What is your job role and what does that involve?

The job involves breaking down scripts and working out each artist’s continuity and printing their breakdowns out so we can work from them. This includes hairstyle changes, injuries, and prosthetics. We help create the characters for the script with information from the Make-up Designer and Director. We work closely with Costume to enhance these characters. We need to take photos and make notes of each character for most scenes, to establish the continuity line along with establishing shots. We need to keep a close eye on hair continuity during the shooting of the scenes so each shot matches the wide. For example if the long hair falls in front of the left shoulder during the wide shot, then we have to remember that and make it happen for the close ups. 

How did you start out in this line of work?

I had my own hairdressing business. I watched a film which had injuries in it and decided I wanted to learn how to do it. I trained, started doing it voluntary in theatres and for photographers. I met a make-up designer on a photoshoot and he asked me to do my first TV job which was a pilot for a series, unpaid. I then started working as a freelancer for YTV on Heartbeat and Emmerdale. From here I was asked by the designer on my first TV job to be a supervisor on Byker Grove. It was only then that a stopped my hairdressing business.

What training have you had?

I am a Level 3 trained hairdresser and I had my own business and I also have a teaching certificate. I learned the basics of makeup, stagecraft, theatre, prosthetics and wigs through a course at my local college. I learnt my set etiquette, continuity and script breakdowns on the job. I have since done numerous courses including an SFX course, HD course, airbrush course and wig course.New products come out all the time, so I always have to develop my skills – it’s a constant learning process.

Harrigan at work

What are a few of your career highlights so far?

  • Designing my own full length feature film.
  • Working on Joe Maddison’s War was the best set and job I've worked on. Lovely cast and crew.
  • Being on main team on ITV’s biggest (so far) production, Beowulf.
  • Working with inspiring make-up designers, Caroline Noble.

What key skills do you need for your job?

  • Patience, the ability to understand the mood of your artist and adjust your work accordingly, to take instruction but also be able to improvise.
  • Good make up applications.
  • Strong hair skills-styling and cutting.
  • Understanding continuity.
  • Colour knowledge-for skin and hair.
  • To work well in a team and be supportive of others.

What’s the one thing people should be aware of pursuing this role?

It is a very physical job and not a glamorous one.

What advice would you offer to those looking to do what you do?

Get as much work experience as possible and buy decent waterproofs.

What do you wish you had known when starting out?

How hard the job is on your body. Think about what you are carrying and get cases on wheels.

What are your top tips?

  • Be friendly.
  • Never stop learning (don't ever think you know it all).
  • Don't let others knock your confidence.
  • Ask questions.
  • Enjoy your job.