Women In Film Focus – Prolific Hollywood Make-Up Effects Artist Renae Goodhew

Women In Film Focus is a new article series featuring successful women within the film industry who have made a name for themselves by creating exceptional careers and outstanding work in their respective fields.  First up we are proud to present a look into the life and career of in-demand special effects make-up movie artist Renae Goodhew.





With over seven years in the business and proud a card-carrying member of the Local 706 Make-up Artists & Hairstylist Guild, Renae Goodhew is one of the most prolific make-up artists working in film today.  Having grown up with a passion for sculpting, painting and horror from a young age, Goodhew has always leaned towards all things artistic.  Early influences include the movie make-up of Dick Smith in The Exorcist and also seeing a book on monsters and make-up in Hollywood and from there she admits she just sort of “fell in love.”

She decided to go down the career path and attended and graduated from Bal State with a Bachelors in Theater Production & Design.  It’s there where she got the creative bug for her future in special effects make-up and after graduating she moved to Los Angeles and went to the illustrious Cinema Makeup School completing what she describes as a “six month course that dabbled in everything – beauty, mold making, special effects and blood & gore” – their Master Makeup Program.



“We had a few days of shooting on Murder Made Easy when we needed an extra hair and makeup person because we had so many cast on set.  Our amazing hair, makeup and FX person recommended Renae.  She came on board and did a terrific job.  Even though she was jumping on a production already in progress, she hit the ground running and really helped us make our days.  And her special FX makeup work is truly astounding.”David Palamaro, Director Murder Made Easy


Of course being a woman in a heavily dominated field was at first a challenge for the skilled Goodhew who admits to having to overcome certain perceptions.  “In the beginning I would show up and they would say, ‘Oh, you’re part of the make-up team?’  And I would say ‘I AM the make-up team.’  They would then say, ‘Where are the guys?’  And I would say, ‘No guys here – it’s just me!’  That obviously burned a fire inside me.”  Though recent years have seen more talented women excel and surpass expectations according to Goodhew.  “I’ve definitely seen a change between starting off seven years ago and now.  I’ve seen a lot more female department heads being head of special effects.  I try to support women and I even like to bring people on underneath me to try and inspire them.”

As far as make-up work itself, Goodhew cites the greats like Dick Smith and Rick Baker as icons, plus she freely admits to an obsessive love of Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.  With its seamless combination of practical makeup with VFX, it’s a film she claims to watch “once a month.  I love the fantasy and horror elements that are combined with period style.”  On the female front, Goodhew enlists such iconic names as American Horror Story make-up maven Eryn Mekash, Oscar winner Kate Biscoe and Alice In Wonderland alum Valli O’Reilly as idols stating, “they do beautiful work, they juggle it all and they run the show.”



“Lo (Avenet-Bradley) and I had the good fortune of working with Renae on our previous feature when she first started out.  We were thrilled with her work so we knew we wanted her on board early for Echoes of Fear.  Early in pre-production, Renae and I discussed the look we wanted for the entity.  And she was game to do an early make-up FX test on the actress Elif Savas, which was really helpful in refining the look and figuring out the best way to create it.  I pushed her to create the entity in a very complicated, time intensive way because I loved the way that technique looked when Renae showed it to me in the test.  That’s what we love about Renae; she’s fully committed to her art and wants it to look fantastic in the movie.  And from the festival audience reaction, she definitely pulled it off. “Brian Avenet-Bradley, Writer/Co-Director Echoes Of Fear


But Goodhew has been ultra busy herself with a plethora of projects under her belt and more on the way – a streak she credits to having a mentor who helped her early on whenever she became even slightly discouraged.  “I was taught there was never one way of doing things – you need to find your own way to make it work.  If one way doesn’t work that means it’s not working the right way for you.  You might have to try five different ways to get to your goal of six, but you’ll get there.”  So what advice would she give upcoming artists trying to carve out a career?  “Get a good mentor – it’s very important when you’re starting off.  I honestly don’t know what I would have done without my mentor at the time because he got me through so much.  Whether you are assisting or are referred by someone, help out.  Also know your artist.  These are amazing people who created these jobs for us and did this work that allows us to have these positions.  Be respectful of that and know the backgrounds of the special effects world.  Finally persistence – it’s key.  If you feel passionate about something and really love what you do don’t give up.”

So what does she think of the recent moniker calling her Hollywood’s Indie VFX and Make-Up Queen?  “I’m so hard on myself as an artist and I’ve got such a long way to go in this business – I’ve got a lot to shoot for. “  What does she look for in a project?  “I don’t mind repeating stuff and sometimes it becomes redundant, but I like stuff that’s challenging and I can put my own twist on.”



“Renae, was awesome, a true professional.  She livened up the set with her personality and was a joy to work with.  Everyone loved her and she was super efficient.” – Clark D. Schaefer, Writer/Director Silence


And her unique take will continue to happen in a slew of upcoming projects completed, in post production and on her future docket if her IMDB page is any indication.  Flicks that have her effects stamp include Death House, which featured a who’s who of horror including Bill Moseley, Tony Todd and Kane Hodder, Minutes to Midnight with William Baldwin and Bill Moseley, 7 Deadly Sins with Eric Roberts and the recently released Echoes Of Fear, which is playing in LA theaters this month.  Plus in the last few weeks she has been working on new Lance Henriksen horror outing One and also the also Jimmy Eat World’s 555 video – and Goodhew shows no signs of stopping.

So finally where does this talented and busy make-up queen see herself in 2020?

“This year I wanna get on even more TV shows and films.  Every year I set goals for myself and I don’t let myself fall short of those goals and so far I’ve hit my goals for every year.  I feel very fortunate.”


A humble and huge talent, we salute make-up artist and the spotlight of this issue of Women In Film Focus the amazing Renae Goodhew – you rock!


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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