"A Normal Day" Costume Design

I've had such an interesting year in regards to doing things with my sewing skills that would be considered "out of the box".  Most recently, I was asked to be the Costume Designer for a short film, A Normal Day!  The film was part of a a student screenwriting competition in our community called Pens to Lens.  Students submit screenplays, and local movie makers turn them into films.

I honestly had no idea what I would need to do to be a costume designer, but luckily, the director of our film, had worked with costume designers before, and filled me in.  Basically, anything a person is wearing is the costume designer's responsibility- so clothing, shoes, glasses, jewelry, etc., are all under the umbrella of the costume designer.  You don't have to sew everything as long as the pieces are readily available- just procure everything.  I found most of the things on ebay, amazon or thrift stores, and then added some details like the eyelet and rick rack on the waitress costume.

I only had a couple of weeks to put things together, so fortunately, our film only had a few characters to dress and the director had very specific instructions.  He wanted to combine retro elements with super modern elements, use the colors red and blue to highlight the retro elements, and grey for the modern elements.
So here you can see a retro waitress costume combined with a digital namebadge, and a tablet.  And our extras were all dressed in grey.

 If you ever see a closet scene in a movie, every single item in it is a prop, and takes a lot of planning to set up!  So, in this closet scene, to show that the main character has a very limited style of dress, we used 7 of the same shirts, 7 of the same pants, and only red, blue or black ties. 

Here's another female character.  We decided to use polka dots on the females to play up the retro styling, and combining the red and the blue again.

 A lot of attention was paid to finding locations and props, like this 68 Chevy Nova Super Sport.   It was really interesting being on the scene the morning that this was shot, as so many passersby commented on the car.  It was quite the scene stealer.

And this vacuum store in red and blue!

 Here you can see how the use of gray clothing on the extras makes the main character stand out.  All of the extras brought their own clothing- they were just instructed to wear gray and bring their phones to highlight the high tech dimension.

All of the short films were shown on the big screen at a local theater, and there was even a red carpet.  It was really a neat event, and I enjoyed my first experience as costume designer so much, that I hope to get to do it again next year!  I will definitely never look at a film in the same way- knowing how much thought goes into each and every detail!

 If you'd like to see it, here is our film- A Normal Day:


  1. How interesting Ann! And what an insight into costume and film. Thank you.
    I wonder if I am the only one who watches films and thinks about the clothes not the plot.....

    1. I never really noticed the everyday clothes before in films, and now I do!

  2. I love this! My oldest son is finishing up at LA Film School and recently finished filming his thesis film that he wrote and directed and is now editing. It is a story written from the Spanish American War, and he decided, since he couldn't get costumes for the soldiers in his student's budget, he would sew them himself on a borrowed sewing machine. I wanted to help him, but he was gung-ho and did it himself! He had never sewn before. Ever. He read the instructions and made a number of them! I asked him how it turned out, and he said that one of the actors (this guy was a pro, who wanted to be in my son's film for more screen time in his dossier) used a photo of himself for his FB profile photo, in his outfit that my son had made for him. I guess I just wanted to share that with someone. Anyway. Your sewing is *always* so lovely! Beautiful job as always! I know this had to be a lot of fun!

    1. Wow, that sounds like your son inherited his Mom's genes for sewing! Soldier's costumes would be so detailed! All those buttons- ugh! Great for him- he now has an appreciation of what it takes, which should be a plus in his career!


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