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Daily Dose — Human Beings are Tamar Ouziel's Canvass

Tamar Ouziel is a Makeup Department Head in film and television who makes her home in Nelson but travels worldwide for work. — Submitted photo

Two and a half years ago, award-winning television and film Makeup Department Head Tamar Ouziel decided to make Nelson home.

She was considering moving out of the country when her Nelson friend asked her to come to visit.

"Long story short, I came to visit, and I never left. It sucked me right in," says Ouziel.

Ouziel's job is unique and very fulfilling.

"Human beings are my canvas. It's colour theory. For television and films, it's character development. I love it. I get paid to paint and sculpt and be part of creative processes."

Ouziel's job, which she has been doing since 1999, involves a lot of travel.

"I work around the world. I've always travelled for work."

Ouziel attended the Blanche Macdonald Centre in Vancouver to learn her trade. Previous to that, she was an artist and loved horror movies, so going to school for hair and makeup was a great fit.

Of course, there are challenges to the job. On a recent movie set, they started at 8 a.m., and her day finished at 3:30 a.m. the next day.

"We do long hours. The camera days are about 12 hours, but we're usually there about two (2) hours beforehand and afterwards. That's the biggest challenge. When you're in the zone," Ouziel laughs, "you don't feel it until the next day."

As department head, she works an average of 76 hours a week. She is part of a union, so she gets paid for it but does a year's worth of work in five or six months. As she gets older, especially since she had a terrible car accident a few years back, she's finding this more demanding.

"I'm trying to find better work-life balance," she says.

Another challenge in the job is managing interpersonal dynamics.

"You have to be a diplomat. You're working with other sensitive creatives. As a makeup artist, you're invading people's personal space. You have to be very gentle with your energy and be incredibly conscientious that you're touching someone's eyeball, you're up someone's nose, you just slapped something all over someone's body. You have to be very respectful."

When you see a dead body on television, someone like her made it look that way, says Ouziel.

"When I 'beat somebody up' or do a dead body or make a monster, people are like 'oh, that's really cool.' It's really fun."

Many factors drew Ouziel to the Kootenays.

"Aside from the beauty, nature, and fun outdoorsy things, the people and the creative community made me think: this is home, these are my people. The quality of life is so much better here."

For now, Ouziel is stepping back a little from her department head role and doing more assisting to other department heads to try to get established and build community in Nelson.

"I've been chatting with my connections saying, 'hey, why don't you shoot in the Kootenays?' I've been chatting with local filmmakers here, too, trying to connect that way."

Ouziel has big dreams to expand the television and film industry locally:

"The Kootenays have so much to offer for TV and film. Like we have beautiful locations, people here that fit onscreen, we have such characters here seeing them onscreen as backup performers or even actors would be so cool. We have tons of creatives here. We have the workforce here for it. I think it's possible. I would love for it to happen. Nelson is such a beautiful place."

Makeup Department Head Tamar Ouziel, who works all over the world, came to visit the Nelson, and I never left. — Submitted photo