We know they make the actors look perfect for the lens, take after take after take. But that, in a way, is the easy part – the end of a long line of creative, strategic and pragmatic decisions.
Costume and Make-up’s work starts from the moment the script is read – at that point the heads of those departments are making fundamental decisions about the characters, their story arcs and the timeline of the story. So they have to have a natural empathy with the actors’ process – and the ability to turn on a dime if their assumptions butt up against the actor’s own perceptions.
We have two of the experts in their fields: Nigel Egerton, our Costume Designer and Meinir Jones-Lewis, Hair & Make-up Designer.
Nigel and Meinir are in constant touch with the Writer/Director, Amit Gupta and the Art Dept – absorbing Amit’s ideas, coordinating with Production Designer Adrian Smith’s colour-palette, testing concepts and getting sign-offs for their final designs.
But Nigel, Meinir and their teams also provide two other essential services to the film (and its producers): a warm, comfortable and cosseting environment for the cast first thing in the morning and last thing at night; and an early-warning system for any other concerns the actors might have but aren’t expressing. They are the production’s Canaries.
They also offer to the director – and the film – those delicious moments of detail that make a good film a really satisfying experience: just the right wristwatch, bag, coat; or a parting in the hair that echoes perfectly a Bollywood star of yesteryear.
On Tuesday last they faced one of their semi-regular pinch-points: many of the main characters appearing in multiple costumes, wigs and ‘taches. And ageing-up and -down twenty years. Add to that kids, split locations and limited transport resources. A tough day.
Nigel and Meinir’s teams delivered with aplomb. Feeding actors onto set and in front of the camera from dawn ’til dusk.
Nigel and his cohort: Kathryn Blight, Costume Supervisor; Ellen Crawshaw, Costume Stand-by; and Rebecca Tredget, Costume Trainee always have an early start: prepping early-up costumes and preparing for later changes – jumping between scenes means minutely tracking timelines and continuity.
Meinir are her colleagues, Laura Stevens, Make-up Artist and their trainee Sophie Finch have an equally early start: washing hair, vanishing blemishes, making the actors relaxed. Setting them up for the day.
And it works best, of course, when the actors love “going in Costume & Make-up” – safe in the knowledge that our easygoing, warm, witty yet focused teams are intent on just one thing: getting them to set feeling a million dollars.
As you can see, they’re doing an outstanding job.