumes, were still good friends, Greg Goodman proves that we’re still friends. I mean, you make, this very good things happen over the years, and a lot of tough things happen. And I’d love to work with him. And again, I just don’t think he’ll ever make a film.

Mike: 27:07 - You mentioned there the hours and how hard it is, particularly for people who are listening who don’t know, makeup and hair basically are very long hours. I like to ask my guests when it comes to the end of the podcast. Is there anything you would like to change about the industry?

Donald: 27:20 - I think that if people seriously want to change the business, there has to be, that moment, there was a minute went back to or really trying to get organized and trying to get the union movement back in the UK. So, there was that, remember Nikita, Rae, and there was there was that happening. So there’s, that’s a separate topic for another time. I’m happy to talk about it. Then there was a moment where Let’s all be more international, and unite everybody from America, North America and Europe and the UK. But that never really happens because the business is very split. But there was I mean, maybe I can go back for a second. A film called Pleasantville many years ago, Sue Kimbrough was the makeup designer, there was a death on that film from a camera operator, I don’t want to say the wrong names. I wasn’t on the film. It was a changing moment. For people in the industry, a man died, he lost his life driving home, I’ve been on jobs where people have died. It’s not my favorite thing to talk about. But I think everybody says what would you change about the business, but we always talk about it, but we never do anything. Kind of like the hashtag time’s up movement. Because there’s a moment where you go, Well, I have something to say. And it’s not on the agenda and then you feel a bit kind of drowned out. So my point would be if we’re all working together, and we’ve being inclusive, and we’re trying I do work with BAFTA, BFI and all kinds of different people, then why did we never do that? Because people wouldn’t sign petitions, people wouldn’t agree, “no, no, I need to make my overtime”. That’s the side of the business I’m not a fan off. That’s when someone says, “I don’t really make my overtime”. Let’s say for instance, I don’t know when someone places at 14 hours I make my money. Do you know what I mean? And that is my I think it’s the one issue that I’m very strict about is that we were responsible for our own destiny. And many of us took it upon ourselves to say, I don’t really care. This is how I want to do it. We have seniority in some places in the unions. I don’t want to let’s get rid of it. But nobody thought what would happen if you get rid of them. And now we’re at a point where I feel that the hours I mean, the hour’s kill people, we’ve all seen it. I think we needed to do better. I think if we could change up diversity and what we’re looking at and the BAFTA is this year alone, and the changes we’ve made, why didn’t we do that, that save lives that made people live better? So my answer to that is, and I’ve got people working with me now and I’m always trying to say, “if you see something, if we see something dangerous”, but I’ve just been on a film and I had a terrible experience on a film that I thought was quite dangerous, nobody It was really listening. People rang the people, yes, they kind of care, because they have to. But you know what I’m saying this a certain amount of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” like the US military used to be. And I think for that I’m a little bit annoyed because I was talking to a friend yesterday, we worked together years ago. And we were talking about how nothing’s really changed. And I think to some extent, it hasn’t. So, when I say to somebody as a junior person, if you said to me, what would you really like to do? And are you going to make a choice? Because I spoke and I’m trying to get Neil Gordon to do a presentation for us with BAFTA. I’m very eager to have him I think he’s brilliant, and what he’s been doing, but then I get younger people who ring me up from BAFTA crew, and they’ll sit down, can we talk and I’m happy to I think people really want the experience of speaking to somebody who’s not as afraid. I mean, I don’t think I ever was afraid. But not everyone’s in that position. I know that. I mean, I know I get it. And there’s some people are terribly afraid. And they know they’re scared. So, that would be for me, the other thing, what don’t let us think of a positive thing. And that’s all a bit depressing. I think that there’s the solidarity between the people, I’d love to see people, you don’t have to like each other that much, you don’t have to be friends. And I think it’s best someone’s not to be. But I would love to see people feel that let’s say, “Well, if Donald won’t do it, there must be a good reason. So why won’t you do it?” I’d love to hear more of that, I think can take a hit for the team. But you really have to take it for the team, if that makes sense. I’d love to hear more people talk about I really believe in giving people opportunities. And I want to know why people, some people won’t, I don’t understand. I’d love to know if I’m doing something wrong sometimes because I’ve promoted a lot of people, I think over the years and move people up. And some people think it’s maybe too rough. But I think until you’re in and you don’t really learn, there’s only so much you can get from a college or a course, if that makes sense. So, I think it’s a great question you’re asking, but there’s a lot about the business it’s still imperfect. But I do also think of the positives. And I’m a pragmatic man, I really am and I always remember at the end of the day, what we do is important to us and to the people we care about. And then I’m fortunate to be able to get to do what I like to do and make a living and a relatively good one. Maybe it’s a bit Pollyanna, there’s a certain time when I hear it, sometimes I go, oh my god, I can’t believe that person just said that, you know, we’re all in it together. Because sometimes that’s just not true. But sometimes it is, you know, and you’re working with a group of people, and I’ve seen their faces when I get people to come to BAFTA crew, and they never knew they could join and I think “yes, do it come on. Let’s get you in there”. And I love that, I love seeing we had a great event before COVID Piccadilly, and the turnout of young filmmakers I’d love to see, okay, here’s what I’d love to see change. I think makeup and hair and prosthetics have gone rogue. I think they’ve gone off too much to be makeup, hair and prosthetics. I would love them to think of themselves as filmmakers. I would love people to know that we can all do makeup, hair and prosthetics. We can do makeup hair, or prosthetics. You can do whatever you want to do. But I’d love to see makeup artists, particularly think of themselves as filmmakers. And I’d like to instill that maybe in more people instead of it being this sort of unnecessary evil if that makes sense. Because some people feel that we didn’t advance the way we should have in the industry. If that makes sense. 

