How To: Shh… How to Make Yourself a Silent Film Character for Halloween

Shh… How to Make Yourself a Silent Film Character for Halloween

2011's The Artist was the first silent film to win an Academy Award since 1927. It was old school versus new school, and it won in unprecedented fashion.

You don't have to be a hipster to appreciate silent films, and when it comes to Halloween, being a silent film actor makes for a pretty awesome costume.

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You'll notice if you go back and watch a couple scenes from old black and white silent films that the actors may have a sort of silver tinge. While the movies are called black and white, there is a lot more silver and gray on the screen.

Get the Hue Right

You don't want to come out looking like the Silver Surfer, so in order to see what color and type of makeup you need, take a picture of yourself on your phone or camera and convert it into a black and white image.

There are plenty of resources to do this, including Instagram and many stock camera apps for Android. You can even do it in the stock camera for iOS 7 now using the Mono, Tonal, or Noir filters.

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Depending on your skin tone, you may need more white or gray than someone else might, and if you do it right, you could look almost as badass as the Don himself.

If you're not digging the B&W look, some monochrome silent films were tinted in various shades and hues to represent a certain time of day, display something happening in the scenery, or signal a mood, like red for fire or anger.

Shop for Makeup

Now that you've seen what you should look like in black and white, you can go ahead and find the makeup that fits your desired look. Try your local beauty store or find a costume or Halloween shop to find the right colors.

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Make sure to grab some cosmetic sponges too, which will make it much easier and cleaner to apply makeup to your face and small nooks on your body.

Grab the Gear

The clothes should be the easiest part of the costume, especially for the men. Grab an white shirt and black pants and you're set. The more clothes you wear, the less makeup you need to put on, so keep that in mind as well. Suspenders, top hats, and bow ties are pluses.

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To make it easier and more accurate, be sure to do some research on the era you are trying to depict. While both the 1920s and 1950s had plenty of black and white movies, the outfits and styles were much different, especially for the ladies.


Silent movies used cards to help explain parts of the story or add dialogue to a scene. If you want to add a little more authenticity to your costume, you can make these cards at home as well.

All you need is black construction paper, a stencil, and white paint or marker. You could use an online template and print them out instead, but that could get expensive depending on how many you make.

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If you really want to act the part, you can create a bunch of cards to use throughout the night. A "Trick or Treat" card would be a great one. Get creative and try to come up with dialogue cards that you could really use to explain yourself and communicate with people throughout the night without speaking.

For more tips and photos, check out kimmikillzombie's full tutorial over on Instructables.

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