Saturday 15 June 2013

It's degree show time.
These students are graduating from Huddersfield University, their course is Costume with Textiles and their details can be found here.

There are so many more courses now than when I went to college, it must be hard to choose. I reckon if you're undecided about your future path but you have a passion for costume and you like making things then this type of course is a good option, it combines designing and making. I believe Edinburgh University runs a similar course.

I graduated from Wimbledon College of Art in 1992 with a degree in Costume Interpretation. At that time it was possible for Interpretation students to design elements of their degree show, which I chose to do.
My making and period skills were then honed at Sands Films in Rotherhithe and I gained knowledge of more unusual techniques and materials when I worked at Hensons and Spitting Image.
All this making experience has helped me enormously on the low budget films I have designed.

I was rarely called to use these skills when assisting on bigger films because everything goes off to the relevant department to be worked on. On small jobs we all need to be able to make, break-down, dye, alter and often copy garments when we can't find the duplicates for stunt purposes. It's more cost-effective to do these things within the department than to send jobs out to specialists. I need the right people in my team and if I have them I can stay on budget.
The experience of a smaller film was an excellent place for me to start out, I got to try my hand at everything. If you are adaptable and become a solid member of the team they will likely keep you with them for the next one.

There is however a time constraint and things can get hectic. This tension needs to be carefully managed because, in my view, the worst outcome is that people end up under too much pressure and forget how much fun it is to make things. I've yet to meet a creative person whose route into art school wasn't through a lifelong love of making things; cutting and glueing and colouring-in being the portal to living a creative life, but it is possible to end up distanced from this pleasure.

I remember how competitive the closing days of college felt, everyone was trying to find work and we didn't even have the added pressure of massive loans to pay off. What none of us realised was that we were each other's best contacts. We all ended up recommending one other for things we were unable to do, benefitting from a good network of trainee-level contacts, already in place.

And I'm pleased to say many of us still cross paths and work together twenty one years later.

I can't imagine completing the film I have just finished, anywhere near on budget, without utilising the talent of very competent trainees in possession of good sewing skills.