Filmmaking / Directing : Long to Short Hair by Jennifer DiMarco

Jennifer DiMarco

Long to Short Hair

We've run I to an interesting situation with our first live-action feature. We're used to animation where this was never a problem :( At a table read today, we noticed that our lead (who we hadn't seen in person in two months) has grown out his hair. With shooting set to begin in December, this young man is going to have some serious locks going on! I suppose the easy thing would be to tell him to cut his hair (because long hair doesn't really work for the character) but complicating the situation is the fact that the actor is only twelve years old and he is autistic. We have worked with this actor before -- for our one other live-action project, "Epic Heroes" -- but the character had long hair. I spoke to my hair stylist for the film and she very honestly said this one was beyond her -- she could make short hair look long (with extensions etc) but making long hair look short? Not in her skill set -- if even possible! Does anyone have any ideas or advice?

Wayne Smith Jr

finger waves and pincurls. Think regal men of the 40's.

Rik Carter

So asking the actor to cut his hair is out of the question? Ask your hair stylist about using a wig.

Jennifer DiMarco

Just got back from shooting the trailer and everything went well. A really good wig was outside the budget, but thank you, Rik. Pincurls was a great idea, too, Wayne. Thank you both. Wound up working with pins and a wonderful little cap that the costume designer found by pure chance. Looked good. Believable.

Andrew Gruffudd

As long as the part doesn't involve jiggling around too much, it should be possible to hold his hair back with Petroleum Jelly, then put a close-fitting cap on his head and a wig on top of that. All that's then needed is a bit of imagination to deal with where the hairline exposes the nape of the neck above the collar (assuming, of course, the part doesn't require him stripped to the waist). I remember I was in a primary school production, where I played Winston Churchill. Obviously, as a child, I wasn't bald (although I had shorter hair than I do now - much shorter), and the great man was, so I had to wear a device made out of half a football, and some cotton wool to resemble the hair. Yes, it was an amateur production and, yes, it did have the unintended consequence of bringing the house down, but it worked well enough to be believable. How much better can be achieved in a professional setting...

Georgia Hilton

Have you talked this over with the parents of the actor? Is their a contract in place requiring physical appearance. I might be sounding a bit mean here, but if any actor no longer fits the requirements for the film and the new look of the actor is inappropriate, I would require the actor to change their look back to how they looked when cast , or get another actor. If the actor was a MAJOR asset to the film, and I wanted to keep them, I would change the script so that the new look worked. The Film Business, is a business... keep it that way and you'll be better off in the end. If you are funding this out of your own pocket, do what you want... If you are using funds from outside investors, you need to do what is BEST for the film and the investors. Do not compromise on important issues that could, in the middle of filming, become a serious issue and either require re-shoots, or replacements, or damage the potential quality and/or commercial viability of the film. You do not want to be in a position in post or after completion thinking to yourself, that you made a mistake...

Jennifer DiMarco

Andrew, love the idea about the petroleum jelly. Will keep that in mind for the rest of the production (this was just the trailer that we wrapped last week). Georgia, I hear you! I do feel the actor is a major asset to the film (he plays two central characters that mirror each other) and the trailer was funded 50% by an investor and 50% by me (as an official investor). I spoke with the other investor at length about this and she actually suggested that I pose the question here! Glad I did :) The cap idea worked wonderfully for the trailer but by adding the petroleum jelly, I think we might even be able to get away with the cap for the production itself. I did tweak the script some (I'm the writer on this one) and that helped as well. Again, thank you so much everyone for your suggestions!

Other topics in Filmmaking / Directing:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In