What does a Set Costumer do?
Set Costumers are the right hand of the Costumer Designer and Costume Supervisor. While Costume Designers design the entire look of a character and supervise the construction of costumes, they seldom go to set. A Set Costumer is responsible for assembling the costume of the actor on set and making sure the Costume Designer’s vision is realized.
Set Costumers will track clothing to ensure that they are loaded and unloaded safely and without causing damage or stains. They supervise the clothing and accessories being delivered to the appropriate actors, and are taught about proper clothing care. This includes educating performers on not eating, drinking, or smoking while wearing specific garments. They create rules for performers to follow when it comes to ensuring that their clothing stays free of filth, rips, and other flaws.
Making sure that the production’s “clothing continuity book” is up to date is a key aspect of the job. This book details each shot in chronological order, including what each actor looks like in each scene. In addition to ensuring that actors wear the right costumes at the right time, this book can also record the use and placement of each costume during the production process.
What's a Set Costumer good at?
Dressmaking and tailoring
Be able to draw, sew, make, alter and maintain clothes and accessories, prepare outfits to look faultless on screen
Understand the stylist’s or designer’s vision for a show, know what styles suit different people best and create the right looks with flair and creativity
Attention to detail
Spot and deal with any design or styling flaws or issues during filming, keep the department organised and tidy
Knowledge of design
Have a passion as well as an understanding of fashion, the history of design and costume, colour, lighting, pattern and texture, and knowing where to source fabrics, accessories and outfits
Work well with others, listen and respond to stylists’, presenters’ and contributors’ needs, be trusted and have good relationships with designers, PR and brands who may supply clothing or accessories
Who does a Set Costumer work with?
A Set Costumer works directly with the Costume Designer, Costume Supervisor or Stylist, or all three. They also work with everyone and anyone on the production, in particular the hair and make-up team, to ensure they all create a complete and coherent ‘look’ for any contributors featuring in a programme. They have contact with studio and technical staff, particularly sound when putting on and removing mics, and have regular updates with the production management team regarding budgets and schedules.
How do I become a Set Costumer?
Set Costumers are often the entry-level role in the costume department. Some start as Production Assistants, but others go straight in as Set Costumers. To get in, you need to develop your craft. Here are some more tips:
Educational Requirements: If you want to go to university, classes in art and design, fashion, textiles, theatre studies, graphic design or graphic communication are useful.
Get an Internship: An internship is a job with training, so it’s a great opportunity to earn as you learn. However, it can be challenging to find jobs as an intern within production companies. It might be worth looking for a job as an intern in an industry that uses similar skills, such as being a tailor for a clothing designer or tailoring company. Try to hone your skills through an internship in fashion and textiles or costume and wardrobe.
Build a portfolio: This is essential. Build a Costume Portfolio, get in touch with costume designers and ask if you can shadow them on productions.
Get work experience: Try to get work experience by writing to local production companies and asking if they offer any internships.
For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.
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