The words in this post are my opinions and observations alone, they are not necessarily shared by the people mentioned or film company involved.
How did I get the job?
Before my final deadlines at university, my wonderful tutor Wayne got me a job working for Jane Law. Jane is so well regarded in the industry, costume designers flock to her door for her and her team to make principle costumes for film. Jane’s team made Keira Knightley’s costumes for Pirates of the Caribbean, for 22 year old me, this was a dream come true.
When I first started working for Jane, I had the stupid and cocky assumption (as I was a first class honours student) that I would be given the best costumes to work on. Wrong! You have to prove you’re up to the task of the best bits and work your way up from the bottom. On the first day, I remember being given little bits and pieces; and I was sent home after only a few hours and then didn’t work at all for a couple of days. My first thought was, what had I done wrong? Was I not good enough? When I think back now, I laugh at my younger self. Film work is not like any other work you can imagine and I just didn’t understand the industry. I had happened to start work in the week when change was occurring. Generally costume designers will have samples of costumes made for screen tests to see how costumes look on screen, how they suit the actor and whatever action is happening. Jane had been waiting on confirmation of which costumes were “green-lighted”.
With film work, sometimes its slow as decisions are made and sometimes its crazy busy and you’re doing long days to meet deadlines. I absolutely loved the hustle of the workroom and the gossip we would hear from the studios, it was brilliant fun. We made various costumes for the characters King Sharaman, Nizam, Garsiv, Tus, Tamina and Dastan.
Multiple costumes for action films
Prince of Persia is an action film so there needs to be a large number of duplicates for each costume. If a costume is worn throughout the film there may need to be several variations as it deteriorates in the story or if the fabric is particularly delicate and gets worn out in during filming.
Dastan is an action figure and wears lots of leather and dark colours. I personally didn’t do much of Jake Gyllenhaal’s costumes but there were duplicates of his costumes, especially his trousers and shirt. Each duplicate has to be completely identical so there is continuity. Duplicates will be made for stunt doubles or if the actor is wearing a harness for an action sequence, they may be larger or smaller but all the details must be exactly the same, even if the camera won’t even see the garment in question.
Dastan wears this shirt through most of the film, as the story progress it gets more worn and the sleeves are ripped off. The neckline texture is created by tiny stitches through multiple layers of fabric. I remember there was a dot marked for each stitch to make sure they all remained uniform for each duplicate. All costumes would leave the studio in pristine condition and get sent to a dye room where they would be broken down to look worn or ripped depending on the scene’s placement in the story.
Princess Tamina is involved in lots of action so needed quite a number of duplicates. As a princess she wore lots of light floaty fabrics with layered metallic braids to create a rich effect. As the junior member of the team I did lots of hand sewing on her cloaks. Anything close to the cameras eye was done by senior members of the team.
And was the film any good?
Well I was excited about seeing the film but I found so unbelievably almost uncomfortably cheesy! Tamina has one line where she says something to Dastan about kissing her before killing her, truly awful! Not one of my favourites but good fun to work on and I love the costumes. I have posts about better films to come…
Thanks for reading.