Just came off the high of talking about Costume Design at CAFTCAD’s CAFTCADEMY 101, where we present a 2 day seminar weekend for costumers either entering the Film & TV world, returning to it or wanting to expand their knowledge base. Being in a room of keen costume types inspires me greatly for the future of our industry. I also get to check out who will be presenting me with my Industry Icon Award at the CAFTCAD Awards many years from now. There were several volunteers for this role and I will be checking out their style so they don’t upstage my dress in the year 2047.
Following the Costume Supervisor, Assistant Designer, Costume Buyer seminars, I took a different turn and spoke about how to prepare and navigate a costume design interview (because no one ever talks about that. Like NO ONE. Like it’s some great government secret and you can’t possibly share your ‘tricks’ with the competition). How to have read the script and bring some visual ideas to that meeting, how to be aware that the meeting was more about the producers/director/network and their belief that you were the right person to bring their project to life. If you were the right fit for their circus- and they might be blind to the fact that you were going to have to be a lion tamer in the fitting room.
When I was younger and in these meetings, I thought it was about how much they liked me. How much I needed them to select me and therefore I had to be something they would love/need/require for their show. This led to me ‘designing’ what I thought they would want to see, for dressing how I thought I would look 'cool' in skinny jeans and a leather jacket. But I realized over the years that it was important to present the vision I was excited about. Because at the end of the day, I’m going to be living a creative life for the next 5 weeks to several years with these people and if I couldn’t express my ideas now, then I would be just an impostor who didn’t connect with their vision. I then went on to talk about the process of actually costume designing, and how fittings would go, and what to do with a hungry actress who felt too fat.
On the car ride home I realized what I missed in my 1 hour 6 minutes (yes, I went over my time). The great importance of what happens when you DON’T get the job.
So you get a nice rejection call or email or maybe don’t hear anything at all (I once called a newly opened production office to ask who their costume designer was because they never got back to me. Invariably the PA did not mangle my last name on the phone as I obviously didn't get the gig). There were shows I mourned and questioned myself over with regret. And several in a row. But in retrospect, there were so many things that came out of those so thought, ‘lost’ shows. I had got to immerse myself in a new world, time period, character, genre of a script. I got to do research and hone my design skills. I got to learn how to navigate different personalities in the room. I got to learn how to listen. And in more than one instance, someone in that room brought me back for another interview on another show because they remembered me and my inspired AKA ridiculous idea that everyone should wear accessories made of paper.
Not getting the show is part of the growth as a costume designer. I realize that show was not meant for me. It was meant for someone else’s trajectory. Instead there was another one. Or I was to go to Paris and write a novel, or create the first Canadian Costume Design Awards.
(SHAMELESS PLUG NOW)
BTW, tickets on sale for the 2nd Annual CAFTCAD Awards March 1, 2020 in Toronto. Open to general public, but CAFTCAD Members get discounts. Buy them HERE if you want to celebrate the costume talent we have in Canada and have a great outfit that seems like too much anywhere else.
Just love dressing up, dressing other people up and talking about it. A lot. And laughing too.