The essence and essentials of wardrobe design

Dani Gallegos

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In film production, wardrobe can make or break or scene. On the set of The Man from Nowhere, The Master’s University’s (TMU) feature film production, the responsibility for making sure the actors’ appearance creates just the right effect belongs to TMU Cinema & Digital Arts students Megan Hartung and Rose Bretz.

Hartung is the wardrobe designer and Bretz serves as the wardrobe supervisor. Hartung oversees the initial design, acquisition and execution the actors’ wardrobe, while Bretz is on hand to make on-the-fly changes as needed for each shot.

“One of the first things actors see when they come on to set and it kinda sets the mood,” is how Bretz explains her role in the project.

To prepare designing for wardrobe, Hartung read the script several times, paying close attention to mood and nuance for each scene. She said she looks at the characters in each scene to determine how to best accommodate with clothing what’s going to be captured on camera.

According to Hartung, characters can be interesting to select outfits for as she attempts to communicate their emotions or motives through colors and schemes. Hartung knows some of the actors personally and is able to play around with their wardrobe and outfits and knows exactly what she wants from them.

“Jenny a character from the feature film  has my favorite style played by Arianna Sonnenburg. It’s a fun style and I get to really play with it” Hartung said. “Arianna  has a fun and expressive style herself and so pulling our styles together will be really fun.”

The main character in a scene is obviously significant, and being able to communicate that in clothes and color schemes is as important as well.

“Clothes say a lot about how [people] see [themselves]” Hartung said.

On set it can be tricky getting the actors ready, especially with how fast things change on set, there is only so much you can do without fittings and alterations prior to filming, according to Hartung.

For some shots, Hartung relies on a wardrobe rental company, which allows her to find just what she is looking for – just the right clothes and/or accessories for maximum impact.