From Middle Earth to Hollywood via Georgica

OSCAR NOMINEE: Rick Findlater (centre) gives Gandalf the finishing touches.
OSCAR NOMINEE: Rick Findlater (centre) gives Gandalf the finishing touches.

YOU might think that if a journalist wanted to track down an Australian nominee for an Academy Award it would involve negotiations with celebrity agents and press secretaries.

But we just looked up hair and make-up designer Rick Findlater's name in the phone book and had a chat with him from his home at Georgica.

Rick and his team (Peter Swords-King and Tami Lane) have been nominated for an Oscar for their work on The Hobbit movie. Rick, who has been in the film industry for 20 years, was on familiar ground in Middle Earth, having also worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Rick told The Echo he doesn't get to spend much time at home, with his recent schedule demanding that he spend most of his time in New Zealand.

"I've spent 10 weeks in Australia in the past two years," he said.

"I sold a house before I did The Hobbit, and I was looking for a place in this area. I was definitely after a Northern Rivers-type scenario because I grew up in Lismore."

After leaving school, Rick first trained as a chef, but later supported himself by waiting on tables on the Gold Coast while he studied at an English makeup academy during the day.

"I think all kids are interested in film. I was the sort of kid who'd pick up a pen and change people's faces in newspaper pictures," Rick admitted.

"My first job was in Vancouver, where I worked on a TV commercial, touching up people's lipstick with a cotton bud.

"When I got back to Australia, I found that guys were rare in the industry - I hate to say it, but that worked in my favour. Makeup artists usually work on women, and if a woman wants advice about the way they look, they'll often ask a man for an unbiased opinion."

Rick's big break came when friends recommended him for the makeup team for Lord of the Rings.

"It's about getting along well with people and being good to work with," he said.

Rick flies to LA in mid-February for the Oscars ceremony.

Topics:  the hobbit

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