‘I haven’t had a job since March 13,’ how costume designers are coping with COVID-19
For the costume design community, the last five months have been full of pivots, projects — and lots of Zoom calls.
Financial impact:Havingalready scheduled between-film down time to focus on other projects, Carter said she hasn’t had any costume-design work scuttled as a result of the pandemic although she has missed out on lecture-circuit appearances. “I usually do university lectures around the country where I talk about the behind-the-scenes of making costumes for ‘Black Panther’ and other films,” she said. “But all of that has been canceled.”
In between:Not working isn’t the same as not busy, though, and the ambitious slate of side projects Carter has been focusing on this year includes a coffee-table book for Chronicle Books, an updated and expanded touring exhibition of her costumes (set to open at
SCADin Atlanta in January), and a line of “Coming 2 America” film-inspired fan apparel for Target.Carter also said she’s been busy in her new role as a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ board of governors,. “We are doing a lot for Black Lives Matter,” she said, “and bringing in all kinds of people — international people and people of color — into the academy. So I‘ve actually had the time to really focus on that.”
AdvertisementOutlook:“All of us as freelancers know that there’s going to be a period of time where we’re not working,” Carter said. “That just comes with the territory. And those of us who have just finished [projects] have the luxury of having built-up savings. But for those who are just starting out, this is a difficult time.” She added that for every out-of-work costume designer with promising side projects, there can be dozens of people who are out of work without the same safety net.
“I could have up to 25 people on my staff on average,” she said, “costumers that support [me], seamstresses and tailors that support [my] designs, that build [my] work. They might not have their sights set on being [costume] designers so they can [be flexible] moving from project to project. But when all the projects shut down at the same time, they’re left without any resources.”
Salvador PerezCostume designer and Costume Designers Guild President Salvador Perez at the Costume Designers Guild Awards on Jan. 28. He estimates 90% of the guild’s 1,100 members are unemployed as a result of the pandemic.(Jean-Baptiste Lacroix / AFP via Getty Images)
In addition to being a prolific costume designer for film (including “Drumline,” “Think Like a Man” and three “Pitch Perfect” movies) and television (“Veronica Mars,” “The Mindy Project” and, most recently, “Never Have I Ever”), Perez is also the president of
, which represents more than 1,100 costume designers, assistant costume designers and costume illustrators — approximately 90% of which, Perez said, are currently not working.AdvertisementLast gig: Read more: Los Angeles Times »
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