In a word: VOLUNTEERS
Independent film thrives on its volunteer workforce, but don’t let the word volunteer fool you - these volunteers come with film experience plus gear; an experienced Director, experienced Assistant Director, Production Designer, Director of Photography with a Camera Assistant responsible for the movie camera, slide and bodycam mounts, a Script Supervisor, Set Dresser, Sound technician with a boom mike and other sound gear, Clap board and the knowledge of how to mark and use it (even a digital one for the second day of filming), Makeup and Special Effects Makeup artists plus amazing makeup kits, lighting stands and instruments.
The Production Crew included Lynne and myself, plus other non-experienced volunteers working as electricians, grips, production assistants, a stills photographer and even a child wrangler. In all, a fourteen-member crew; all working together solving production issues as they arise*, and, all with good humor and kindness. Valuable experience is gained through volunteering, so, if you’re interested in learning about filmmaking, check out local Independent Film societies or associations near you. (Lethbridge area folks can find LIFS (Lethbridge Independent Film Society on Facebook to request more information; and keep looking for a screening date for Girl At The Door).
The script calls for 4 characters; Glenda and Hal, a middle-aged couple, Teen (actor in his 20s) and Girl (child actor, 9 yrs.). The Glenda and Hal wardrobes do not require any breakdown at all while Teen and Girl required the full #5 Breakdown (Extreme). **
For the purposes of this article, I’ll mostly center on the costume pieces that needed breakdown; showing you the before, and after pictures, plus the breakdown methods used to achieve the desired look.
Teen Breakdown - Before
To begin with, we imposed Level 2; Hard Washing with harsh detergents and floor cleaners; followed by overdyeing the items with the lovely grunge colour. The over-dyed, wetted and weighted costumes are left overnight to dry before Lynne and I begin to employ other breakdown methods;
Like an athlete, she really gained her stride by the appearance of grime by applying baby oil and pouncing all the worn areas with the dark pigment powder. But wait … she’s not done yet …
I cut off the jacket sleeves above the elbow and left a sanded, torn, irregular edge. I stab-cut the bottom edge and added the dirt and grime with baby oil and a dark pounce bag. As I promised, here’s the Before and After shots;
So, now, where’s that Girl wardrobe to be broken-down ….
Such an adorable frilly pink and white dress, hard-washed and pounced and rubbed so that the pigment was ground right into whatever polyester fabric is was made from. The new polyester fabric, many containing spandex or other polyester threads, are sometimes resistant to the break-down will. However, they must submit, requiring more elbow grease than willing cottons or wools.
The tights only required a dulling and bit of darkening on the knees and lower leg but the coat needed much more. The Girl slip-on shoes and grey ankle socks which were also given a good pouncing.
You might even own a coat constructed of that rip-stop polyester; very noisy fabric and may be aware of its wonderful capacity to soak up oils and hold onto grease and grime. This coat didn’t take to breakdown except for the center back heavy embroidery of the cartoon character Peter Rabbit. My apologies to the embroidery company (the stitches were admirably tenacious) as I took the power sander to it; but it still required some scissor and seam ripper action. It finally relented and gave itself to baby oil and pouncing.
Not shown are Teen shoes, which were not shown on camera and therefore didn’t require any such attention.
I received my breakdown training by working with several costume designers, over a period of 20 years; but I would’ve also loved to have studied in England with Jane Clive …
With the Director’s permission, here’s the cast in costume ...