A costume designer is responsible for the wardrobe of all the actors and extras in any video production. This covers the designing of costumes, the sewing and ordering of materials, and actually getting the wardrobe to the actors and making all necessary adjustments. Hiring a freelance costume designer is an excellent way to make sure all the actors in your production look exactly like the part they are playing, whether modern or historical.
What to look for
When hiring a freelance costume designer, there are a few aspects of his or her work that should stand out to you:
Are the costumes appropriate for the characters?
When looking at a costume designer’s portfolio, make sure the costumes match the characters who model them. A good costume designer uses color and style to reveal something about a character to the audience, and you want to make sure your potential hire has mastered this skill.
Does the costume designer have good taste?
This can be seen especially in a modern-day piece. Does the fashion appear to be in-style, tasteful, and varied, or does the costume designer have a habit of making all his or her actors look the same way? The audience’s first impressions are important, and a skilled costume designer’s work can make or break that impression.
Do the costumes look professional and period-appropriate?
Judge the quality of the work. If there are noticeable problems with the sewing or clear errors in a historical piece, you may want to consider hiring a different freelancer.
Know what you need
Getting an idea of what your potential hire will need to successfully complete your project is important during the interview process. Ask your freelance costume designer what kind of style he or she would choose for the project and what kinds of costumes would fulfill that vision.
In addition, inquire as to how many costumes the designer would like each actor to wear throughout the production (of course, this will be vastly different in a 30 second commercial slot compared to a film-length production).
Also be sure to see what kind of budget your freelance costume designer would require to pull off their ideal production. Dreams must always be balanced with reality since the costume designer must execute all costume and materials purchases.
Questions to ask a potential candidate
“How many productions have you been involved in?”
Find out how much real-world experience your potential hires have had. This can reveal just as much as peaking at their portfolios.
“Where do you see your role among all the other team members such as the director and the actors?”
Costume designers fill an essential role; make sure they know what it is.
“What hours to you plan on working?”
Costume designers work long hours typically. Listen for an answer which reflects this.
“What is your favorite costume style to create?”
Knowing preferences can help you choose between multiple excellent candidates.
“What makes you excited about costume design?”
You want to hire someone with passion, and this question will give them a chance to express it.