7 Podcasts for the Movie Buff - The New York Times

Undeniably, one of the strongest, most powerful elements in creating an immersive television spectacular are the costumes the actors wear, especially when the script is a period piece. Here are costume designer and make-up artist’s top four best kept secrets in television and film production. 

Color

Color is the most effective, important and influential element in creating an on-screen experience and holds an incredible amount of potential in the ability to express characters, relationships, moods and overall character development. 

The most vital step in establishing what color palette to base your designs on is to ensure your initial meetings with the director and head designers are as concise and as detailed as possible. The knowledge of their vision and intentions for the use of color schemes throughout the production will greatly inform you throughout the design stages moving forward. 

In the Harry Potter franchise, Imelda Staunton’s Umbridge wears a darker shade of pink as the power she possesses increases. In the movie Inception, as Cobb begins to wake up, the detail of his children’s clothes in his dreams becomes clearer and the colors significantly more vivid. In Mamma Mia the movie, butterflies are used to symbolize the free-spirited nature of Sophie and her mother, Donna. 

Accessories

Detail is absolutely crucial in every aspect of a character’s costume design, from the buckles on the shoes to the button detail on the collar. Such details should be not only styled for the right era and character, but also the right shade and texture and often if the accessory you source is not quite right it will create a jarring impression for the viewer, even if they cannot say why. 

Accessories in movies are powerfully iconic, elevating the character into the nation’s consciousness on a permanent basis. Harrison Ford’s iconic Indiana Jones character, for example, is as well known for his hat, whip and jacket as he is for his adventures throughout the movie franchise. 

Special Effects Make-Up

The sheer importance of special effects make-up in movies can never be underestimated. Even though computers share the burden of creating out of this world character aesthetics, make-up is just as highly regarded and used as it was before computers were even invented. Special FX makeup is an extremely specific group of products and make-up artists around the world are trained to only invest in the very best in order to produce as lifelike and impressive a character as they possibly can. 

Research

The number one secret technique that costume designers and make-up artists alike rely on more than any other is the sheer amount of serious, detailed and ongoing research into the time period, the script itself and into every single element of the movie. 

Even if the script is set in an alien, dystopian future world, there are still a number of research techniques and paths to follow in order to create an overall design aesthetic that not only matches but also compliments the script, the story and the individual character development as much as humanly possible.