Erin's cover image

Erin Roche

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: Victoria
The Stuart and Norma Leslie Churchill Fellowship to accelerate and strengthen costume design practices in the Australian screen industry - Italy, USA, UK

There are three major areas the Australian screen industry could improve upon to better costume design and screen value as a whole in Australia.

  1. An industry costume house.  Production budgets and ultimately the screen value of what we create would be greatly enhanced if we had more resources in Australia.  Many costume designers in Australia have a private collection of costumes that they hire and share amongst their industry peers but it is not sufficient.  Most costume budgets need to allow for generating every single item of clothing on screen, when our international counterparts hire large quantities of stock, enabling the budget to be focused on main characters and finer design details and entire control of colour palettes and other design elements and principles.  In basic terms, our films and TV shows would look better for it.  When we are competing in a global world of very high screen value productions we need to at least start from a similar resources point.

  2. Training.  We need a space in productions to allow for internships and training opportunities.  Not cheap labour but an addition to the department specifically for learning – not just for propping up an understaffed costume team.  No university in Australia wholly focuses on costume design for screen, nor do they educate future filmmakers (directors producers, production managers, actors) about the attributes of costume design and how to collaborate with costume designers.  This needs a shake up.

  3. Use of the term “costume” instead of “wardrobe”.  In Vancouver and London productions used more professional language around the labels used to describe positions within the costume department. This is a large component around how respect is generated and shared within the screen industry.  Therefore a third major recommendation is to change the language around costume in film and TV production in Australia.  To promote the use of the term "costume" and actively discourage the use of the term "wardrobe" in conjunction with anything to do with the costume department for example; costume designer, assistant costume designer, costume supervisor or costume director, onset costume supervisor (key standby), onset costumer (standby), truck supervisor (on large productions), truck costumer, costume cutter (colloquially seamstress), costume-coordinator, costume PA, costume trainee for very junior positions.  And promote positive representation across all film and television productions by sharing these internationally recognised standards.While wardrobe and costume are often considered coterminous, there is growing awareness in the sector internationally that wardrobe has a widely shared diminutive and domestic connotation, whereas costume has a design connotation which is more appropriate for positions in a creative industry. Using costume in department/role titles acknowledges the inherently creative, value-add proposition of the department/role.