Cinema Makeup School was founded in 1993 by a professional makeup artist seeking to create a more comprehensive makeup artist school that offered up-to-date education to aspiring makeup and special effects technicians.

At the time, there were very few dedicated makeup schools in Los Angeles, and many of those that existed offered training that was either outdated or out-of-step with the needs of the entertainment industry. Most of the industry’s training—especially in the special effects world—happened informally through apprenticeships and internships that were often unpaid, unadvertised and all-but-inaccessible to people without insider connections and financial means. At the same time, the explosion of special effects-driven blockbuster movies (that had been going on, unabated, since the late ‘70s) created unprecedented public awareness of, and interest in, special effects. With so few doorways to the industry and so many interested young people, someone needed to bridge that gap.

The makeup artist school opened its doors in a modest facility in the heart of L.A. and got to work teaching students. The plan was simple: offer shorter, more concentrated classes; keep all instruction up-to-date with the latest professional methods and standards; and attract top working artists to teach at the school.

It worked.

Since its inception, the school has grown consistently for over twenty-five years. It has moved twice to upgraded facilities and even with more and more start dates offered each year, core classes are always full.

CMS’s longtime Director of Education, Leonard Engelman, was elected the first Governor of the Make-up Artists and Hairstylists Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the governing body for the Oscars®), and went on to become the first makeup artist ever elected a Vice President of the Academy as a whole.

Leonard continues his work with the makeup artist school to this day as a special instructor and chairman of the school’s honors program. The current faculty pool—which rotates due to Hollywood’s continued demand for many of our instructors’ services—includes multiple Emmy® winners and nominees. Even Oscar-winning makeup artists Ve Neill and Joel Harlow have stepped into CMS classrooms to teach character and prosthetic makeup classes.

Many graduates of the school have gone on to do acclaimed work at the highest levels. Zena Shtysel has won multiple primetime Emmy awards and been nominated even more times for her work as key makeup artist on Dancing With the Stars.Michelle Bankson has done key hair and makeup for countless top musical acts including P.Diddy, Coldplay, and David Guetta. Sculptor and painter Casey Love has created beautiful concept art and effects work for over twenty feature films (including Men In Black 3AVPR: Alien vs. Predator Requiem and Priest) and is a sought-after designer of horror-themed art and memorabilia selling his original pieces for thousands of dollars. Even recent graduates have found work on major blockbusters like Iron Man 3, Inception and, The Lone Ranger

Robert Lindsay, Rob Seal, Gage Hubbard and Wayne Anderson and more have charmed television audiences as contestants on SyFy Network’s Face Off makeup competition. Other grads occupy top academic positions at other major makeup schools. These are just a few examples; even graduates from CMS’s most recent classes are already starting their careers in major effects shops like KNB Efx, Amalgamated Dynamics, Makeup Effects Lab and Legacy Effects.

In its third decade of instruction, CMS has never been a more vital institution. Exciting new offerings such as The Leonard Engelman Fellowship Honors Program, the Protégé Lab Internship Program, and improvement projects like the Jack Pierce Memorial Gallery for Makeup and Character Arts have radically enhanced and expanded the school’s offerings. Current students and recent grads have placed highly in a number of recent student competitions, and some had their work featured in notable trade publications, like Make-up Artist magazine, before even graduating. Many others have gone on to high-profile jobs working with major effects shops or assisting well-known artists such as Ve Neill, Steve Wang, Kazuhiro Tsuji, and Joel Harlow. Meanwhile, enrollment continues to grow.

Still, the plan remains the same: pair eager students with top established talent, teach them the latest methods in a concentrated creative environment, and great work will follow.