If you follow me on any form of social media you have probably seen me post something (or a couple thousand somethings) about the Real Steohen Blatt. Yes i am aware that it is a little overkill haha.
To preface this post the reason I am very excited about this project is for a few reasons. One of them being that I had not costume designed something prior to this in quite awhile (I had worked in many costume department roles, but not as designer). Secondly this is the most widely distributed and viewed piece I have ever designed. Lastly but certainly not least was the amazing collaboration I had designing alongside Hanna Perrson (www.hannasheacostumes.com).
I have really been wanting to give a more in depth view of the piece from pre production to the final product. So here we are....
I signed onto this project without even reading a script, I signed on trusting my producer and going off of Justin Long's general comedic style (Stephen Blatt was conceived and written by Justin and his brother Christian Long). The weekend prior to flying down to Florida to start pre production I designed and was on set filming a short film entitled "The Mustard Seed", and still had not fully read the script. On 2 hours of sleep I was on a plane FINALLY able to focus on the script, pulling key pieces out, what needed to be there, what was open to interpretation and where some opportunities for creative flare as well as collaboration may lay.
Once I landed I hit the ground running with Hanna. This is where the great collaboration started. We both brought to the table different points of view of each character, neither one was right or wrong, just a different perspective. After talking it out we came to see where each of them fall in terms of the scripted timeframe. Bringing both together we began to visually put the story together. Our collaboration was so fantastic I cannot say enough great things about Hanna and our experience. It was never "your right" or "your wrong" it was "I get what your seeing but thats more the character in season 4". We kept each other focused on the task at hand making it possible to convey the characters story in such a tight timeframe. Timeframe being such a short prep time but also for those whom have not seen the series, the longest episode is 6 minutes and the shortest 2 minutes. Everything needs to be clear and upfront to the viewer. Luckily the script lends itself to that being that Stephen is such an in your face kind of character.
The final product became a melting pot of several things but ultimately came down to does it work in the timeline in the story. Stephen becomes a sensation in just 3 weeks. So what is achievable in that timeframe when you break it down. Week one he strikes gold, same kid with one heck of a confidence boost, touch of cockiness. Week two the followers really start to flow and begins to create content to keep increasing followership and engagement. Week three he is almost unrecognizable and overcompensating for the time in which he was bullied.
That overcompensation was a real treat to put together visually through incorporating pieces that he as an individual who skyrockets to instafame realistically could source mixed with custom "designer" pieces as he is a spokesperson for many brands. This was great to counter next to a hyper realistic with stepford/nuclear family undertones with Mr. and Mrs. Blatt. Creating a more dramatic visual, this contrast was also helped with some amazing production design by Sebastian Avery. He created a home and several spaces that remind the audience who Stephen was before, how he was raised along with a few hidden pieces foreshadowing his future. Hanna and I also ha d a few areas where we did not foreshadow but rather show pieces of the former Stephen.
The big thing about costumes and any visual role in film is this, if it is done right and done well. No one notices it, it's seamless and makes sense. With this project I am 95% thrilled with it, I always think their is room for improvement but I also take into consideration that i was the solo costume and wardrobe person on set. Doing double time to not only design but also prepping garments and dressing talent. So I am pretty satisfied with 95% and I am also thrilled that the first episode has been viewed over 370,000 times on Facebook and an average of 157,500 views across all 8 episodes and thats just on Facebook. The series has also been viewed on Amazon Prime, Funny or Die and Youtube.
I hope this post leaves you with a little more insight into what goes into costume design as it is far more than just clothes. It is visual storytelling through clothes but also diving into the thought process of a character, similar to the process we go through each time we get dressed.