Since Covid rocked the World and our industry we’ve all been finding new ways of working. We chatted with Loop Talent’s Costume Designer Lex Wood to hear how she has been adapting to our new normal.
Have you been working during the lockdowns?
Yes. In and out, like most of us, I think! The first lockdown put a pause to the project that I had been working on, but as confidence grew in the summer, we were able to return – into the “new normal” of Covid times working!
How has your normal working practice been affected?
Other than not being able to see anyone’s face fully (masks are a requirement of entry into all studios now) there definitely has been a change of pace to costuming. I have been working a lot with crowd costumes, which by the very nature of needing to dress a “crowd” is a bit daunting … but the fitting pace is slower, and there is more space – as a direct need to have fewer people working closely in any one room. Everyone has become a lot more thoughtful, and purposeful, about the movement of clothing between people – both in terms of needing to sanitise clothes that do not end up as part of the fitted costume, but also the movement of clothes through the following processes of alterations, break down and such.
On your recent productions what measures have been put into place to ensure a safe working production? How did you and your team find these protocols?
Fortunately, the largest project I’ve been with recently was run by Amazon Studios, who are keen to have a fairly rigorous testing schedule – which definitely puts everyone’s minds more at ease – but importantly means that any positive cases are caught prior to filming days. We did lose a couple of the supporting artists to positive tests (thankfully nobody too poorly with it) which is always a shame when some costumes are made from scratch for a particular scene – it’s sad to not be able to see that work on camera. But of course, it’s much better to be safe than sorry …
Is there anything work wise you’re no longer able to do?
It can be pretty tricky to see clearly through the fog that gathers on the inside of the face-visors sometimes! And wearing latex gloves during fittings makes pinning a trouser hem VERY difficult! Fortunately, our team decided on more regular hand-washing over wearing gloves …
Is there anything that has made your work life easier?
I do feel like there is a slightly more cautious approach to filming in general – and whilst so many large projects are continuing, it feels like the numbers of crowd, in particular, are a bit more conservative than usual. And this can allow for the work required to envisage, create, fit, alter, and break-down a crowd look to be more concentrated on fewer items – which in turn, can make the working days a bit less stressed than they might be!
Has this new way of working shifted your focus? Do you have a new career plan?
I’ve had time to reflect on the work practices required to get costumes ready for camera, especially in terms of environmental impact. And with the mind-shift during the slower pace of lockdown towards a more environmentally-friendly approach to life in general, it seems like a good time to do what we can to re-build a stronger department with greener practices at the forefront: less of the endless printing of documents, less use of lots of plastic to keep costumes covered and in their best shape. It’ll take a while, what with the insistence of PPE usage at the moment – but that in itself is acting as a constant reminder of the need to be less wasteful when we emerge from this pandemic and are able to get back to normal …. but maybe a “new” one.
Lex Wood is a London based Costume Designer working in Film, TV, and on Commercial campaigns. Lex has recently been working on a new Amazon TV series shot on location in Prague.
Check out Lex’s Costume Design portfolio.