Vanessa Driveness studied Theatre Arts at the University of Puget Sound, and now lives in Vancouver, Canada. She is the costume designer and an associate producer for Standard Action, as well as stepping in as Assistant Director for parts of Season 2. She works throughout the professional and independent film and TV industries in Vancouver and Seattle in wardrobe and film. She’s a huge Serenity/Firefly fan, and an accomplished cosplayer.
There’s a Kickstarter to help fund Standard Action season 3 and perhaps raise a few pennies for the costume department. It must be a challenge. Geek Native invited Vanessa to share her top 5 things to keep in mind when costuming a fantasy webseries and share her favourite episode.
1. The Rule of Three; time, cost, quality.** Unless you’re Peter Jackson with all of Weta Workshop at your command, you must sacrifice one of these things. Choose wisely, plan accordingly. The night before you shoot is not the time to build an epic warrior with only $20.
2. Texture will make or break you. Nothing screams no-budget amateur like crappy or unsuitable fabric. Stop using cheap quilting cotton, shiny metallic lyrca or poly lining, just… stop. It looks flat and ugly, don’t do it. The more texture you have, the more the camera will pick up and give depth to the image. Fantasy means you can go crazy and play with new/different stuff. Do camera tests with fabric swatches, different types of clothes, try some samples with faux distressing or finishing, etc. Fuzzy, wooly, hairy, rough are all good, especially contrasted against pretty silks or satins, or smooth leathers and metals. And remember, there are no washing machines in most fantasy worlds; when people wear stuff out questing in the forests/deserts/plains, they get dirty. We should SEE that, it’s more realistic and adds a sense of time passing.
3. Be super creative. Be even more practical. Woohoo fantasy! This is your chance to do big, crazy, wild designs, epic builds, and without historical accuracy restrictions. Chances are though, if you’re shooting fantasy, you’re going to be outside, in the wilderness, a lot. Keep weather and shooting conditions in mind at all times; stiletto heels in the mud just does not work! You also are going to be dealing with things like armor, weapons etc ( these things are heavy, awkward, noisy and clunky to move in) as well as nontraditonal clothing items like corsets, capes/cloaks, etc. Make sure the actor will be able to wear the costume all day and stay relatively warm/dry/cool (layers are important) and that the costume doesn’t restrict any necessary movement. Make the actor practice wearing the pieces to get comfortable moving around (they WILL trip over stuff and/or move awkwardly at first, which really does read on camera and makes everyone look like idiots).
4. Hoard things, especially weird random clothes/fabric. Unusual, super ugly or vintage/period clothes, sometimes costumes, are easily thrifted. Grab them if you see them for a good price. They are really helpful in throwing together last minute characters or altering into bases for really cool, more complex characters. It’s also really good to have lots of random art supplies and holiday decor on hand. Make a habit of cruising through your local craft and fabric stores and seeing what’s interesting texturally, or works for a theme or prop, or that could be re-purposed, and buy it on sale after any of the major holidays.
5. Every costume should have at LEAST one fitting, but bring supplies to fix/adjust on set anyway. Trust me.
**This rule also applies to everything about a production. And pretty much life.