Frocktalk reporters Kim Ngo and Hannah Greene caught up with Mary Claire Hannan, costume designer of The Kids Are All Right (and FIDM graduate), at the 19th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design opening gala at FIDM. She has some interesting things to say about getting started in the business… read on…
Mary Claire Hannan, Costume Designer for The Kids are All Right
FT: So I see that you’re a FIDM graduate, how was that experience for you?
MCH: It was fine, I was able to get a degree in nine months. I came from Paris, working in the fashion industry and came here (FIDM) because I had no degree or anything so they gave me a degree.
FT: Was it in fashion design or costume design?
MCH: It’s funny, it was in digital merchandising. Here’s the whole story, I wanted to do fashion design and schools place you because they have opportunities in certain areas and think of you as a certain kind. So, it’s so important for you to know who you are.
FT: So what got you into costume design?
MCH: I really wanted it. It wasn’t something I fell into, it was something I drove myself to. But I didn’t really know where it was going to end up because you’re just looking for a job; you don’t know if you’ll just end up doing commercials or maybe a television show, you don’t know! I feel like I got really lucky, but at the same time it comes to you because you were meant to do it and want it so bad that the universe brings it to you.
FT: Do you feel you’re living your dream now?
MCH: Yes, I am living my dream. I have a job that I love. Not to say that when you’re on the job everything is peachy all the time. A job is a job, it’s hard work, and it’s a struggle. I’m doing what I think I’m suppose to be doing and I really like it. I actually have a lot of empathy for people starting off right now.
FT: Yes, that’s us!
MCH: The trick is, work, work, work. It’s your work ethic. If you’re working under people and you work hard for them, they’ll move you along; they’ll pass you on. But of course you have to have the talent for it. So there’s a lot of hard work and figuring stuff out.
FT: How many people were in your crew? How long was your prep?
MCH: It was a skeleton crew. It was about a month, but with Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, as much as you say, “Oh my God, those are big actors” just don’t get intimidated by them. These are professional actors that know what they’re doing, so they know when it works and when it doesn’t work. You’re not spending hours convincing a young ingénue it’s not going to fly on screen. What works on screen is different from what works in fashion or in real life.
FT: Is there an example in this film that you would like to point out?
MCH: For instance the pink scarf which is kind of loud for Annette Bening, she did it on purpose in the scene to show that she was being gregarious. Because you don’t want the costumes to overtake the actor. She said, “Let’s do something loud here; this is the scene where I’m having dinner with the whole group and I’m trying to impress Mark Ruffalo’s character.” She was trying to be groovy.
FT: Well thank you for your time!
Thank you Kim Ngo for a very interesting interview, and thank you Mary Claire Hannan for sharing your insights with us!