Having moved to Port Macquarie just three years ago from Sydney, Belinda Balding is a hair and makeup artist who’s worked on many film and TV productions … and she’s passionate about sharing her skill with the next generation of aspiring artists.
Belinda taught some exceptionally creative students at TAFE, and she’s very proud of their work and the amazing talent she’s found here in Port Macquarie …
Hi Belinda. What brought you to the Port Macquarie area, and how long has it been home?
I’m still a newbie – it’s been just three years in May. I have a friend of 20 years who moved here 15 years ago; we had worked together in makeup a lot down in Sydney. I used to come up to visit her sometimes, so I was familiar with this lovely part of the mid North Coast.
Nicole is one of the Makeup and Beauty Teachers at TAFE, and they were looking at starting a new course in Specialised Makeup for Film and TV. She asked if was I interested. It came at a good time; I hadn’t long returned from a TV production job in the Northern Territory and was back into the “Freelance inner-city congested Sydney life”.
Over the last 15 – 20 years, travelling around the country and to overseas locations has been wonderful, although I was looking for a bit of “get out of the city” sea change. Outback Australia can do that to you; sitting under our magically great southern land stars you can find yourself reflecting on your life, where you started from, where you arrived, and what next adventures the universe has planned for you.
Please share a little of your backstory with us; how did you first become interested in hair and makeup, and where did you study/learn many of your skills?
A lady I met and assisted in doing makeup with, Pat Woodley (famous for being Miss NSW and Miss Australia in 1951), ran a model and talent agency in Sydney – this is going back 25 years ago. Pat planted the seed: “Why don’t you go and do a makeup course, so you can work in TV and film?” It was like a light bulb moment, and YES, I was so keen to do this!
At that time there were only two schools around – there are now about 10, Film Makeup Technology schools, including ACMUSE (Australian College of Makeup and Special Effects.) I loved it so much!
After completing, I started working in a portrait photographic studio for a few years; I learnt from the hairdressers there how to style hair. Seeking more film and TV connections, I went along to the Australian Film, TV and Radio School (AFTRS) and volunteered to work on many of their short film productions; I did about 10 – 15. And, it was through those connections and networking I started working on paid jobs that led into advertising, TV commercials, TV drama and films.
I have also done many short courses over the years; you can never stop learning new ways of doing things to fine tune your skills.
What have been some the TV and film productions you’ve worked on, and who have been some of the people you’ve worked with?
Such a variety of fabulous and different TV and film productions, including at least a good 60 – 70 TV commercials over the last 15 years, where I fond yourself working with sports legends and media personalities. There were quite a few music film clips for well-known Australian artists – John Butler Trio, Guy Sebastian, and Bliss N Eso recently, just to mention a few. Then there were The Wiggles and Leo Sayer – they were fun days indeed.
I’m credited in a lot of productions that can be found on IMDb.
What are some other projects you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?
I am proud of them all. To choose just a few would be difficult, as they are all so different. Even just some of the short films I’ve worked on were so brilliantly created and executed, from Writer/Director/DOP/ Wardrobe/Makeup. It’s such a massive teamwork environment. It’s very satisfying when the production is completed.
8MMM Aboriginal Radio was one of them – a black comedy TV Series for the ABC and NITV shot in the Northern Territory about tolerance, self-determination and cultural understanding and why when all else fails, it’s good laugh!
You’ve spent some time teaching and passing on your skills to others we well. How much did you enjoy this process?
I very much enjoyed teaching at TAFE, inspiring and sharing my knowledge and experience, so that students can go on to carve out their own journey and career in the creative arts industry, or wherever they choose. It’s just a shame this course is no longer offered, due to the low number of student enrolments that TAFE has been experiencing over the last number of years, because of funding cuts.
I also enjoyed finding opportunities in the community to allow students to go out and do work experience and network. Nicole and I have often been approached to put together a team of eager, in-training makeup artists to assist with events such as the NAIDOC Week Fashion Show in Kempsey, SES Casualty Training, and a few TV commercials shot here in Port. This is why I’ve included photos of students’ work with this interview; there are some really great emerging artists in this small town who need the opportunity to showcase their fabulous work, more than me.
You’ve spent some time at the Koala Hospital recently at their Open Day, bringing joy to the youngsters there with your face painting skills. What plan do you have, if any, to engage in more public or street-style artistry?
I’ve been a volunteer up there for the last 12 months actually working in the Kiosk, meeting all the wonderful local and international tourists who come there to see our koalas and the great work the hospital does to educate and raise awareness of the plight of the koalas. It’s been such a refreshing experience; I feel blessed to have been a part of this community of dedicated people. It’s completely different from my usual line of work. When I was asked if I knew any face painters for Open Day, I replied, “No, but leave it with me, and I’ll put together a team!”
So, Nicole and I managed to recruit some eager artists to assist on the day, and three local photographer friends – Lindie Kolver, Peter and Nic, who set up a small photography booth. Such an enjoyable was day had by all. Given it was at Easter, there were a few more very keen artists who weren’t available. I didn’t do much of the face painting on the day; I just came up with some concepts for designs we would use, and then on the day managed the crowds in the general public space, “Parents and Kids”, while the team did the artistry work.
What do you love most about what you do?
Everything! Meeting and working with all passionate creative production teams, the variety of people,personal and professional, and of course, travelling to amazing locations – both interstate and overseas. Doing makeup and hair, and contributing and sharing in the joy that makes people feel great about themselves.
What would you like to achieve creatively and personally in the next few years?
No major future plans at the moment; I’m at peace with what I’ve achieved creatively and personally. Given I am now in Port Macquarie, I’d love to connect with other creatives and collaborate with ideas about what we can do. Call me crazy, but I like to see other people happy and succeeding now at this stage in my life. Life is a journey, not a competition.
Maybe with all the film and TV connections I have made over the years I’ll have a go at putting on a new hat and being a Producer/Director for a short film or doco about the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie … Now, that’s a great idea!
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact Nicole Lorch at TAFE:
Thanks Belinda. Interview: Jo Robinson.