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Re: [TheCostumersManifesto] Re: Offer to design new musical

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  • Sylvia Rognstad
    Curtis, All you bring up is why this project is causing me so much concern. The producer seems to have absolutely no idea how much time this will take. I [m
    Message 1 of 12 , Apr 6, 2009
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      Curtis,
      All you bring up is why this project is causing me so much concern.
      The producer seems to have absolutely no idea how much time this will
      take. I'[m thinking maybe I should forward him your email to help
      give him an idea.

      He hasn't even cast the show yet. There are 18 actors, some playing
      multiple parts, and he wants a lot of dancers and acrobats as well,
      each playing multiple parts. The play starts at the beginning of
      time and goes to 2020, with scenes from various periods in history.
      The first costumes are either planets or evolving life forms--he's
      using animation in place of some of the live action. Lots of fast
      costume changes. The show is indoors in a $300,000 dome he is having
      built. There will be projections on all the walls of the dome of the
      live action which takes place on a stage out of view of the audience.

      Sounds very exciting, I must admit, but I really don't think he is
      being realistic. Do you mind if I send him your message?

      Sylvia

      On Apr 6, 2009, at 1:18 PM, Curtis wrote:

      > I would love to help out, if the timing was different. As it is,
      > you'll be hitting crunch time on preparations just as we're opening
      > our shows. I do have a few questions that came to mind as I was
      > mulling this over--How many performers are involved in this
      > production? Is this for an indoor or outdoor theater? Will the
      > actors have multiple costumes and need to make changes during the
      > show?
      >
      > To touch on a few questions you had, though--
      >
      > I worked on the SLC Winter Olympics Medals Plaza and the
      > Paralympics Opening Ceremonies...it IS possible to do elaborate
      > costumes and ship them, though we had nothing I can recall that was
      > on the order of what you're talking about in terms of complexity.
      > However, we started work at the Paralympics costume shop about
      > three months before the show went up, and when we arrived, about
      > two thirds of the costumes were already constructed (not finished,
      > but the primary construction of the core garment was complete), and
      > the rest were built on-site, as well as all alterations and
      > decorations taken care of. If your producer is going to get this
      > built in time for his projected opening, and he's going to be that
      > elaborate about it, he's going to need to pay a lot of people a lot
      > of money to get stuff done.
      >
      > In terms of being out of your league in knowing the construction
      > end of it...well, a lot of designers that I've worked with don't
      > really understand the fine points of construction, especially when
      > it comes to such specialized costuming...they just decide what they
      > want it to look like and let the company hired to build it figure
      > out how to make the finished product look like the renderings (and,
      > yes, I hate it when they do that to me, because they've usually
      > designed something that can only be built properly with materials
      > that I can't find...) I wouldn't let that stand in the way too much
      > on whether or not you choose to design it.
      >
      > RE: building from a distance. I can't speak for anyone else here,
      > but I personally would need to see what someone was asking me to
      > build before I could definitively commit to the project. I'd also
      > only agree to it if the producer agreed to cover the cost of
      > shipping stuff (which seems pretty common-sense, I know...but
      > sadly, common sense isn't very common...) I'd also need at least
      > some overall measurements to build for...but I know from experience
      > that it's relatively easy to take something built in this way and
      > fine-fit it on-site, it doesn't have to be built-to-fit from the
      > get-go.
      >
      > I have no idea what size of cast this will involve...but I do have
      > to say, from my experience, that your producer is about six months
      > behind where he needs to be to meet his deadline for opening the
      > show. If it was a 'regular' production, this would be perfect...but
      > the bigger and more elaborate you want to get with something, the
      > more lead-time you need in construction (and not just for
      > costumes). The Paralympics started work in the shop three months
      > before the Ceremonies went up, with a lot of costumes rough-built
      > before they were turned over to the on-site crew. The shop was
      > running 12 hours/day, 6 days/week, with at least 50 people on hand
      > at any given time (granted, they were almost all volunteers, so we
      > had varying levels of expertise...) and generally working on about
      > 4 different projects simultaneously at any point in the process. I
      > have no idea how long the work took before it was turned over to
      > us. And our shop supervisor had actually been a costumer for
      > Cirque, so he knew how to deal with some of the tricky issues that
      > came up (although there was still a fair amount of 'figure it out
      > as you go'). We didn't have the designer on-site the whole
      > time...she came in to visit a couple of times over the course of
      > preparations, and was there through the entire dress-rehearsal
      > process.
      >
      > So, I think it sounds like a great project...but I don't think his
      > projected opening is very realistic unless he's only got a cast of
      > 20 or so people (because the Ceremonies was a cast of 100+...of
      > course, none of them had multiple costumes, and I don't know how
      > that will be for this production...)
      >
      > --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, Sylvia Rognstad
      > <sylvia@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > I just got offered the opportunity to costume design a new
      > multimedia
      > > musical production. Haven't decided if I will take it yet, as it
      > > depends on how much they will pay me and whether I think I can
      > > actually get it done in time. The producer has some very ambitious
      > > ideas and the show is scheduled to go up on June 18.
      > >
      > > He says all I need to do is to design it, and he will help me find
      > > people to build it, but I know, based on what he's told me thus far
      > > he wants, it is going to take highly skilled artisans. Think the
      > > summer Olympics in China. Not as many costumes, of course, but some
      > > very high tech and elaborate ones. And lots of changes. Dancers and
      > > acrobats--think Cirque du Soleil.
      > >
      > > He may be overly ambitious and willing to scale things down but even
      > > so, I know this is going to cost him big bucks, and apparently he
      > has
      > > it. I feel like I am out of my league here to a certain extent. I
      > > can design it and know quite a bit about construction, except
      > when it
      > > comes to very elaborate, circus-like, Las Vegas-like costumes. Why
      > > I'm telling you all this is I'm wondering if any of you out there
      > > have experience with such costumes and would like to help build them
      > > and think you could build them from a distance without having the
      > > performers there. It has occurred to me that maybe the producer
      > > would be willing to house someone for 5-6 weeks, but I don't know
      > > what to do about a costume shop and facilities.
      > >
      > > I'm also wondering if any of you would want to act as a costume
      > > supervisor to help me with coordination, construction, fittings,
      > > alterations, and just about everything else involved. I realize that
      > > would definitely require housing and probably some kind of shop,
      > if I
      > > can figure out a space we might be able to rent.
      > >
      > > I just interviewed with the guy today and haven't even read the
      > > script yet but these were some of the challenges I was
      > considering as
      > > I drove home so I thought I'd share my concerns with you all and see
      > > what some of you might want to say.
      > >
      > > Thanks!
      > >
      > > Sylvia R
      > >
      >
      >
      >



