Young Ugandans train as make up artists for film industry

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Like a painter with a blank canvas, Esther Nakaziba studies her model before embarking on a long shape-shifting process.

Using a bandage and her numerous tools, she transforms this model’s face into a realistic one-eyed man who has suffered a burn.

Nakaziba is a film makeup artist in Uganda.

She says she can create fake wounds, bruises, swollen faces, rotten skin - anything a film producer desires.

She taught herself, and she says more young Ugandans are entering this industry to face skyrocketing demand from the film and entertainment industry.

Makeup artists are in demand for music videos and movie sets to create different visual scenarios and alter actors' appearances.

She's the organiser of a makeup artistry fair to bring all the talents together.

“We are very few in the country, so we hardly know each other. So with this space, with this exhibition, it is collecting all of us to be in one space so that we can connect, skill those that want to be skilled, train the youth so that we can build a very big team,” says Nakaziba.

Meekness Kakunzira, a local content producer and an actress, is hopeful about the future of makeup artists in the country.

“I am glad that we are growing, we are improving and I believe that people out there that are watching our crafts can really tell that there is a big shift in the industry," she says.

Workshops are also organised to familiarise people with the film and entertainment industry.

“The classes are really helping or are really going to help a lot of people. Now like you see, in the acting industry, you don’t get jobs all the time, but if you are an SFX makeup it really helps. Today you might not be on set as an actor, but you might be on set as a makeup artist, as an SFX makeup artist, so it's really helping. And for the guys out there, the youth most especially, because we know we are suffering with unemployment in the country, should really join this,” says Kakunzira.

Nakaziba, who has stamped her name in the local movie and music industry as a special effects (SFX) makeup artist, says the Ugandan government needs to recognise their work, which could help address the high unemployment rate.

“We are in a country where art is not really recognised to be a serious career and yet it is, because personally, it's the only thing I earn a living from so I believe any youth can. But the only way the government can really see us as a serious industry when we have such collaborations,” she says.

Uganda has seen several blockbuster films like Last King of Scotland shot in the country. But for a long time, the country had no film makeup artists.

Producers would outsource the services from other parts of Africa and Hollywood.

Thanks to this new pool of talent, this is changing.

“More films have been coming out and thank God they are now looking for more African special effect makeup artists because before they used to bring guys from the States and if they come to Africa they just go to South Africa to look for guys," says Grace Murema, film makeup artist.

"So now at least they go to Nigeria, they come to Kenya, they come to Uganda so at least we’ve started scattering everywhere.”

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