“Do everything.” They say. “If that’s not what you want to do, at least it will get you in.”
This is what students are told about the film business. It’s hard to get into, so when a door cracks, rush in.
I recently applied to work on a summer project at Asbury, where I study theater and film. We would be filming a pilot for an episode of a show called Nazareth. The main attraction was that Anson Williams was hired as the director, a big resume builder.
The manager saw me working with our costumer for practicum hours and knew immediately where he wanted me–Costume Department.
Now, I had no idea what I was doing, but my costuming mentor helped me with how to contact actors and organize clothes according to scenes. I mostly came down with my own system.
Now, when it came time to film, I couldn’t handled the pressure. Most costumers have an assistant or two. I was on my own. I had to bring clothes to locations, be on location for assistance, get actors ready for the next shoot, and be organizing the dressing rooms from quick changes at the same time. I was overwhelmed.
Call times were 6 am some mornings, and I often didn’t leave until 11 pm or midnight just preparing for the next day. Every day was a new challenge where I wanted to quit. I hated the pressure of being three places at once, the runs to stores when clothes didn’t fit the actors or when the director didn’t like something, or the even more stressful running back for things I have forgotten.
However, as each day grew more intense, each day also grew easier, as I learned what was expected of me and what I wasn’t expected to do. There’s a lot of yelling on film sets. It took me a long time to realize that the yelling wasn’t anger at a person, sometimes it was a reaction to a stressful situation, but mostly yelling is the only way to get a whole crew to hear the director.
I asked our Director of Photography how she thought we did. She was impressed but I was disappointed to hear that the level of intensity, while it was an 8.5 for me, was only a 4 on the Hollywood scale.
Now that the three weeks of intense work is done, my body is catching up on rest and I can look back on my accomplishments.
- I worked with Anson Williams as my director.
- I clothed famous actors such as Doug Jones and Nancy Stafford.
- I worked 15 hour days and got a huge experience.
I talked to the same manager who hired me as designer and he said that this year I had gotten all that I could out of an education. I worked wardrobe for theater and transferred my knowledge to film, acted in plays and short films, and performed excellently in my first camera class.
When I asked my acting coach how I was doing she only smiled and said, “You’re building your resumè.”
Will I ever do wardrobe again? I hope not.
Would I do it again? Regrettably so.
But I have an experience that it one step closer to where I want to be. I don’t rightly know where that is yet, but I know I’m a few steps closer.