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Curtis
      Sylvia-- By all means, forward him my message. Add this one on, if you want it. For a show on that scale, he needs to start designing at least six months in
      Message 2 of 12 , Apr 7, 2009
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        Sylvia--

        By all means, forward him my message. Add this one on, if you want it. For a show on that scale, he needs to start designing at least six months in advance. Personally, I would push for a year, but I like to try and pad estimates for stuff like that because I've had too many bad experiences with massive design projects that got started too late.

        Most theater companies I know would be starting rehearsals about now if they were going to be opening in mid-June...or at least already be cast. And that's for a regular show, with no especially grand design elements. The regional theaters in this area start lining up their designers anywhere from six months to a year before they plan to open the show, and have already had at least one production meeting by the time they start rehearsals. The more elaborate the show gets, the more lead time they need...and to incorporate a cast of 20 or so with multiple acrobats and dancers, it will take a lot of lead time.

        Conceptually, it sounds like a really fun project. Realistically, his timing in approaching you is about right if he wanted to open at the same time next year. And a project of this nature should definitely take more than standard design fees, union or not. Unless he's willing to adjust his production schedule, I'd personally recommend taking a pass on this one, or else you'll find yourself burned out...to bring together everything it would take to get this scale of show up and running on the timetable proposed would require you to clear your table of pretty much everything else from now until opening...you'd need the time to design stuff, and then you'd be zipping around to oversee construction and sign off on projects with the various companies he hired to build your designs, since there wouldn't be time to confer on projects via other means (the speed of production would pretty much require face-to-face meetings to avoid confusion). You'd also need a good, prepared wardrobe team (I was hired in November, to start in January, for the Paralympics, and they already had design renderings completed at that point, plus the wardrobe manager was already on staff--I was hired as a crew lead). As it stands now, the project sounds like a recipe for a lot of heartache for this year...or a lot of fun for next year.

