BIMM University / Filmmaking / It's Your Future

It’s your future: Kay

5th July 2024

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Kay Gibson, a dedicated student at Screen and Film School, is pursuing a BA (Hons) in Hair and Makeup for Screen and Film. With a particular passion for special effects makeup, Kay’s artistic journey has taken them from high school art classes in their home city of Ontario, Canada, to the bustling creative city of Brighton.

Join us as Kay shares their experiences and aspirations, reflecting on how their love for prosthetics and hands-on work has shaped their career path.

Crafting a Future in Special Effects Makeup

My name is Kay Gibson, and I’m currently studying for a BA Honours in Hair and Makeup at Screen and Film School. I’m at level 5 right now, which means I’m in my second year.

I’ve always been inspired by art. Throughout high school, I immersed myself in various art forms, knowing I wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to be creative. However, I wasn’t keen on a Fine Arts degree due to the limited job prospects. The turning point came when I was watching the behind-the-scenes footage of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ with my brother. He suggested I consider hair and makeup because of the cool prosthetics and wigs involved. It sparked a thought, and here I am today, studying something I love.

From Ontario to Brighton

I hail from a small town in Ontario, Canada. It’s a quaint place, nestled by one of the Great Lakes, which in some ways is similar to Brighton, with its beach aspect. However, Brighton is much busier and has amazing public transport, unlike my hometown where there isn’t any. A 20-minute walk here feels like five minutes but, back home, it would feel like an hour. I love the bustling vibe of Brighton and how easy it is to get around.

I chose to study in Brighton because it’s known as a queer-friendly town, and I felt I could connect with people like me. I’ve built wonderful friendships here, especially with my housemates who are also neurodivergent and in the same course. We support each other immensely.

The campus and staff in Brighton have been fantastic, providing all the supplies we could ever need. We can come in anytime to set up and work. If there are any issues, like the need for ventilation for airbrushing, we simply email our lecturer or the principal, and it gets addressed. This kind of support makes a huge difference.

Our lecturers also help us find job opportunities. For instance, Jorge, one of our lecturers, sends us information about jobs and opportunities. He recently helped me pass on a short film project to level 4 students when I couldn’t do it myself. This network and support system are invaluable.

Passion for Prosthetics and Hands-On Creativity

In terms of hair and makeup, what excites me the most is working with my hands. I absolutely adore creating scalps, moulding them, and seeing everything come together. The process is incredibly fulfilling—from sculpting and casting to applying the silicon to the model. The sense of completion at the end is immensely satisfying.

Recently, I created three standout looks involving prosthetics: a dragon, a sea monster, and a werewolf. Two of these were for short films, and one was for my prosthetics module. Originally, I was more interested in the application part of special effects makeup, but through my lessons and masterclasses at Screen and Film School, my focus has shifted to the creation and building aspects.

One of my industry inspirations is Rob Bottin, who worked on ‘The Thing’. I love that movie and wrote about it to get into university. His work continues to inspire me.

Looking ahead, I see myself working in a workshop rather than on set. The workshop environment suits me better; it’s less hectic and allows me to focus on my craft without the distractions of managing actors and on-set logistics.

Navigating Academic Challenges and Opportunities

For anyone considering studying prosthetics or hair and make-up, expect a lot of written work—more theory than I initially anticipated. It’s about a 50-50 split between practical and theory. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a background in hair or makeup. I started with just an art background, fresh out of high school at 18, and it’s been a great experience. The camaraderie and shared passion among classmates make it easy to get along and thrive.

Writing isn’t my strong suit; I often feel like I’m repeating myself or not writing enough. I’d much rather be doing something practical. Despite this, the balance of practical and theoretical work has been manageable.

The hands-on aspect of my studies feels meditative, much like painting models did for me during lockdown. Although I’ve started a painting recently that’s been waiting for me to finish, I know once university is done, I can dive back into it.

Overall, my journey at Screen and Film School has been enriching and transformative, and I’m excited to see where it leads me next.

Embracing Creativity and Community: Kay’s Inspiring Path Forward

Kay’s journey at Screen and Film School embodies their passion for hands-on creativity, their adaptability, and their appreciation for the supportive and inclusive community they have found here. Kay’s experiences highlight the sentiment we often see in our students: the joy of finding their path and who they are as creative professionals, which fuels their ambitions to excel in their field. We wish Kay all the best of luck as they continue their journey as a special effects artist.

Want to follow in Kay’s footsteps and start your journey at Screen and Film School?

Apply through Clearing now


BIMM University

BIMM University provides an extensive range of courses in modern music, performing arts, filmmaking, and creative technology to over 8,000 students across 14 schools in the UK, Ireland, and Germany. We have a long-standing commitment to providing the highest quality in creative industries education, allowing students to maximise their career potential in an inclusive community built on a culture of shared passion, creativity, and collaboration. Berlin | Birmingham | Brighton | Bristol | Dublin | Essex | London | Manchester