John Sayles' AMIGO and A Moment in the Sun out at last.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Appearance is Everything

The make-up will be fairly simple - as little as possible, as the RED camera sees everything and none of the characters would be wearing make-up in this situation.  Hair is also fairly straightforward-  we’re trying to choose our female extras with enough hair to pull back, no plucked eyebrows, etc.  Both Joel Torre and Yul Vazquez, who play Rafael and Padre Hidalgo, will start by shooting the scene where they are let out of jail after several weeks, so they’ll start with a growth of beard and then be shaved.  Some of the American actors are growing period moustaches and Chris Cooper, playing Colonel Hardacre, will have a beard, but it is rare to see photos of these soldiers with stubble, so I’ll be asking them and the extras to come to the set shaved whenever possible. The American army hairstyle for enlisted men around 1900 was fairly short on the sides, the beginning of a sideburn, and a bit of forelock hair.  No buzzcuts or shaved heads.  If you could part your hair in the middle you tried to.  Officers sometimes had longer hair, especially the old Civil War veterans (men over 50).

The Filipino insurrectos all appear to have close-cut hair in the photos-  probably a precaution against head-lice when living out in the bush.  Some of the village men have longer hair.

In the case of Raul Morit, playing Chief, he is supposed to be a Macabebe, who wore their hair long.  We’ll keep it long throughout, even after he has a US uniform on, so the audience can identify him easier.
Women tended to tied their hair back very simply, and much is written about the shine from treating it with coconut oil.  Even the little girls in photos mostly have theirs tied back.

In sc. 4 Rafael, Joel Torre’s character, is hit in the face with a rifle butt.  We’ll need to do a special make-up for this, if fact four different looks as the wound progresses (after the fourth day there is a gap of several weeks in the story, so he should be completely healed when we see him again.  Once the schedule is locked I’ll send you a breakdown of these scenes- Day One Wound, Day Two Wound, Day Three Wound and Day Four Wound (the first appearance is on shooting day 3, so you’ll have some time to practice) and when they appear.

The other special make-up is the scene where we see the Chinese workers who have been killed with bolos.  We’ll set the camera angle first (so you don’t have to do every side of every worker) then give you some time with them while we shoot other angles.

John Sayles
(below are some period photographs that should be useful)

Army baseball team, Manila, 1900.


High-ranking American officers.  Col. Hardacre is almost a General.

Spanish friars of the Dominican Order, ca 1875-1880

Men on right are Augustinians, like Padre Hidalgo.  Hair fairly short but no tonsure.

Spanish officers

1896 or 1897: Spanish soldiers with captured Filipino insurrectos


    Spanish army officers

Little girls’ hair is usually seen tied back.

Chinese coolies in rear left.  Very few appear with their queues still on- 
mostly very closely cut hair.

The man on the right has a queue but wears it coiled on top of his head-  not visible under a hat.

Coolies in foreground.

Mostly we see them in hats.


  1. how do I send material for casting?
    cleber willian


  2. pls check out -- -- David Silbey's A War of Frontier and Empire: The Philippine-American War, 1899-1902 -- :P

    It has been termed an insurgency, a revolution, a guerrilla war, and a conventional war. As David J. Silbey demonstrates in this taut, compelling history, the 1899 Philippine-American War was in fact all of these. Played out over three distinct conflicts—one fought between the Spanish and the allied United States and Filipino forces; one fought between the United States and the Philippine Army of Liberation; and one fought between occupying American troops and an insurgent alliance of often divided Filipinos—the war marked America’s first steps as a global power and produced a wealth of lessons learned and forgotten. First-rate military history, A War of Frontier and Empire retells an often forgotten chapter in America’s past, infusing it with commanding contemporary relevance.


  3. This is all very interesting.
    The photos really help to give us a better understanding of what you're talking about regarding the look of the period.

    We're looking forward to having a meeting over skype.

    Amanda and Jessica
    Ziskin mod 2 Film