Monday, October 15, 2007

Bunnies and Movies

This is Brownie, back in March.

Now he's called Ginger.

Some of you all have asked about my sordid past in the movie industry.

It is not possible to make this short and interesting. The story will be long and probably not at all interesting.

To start at the beginning, it seems like I was born sewing. When I was 4 or 5, I sat on the floor of the front porch and "helped" my mom sew on a treadle sewing machine by pushing up and down on the treadle. A few years later, I sat in her lap at the new-fangled electric sewing machine and seamed some gingham for a doll skirt. At age ten, I was given access to an even newer sewing machine in order to make "my own clothes." Mom's only caveat was "Don't break it!" Thanks Mom! I made my up own patterns and made my own clothes. I had no idea that this was supposed to be hard.

(Back then, it was actually cheaper to sew one's own clothes. Imagine.)

I parlayed this talent into a job at a costume company, back in 1976. (Before China made everything for us.) I stitched for money for many years. My friend Judy and I started a not-for-profit costume company in Atlanta in 1984. Judy was the resident designer and executive, and I was the general dog's body. I was the shop manager, first hand, stitcher, rental manager, and toilet cleaner. (Judy was so supportive, though. A great teacher! She had a big library! I am what I am because of her. Thank you, J. Dragon!)

I did not go to college to get a degree in theater or costume design/construction. I am an autodidact. If I don't know how to do something, I get a book and figger it out. With varying success. (I am not a milliner, for example. My hats suck.) I learned to how take a designer's rendering, create the pattern, and construct it.

So. Despite a lack of ambition, my talent became known around Atlanta. My talent also became known to me, when once I went toe to toe with an honest-to-god-college-ejimicated costume person. And won. Actors loved me because their costumes fit! I was good, pragmatic, and fast.

Circa 1991, costume gossip centered on a new teevee show, I'll Fly Away, that was coming to town and how to get one's resume to these California people. Faxing was new-fangled then, and costly. I was not interested because I already had a job. (Actually, I had three jobs then, but that's a whole 'nuther story.)

Imagine my delight when two weeks later I received a phone call from the wardrobe supervisor of the new teevee show asking if I would be interested in working for them. Seems she had called around and My Name was mentioned by everyone as The Best Costume Person Around. I loved working with that costume designer and I really loved that gig.

I also learned that getting into the working-in-film door is hard, but once one's foot is in that door, and one is deemed a reliable, good, and diligent worker, then practically every film door is opened. The costume designer of I'll Fly Away liked me a lot and he told his friends back in California. So, I got work on several straight-to-video movies, plus a few made-for-teevee movies. And made lots of money.

Soon, I discovered that this industry was not good for my soul. These movie people took themselves way too seriously, as if what they did was important made any difference. No cure for cancer was ever involved.

So I quit. Took my toys (and money) and moved to a state far, far away.


Anonymous said...

It's funny, isn't it, but I guess it must be part of the human condition; to take oneself and one's job seriously, as though they were important, no matter the gig. I suppose an analyst would define that as "ego". And as you found out, Hell is living with Someone Else's Ego! Unlike Zaphod Beeblebrox in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, very few of us have a true sense of perspective about these things. Boy, ain't I all philosophical this morning!
Nancy Neverswept

shansays said...

Yep, I also refer to it like being in the mob:)

I try to not to hate too much or too often because my stupid films jobs have helped us renovate our new house, and kept us clothed.

But it's pretty yuck. Sheep and Wool tomorrow. Yippee.