Friday 12 October 2012

Unpicking Costume design - The Next day

Last night we took part in the Q&A at the BFI with Deborah Nadoolman Landis. I think it went quite well. We were pleased there were lots of costume folk in the audience who supported the event and joined us afterwards for drinks.

 My feelings in retrospect:

• A couple of people didn't have their questions properly answered and I regret that. We veered off on a bit of a tangent which was hard to come back from and then we were onto the the next question. Apologies from me.

• We were all quite unprepared for some questions which we could easily have thought about in advance - favourite films etc. Of course people are likely to be interested in knowing what interests or inspires us and I wish I had considered more of this beforehand instead of thinking about why I do the job and the daily workings of it all - I was barely able to remember the name of any film at all once I was under the spotlight - costume designers function on the other side of the camera and I am not well practiced at dealing with an audience.

• We could be doing more, as a community of designers here in Britain, to raise the profile of our profession.
Deborah has done a huge amount of work in this area and curating Hollywood Costume at the V&A will do a whole lot more. I think it's all brilliant but it has highlighted, for me at least, the lack of input from us working in the British film industry.

When we get together it tends to be for BECTU or Christmas drinks or we bump into each other in costume houses and have a passing moan about budgets and schedules. We rarely get the chance to gather and talk about the reasons we love the job and consider the creative fulfillment that comes when it all goes to plan.

It's not unusual for a costume designer to feel their work is being sidelined or even dismissed by people who know little about costume but have strong opinions and the power to contribute to the outcome. Some of that will never change but what we do is front of camera, central to the mise en scene, yet we have all had experiences where colleagues on set, who frankly ought to know better, leave us feeling like we are hindering proceedings rather than contributing to the visual outcome.

I am sure we all want the job to be better understood in order for it to be taken more seriously.

I'd like to use this experience as a springboard for us to get going with some sort of regular gathering which both celebrates and investigates the job.
Maybe screening a film and discussing the costumes afterwards? Talks? Interviews? Quarterly?
I shall put out my feelers to find out if people would be interested and if they are then let's see what we can arrange.