Wigs, war paint and colour changes

PAINTER Jayson Gray takes a trip in the time machine to share his latest experiences working on set for film and TV productions


Jayson with Rebecca Ferguson 

“Wigs, war paint and colour changes are all part of the mechanics when working on any film production; be it a TV series, a hair commercial, or a blockbuster film! And what a great way to spend the last few months — doing just that!

I feel really privileged to have participated in such a varied range of filming work, and the most recent project has been a new TV series for Apple TV. It’s a sci-fi show set on a dystopian Earth 300 years from now. The subject matter is very interesting as it’s so far in the future.

When they initially mentioned that there were NO HAIRDRESSERS in existence within that time frame, my mind went on a very strange trip. We discussed this a lot, and I used my years of teaching hair history to provide them with some logic on how to explain this. 

Without giving too much away, I think they listened to my explanation of modern colouring, and all the ancient rituals that go far, far back. It was great to explain in detail about the procedures used by the Egyptians, etc. The best part was finding situations that the character or actor in question would have maybe been exposed or involved in a certain situation that led to the discovery of how to change the look or colour of their hair.

Chalk and rock dust were also items I mentioned that could be discovered as a hair product for styling! A cut to a finger could also stain blond hair pink, working near a furnace could cause oxidation over long periods of exposure too.


These were just some of the fun scenarios I came up with during the hair tests and pre-cursor sessions. Then I started lightening the hair and cleansing parts of the head on a variety of actors in the show. For Rebecca Ferguson, I created a second colour upgrade by colour grading the hair up slowly for a new character. It was important not to compromise the integrity of the hair, and also keep it looking supreme for the odd premiere (or two!).

Rebecca at the the Venice Film Festival promoting DUNE, with hair colour by Jayson

There’s never a dull moment, and its very rewarding to see your results on the screen. This particular show is a vast contrast to the last one I worked on in 2021. That was a period drama, and so again (surprise surprise!) NO HAIR COLOUR! It was not invented during the time period in which it was set – the seventeenth century, to be exact.  EXCEPT IT WAS… 10,200 BC, in a very rare kind of form, although not aimed at hair around this time. #confused.com!

Both shows cross over in the sense that they are both periodic and have significant timelines that mark a historical event. One is already documented in books etc, while the other is fictional, relaying on the merits and imagination of the writer, Hugh Howey, and his published books.”

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