Sophie On: Beth's Costumes (Wasteland)
I'm on the Wasteland set pretty much every day at the moment, and to cut a long story short, I'm loving it. Two days ago - whilst one of our runners was in Make-Up being turned into a corpse - the cinematographer, Chris Newman, did a video interview with me. This should be online in various forms over the next few days, so I thought I'd do a little blog post to accompany it.
Within the interview, I talk a lot about the costumes - particularly those of the female lead character, Beth, because I have the most ideas for her. I've mentioned Beth's costume on here in the past (mostly whilst I was constructing her main costume) but I thought I would go into a little more detail.
A lot of the film's design has a fixed colour palet - I've had fun finding locations and I've been really inspired by the way man-made buildings look when the earth reclaims them. (I've been photographing rust, dark decaying stonework and buildings wrapped in ivy for my mood boards). This all helps towards creating a vision of a bleak but believable future; all human resources are running out, so it makes sense for what's left to be natural. There's technology everywhere but it's without function; to really emphasise that, I've scattered the main set with only vintage pieces of technology. The old metal colours of these look better, anyway.
For all these reasons - and the fact that Beth is a very down-to-earth person - I've kept her colour palet completely natural as well. It also makes sense for her to look so earthy when she represents the centre of Scott's world (she's become like a beacon of hope for him, almost an obsession). I was mostly inspired by the colours of shells for Beth - which ties in with all the fact that Scott remembers visiting the beach with her - and I even use shells in a lot of her jewellery. But for the flashback scenes I also incorporate a touch more colour, to visually show how happy the memories are for Scott, by incorporating pastel pinks and green, and still-natural-looking flower prints.
So here's the breakdown of my plan for all of Beth's costumes:
(My concept art for Beth's 'Flashback' style)
The Student Party (Scene 4)
The first time we see Beth is when Scott meets her at a house party. The scene is full of young people having fun together, so Beth's costume needed to suit that setting. However, as it is our first impression of her, I want her look to be nature-inspired for the word go. For that reason she will wear a jumpsuit with a snake print, with a snake bangle, but seaside inspired pearls around her neck. This outfit mostly belongs to the actor for Beth (Lucy Varney) so I don't have a photo of it yet. You'll just have to wait and see...
The Lover's Montage (Scene 17)
All of these scenes are set in late summer, to give them an especially dreamlike quality, so I couldn't use anything too warm-looking. But I still wanted to use traces of natural-looking fabrics to support Beth's earthy look, so I resorted to using a series of layers - all in natural tones but with an interesting range of different fabrics. (I've loved using layers ever since I watched Sex and the City and fell in love with Patricia Field's style).
The first look (right) is one which Beth wears whilst playing with Scott in the garden. The skirt has three light-weight layers under the heavier one so that it will dance as they 'frolic', and the scarf should add extra movement as well. She's also younger and more carefree in this scene, an idea which will be enhanced by the use of long grey socks and black flat shoes with this look.
Beth wears this outfit (left) in the part of the montage where Scott and her are having a picnic. It's a tranquil, summery scene so I wanted to make it really feminine whilst still featuring layers. The belt is also a hint to the one she wears later as part of her 'traveller' ensemble, so that should tie in nicely.
I'm still not sure about this outfit as I have two similar dresses to choose from - the other is a lighter pink with a less busy print and with more blue/grey undertones than green, so this might work better. Either way it will be worn with long white socks and brown flats, again keeping the look youthful and fun.
I don't have a picture of Beth's third montage look - an ensemble she wears when she's out in town with Scott - but it will feature more blues and heavier fabric because she's in a less natural setting. It features a flower print on a blue skirt, worn with a tied-up denim jacket and straw trilby hat; another fun, young look because Scott is giving her a piggy-back in the scene.
A lot of the montage scenes have already been shot - we're re-shooting them mostly because of a change of camera - so I've had the lucky experience of testing out most of these looks on Lucy already.
This fourth montage outfit (pictured on Lucy, right) is worn whilst Scott and Beth are watching TV together. It's a simple scene but quite a romantic one so beth looks particularly flirty and feminine. I mixed two different flower prints with one of hearts on her legs (the only unnatural print she wears in the film) so the mix of prints are definitely in tribute to Pat Field's style, again.
Her last look in the montage is supposed to be when her and Scott are on the beach (as I said, they are a couple who love their beach trips), in which case her costume will simply be a suitable bikini.
However, in the likely event that we don't film this scene on a beach (due to our location and the fact that our principle filming is happening in February), Beth will require another costume. it's likely that - without the beach - the scene will be cut all together, but I wanted to be prepared anyway. Plus it's fun to play dress-up with my mannequin!
Therefore Beth's final costume for the montage is another mix of earthy colours, and natural (thicker) fabrics contrasting with lighter ones. The ensemble (left) features another colourful, girly summer dress (there's a black net underskirt to add more bounce and to tie in with the darker colours - but you won't see that until she moves) and it's layered with browns and greys. Perhaps this costume will show the ending of summer - and of Scott's happy memories - as they move into autumn. It will be worn with long grey socks again (which will suit the bouncy underskirt) and little grey lace gloves.
