I recently took my kids to see the Star Wars exhibit at The Denver Art Museum. It's kind of crazy wonderful and I highly recommend it if you love film making, Star Wars, clothing, art, behind the scenes stories, etc. Here are the amazing things I was able to show my kids through this experience. The best thing was that through them, I was reminded how magic is made.
1 – It’s a process – We got to see incredible concept art. You can see how characters morphed and changed before they became what we see in the films. There is so much pressure in our world to be good from the start or to get it right the first time. The truth is that lightning rarely strikes on the first try. Art is a process. It takes work and dedication. We need to give ourselves the space and grace to fail, laugh, learn & use that learning to re-build something better.
2 – Inspiration and influence come from everywhere! - In all of the Star Wars films, they use influences from history, animals, movement, color and so much more. The costumes, in particular, are laden with influences from military uniforms, ancient Asian cultures, Mexican revolutionaries, monastic minimalism and royalty to name a few. We can be influenced by SO much in this world. So, seek inspiration everywhere and when you find it, don’t be afraid to go deeper. This will make you an explorer of history, of your community, of other cultures and ultimately of yourself. Then, use all of those adventures and textures to tell your story.
3 – There is great power in the details – It inspires me to hear other artists explain how they created something. The inspiration for a chef's famous dish, the things a costume designer conveys down to every button of a costume, how an actor connects to character so deeply that we are able to experience through them. It is in the details that we capture our audience and plunge them into story. I had a design professor in college who told us he never took it for granted that there would be experts in the audience. If he was designing a set for a period piece, and chose to overlook the accuracy of a doorknob, there would be a doorknob expert in the audience at some point. And that mistake could transport that 1 person out of the story, and make them question the entire experience. That was unacceptable to him. Our favorite films are FULL of incredible details. Every single detail supports the story. If you are trying to move to the next level of your career, consider dedicating time to the details.
4 - Production is a team sport – You may not be an expert at clothing from the 1800s, but your costume designer may be. You may not know how to execute a certain shot, but your cinematographer will. You may not know how any one is going to bare the depth of soul necessary to truly convey your words, but an actor will. And, if they don’t…I bet they will figure it out. We can not and are not meant to be experts in all things. In fact, a HUGE red flag is a project where the producer is the writer is the director is the actor is the editor. Whether you are in theater or film, it is a team sport! And if you are doing it as a business, learning to share your vision in such a way that others will join you, is a necessity. And then, you must hold your project with open hands and allow your team to imprint their expertise onto your vision. That is a crucial piece of our art form and we are all better for it.
Star Wars and the Power of Costume is at
The Denver Art Museum until April 2, 2017.