Call it a lack of imagination or the same old hackneyed plots by local filmmakers, we know that Pakistani productions aren’t too big on fantasy costumes and make-up. But what if we had pros who could do exactly this? Just imagine what our local directors could really do with a homegrown special effects (SFX) studio and make-up brand. We could be making our own answer to Harry Potter with Ameer Hamza. Or we could be reviving horror movies in a huge way.
Much like the local cosplayers community, SFX (special effects) make-up is a pretty niche thing in Pakistan. Yet the talent in these communities is so astonishingly life-like, we really need to put it front and center.
One of the people who makes the magic happen is Hira Amjad. She’s got her own startup RDX Studio, which deals with SFX and makeup, for every need.
This is her story.
Hira Amjad – a Profile
Hira Amjad is an Economics graduate from LUMS. One of the questions that people ask her is that how did a gal like her get into horror make-up? Here’s why horror fascinates her:
“When you look at horror movies in Hollywood and their characters, they’re more about being in the character, than being beautiful.”
Since just about everyone can get the hang of normal make-up, Hira took up SFX because it has more opportunities to explore. She actually started exploring art with nail art.
Fantasy TV series like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead inspired her to explore that love for art through make-up.
“I was curious to know how they create these looks. Initially, I thought it’s done through VFX and computer graphics, but looking up the BTS made me realize it’s make-up … I realized this is actually a market.”
Her first make-up look was of a zombie, inspired by ‘The Walking Dead‘, that she created for a theme day during her final week at LUMS. She worked with what she had. And guess what? All the appreciation she got from that initial effort, led her to explore SFX make-up as a career option.
About RDX Studio and SFX Make-up in Pakistan
Now Hira Amjad has moved on to organizing the SFX make-up community in Pakistan by providing them with a dedicated Pakistani SFX studio founded by her and another friend from LUMS. Their aim?
“Bring all SFX artists in Pakistan under one roof. Like our make-up industry, we have big salons, big names, that are approached for film projects. That’s what I’m trying to do for SFX.”
Through the platform, they are willing to take on joint projects. They’re also training people and trying to establish a proper brand.
Speaking of make-up, turns out these artists don’t have much to work with.
In order to ensure safe cosmetics for SFX make-up, Hira is trying to establish her own SFX make-up product-line as well. This includes various types of blood, scar wax, and more. Plus these products are all organic, environment friendly, and safe to use.
“Having it imported it is a real hassle. It’s very expensive and a long process, So what I did was look up all the ingredients and make all those products at home. Except for the glue that I use on my face, everything else I make it home, and it’s completely organic.”
The Future of SFX Make-up
She feels there is a huge scope in Pakistan for special effects work. After all, the Pakistani cosplayer community has been making its mark for a while now. Everyone needs an outlet where they can get their make-up done right, even outside the range of normal make-up.
“SFX is s huge industry abroad. There are proper studios, schools, training institutes in Hollywood. Cosplay subculture has gained traction in Pakistan but there isn’t much thought on the work that goes into it on the backend.”
SFX make-up has a range of utility. It can be used to bring wounds to life, to altering the age of a character, to bringing a complete fantasy to life such as vampires and zombies.
Some examples Hira shared with us include the Demogorgon from Stranger Things and the characters in Money Heist.
“You can play around with their skin to make them look older or younger than they really are, you can turn a normal human being into a zombie, … you can create gunshot wounds, other wounds, … then changing a character (personality),”
“There is a huge scope in Pakistan as our media industry is growing. It’s just that there aren’t the (right) resources and infrastructure,”
Hira is aiming to wiggle into the media industry and show them how SFX make-up is vital for the industry.
“I recently did a domestic abuse project. Next in line could be projects showcasing rape victims, anxiety-driven people, mental health patients, to spread awareness through this art form, …. This form of art can do a lot when it comes to spreading awareness about these issues,”
Apart from the makeup stuff, Hira is also a screenwriter. She’ll be using her craft to spread awareness on social issues. She asserted that she’d take on individual projects aside from RDX Studio which will be more focused on catering to mainstream media.
Her Advice For Other Artists
Right now, Hira is working on establishing a platform for the art form. She’s also writing short films and documentaries which will utilize SFX. According to her, this will include training other makeup artists as well.
“We’ll train other people to ensure all these efforts for SFX (artists community) in Pakistan does not end with us. We want others to then take this craft forward. I want to spread awareness that this form of art also exists and how helpful it is. Aside from movies, we can create so much awareness through this.”
Hira also believes that there is a huge scope for SFX work abroad as well.
Just in time for Halloween, Hira Amjad hopes that her work inspires others to take up the craft. It can be a hobby, and even a career if you play your cards right.