Scott and Beth in Bed (Scene 9 & 15)
And neither of these are remotely smutty, before you come to any conclusions! The first is Scott and Beth talking calmly in bed; the second is a dream scene where Beth turns into a Zombie. Beth wears nighties in both scenes - one white and one coral pink - but basically I said to Lucy, "Beth is the type of person who would wear a warm shawl over a nice nightie if she's cold", and we went from there!
The Resteraunt Proposal (Scene 32)
When Scott proposes to Beth, it comes at a rather unfortunate time. An infection that turns people into the walking dead has just engulfed most of London (not exactly the most romantic thing to happen) and Beth is worried about the family she has down there. Her costume needs to reflect the change in tone, so I've started bringing in more blacks to go sit alongside her coral pinks (the cameo necklace is seashell but caged within a string of jet beads - how fitting!).
There's two options for this look - partly because I wanted to bring in another natural contrasting fabric, keeping Beth's layery-look going, but also in case it's cold in the resteraunt we film in. The script is definitely moving into autumn now as well, so it's likely that she might layer up. The dress will be worn with tall sheepkin boots to bring in tones of brown.
The Kitchen Scenes (38 and 41)
These are two looks which I also got the opportunity to test on Lucy before we changed cameras:
The same themes run through these costumes as before - using layers and natural colours - but I bring in much darker tones and thicker layers. Not only is it fully autumn in the film, but times are getting more difficult for the characters (food supplies are wearing thin and they can't get in touch with their families), and the colours reflect this. The long socks and little shoes are completely gone - as is Beth's carefree nature - and she gradually wears less accessories. Her hair becomes more dishevelled too - in the second look she's just swept it out of the way, whereas before she kept it loose and feminine.
The 'Angel Dream' Costume (Scene 47)
Briefly in the film - due to a consumption of alcohol - Scott dreams that Beth has returned to him. She looks just as he remembers her, except even more luminous, like a heightened, projected version of his memories. For this reason I'm keeping the costume simple an mostly white - a vintage (1980s) white dress worn with a crystal belt and pearl headband to add an extra ethereal twinkle in the candle light.
The dress is also worn with a slightly thicker, grey waistcoat. After all, it's still Beth, with Beth's layery earthy style continuing throughout, to show that this is just how Scott remembered her. It grounds her, makes her more real to him - which is why it's more sad for him when he wakes up, alone.
Scott and Beth move into the Hide-Out (Scene 52, 54 & 55)
In these scenes, Beth and Scott have left behind everything they know to seek solace in a barn - the main setting of most of the film. Their clothes are practical as well as being early versions of the earthy, scavenger costumes they both wear later. Due to the practicality of the setting, Beth's usual girly skirts are gone completely in favour of trousers.
I kept the first 'barn look' a little bit fun still, with a lighter fabric on the blouse, because there is still banter between Scott and Beth at this point. They're trying to make the best of a bad situation by flirting with each other. So I also her in shell jewellery and a hint of pink with the vest she wears under her blouse. But this is laden with a thick beige waistcoat and beanie hat to show the colder times that are coming.
The next time we see Beth, her spirit's gone. She's shivering from cold and the hopelessness of the situation has really sunk in. So the costume is simple and purely practical, layered for warmth rather than style (she also wears a blanket over it). The thick, open-weave jumper and brown checked trousers she wears are hints of her old earthy/country style. After all, these are still Beth's clothes - they haven't quite become scavengers yet.
The grey top she wears under the jumper not only adds depth and colour-interest to her top half, but also ties in the continuity of the film, because it's the top she wears under her dress in the later scenes when she returns to Scott. It's already aged and full of holes to fit in with this later look, but you can't see these under the jumper - it saves me having to age the top in a limited space of time.
Finally we see Beth in a variation of the above, with a thick cardigan and belt layered over the top for travel. This will also be worn with a small amount of luggage, as she has chosen to walk away from Scott in search of her missing family. Again the cardigan is practical but I've used Beth's theme of natural colours and fabrics so show that it is part of her old wardrobe.
The belt is a slightly stylish addition, even though the colours and textures are in keeping. It's partly to pull in the chunky cardigan around Lucy's waist, to flatter her figure rather than loosing it. But also it works in the same way as her grey top, because she is seen wearing this belt when she returns.
The costume is worn with uggs - a very fitting shoe for Beth - but these are gone by the time she returns in favour of more sturdy lace-up boots.
Which brings us nicely to...
Beth's Traveller/Scavenger Look (Scene 60 onwards)
I've shown these pictures and explained them before. But hopefully now you can see how they tie in with all of the above, and show the progressive arc Beth's style goes on from start to finish.
I don't usually get to go into this much detail about costumes, so I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I have compiling it for you. Look out for all of these outfits - plus many more, worn by the other characters - in the finished film.