A Day in the Life

Costume Design Light Entertainment

Collect together images, swatches etc to show to the production team. Lots of ideas here to play with - no idea where this is going yet - but lets hope the director's got some ideas! 10:30
Planning meeting with the Producer, Director Designer and Lighting Director for the new show. Knock around lots of fun ideas to make the show have life and sparkle. Lighting, set design and costume design need to work well together to get the most out of it all. This goes through to lunchtime, so continue through an enjoyable lunch - getting pretty excited about some of the original ideas coming up 14:30
Escape meeting, grab a coffee, and catch up on lots of messages from other, regular, long running programmes that I'm also looking after 15:30
Enough of the routine stuff. Leave the calls. Back to the new LE show... I'm eager to sketch out some ideas while it's all fresh and I'm fired up. Call the designer to see how far she's got with the feel of the sets etc. 17:00
Dash around the studios to catch a new presenter I'm going to be working with, and start negotiating on the kind of look we'll need. Also meet up with some wardrobe assitants to answer some questions. Want to get away to see an important new show on the TV. Work of course! Take the new designs home too....

What you do: The range of the job?

The Costume Department is responsible for the design, fitting, hire, purchase, manufacture, continuity and care of all costume items on feature films. The term 'Costume' refers to the clothes that the Actors wear, and these differ enormously from production to production, ranging from contemporary urban fashion to period ball-gowns, and even wetsuits. The Costume Department is also responsible for jewellery, footwear, corsetry, hosiery, millinery and sometimes wig-work. Costume is integral in defining the overall 'look' of the film. It provides the audience with information about the period, culture and society the Actors inhabit and, on a more subtle level, the underlying themes of the film itself. Work in the Costume Department is divided between two 'wardrobes': the 'Making Wardrobe', which incorporates the design, acquisition and creation of costume during pre-production; and the 'Running Wardrobe', which takes care of the organisation, maintenance and continuity of costumes during the film shoot. The Costume Designer is the Head of the Department, and works closely with the Production Designer and Director to ensure that costumes blend into the overall production design. The Costume Designer oversees a team that usually includes a Costume Design Assistant, Costume Supervisor, Costume Assistants and Costume Dailies. On larger productions, the Costume Designer may employ a team of skilled technicians in a Costume Workshop, which could include cutters, makers, finishers, dyers and milliners. There may also be a Wardrobe Supervisor to oversee the Running Wardrobe. Job responsibilities for personnel in the Costume Department vary enormously from production to production, depending on the requirements of the Costume Designer. As a result, the boundaries between job roles are blurred, particularly in the case of Costume Design Assistants, Costume Supervisors and Wardrobe Supervisors. During the shoot Costume personnel ensure that costumes are available when required, assist performers with dressing, oversee costume continuity, and maintain and service costumes when not in use. After the shoot Costume personnel ensure that costumes are safely stored, packed and returned to the relevant sources, or sold. Contribution by Noelle Rees Rowlands Costume Design - Light Entertainment: Beginning with the script, the costume designer, together with the producer, director , and sometimes a choreographer, forms an interpretation of the mood and characterisation in relation to the script content, the artiste, sets, make-up and lighting. They may have to do research into period costume and will have to keep the designs within budget. A team player they may well work with design assistants and dressers, but sometimes will take on all these roles. Fittings, hiring trips and shopping trips. Work on location and in the studio. Noelle Rees Rowlands

Qualities: What you need to be able to do the job?

A degree in fashion or design. Skillful in design interpretation and innovation. Practical knowledge and business sense. Team skills and good communication skills. Costume and Wardrobe personnel work closely with Actors in a physical sense and must therefore be tactful, sensitive and able to put people at their ease. In addition, all those working in the Costume Department require the following knowledge and skills: Close attention to detail and meticulous organisational skills Flexibility, stamina and the ability to multi-task An imaginative approach to work and the capacity to solve problems creatively Good communication and interpersonal skills The capacity to work to extremely high standards of accuracy, in pressurised and often cramped environments, as part of a team working toward a deadline Good foundation skills in ironing, steaming, adapting garments, dyeing, hand and machine sewing, alterations, pattern cutting and drawing An understanding of how to care for, and maintain, costumes General knowledge about the qualities of different types of fabric The ability to dress Actors in different types of clothes: lacing corsets, knotting ties, etc. An understanding of how to dress to particular faces or physiques in order to create characters Good research skills, particularly for period costumes General knowledge of both costume history and modern fashion. A full EU driving licence Computer literacy (PC and Mac) A knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures A passion for film and costume

Career path: How you start and where you can go with it?

No specific qualifications are required for entry into the Costume Department, but most new entrants have a qualification or diploma in a related area such as Fashion, Costume Design, Costume Interpretation or Garment Making. Promotion within the Department is based on experience. Entry-level candidates may have taken part in an apprentice-style scheme to gain their foundation skills, or they may enter the Department as Trainees. If they make a good impression on senior staff during their placement, they may be called back onto another production to work as Dailies or Assistants. Another alternative is to work for one of the large Costumiers (the most famous is Angels & Bermans in London) where trainees receive all-round experience and education in the Costume processes required in film production. You may have a Design Degree and initial experience as a junior in television or the theatre. Eventually make it to designer and then work up to bigger productions. Costume Department personnel involved in film production work on a freelance basis, and must be prepared to travel.

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