Welcome to FrockTalk, the web’s only costume-based movie review site. The goal of Frocktalk is to shed light on the magnificent artistry of costume design in motion pictures. Reviews on this site are written by working costume designers in the entertainment industry – people who know, better than anyone, what it takes to make it all happen. The focus of FrockTalk is not to comment on the big flashy costume dramas, but to call attention to the seemingly ordinary costume design work in film that silently and persuasively moves the audience toward understanding the characters. Costume design for motion pictures is an art form that deserves more recognition than it usually gets. Fancy, pretty costumes do not always equal effective, appropriate costumes. The art of the costume is in letting the audience know who the character is, before the actor even has a chance to open his mouth. Read on, and enjoy. ** CAUTION: ALL REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS! **

Tag Archive for 'industry'

Dear Kristin: Internship?

Dear Kristin: I have just completed a foundation course in Art and Design. Before I start a degree course in performance costume in London next year I am planning to spend a year gaining some practical experience in a variety of areas related to theatre and design. I wonder if you know of any possibilities of an internship in this or a related area for some or all of the next twelve months. I have good organisational skills and thrive on working to deadlines. I would really appreciate any help that you could offer and, even if you are unable to help with internships, any advice you could give would be most welcome.

-Polly

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Exploitation, or Have You Hugged Your Union Today?

It’s Labor Day weekend – a time when most people frolic in the swimming pool, get drunk, barbeque and enjoy the last throes of summer before the rigors of school and work catch up with them. But did you know that without unions, we wouldn’t have this three-day-weekend to celebrate? I want to take time this weekend to talk about exploitation, and what led to the creation of these unions. Working in the film industry, you may encounter lots of different types of jobs – some union, and others, non-union. You need to be very, VERY aware of your rights if you work on non-union projects. Whereas the union has rules and regulations in place to protect you in the workplace, non-union work has practically nothing. You need to be forewarned about some of the shenanigans that people will try to pull – to know what is legal, and what is not! I will do my best to spell it out for you here.

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Dear Kristin: Need Work!

Dear Kristin,

I am an aspiring designer fresh out of grad school and getting started in the business. I’ve slowly had some work rolling in. I took a design job on a short film down in San Diego, and I booked a shopper job that pays a daily rate. I still have a bit of assistant work for the opera left, but that’s almost come to a close. I’m still looking for something to put me on set in LA though – even PA work for now would be okay. I’ve heard summer can be dry, but I can’t sit around that long; too much free time is never good right?! It’s just not my style to wait for work. Any advice?

Sonia L

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Week’s End Wrap-up: Congrats to Keira & James, and I Heart You, Gavin Polone.

Working in this business is all-consuming, and often it takes weeks to get your life together after you’ve been out of town for a few months on a job.  As I sift through two trash bags’ worth of mail, unpack box after box, and do laundry for what seems like weeks, I am reminded that this is my privilege.  We can complain and carp about the crazy hours, lack of budget and bad food, or whatever makes you whine and moan, but at the end of the day, we should realize that it is a privilege to do this kind of artistic work for a living.  We make amazing friends, and we have the BEST STORIES EVER for cocktail parties and (eventually) for the nursing home and/or our salacious memoirs.

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R.I.P., The Wiz 1947 – 2011

Mike Norman, aka "The Wiz", with his lovely wife Debbie.
Mike Norman, aka “The Wiz”, with his lovely wife Debbie at the 2011 CDG Awards.

Dear Frocktalkers, it is with heavy heart that I tell you of the passing of one of our industry’s best friends. Mike Norman, AKA “the Wiz” has lost his battle with cancer. He passed away on Thursday, November 10, 2011, and we will miss him forever.

I was lucky enough to have known him for many years. He was a very intelligent person, philosophical in nature, and a self-admitted “dirty old man”. He was never gross about it – he was the playful, light-hearted, irreverent whippersnapper to the end – charming, witty, and always thought provoking. My heart is breaking for his family.

Beyond his charismatic personality, he was a gifted artist on our behalf. The Wiz, with his Wizard Screen Printing, helped so many of us meet our deadlines with beautiful results. The Wiz would turn things around on a dime, fix other peoples’ bad work, generally saving the day with a growl and a grin.

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Costume Design Around the World

Hello Frocktalkers – after a long absence, I am back in the States to tell you all about it. I have been designing costumes for films for (officially) about twenty years now, and I have had the good fortune to work all over the world. Everyone does things a bit differently, and it is always fascinating to note not only the similarities, but also the differences. I’ve just visited Argentina, and I was lucky enough to hook up with a production down there to see how they do it.

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Economic Downturn and the Film Biz: the W Effect

I published several articles last year about the economic downturn and how it has affected the film industry.  The LA Times has been vigilant about reporting on our situation, and today’s offering is a very good update.  Since the market crash in the summer of 2008, there has been talk that our recovery might be rocky – that is, we would crash, recover slightly, crash again, and then slowly recover for good.  On a graph, that looks like the shape of the letter W.  If you look at it through the lens the LA Times has crafted, we may have reached the second nadir now.  It is true – there are fewer films being made, people are working for half their rates (testify!) and jobs are scarce.  What I can tell you is that those of us lucky enough to be working are counting our blessings, no matter how difficult the show or how little we are paid.  These are tough times.  One day, we will look back on this time and tell stories about our hardships.  I just hope I do it from the deck of my own private ski lodge in Switzerland.  Have a great week, everyone!

– KMB

Mona May: You Have to be Bold

Costume Designer Mona May

Costume Designer Mona May

Roving Frocktalk reporters Anthony Tran, Laura Wong, and JoAnn Orr met up with fabulous costume designer Mona May at the 18th Annual FIDM Art of Motion Picture Costume Design event. As part of our UCLA Costume Design for Film class, they all studied Enchanted and wrote papers about the costume design. Here, they meet the designer, the lady with the answers to all of their questions. To say they were agog upon meeting her is perhaps putting it too lightly.  They were thunderstruck.

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Economic Downturn, Part 4: Lifting Our Collective Chin

Happy Labor Day, Frocktalkers. On this day of the celebration of labor, I thought it only fitting to post something today about our industry’s lack of it. With nationwide unemployment hovering at about 10% this week (and it’s higher in LA, 12%, believe me), I do have some good news, a ray of light in the mineshaft: I got a job.

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Bitterness and the Costume Department

“Why did X get that job?!  X barely has any credits!  X is nothing more than a glorified shopper! Who did X have to **ck to get that job?!  Producers are all the same – they just want to bend you over a log and **ck you.  It’s all about money.  If someone else – less talented, naturally – will do it for less money, they will get the job!  And editors?  Don’t get me started.  They don’t give a sh*t about our work.  We get so screwed in the editing room! Ladder?!  I’m not climbing a ladder to pull costumes!!  When was the last time you saw Irene Sharaff on a ladder?!!  I’m too old for this sh*t.  I do all of this work, and for what?!” Ahhhh, the bitter costume designer.  Years ago, I used to think this was amusing, a bewildering bit of old-school, curmudgeonly charm.  It took me a while, but now I realize that this kind of bitterness is a true cancer in our midst.

** NB:  I am not singling out anyone in this article – these observations are based on twenty years of experience in the film industry, and are meant to be as generic and non-specific as they can possibly be **
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