Viking Braids, Girl Power, and Pulling Magical Unicorns from Magical Places

Viking Braids, Girl Power, and Pulling Magical Unicorns from Magical Places

Three weeks ago I got a call from one of my dear friends who is a movie producer. She wanted me to come on to a short film set and do the hair and makeup. Movie stills if I could…but hair and makeup were desperately needed. Wait what? Me?
I had shot movie stills before but never had I done hair or makeup outside of my own studio.
Big huge boundary push.
The movie was all about Vikings.
I LOVE the series Vikings and I was in awe of the complex and beautiful braids that they wore on the TV series. I had even watched behind the scenes of the hair artists who showed bits of what they did on the show.
Here is what when on in my head.
My inner Muse – ” Hells YES! This is going to be amazing! Did you really just get handed a movie with Shield Maidens?”
My inner critic – “What if you stuff it up?…what if you are not good enough?”
My inner Muse – “Yep…that could happen…probably will not. But anyway you have been asked…you will rise to the challenge you always do. Name the last time you really face planted…you are the queen of pulling magical unicorns out of your bum when needed”
My inner critic – “But what if you have run out of Unicorns? What if you fail in front of a whole cast and crew and send the leads out looking…ew.”
My Inner Muse – “Hush now, Yes Stephanie of course I will do it.”

So I did it.
I went on set. Found out that the hair guy who is AWESOME wasn’t going to be there on the first day and I would have to establish the looks in the main characters both hair and makeup. That is when I really started to freak. I stayed up late that night binge watching complex braiding tutorials on Youtube and Vikings simultaneously and trying the braids out on my Woofer Kimmie who is staying with us and has long hair.
We got there the night before and slept in our caravan.
The first shield maiden hopped into my chair.
Deep breaths.
She had shortish hair…above the shoulders. Fark. Fark. Farkety Fark. I had practised on long hair. Show must go on..

Nailed it. She looked Good. The top didn’t hold up for all of the fighting scenes we needed to pin the heck out of it on set but it worked.

Viking Hair
Then my biggest challenge arrived. The leads braids. Deeper breath. I just let my fingers work. I trusted that I could do it. I thanked my stars it wasn’t a period drama and it was Vikings and they would be allowed to be rugged looking and not down to the hair perfect. And I just got tucked in.
Viking Hair Braids
Honestly I was so chuffed.
And even cracked out some beautiful makeup on the Goddess… She had to look otherworldly on camera…luminous… But this was a piece of cake…I make goddesses everyday ;).
Viking Goddess
The next challenge was the lead men. By this point I was on a roll. The lead wanted to be a Berserker…blue hair and facial paint that looked rugged and natural and not painted…magic Unicorn…ding.

Viking Goddess

Then the other lead…easy… the trick came in shooting the stills. I didn’t have a full lighting kit with me and I wanted to shoot it on set in a way that had the feeling of a movie poster.
I was so chuffed with this image. I used sunlight on his back to get that movie poster rim lighting and then used my location lighting to give him a blast of light in the front. LOVED IT. Even photographed the back of my camera and sent it to some of my photography buddies to show them how it looked.

Viking Haakon
But here is the deal. I did it. I didn’t think I could. But…Unicorns.
We all have them. Magical unicorns we can pull out and somehow stretch us to being better versions of ourselves.

Here is another little story. When I was in middle school I had a wicked crush on a blond haired blue eyed boy. We were paired up in square dancing as partners. My heart was a flutter.
I walked up to him.
He took my hand.
Then looked at my hand…and said. “Geeze…you have very mannish hands.” Open floor…enter me.
I had a choice.
Forever hate my hands for their mannish look or embrace their power in a female body.
Somewhere along the line I realized that well…I probably would never be a hand model…but look what those hands could create. They created the braids above. They create art. They used to play the cello. They give good massages. They are wonderful at hugging people and holding hands of friends in need. They are gentle enough to foster small lost animals. They are strong enough to lift heavy things when needed. I am sure I went home and cried on my mums shoulder that night and she said something that helped me. She bit her nails and they weren’t great lookers either but I knew mums hands were full of love.

So why am I telling you about this. Because well Unicorns. Heart and skills and soul expanding unicorns…in the form of a couple of classes.
I am teaching two classes before my exhibition closes on the 30th (if you haven’t gone to see it you still have time)

The first one is free to anyone who will benefit (there are 10 spaces left). It is called Girl Positive and it is a primer for mothers who have Tweens/teens who want to help them to honour their bodies and themselves even when stories like the above happen…and even in today’s challenging body critical culture. My exhibition is all about learning to love yourself deeply “flaws” and all. I see the culture and what it is doing to women. I see it, and I need to offer my own Unicorns to help. This class is my gift especially designed for mothers to help their daughters navigate the waters of tween and teendom and come out of it with a deep appreciation of their beautiful highly functional body no matter it shape or size or arrangements.

The second is for people who hate being photographed. It is called How to Feel Confident in front of the Camera.
It is for women who hide behind the camera or dive out of the way when one is brought out.
It is for people who cringe when they see a camera.
It is for people who are missing from their families visual history.
It is for people who are growing tired of not being seen and want to make a change in their life.
Because…you deserve to be seen and celebrated.
It is free for those who have been to a photoshoot with me or who are already booked in for one.

It is a course that will help you expand your boundaries and work out some of the culturally induced body critical mindset and help you to shift into a more accepting and honouring space while at the same time teaching you some tricks that models know to show off their best bits.


Click here if you are booked in for a shoot with me or have already had a shoot and want to bring a friend to learn more.

Click here if you are wanting to know more about the class but have not yet booked in for a photoshoot with me.

Mandi Lynn

p.s. In case you were curious, the short film is called Tears of Valhalla and will be entered into Tropfest.. The lead is a girl…a powerful girl. I LOVE IT!  Costumes by Charlotte Kelleher.  Actors in order of appearance – Ilena Shadbolt, Sarah Munn, Alesha Pyers, Montague Aardvarkian,  Daniel Rathbon

book here

book here