Kara in Costume With the Filming Crew
Well, It has been a long time, although I can assure you that I have a good reason for not posting as long as I have. In fact, I just last week got done making the costumes for a short film, directed by Lindsey Kerns here at UNL, titled “The Life and Surprising Adventures of Mary Ann Talbot”.
Mary Ann Talbot was an orphan girl who joined the British Navy at a young age, serving as a drummer boy and cabin boy, among other things. When she was old enough, she went back to reclaim her fortune from her old guardian, Mr. Sucker, only to find he had squandered it. He died of a heart attack three days after the encounter.
The film is set in the 1790’s, and filmed here in Nebraska, using horses and snowy fields instead of ships and an ocean. The charecters are Mary, her friend Harvey, Mr. Sucker (who started out as a priest in the script), and young Mary. So, with that in mind, I began to research what would have been worn by sailors and civilians, and try to adapt the clothes worn by sailors for horseback riding. After a lot of discussion with Lindsey, we settled on a look for the film and a style of costumes we both liked, and ordered some patterns for “slops”, or sailor pants, and seacoats.
Then we went fabric shopping. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that eventually we found all the fabric we could have ever dreamed of! Beautiful, lush fabrics and warm dark ones. Rough linens and canvases, corduroys, velveteens– all that was needed, plus buttons and threads to match!
However, my job had just begun. The slops were delegated to Lindsey’s mom, the shirts to another lady, and I was assigned the coats, cloak, and hat. I finished the cloak easily while waiting for the patterns for the slops and coats to arrive, and once they arrived, sent the slops off to Lindsey’s mom, and began the coats.
I spent nearly two weeks on those coats– cutting, stitching, etc. I was so glad that I got a sewing machine for Christmas! There were a lot of panic moments and times of frustration– especially when trying to chase down Harvey’s measurements, and when I cut out one of the pieces for Harvey’s coat the wrong direction! (It was velveteen, and has a nap.)
By the day before shooting, all but the buttonholes on the second coat was done and I was ready for final fittings. Only a very few adjustments had to be made, and everything came out smoothly! The slops made by Lindsey’s mom came out wonderfully, and everything was right– except that the rough shirts intended for Mary and Harvey had not been made! Luckily, Lindsey had an antique shirt trimmed with old lace that worked perfectly for Mary, and John had an old dingy white shirt that worked well for his role as Harvey.
All in all, I am so glad I was involved in this movie. I have learned a lot about working with a production, albeit small-scale, I have wonderful memories, and a stellar performance to put on my resume. Costumes tell the story of a movie in many ways just as clothing tells the story of history, and I am glad to have a part in that.
Mary Ann Talbot
Costume for Mary: Antique French muslin blouse, trimmed with lace at cuffs and collar, missing one button; Brown-grey linen slops; Red Velveteen Scarf made from the same velveteen as young Mary’s Cloak, and all that remains of her fortune; Black corduroy sailor and riding coat with brass buttons, aged; Wide leather belt and sword; Black riding boots.
Costume for Harvey: White dress shirt, aged; Brown Canvas slops; Black scarf; Dark Blue Velveteen sailor and riding coat with antiqued pewter buttons; Black Felt Tricon, aged; Riding Boots.
Mary Ann Talbot and Harvey
When I have pictures from the second round of shooting with Young Mary and Mr. Sucker, I will put them up!