Special Effects Program

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For as long as you can remember, you’ve been fascinated by the monsters and magic of stage and screen. As a makeup artist, you want to bring the visions of artists and dreamers to life. You’re looking for a chance to learn from the award-winning experts behind the blockbusters, and to get your hands on all of the tools the pros use. And you want to build a portfolio that will prove to producers that you have the skill and imagination to break into the industry.

The next generation of special effect makeup artists is learning at Nashville’s AMUA Special Effects Makeup Artist Program. Led by Emmy Award-winner Ben Rittenhouse (The Pacific), the intensive 20-week program teaches you to create and apply startlingly realistic makeup and prosthetic effects that meet the highest industry standards.

Unlike most schools, AMUA classes work together like real film crews, giving you the closest thing to an on-set experience there is. Before long, you’ll be fabricating full-head prosthetic makeups and collaborating with students from our Wig and Hair Design Program to complete the perfect look for your character.

As you proceed toward your end-of-term capstone project, you’ll also receive personalized instruction in the areas you’re most passionate about. Your portfolio won’t be a dull collection of prefabricated designs, but an expression of who you are and what you can do.

Students will graduate with

  • A Diploma in Special Effects Makeup
  • Professional portfolio
  • Access to AMUA Alumni Group and Job Board

It is recommended, but not required, that students successfully complete the Freelance Makeup Artist Program or the Advanced Makeup Artist Program prior to enrolling in this Program

Please note

  • Maximum class size is 10 students; Early enrollment is encouraged

Example Portfolios


  • Bald cap construction and application
  • Life casting: 3/4 and full head
  • Sculpting techniques
  • Mold making
  • 3D Transfers
  • Encapsulated silicone
  • Teeth and dentures
  • Airbrush techniques
  • Foam latex appliances
  • Multi-piece appliance make ups
  • Character prosthetic make ups
  • Film script breakdown

2018 Schedule

  • January 8 – May 25
  • August 1 – December 21

Program Costs

  • Application: $100
  • Tuition: $17,500
  • Other Program Costs: $3,450
  • Estimated cost of other out-of-pocket supplies: $150


AMUA Instructor Ben Rittenhouse
Ben Rittenhouse, Director, Special Effects

Ben Rittenhouse is an Emmy Award winning makeup artist (The Pacific, 2010). Ben specializes in special effects makeup, prop making, prosthetics and has cultivated a successful and tenured career in the entertainment industry. Some of his recent projects include: Star Trek, Hunger Games, Avatar, Anchorman, Hangover 3, CSI, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe, Kill Bill: Vol 1&2, Hulk, RIPD, Grey’s Anatomy, The Mist, Hostel, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Hills Have Eyes, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning and Sin City.

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