Derry’s Sevina serves ‘Penance’ and is crowned Irish SFX artist of year

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Last year Sevina Mooney got a late night call from a stranger requesting ‘a bucket of blood, express delivery please!’

Without batting an eyelid, the 35-year-old Gobnascale girl was out the door and off to the local 24-hour supermarket for the ingredients with which to concoct the gory order.

Some might have flinched from such a strange and unsettling petition but not Sevina for whom this type of thing is all in a day’s work.

It should, of course, be mentioned at this point that the Waterside woman is an in-demand special effects make-up artist, trading as SevinaFX, and the people on the other end of the phone were ringing on behalf of the acclaimed Derry film director, Tom Collins.

“Tom Collins was making ‘Penance’ [a 1916 based feature released this year] and they needed someone at short notice to make a bucket of blood for a scene that was being shot at Long Tower chapel.

“So, that was me running in the middle of the night to Tesco to get supplies for a bucket of blood. It’s always fun,” she laughs.

Ultimately, the inconvenient errand was well worth Sevina’s while.

It earned her a first IMDb (Internet Movie Database) feature film credit with her name now appearing in lights alongside a director perhaps best-known for his 2007 release, ‘Kings’, starring Colm Meaney.

“‘Penance’ was shot between here and Ramelton and Dublin and it got me my first IMDb credit,” says Sevina. “It was my first credited one.”

Following hot-on-the-heels from this well-deserved triumph, Sevina had further cause for celebration last Sunday when she was crowned the number one special effects (SFX) make-up artist in the country at the Irish Make-Up Awards 2018.

“It’s all good. I was so shocked at the award,” she says.

The modest Derry woman, wife to Seamus and mother to four-year-old Ellaria, normally earns her daily bread working alongside a creative hairdresser at a Newbuildings salon, beautifying bridal parties, fashion shows, concert-goers and anyone else who wants to look good.

However, through word-of-mouth, Sevina’s has fast become the go-to SFX artist for film and television crews working in the Derry area.

“I’m just lucky enough that my name is kind of known. I can’t take too much time away from my wee girl.

“I have friends who work on ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Vikings’. But they are big. They are nine months shooting outside a quarry in Belfast all night. My time couldn’t be split that way. My wee girl’s autistic so that’s a full time job.

“I’m lucky enough that, when film crews come here and production teams come to Derry, my name gets passed on and I kind of get pulled on to things,” she says.

Sevina jumped straight into the beauty industry via retail on leaving school.

She worked for The Body Shop for around 13 years, during the period when it was owned by the French cosmetics giant, L’Oréal.

“Most of my training was retail-based, training people on products and showing people how to do shopfloor make-overs and selling,” she says.

However, it was not until her pregnancy with Ellaria five years ago that she really kicked on with the Hollywood style cosmetic wizardry.

“When I got pregnant with my wee girl, I took advantage of my maternity leave and decided to upskill.

“I did about ten courses all around Ireland learning things like prosthetics.

“For film and TV, it can take a month to create a face for one character - by the time it’s sculpted and moulded and run. Its nice to go and learn how to use fibreglass and polyurethane plastics to make moulds.

“It’s as far removed from make-up as you get. It’s more-science-based but it will eventually be on someone’s face on someone’s TV screen,” she adds.

Sevina says it’s fabulous working in Derry given the city’s strong artistic bent and tradition.

“I enjoy the creative, the fun side. It’s something I’d be doing anyway if someone wasn’t paying me for it because it is a creative outlet.

“When you look at In Your Space Circus and the Nerve Centre, there is a whole creative scene around Derry. It’s fantastic to be part of it and to be asked to collaborate with different things.”