When I first met Tjardus, we had an instant connection and we both had on green button-down shirts. Tjardus was passionate about the script he had been developing for ten years. After a short meeting, I went home and read the script. Immediately, I wanted to be a part of “A New York Heartbeat.”
I began to develop the makeups for a group of street hoods that get mixed up in a crime that is much bigger than they are prepared for. Set in 1950’s Brooklyn, the script brought a lot from a Makeup Artist standpoint.
Tjardus had a clear vision about how the boys would look: gritty, sweaty and dirty at times, rough but with the naivety that comes from being young and thinking that we know more than we do. This direction appealed to me the way that the Sergio Leone westerns do. They aren’t clean, sterile makeups. They show an edge of determined perseverance.
“Spider,” played by Escher Holloway, was an interesting character to develop. He comes under extreme circumstance and is beaten within an inch of his life. I sculpted a series of prosthetic transfer appliances that would be subtle and would show the healing process of a person who wants one thing for his life, is tempted by another, and in his heart knows what the right thing to do is. I wanted the makeups to reflect tough physical injuries that heal as our minds do when we are faced with unjust acts that we must come to terms with. At the worst of his injuries, he had a full body makeup of beating, including arm slings and vintage wood that I salvaged to use as Spider’s splints. Escher was a pleasure to work with. He sat in the Dougtastic makeup chair day in and day out getting into character, always with a smile.
Prosthetic transfer appliances were also used for one of the Stompers, played by Adam Hagenbuch, whose dead body is discovered under a bridge: cigarette burns on the face, a claw hammer attack, and blood in the eye sell the violence of his attack.
Music was a big part of our shooting days. I would listen to 50’s on 50 on Sirius Satellite Radio on the way to set. Once there, Barret Hackney would jam tunes from the era on his phone and bust out his harmonica once owned by Jerry Lee Lewis to get his cast mates into the groove. Todd Julian (Raz”), Rane Jameson (“Bobo”) and Amadeo Fusca (“Ty”) all rallied around these jam sessions. They really brought the boys closer together as a group and into character.
Rachel Brosnahan (“Tamara”) was our vision of beauty throughout the hurt and violence. At times, she is understated, but occasionally, we see her in all of her glamour. She is absolutely stunning when she’s in her full beauty makeup with hair.
Candace Orlandi did a great job with the hairstyles. We didn’t want everyone to look like stereotypical 1950’s characters with ponytails and pompadours.
Eric Roberts plays “Casket Mike.” I loved his character. Before becoming a professional Makeup Artist, I served as a licensed funeral director in Illinois for 16 years. Those years of experience bring actual life situations and simulated injuries to the screen now.
Everyone who worked on this film became close. I retain many tight friendships with cast and crew. We all brought different strengths to the film and worked hard to make sure that everyone else looked great doing it. Thank you, Tjardus, Laura and Hugh for producing the film and thank you to the Hair and Makeup team that made the cast look their best, or worst: Candace Orlandi, Rachel Szabo, Eric Haskell, Allison Kellerman and Juliette Bennett.
Doug Fairall is a Freelance Makeup and Special Effects Artist based out of Pittsburgh, PA. He can be contacted at Doug_Fairall@yahoo.com.