Theater students experiment with special effects makeup at Knott’s Scary Farm


Knotts Scary Farm: Student were given the opportunity to get hands on experience with special makeup artists. Photo credit: Naila Salguero

Naila Salguero and Derrick Coleman

Cerritos College theatre makeup program took its annual trip to Knott’s Scary Farm organized by professor Susan Watanabe. She wanted to give her students a chance to mingle with special effects makeup artists that took place on Oct. 24.

Students were given an opportunity to observe each artist, as they turn “regular people” into terrifying monsters.

Denise Chavez is the makeup department lead for Knott’s Scary Farm.

Chavez said, “I mean, any way that we can help and be an inspiration or teach them [students] something that they may have not learned at school or have hands on with, we’re excited about that.”

Chavez continues, “I think it’s very exciting. Like I say, I look forward to having students come in.

As a student Watanabe said, “My teacher brought me in to do makeup, when I was an undergrad, I went and studied makeup with him.” She took the beginning class again, even though she had already taken it as an undergrad. She continues, “I was here for nine years and then when I went on sabbatical, I came back here and did an another year.”

Watanabe said, “she asked if she can bring her class to Knott’s Scary Farm for her students to learn from makeup artist and they said yes.”

One of the highlights of the night was when Watanabe introduced one of her former students Alma Griffin who is now a makeup artist, was recommended by Watanabe for her passion.

Alumna of Cerritos College Griffin is currently a makeup artist at Knott’s Scary Farm and has been there for 24 years.

Griffin spoke about what it was like to have Watanabe as a professor, “It’s fun,” she says, “she’s a hard teacher and she really enjoys teaching and if you’re a student that shows that you care about the work, she will give you the time of day.”

She continues, “If you’re a student doesn’t show you that you care for the work, she’ll still give you the time of day still make you do everything over and over again.”

Griffin said, “She has a strong work ethic, I had her for costuming and that’s where I learned her work ethic because she made us do simple hymns. If we didn’t do it right, she took pride in her work.”

Each makeup artists have about ten to eleven people each night to paint with only 20 minutes to complete the whole look. The start of the makeup usually begins with airbrushing on a base color which is applied on the actors legs and arms. Other makeup artists have to blend a form fitted prosthetics on to the face or neck. There are over 300 people go through the makeup transformation process.

Cerritos College students were at first shy, but excited to be able to go behind the scenes and get hands on experience with makeup artists.

Marie Egon is a theater at Cerritos College said, “The biggest reason was because it’s part of the major, I have to take it regardless for credits, but also because my friend of mine, a couple of friends of mine in theater.”

Egon said, “I think it’s exciting to be in a different environment that’s not common, like seeing other makeup artists do other their techniques and their skills and whatnot.”