Monday, 04 December 2017 10:08

Canadian Costume Designer; Mary Hyde-Kerr

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Mary Hyde-Kerr

It’s a January day out there alright, but I’d like to introduce you to Calgary-based Ms. Mary Hyde-Kerr, another consummate Canadian Costume Designer. Mary has honed her skills since she began working in this industry with film credits beginning in 1997. During the last 10 years she’s worked as a Dresser, Costume Buyer, Breakdown Artist, Costume Set Supervisor, Key Costumer, Set Costumer, Truck Costumer, Key Background Supervisor and Costume Designer.

Mary has been busy alright, she has 16 Costume Design credits alone, and another 52 Film and Television credits working in some of the other positions I mentioned.

She was Costume Designer on Fugitives Run (starring a mix of Canadian and American actors; David Hasselhoff, Gordon Tootoosis, Vincent Gale, Kim Hawthorne, Michael Moriarty, Michelle Thrush and Steven Cree Molison).

fugitivesrun       foralltime

For All Time, 2000 (starring Mark Harmon, Mary McDonnell, Catherine Hicks, Bill Cobs; along with Canadian actors Wes Tritter, David LeReaney, Barbara Gates Wilson). Mary was Set Supervisor, responsible for supervising the on-set activities of the wardrobe department, including managing personnel and maintaining the costume designer's artistic vision. In other words, as Set Supervisor, she was the most senior Wardrobe person on site; Wardrobe Boss. As far as bosses go, she’s great to work with; good energy, practical, very caring and she approaches every day in peace, with a wonderful sense of humour.


Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA)

This Alberta non-profit professional association was incorporated in 1973 and its primary role is representing the membership throughout the province, disseminating information, providing professional development opportunities for members, marketing on their behalf and seeking avenues towards increased funding for the development and production of media projects in the province. The organization also strives to foster an environment in which Albertans can create content reflecting our point of view to Albertans, to the rest of Canada and to the world.


I don't have one, but this is what the award looks like

In 2003, Mary received the AMPIA nomination for Best Costume Designer for the film 100 Days in the Jungle (starring Michael Riley, Aidan Devine, Jonathan Scarfe, Nathaniel Arcand, Brenden Fletcher, Nicholas Campbell).

100 Days in the Jungle tells the amazing true story of Canadian oil workers who were kidnapped by Colombian rebels and marched through the Ecuadorian jungle for 100 days.


Here’s a clip of the film to show some of the wardrobe requirements; military camouflage gear, boots, heats, civilian clothing and accessories Mary would’ve needed to research, rent, build, fit and organize.

But, all the research in the world, couldn't prepare the cast and crew for the reality of shooting a movie in the Costa Rican jungle where they encountered deadly snakes, bugs, an earthquake and wicked storms that trailed a hurricane.

What Riley and the other actors didn't know at the time was that producers were also taking precautions against kidnapping. Back in Edmonton, the brother of one of the hostages found a kidnapping threat made against the film in an Internet chatroom: "We thought it was a hoax but had to take it seriously, so we hired armed guards," says executive producer Nicolette Saina.

Saina, however, couldn't protect the film from the after effects of Sept. 11, 2001, which occurred days before they were to start receiving props from Canada. "Shipping explosives and all of our weaponry right after Sept. 11 was a nightmare," says Saina, who adds the guns didn't arrive until an hour before the first scene was shot. When the prop boxes finally turned up they had been thoroughly turned over by customs officials in more than one country. "We had guns in our wardrobe, special effects and hair products in the grip equipment. It was just a mess."

So was the health of many in the cast and crew. They suffered from insect bites, infections and allergic reactions of all kinds, even to the mandatory malaria medication. Nicholas Campbell (who plays a professional ransom negotiator) nearly drowned in the ocean while swimming during his time off. "That we got the movie in the can and came home in one piece is really a miracle. I remember thinking, even if this movie sucks at least we're all alive," Saina says, only half-joking.


There it is, the Costa Rican jungle …. yikes

100 Days in the Jungle, the movie version, is a good story, well told, with all the right amounts of tension, pathos and incredibly, humour. The film alters the real story for dramatic purposes, which is a common movie tactic. Saina calls the film a two-hour metaphor of the kidnapping. Each of the real-life hostages agreed to the film and was paid for the rights to their stories. Of course, the men will never tell the whole story.

Every project is different, whether its Stage, Film or Television; because every story is different. I thought it was important to the costumers who worked this picture, to include all the inconvenience, troubles and downright threats. If I’ve been too dramatic, please forgive me.

Mary’s favourite gigs include:

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      TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL – 2010                       FUBAR 2 - 2010

“I landed Lloyd the Conqueror and then found out it was a larping movie; Live action roll playing. I called home to my children and asked them what it was”, said Mary.  Let’s let Dr. YouTube explain … Larping movie – Live Action Role Playing movie.



Lloyd the Conqueror - Sneak Peak

Lloyd The Conqueror; Behind the Scenes Exclusive Featurette –

Can you believe this; Mary “…turned out 200 costumes for final battle… all for a budget of $5000.00”; so, the math shows how ingenious she needed to be to put a costume on everybody - movies are expensive to make; and costume designers need to pull from experience to make the clothes work.

Our industry is very fortunate to have enticed Mary away from her 14 years’ experience with Publicity and Marketing Management in the American Record Industry (Warner Bros. Records, WEA Record Distribution and Tower Records). I imagine her music collection is amazing.

Thanks to Mary Hyde-Kerr; Catherine Dawson March and The Globe and Mail. It’s January and I know Mary is hard at work out there on another project; I wish you well. Next time; Organic Fabrics and Dyes.Take care, and thanks for reading. Rae

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The Costumer's Notebook,

The book The Costumer's Notebook is a 295 page comprehensive handbook for Costumers for stage and film including a full Glossary of stage and film industry terms. Sections include methods and tricks for laundry, dyeing, breakdown, Dresser guidelines and protocols for Stage or Film and various size charts for men and women from shoes to gloves. Other Sections include diagrams showing How to Iron A Shirt, How to Tie a Tie and How to Tie a Bow Tie. Costume fittings, costume lay out and costume storage are also discussed.