        --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, Sylvia Rognstad <sylvia@...> wrote:
        >
        > Curtis,
        > All you bring up is why this project is causing me so much concern.
        > The producer seems to have absolutely no idea how much time this will
        > take. I'[m thinking maybe I should forward him your email to help
        > give him an idea.
        >
        > He hasn't even cast the show yet. There are 18 actors, some playing
        > multiple parts, and he wants a lot of dancers and acrobats as well,
        > each playing multiple parts. The play starts at the beginning of
        > time and goes to 2020, with scenes from various periods in history.
        > The first costumes are either planets or evolving life forms--he's
        > using animation in place of some of the live action. Lots of fast
        > costume changes. The show is indoors in a $300,000 dome he is having
        > built. There will be projections on all the walls of the dome of the
        > live action which takes place on a stage out of view of the audience.
        >
        > Sounds very exciting, I must admit, but I really don't think he is
        > being realistic. Do you mind if I send him your message?
        >
        > Sylvia
        >
      • Sylvia Rognstad
        Thanks, Curtis. I totally agree. This sounds like a great project, but the producer hasn t a clue about costuming. He gave me a costume plot that I think
        Message 3 of 12 , Apr 7, 2009
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          Thanks, Curtis. I totally agree. This sounds like a great project,
          but the producer hasn't a clue about costuming. He gave me a
          costume plot that I think was put together by a friend who owns a
          costume rental store in Denver. She has done a lot of small theatre
          shows in the area, but I don't think she's ever worked in a regional
          theatre or anywhere that has a budget over $500. Her plot allocated
          $800 for the design fee, based on 40 hours of work. I asked for 6
          grand, based on 2.5 months of work. She goes into a lot of detail
          about how much materials and labor would cost for each costume, but
          her labor estimates are way under, in my opinion, unless you're
          thinking of community theatre costumes, and I didn't get the
          impression that's what the producer wanted. When I emailed him
          about this, he admitted he hadn't even looked at the plot.

          I think I will send him your emails and then see what he wants to
          do. I probably will take a pass. I'm not into ruining my health
          and still not even being able to pay my bills in the process.

          Sylvia

          On Apr 7, 2009, at 9:43 AM, Curtis wrote:

          > Sylvia--
          >
          > By all means, forward him my message. Add this one on, if you want
          > it. For a show on that scale, he needs to start designing at least
          > six months in advance. Personally, I would push for a year, but I
          > like to try and pad estimates for stuff like that because I've had
          > too many bad experiences with massive design projects that got
          > started too late.
          >
          > Most theater companies I know would be starting rehearsals about
          > now if they were going to be opening in mid-June...or at least
          > already be cast. And that's for a regular show, with no especially
          > grand design elements. The regional theaters in this area start
          > lining up their designers anywhere from six months to a year before
          > they plan to open the show, and have already had at least one
          > production meeting by the time they start rehearsals. The more
          > elaborate the show gets, the more lead time they need...and to
          > incorporate a cast of 20 or so with multiple acrobats and dancers,
          > it will take a lot of lead time.
          >
          > Conceptually, it sounds like a really fun project. Realistically,
          > his timing in approaching you is about right if he wanted to open
          > at the same time next year. And a project of this nature should
          > definitely take more than standard design fees, union or not.
          > Unless he's willing to adjust his production schedule, I'd
          > personally recommend taking a pass on this one, or else you'll find
          > yourself burned out...to bring together everything it would take to
          > get this scale of show up and running on the timetable proposed
          > would require you to clear your table of pretty much everything
          > else from now until opening...you'd need the time to design stuff,
          > and then you'd be zipping around to oversee construction and sign
          > off on projects with the various companies he hired to build your
          > designs, since there wouldn't be time to confer on projects via
          > other means (the speed of production would pretty much require face-
          > to-face meetings to avoid confusion). You'd also need a good,
          > prepared wardrobe team (I was hired in November, to start in
          > January, for the Paralympics, and they already had design
          > renderings completed at that point, plus the wardrobe manager was
          > already on staff--I was hired as a crew lead). As it stands now,
          > the project sounds like a recipe for a lot of heartache for this
          > year...or a lot of fun for next year.
          >
          > --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, Sylvia Rognstad
          > <sylvia@...> wrote:
          > >
          > > Curtis,
          > > All you bring up is why this project is causing me so much concern.
          > > The producer seems to have absolutely no idea how much time this
          > will
          > > take. I'[m thinking maybe I should forward him your email to help
          > > give him an idea.
          > >
          > > He hasn't even cast the show yet. There are 18 actors, some playing
          > > multiple parts, and he wants a lot of dancers and acrobats as well,
          > > each playing multiple parts. The play starts at the beginning of
          > > time and goes to 2020, with scenes from various periods in history.
          > > The first costumes are either planets or evolving life forms--he's
          > > using animation in place of some of the live action. Lots of fast
          > > costume changes. The show is indoors in a $300,000 dome he is having
          > > built. There will be projections on all the walls of the dome of the
          > > live action which takes place on a stage out of view of the
          > audience.
          > >
          > > Sounds very exciting, I must admit, but I really don't think he is
          > > being realistic. Do you mind if I send him your message?
          > >
          > > Sylvia
          > >
          >
          >
          >



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