Friday, June 19, 2009

Day #4: Exploding Shirts Are Expensive

So I met with two costume designers today, both of whom have years of experience in the wardrobe department from big budget studio blockbuster films to shoestring budget student films -- and they're both extremely excited at the opportunity to work on Another Life. Why?

Two simple answers: they loved the script and I was fully prepared for the meeting.

As you can read about in previous posts (Day #2: How to Get 1,000 Casting Submissions), I spent a lot of time on the script. 17 full drafts. And to be honest, once I'm rehearsing with the cast, it might be 20 drafts to get the dialogue just right.

Having a great script as well as a great logline has, is, and always will be the best selling tool to bring on talented, skilled professionals on your crew. If they're passionate about the story, they will jump at the opportunity to work hard on your film. If they're not passionate about the story, they will only work on your film if the money is good.

As for my preparation for the meeting, there's never too much. You of course want to ask the standard interview questions: why do you want to be a filmmaker? What excited you abotu this project? What costumes seem fun for you to make? Etc. And there's the standard logistics questions of availability and conflicts, their daily rate, budget for their department, assistants, etc. All essential to get to know your potential costume designer and see if they are the right fit for the film as well as for the crew.

But the proof in the pudding is in two sets of questions: ask your potential costume designer how they view the film and view the costumes. Listen very intently. Be open to their suggestions.

Then tell them your ideas. I brought a whole host of pictures that I found online (I will post them soon!). Ideas for Angela's clothes at the poker game, when she meets scott at the bar, when she goes to his house to kill him, and on the date. And what Scott's wearing when he's at work and when he's on the date. Suits, ties, shirts, coats, shoes, dresses. And talk about the color palette and cut of material... clean, grubby, trendy, bland, formal, casual... go into great detail... I've developed a visual leitmotif that Angela's world is dark with low-key lighting and navy blue, cold, desatured color palette while Scott's world is warm, high-key lighting and bright yellow satured color palette. And through the film the costumes can subtly show their two world blending together... angela's dress at the date could be a vibrant light blue where she was wearing a dark blue jeans and a gray hoodie before... scott starts to wear a little blue at the date...

The great thing is both costume designers listened and had great ideas to enhance my first impressions. The tricky thing now is to choose which one! And of course there are a few costume designers that are getting back to us now...

Stay tuned tomorrow as I prepare the production book for a production design meeting on Sunday. And oh yeah... if an actor "gets shot" in a scene, especially when he's wearing a military uniform, you need to have a brand new shirt for each take. And that is where exploding shirts can get expensive... and how a smart costume designer can save you money :)

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