'Pitch Perfect 2' is finally here!
(I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve totally had that that Cups song in my head since the first film came out in 2012.)
Earlier this week, the cast hit the red carpet for the Los Angeles premiere. Anna Kendrick was there, along with Rebel Wilson.
Hana Mae Lee:
And new Bella Hailee Steinfeld:
Plus Elizabeth Banks (who is also the director):
Now, this movie may be all about the singing, but from a beauty standpoint? It's all about the hair. So I was pretty excited when I recently got the chance to speak with Cheryl Marks, the movie's lead hair designer.
Cheryl splits her time between New York and Los Angeles, working as a celebrity hairstylist and on-set hairstylist. Her résumé includes TV shows like 'The New Normal', 'The X Factor' and 'The Voice', as well as hairstyling for celebrity clients such as Cindy Crawford, Cameron Diaz and Rachel Bilson.
I snagged a few minutes with Cheryl to discuss what it was like working on the film and what the Barton Bellas have in store for us in the sequel.
How did you get started as a hairstylist?
Like a lot of people in the industry, I started out at the Vidal Sassoon beauty school and salon, where I learned how to cut and style. After working in salons for a few years, I moved to London and worked with a British company called Jingles, which sent us all over Europe to teach at different salons. When they expanded to North America, I moved back to New York and helped open the first Jingles location in the U.S., which was in the Empire State Building. It was a great job and gave me tons of exposure in the industry.
As more people saw my work, I got involved in print and editorial styling with magazines like Allure, Seventeen, Glamour and People. Later, I started working in TV and film, and that's really where my focus has been for the last couple of years.
How did you break into Hollywood?
I’ve been based in New York and L.A. for a while, which helps. But I really got my break in Hollywood from having a good network of hairdressers. I believe that if you’re a strong hairdresser, they’ll find you, and that’s exactly how I started working with Elizabeth Banks. One day, her number one person wasn’t available, so I was called in. Like a lot of industries, it's a recommendation game.
What was it like working on 'Pitch Perfect 2'?
I’ve been working on 'The Voice' for a few seasons now, so a film like 'Pitch Perfect 2' made sense for me, since I’m used to styling people for performances. I also have a good understanding of how music, fashion and hair all need to work together.
Working on this set was crazy! Every single morning, we would have 10 girls and 10 hair and makeup people crammed into a trailer getting ready. That’s not typical for a movie, but there was nothing typical about filming 'Pitch Perfect 2'. When we shot the scenes at the World Championships, we had, like, 160 people on stage, and more than a thousand extras. It felt like Coachella!
As the hair department head, my job was mainly to keep the team together and to ensure everyone had what they needed. It was a group effort, and everyone had a role to play to keep things running smoothly.
What are some of the biggest challenges you faced on set?
The biggest challenge with filming this movie wasn’t so much the dancing and moving around, but more the fact that we shot in Louisiana in the summer, where it was really hot and humid.
Also, because the film wasn’t shot in L.A., Universal only allowed me to bring one other hairdresser with me, so I had to hire locally when I arrived. Fortunately, there were a lot of movies being shot in Baton Rouge at the time, so I ended up stealing people from different sets.
It was a big job, with three trailers going on at once and lots of inspiration boards. The amount of scheduling and running back and forth was a challenge in itself.
How is working on a film set different from styling someone for the red carpet or a photoshoot?
Film is totally different because you’re doing hair for a character and not a regular person. You need a continuity book in order to keep track of everything you do, because scenes are never filmed in the right order. You also end up working really closely with the director and the costume people. In a film, it’s more than just coming up with a hairstyle; it’s about creating something that works with the overall vision for the scene.
What tools did you have in your kit?
T3 was really good about giving us the right tools so we could create a specific type of wave, curl or straight look. There’s one iron in particular, the Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand, which has three different heads, that was really useful.
I ended up using this a lot on set because of its versatility.
Doing touch-ups between takes, we didn’t have electricity. So we relied heavily on cordless butane irons.
Did you have any essential styling products?
Because our biggest challenge was the humidity, it was important that we didn’t use too much of anything. Dry shampoo was definitely my best friend, particularly Pantene Original Fresh Dry Shampoo.
It’s probably one of the best dry shampoos I’ve used, because it doesn’t come out white and is great at absorbing oil. I like to think of it as a blotter for your hair.
We also used a lot of flexible-hold hairspray. Something that would move and didn’t contain too much water, since we didn’t want to encourage the humidity. This was probably one of the first times where I really had to read the labels on every product we used to make sure the ingredients were conducive to the elements.
What was it like working with Elizabeth Banks (the director of 'Pitch Perfect 2')?
I was fortunate to work with Elizabeth, not only because she is a female director, but also because she’s really stylish. There wasn’t the usual guesswork about how we should style each girl because she knew exactly how she wanted them to look.
I had a relationship with Elizabeth prior to working on this film. We’ve done a few red carpet events together and just finished working on a small budget film, 'Walk of Shame'. When I found out she was directing this film, it was kind of like the stars had aligned.
How did you come up with the hair looks for each actress?
Because this is a sequel, the characters were already established in the first film. Beca (Anna Kendrick) was kind of the rebel. Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) was the funny girl. And Stacie (Alexis Knapp) was that beautiful model type.
Instead of creating entirely new looks, it was more about taking things up a few notches. Three years have passed. Now they’re seniors and they’ve all grown up a little bit.
In general, we wanted everything to be really high-fashion and stylish. There’s nothing casual like you might have seen in the first film. Even Fat Amy, who spent most of the first film with her hair in a ponytail, has let her hair down and become the pretty funny girl instead of just the funny girl.
What it was like to work with the cast?
It was a bit of a girls' club! The first film was about the rivalry with the boys' group, but this one was about the girls, so we spent a solid three to four months together in the trailer everyday. It was a lot of fun but also exhausting.
Was there a go-to look for the Bellas' performances?
The only time we styled the girls all the same was when they performed for the President in the film. They all have this slicked-back, super-high ponytail because they’re wearing these matching sequinned tuxedos—kind of like The Rockettes. The look was meant to be cool and fashionable, kind of like something JLo would wear.
It was the one time we wanted them all to look similar, but otherwise we purposely styled them differently to express their characters and personalities.
Do you have a favourite look from the film?
The film is meant to be funny and most of my favourite looks are the ones that make me laugh. Elizabeth Banks had one of the best looks at the World Championships where we styled her hair in this Mohawk-y braid. I also love Fat Amy’s hair in the hip-hop scene, which is pulled into a big, crimped pony that just looks hilarious.
What was the best part of working on 'Pitch Perfect 2'?
I’ve now had the chance to see the movie a few times, and it kind of feels like watching a video of this hilarious trip I went on. I can actually remember what was happening that day when I see the different looks, which is a lot of fun.
Do you have any tips for hairstylists following in your footsteps?
Learn everything first. I’m an all-around hairdresser and that’s what makes me good at my job. The best way to start is to get salon training and then evolve from there, making sure to learn every ethnicity of hair, how to barber, how to use wigs and how to do extensions. You need to know it all.
I also think it’s important to never burn a bridge, no matter how small the job. I’ve worked on some tiny movies, but they were with great directors and projects I was passionate about. They’ve each helped get me to the next stage in my career.
What’s next for you?
I just finished up pilot season, so I was in Vancouver working for 17 days straight! I’m also still working on 'The Voice', so any downtime I have between now and the next job will be spent with my two daughters.
Are you a 'Pitch Perfect' fan?
Which character has your favourite hair look?