Hunger Games Make Up Artist Takes Workshop In Belfast

A TOP American movie and TV make-up artist has led a day of workshops in Belfast teaching local industry talent the secrets of the trade.

Emmy-Award nominated makeup artist of the Hunger Games films, Mockingjay Part 1 and 2. Brian Kinney, from LA took time out of his busy schedule to lead a number of interactive workshops in partnership with Titanic Creative Management.

Attending the event at The Movie House, Dublin Road were a whole host of young hopefuls all aiming to follow the top artist into the on-screen industry.

Giving some top tips of the trade from the world of makeup artistry in film and TV, aspiring artists were given the opportunity by Brian to experiment with two distinct avante-garde styles of the films’ iconic setting, the Capitol.


Brian taking a demonstration in Belfast

Speaking of his own rise to success Brian said: “I studied at the Delamar Academy starting back in 1999 and went to university as an English and Film major.

“Makeup was always a hobby. I read the book, The Complete Makeup Artist by Penny Delamar, and after two or three years I decided I needed to go to makeup school properly and learn it all.

The author of this book had an Academy in London and I realised ‘this is where I’m meant to go.’ I love London. That was 15 years ago…I never looked back.”

Having worked on so many high-profile productions, including CSI, The Middle, Purge: Anarchy, it’s easy to imagine the excitement of young local artists in attendance at the workshops.

“It’s really hard to top my first production” explained Brian.  “I was one of about 25 artists working in the prosthetics crew for Band of Brothers. I had literally just started out…but I learned more in one week there than six months of school. You learn on the job, you’re thrown to the wolves and just make a real go of it. It was wonderful.’

And Brian certainly is living the dream.

“One of the most rewarding and inspiring things when I get to work on a bigger show is being able to work alongside my heroes” he said, adding: “With Mockingjay Part 2, I worked with 30 to 50 makeup artists in a day, some of whom had done the work I admired as a kid.

“Being able to work side by side with them as a colleague, hear their stories, see their techniques, learn about their materials…that’s the most rewarding. Every hero I’ve worked with has taught me about three or four tricks that I never would have thought of before. You just can’t buy that.”

Now the Hunger Games franchise has concluded with Mockingjay Part 2, Brian reflected on this amazing experience.

He said: “It was a very organic thing. When I worked on the final film, I would often be there when we had around 1000 people from the Capitol to prepare for set. They were long days, but so rewarding. It was an honour to be there. We all had a glass of champagne when filming finished…it was like the end of an era.”

Brian’s success doesn’t just extend to make-up artistry, the entrepreneur has also developed his own unique product, the HurtBox, which is a silicon mold used for creating wounds.

It was this product that coincidentally led him to Northern Ireland.

He explained: “One of my colleagues who worked on CSI New York with me for years, was working with Titanic Creative Management. They said to him ‘Have you tried this HurtBox?’, and he immediately said ‘Brian Kinney is my mate. I’ve know him for 12 years!’

“They asked if I’d be interested in coming over to work with them. A month later I was here doing the workshop…It’s been great for my product line, and they’ve been very supportive. I’ve always had one foot in Europe, I love coming back and giving back.”


Aspiring make-up artist Fay

Currently, access to training is limited in Northern Ireland, meaning most of the makeup artists for productions such as Game of Thrones are sourced from the mainland UK. This partnership is therefore a valuable step towards encouraging local talent.

“What’s interesting in Titanic Creative Management is they do offer evening and module classes. They really do work with people’s schedules, their jobs, their families” he said.

“It’s also important to remember you don’t have to use state of the art materials to learn. When I teach, I always say ‘Think of five different ways to do the same makeup’.

“If I have a kit that I depend on and that kit doesn’t make it to set, I have to improvise. Find something that inspires you and try to replicate it using anything you can. Assist in theatre or film, read books, help photographers.

“Not every job is going to be paid. But make sure, even though you might not be earning any money, that you aren’t spending. Try and encourage people to offer something, whether it’s travel, materials or accommodation.”

And Brian’s influence certainly left its mark. The youngest aspiring artist was 11 year old Fay (pictured, above left), who was able to experiment with an array of products and techniques. Her father explained how she loved creating her own effects at home, saying: ‘This is a dream come true for her.’

See for more information and check out Brian’s full gallery of work at

About the Author

Abby Williams
Belfast based author/writer specialising in entertainment, mental health and human interest.