Out of Nowhere

Out of Nowhere is a film noir-inspired short by Jay Nolan. Jay and I spent quite a bit of time over the course of this year talking about the design aesthetic for his film. He was drawing his inspiration from the close, dark, and gritty cinematography of film noir, so I chose to follow similar cues, looking at both noir films and neo-noirs, such as Blade Runner and Chinatown, for inspiration for the gritty look. The film was to be shot on HD and then converted into black and white in post-production. For me, this meant that the looks I designed would have to be more about depth and texture than color, and that they would have to be gritty while remaining subtle so as to not be overwhelming with HD’s unforgivingly high image quality.

The story follows an unassuming, milquetoast blogger named Matt who finds himself in the midst of a Russian mob-related shooting. In order to escape, he drives off in the first car he sees; this car just so happens to belong to the mobster, and in it sits his tied-up and beaten girlfriend and the case of money she attempted to steal from him. The entire film takes place around 4 am, so the characters are tired and disheveled.

The first character I designed for this film was Natasha, the Russian mobster’s girlfriend, played by actress Marina Shay. The character is with her boyfriend because she has little other option. She left a bad situation in Russia for one in America. Her boyfriend, Dimitri, treats her like a commodity, but she has clothes, money, food, and a place to live. She approaches her relationship almost like a job; she has to look good for Dimitri.

She presents herself in the way she knows will impress Dimitri and his fellow mobsters. Her dress is tight, and she wears more jewelry and makeup than she might if she were dressing just for herself and not for a group of men with a particular idea of what female beauty is. Her makeup is harsh and sexy, but it is also faded from the hours since it was applied and from the blood, sweat, and tears left on her face from the beating Dimitri gave her. Her eyeshadow is creased with the oil from her skin, and her eyeliner is smudged from tears. She has a fresh, dark black eye.

To create Natasha’s look, I did a full beauty makeup (leaving concealer off of her left under-eye), then strategically deconstructed it to show the time and trauma that were supposed to have passed since it was applied. A thin layer of petroleum jelly over her skin gave it a more gritty texture without compromising her youth and beauty. I used a little more petroleum jelly to wipe off and crease her eyeshadow. The black eye was painted with alcohol activated makeup, with a concentration more on depth and range of color value (rather than color itself) to ensure that it would work in black and white.


Natasha in Out of Nowhere

Matt and Natasha

Matt and Natasha in Out of Nowhere

Dimitri and Matt had to look tired and fit into the aesthetic of the film. I used alcohol activated makeup to stipple thin translucent layers of reds and browns to give their skins a subtle imperfect texture, and slightly accentuated the dark circles under their eyes to show their exhaustion. I kept the looks subtle; Matt had to look unassuming, and Dimitri had to be sleazy, but as the wealthy nephew of the mob boss he still had to look suave, so I did not want the makeup to be too intense. They also each got the thin layer of petroleum jelly to make them appear more “real” and “raw” and less airbrushed.


Matt in Out of Nowhere


Dimitri in Out of Nowhere

The last character had a smaller role. He was a latino gang member who had conspired with Natasha to steal from Dimitri, and who had to suffer with Dimitri’s wrath as a consequence. He was a lower ranking member of his organization than Dimitri was, so he had to appear to have lived a hard life, and had probably served time in prison. I textured his skin with the alcohol activated makeup a little more than the other two men. I used the same palette to paint a bluish tear-shaped tattoo on his cheek, and used a combination of the paint and rigid collodion to create a scar near his mouth.

Latino Gang Member

Latino Gang Member in Out of Nowhere

Latino gang member

Latino Gang Member in Out of Nowhere


~ by alanigauntmakeupdesign on April 17, 2010.

2 Responses to “Out of Nowhere”

  1. Thank you Alani!!! Jay Nolan’s mom here. This is first insight I have had into his film project. The most I’ve heard is that he is too busy to sleep. So thankful that even if you are not sleeping you are keeping the world posted as to your endeavors as well as my son’s. Your work looks beautiful. More than that, Jay says you are incredibly talented & dedicated showing up well ahead of shoots & staying with a shooting until all hours of the wee morning. I appreciate your incredible gifts & passion. It is so heartening to know of your rising star! My Best To You..Ann Nolan

  2. Oh, thank you Ann! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading my post! I’m sure you’ve been curious to know about Jay’s project, but I guess he (like all of us, really) has been too busy to sleep, so I’m glad my post could give you a little insight as to what we’ve been doing. Jay has done some really great work here- I included nearly an entire scene from Out Of Nowhere in my makeup reel because the shots were so great. The reel is on my website ( http://alanigaunt.com ) if you are interested in seeing that. It is edited a little differently from in his film, and there is no sound, but you could at least see some of the cinematography. all the best, Alani

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