By Qusai al Abri
Artists usually can produce fascinating works and film make-up artists take their art to another level by totally transforming a person into something else just by using their brushes, some aftereffects and a whole lot of colour and imagination.
In the movie world, these make-up artists are highly valued for their ability to bring characters to life and with the use of masks, prosthetics or other special effects and tools of their trade, they make the movie experience believable.
For Haifa al Ajmi, it wasn’t always smooth to get herself engaged in such a modern field of art, especially in Oman. Haifa faced many challenges in a community that doesn’t consider her talent something to fight for. It took her a long time to convince people that arts come in different forms and while she’s usually armed with make-up and brushes, it is art all the same.
Despite the challenges, Haifa held on to her dream believing that there would come a time when people would understand what she does and find her own niche in an industry that is yet to embrace change. Fast forward six years later, Haifa is now considered one of the most popular film make-up artists in Oman and has become a role model to others. On top of what she does, she’s also able to balance it with becoming a successful interior designer.
Haifa shared that loving what you do is half of the battle that will lead you to success and one should have the state of mind to understand what a scene is calling for.
“As make-up artists, our role is to make actors look believable. If a film is about zombies, the moviegoers should be able to see horrifying dead zombies and not an army of extras wearing pounds of make-up and prosthetics,” she explained.
“Working as a film makeup artist or special effects make-up artist isn’t simple. It requires years of training and unwavering dedication to work regularly and successfully,” Haifa said.
Touching on the challenges she faced, Haifa said there was a silver lining in her experience.
“Luckily, in Oman, most of the make-up artists are women. When the community began to accept this art, it wasn’t an issue for me to show myself among the prominent artists in the field. Supported by my family, which is my only army in life, I could only think forward to success. I wasn’t allowed to look behind, because my father, my biggest supporter, was always standing in the front of my career,” she shared.
“Since my childhood, I could remember my father pushing me forward to continue and move ahead. He was the first fan, the first teacher and the first believer in my abilities,” she noted.
Haifa’s long-term goal is to make her mark in the international film-making industry. She also hopes that what she does will spread in Oman and will gain greater acceptance.
To make this possible, Haifa is working towards becoming a certified make-up trainer in Oman and looks forward to the day that she can conduct practical workshops that would show students what it is like working in cinematic make-up.
Haifa recently participated in the 968 Gamez, a unique comic, games and pop-up event for the youth, held at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre. Haifa demonstrated her talent in cinematic make-up through this event. She said she hoped she’d be able to participate in international gatherings as well.
Haifa remains positive that given the opportunity, she feels that international communities will embrace the speciality she does.
“I reached out to a well-known expert in the field and he showed some interest in my works describing me as a “hidden talent” that will grow one day,” she shared. This has inspired her to better her craft.