Mike: 33:46 - I thank you for that fantastically eloquent answer.

Donald: 33:49 - I feel you have more questions for me ask because we can do it.

Mike: 33:52 - I have Well, I like to wrap up with a bit of a quick fire if that’s all okay. It’s my own version of in the actor studio questionnaire. So just say whatever comes into your head first, and I’m looking forward to hearing your answers. First one is, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Donald: 34:10 - Stay behind the camera.

Mike: 34:12 - Very good. Number two, do you have a favorite film? And second part? If our listeners were to watch one of your pieces of work tonight? What should they watch?

Donald: 34:20 - You’re killing me here. A favorite film? I don’t know. I’m gonna just go out on a limb. I think the one I keep coming back to Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon.

Mike: 34:28 - And if our listeners were to watch one of your films tonight after they listened to your interview, what do you think they should watch?

Donald: 34:34 - I don’t know. I think there’s something in a lot of films. What am I? I don’t know sometimes there’s the best and the worst. I’m not sure, I would say, I don’t know maybe Blade Runner. There’s a lot in there. There’s a lot of me on there. I think I’m not good. You know what I’m really not good at what people should see that I’ve worked on because sometimes I think it’s not good or there’s a moment there’s something in it. That’s very hard to explain, but I think there’s a lot in the film. So, I would say, Yeah, I would say are prisoners, maybe prisoners. There’s a lot of me on that, too, that I put, I think of myself sometimes, that thing where there’s a hidden, there’s a film that, you know, on paper, I mean, we can’t talk about doing really, but I would love to, but there’s a lot about that film I’m very, very deeply, profoundly proud of. But sometimes it’s more of the story behind it. And so I’m not answering your question. But I would say and the fighter, so I’ve given you too many answers, haven’t.

Mike: 35:43 - I think, I’m better.

Donald: 35:45 - I’d say the fighter because I really feel like I’m also the fighter. And there’s a lot of obstacles one goes through to do what we did.

Mike: 35:52 - Fantastic, number three, what gives you a reason to get out of bed every day for an early call time, if any at all.

Donald: 35:58 - This is a very interesting question. Because it’s been on my mind a lot recently. So a couple of years ago, I started to get tired, like really tired, getting up. And I think, here’s the fact one, we love what we do, we do it and we’re happy, we you just get up and you take it and you think suck it up. I have never got used to getting up at three in the morning, never and I never will, nor will you, you never do it ruins your life on many levels. But I do really want to address that because when I was young, I remember my first couple of films having to I was doing crowd. And I’d set the alarm on living with my mom and dads and setting the alarm for three o’clock in the morning, what people do who go fishing, and people do it who farm and we’re not so special. I mean, nurses do it. And all kinds of people do it. But there is something, when I’ve got up on films like on June, we had these, we were shooting on the Emirates and we had the sunrises to do and it was kind of truly spectacular. But if you have to get up at 2 in the morning, of course, you’re not going to bed at eight o’clock at night or five, seven o’clock, you end up can’t fall asleep, you end up until midnight. And so you know that feeling that is part of the problem. Because you can only do that for such a period of time, till it starts to kind of ruin you. And I think that’s the other side of this that I have to really say I’d love to take SOC if we were going to change the industry is, those early calls, how often can you do them? How many months can you do that, or days? I’ve been very lucky, I’ve only had a handful of jobs. But where I have to get up at three, you get a flight, sometimes at five in the morning, you have to do it. But what gets me up, I would say when I get up and I’m excited and I read the call sheet, or I look at the sides or the script for tomorrow and I go you know, this is really exciting. And I’m excited to figure this out and work with the people. And there’s always a new, and sometimes even if it’s a little bit negative. It’s a bit of a headache. I’m a problem solver. That’s what I do, right? And I love to figure out the puzzle, because I’m terrible at math. But I can figure out a problem like how do you do this? And how will you get that makeup done or get that wig sorted? I love solving the problem and I love to create the world it’s in, whether it’s Blade Runner or Doom. But I’d also like to reserve a little side of that to say that then we also have to talk about how much can one do that to themselves? how much can you do that to your body? And you were saying Terminator? I don’t know what your hours were like. I mean, you were there with Michael like Billy Corso and everybody though. Yeah. I mean, I don’t know how long people can do you know what I mean? how long they can take, that was a long shoot wasn’t it? how long you can take that beating on your body when you’re young, etc. But I’m just saying as you get to be in your 40s and your 50s. I think there is a moment you have to start to question your conditioning and your health. But back to the question at hand. Yes, you if you’re on a good project, and you’re excited about it, and there’s something fueling it. Of course, it’s you’re living when it’s not good is one it’s just for the money. It’s one you know, you have to pay the rent, and it’s a job that’s killing you. And I’ve been on those too, and that’s soul destroying. If you have a job that’s nine to five and you don’t fancy it, that’s one thing. But when you’re on a film or a television thing and you don’t love it and I’ve been on those rarely, but I have, especially when I started out that’s where really eating some humble pie. or when you do a favor and it turns into a huge thing.

Mike: 39:53 - Fantastic answer, and number four is which job in the industry would you do if you weren’t doing yours?

Donald: 39:59 - Probably Nothing I love it. I mean it’s lame, but I love what I do. I don’t see myself. Costume Design was my original sort of interest level. I would say costume design would be would be out there not art direction, production, design, sound, forget it. No, nothing.

Mike: 40:20 - I can take nothing. Number five. If you could work with one person living or dead, who would it be? That’s a big one.

Donald: 40:25 - Well, I just can’t answer that. I just don’t. You’re putting me in a terrible spot living or dead. Well, that’s maybe a better way to go as an actor I would have loved to have worked with probably Alec Guinness, Albert Finney. I knew him briefly on Skyfall I would say probably Albert Fenton because he was probably the best actor there ever was.

Mike: 40:47 - Lovely. What is a book that everyone should read? 

Donald: 40:51 - Okay. Can I say two books Portrait of the Artists as Young Men by James Joyce. And another book called My name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. I would say those are the two books that juxtapose or something I like things that are comparative. They’re harder reading, I think on a lesser kind of fun, just study of people last exit to Brooklyn,

Mike: 41:15 - I’ll have to look them up. I haven’t read them myself, but I look forward to reading them. And finally, if you won an Oscar, who would you think?

Donald: 41:21 - Well, I think that those things can be very tricky. I think that I’m sort of a bridesmaid in that category. It’s kind of makes me laugh a little bit, I just wouldn’t put too much emphasis on and other than what we talked about before, I would think than anything I’ve ever been nominated for or won a prize. I like to remember, the people who put you in that position, which is something missing in the business sometimes is your mom and dad didn’t put you on the job. So, a lot of people mix it up I think. As much as my mom and dad have been great, but I think if I were to ever win something, and a few things I’ve been around for I think it’s the people who put you there, the actor, the director, your team, your team that you put them there, but they put you there if that makes sense. So, that’s and craft service and the man that picks you up in the van.

Mike: 42:23 - It’s very kind of you they’re not often recognized. 

Donald: 42:24 - They’re never recognized, but we can change all that.

Mike: 42:28 - Thank you so much for such insightful, very real answered I would say of all of our guests, you’re very real guests and I thank you for that. So, thank you for everybody for listening to red carpet rookies today and thank you to Mr. Donald Mowat, for joining me.

Donald: 42:40 - Thank you for having me and to people listening and I would love to just add that if I may, it’s been a, we know this really unbelievably tough year so people listening we get it I get it and I worry about people sometimes so ask questions when you meet people and I think it’s great that we talk about things in our industry that aren’t just about how to get to do something, just in general checking in on people it’s been a new thing for me. I’d love to speak with people more I like a phone call. So, people who write to me they know I usually respond, but I do like there’s something really kind of nice that people feel they can contact someone. So, the people listening who are newer I’m a huge, I love BAFTA crew the BFI. I love the program asked me about it, if you have questions. Just try to make things try to make things a little bit better for people if we can. That’s it.

Mike: 43:47 - Thank you for listening to another episode of Red Carpet Rookies. To help us grow. Please do subscribe and drop us a rating on the apple podcast store on your iPhone or online if you’re an Android user. And of course, any support via our Patreon page or Merge is amazing. So if you’d like to help, please do head to redcarpetrookies.com and follow the links. If you’d like regular updates of what’s going on, you can also follow Red Carpet Rookies on Instagram and Facebook or RC Rookies pod on Twitter. Have a great day and we’ll see you next time.