Costuming the cast, all the stunt people and extra’s is always a demanding task, but is particularly challenging in a fantasy show where everything must be designed. Find out how the stunning work of the costuming department came about.
Months before filming began, costume designer Miriam Davies started on the design of the costumes for the world of Ren: The Girl with the Mark. Before the individual costumes were designed, the overall look of the world and costumes was developed in close collaboration with director and creator Kate Madison and co-creator Christopher Dane. Using mood boards filled with images of people, landscapes, textiles and colours, a style and feel was put together for the village of Lyngarth and its inhabitants, the order of the Kah’Nath and the foreign traders that visit the market.
These costumes must all be designed and the aim of the designs is to tell the story through the costumes, as the choices of materials, accessories, etc. and how they are worn tell us something about the person wearing them. For a fantasy setting such as depicted in Ren, this is more involved than for most other genres, as a balance must be found between recognisable aspects with known associations and the new and fantastical. Study of the script is required to determine which costumes are needed and if there are special needs for a costume. This can be a specific item or look that is referred to in the script, such as a hat, bag or anything else that a character might use or refer to in a scene, or it can be a general requirement such as freedom of movement. An active character such as Ren must have a costume that allows her to run and a soldier must be able to fight.
The main character’s costumes were designed in detail through several stages of drawings, developed further during the manufacture when things start coming together on a mannequin and finalised during the final fitting with the actors. As a very high production standard was aimed at on a very limited budget, a lot of creativity was needed to make it happen. Fortunately, a multitude of talented volunteers was willing to spend countless hours to help make the costumes, and many others donated materials, clothes and parts of old costumes making it all possible. In addition to the clothes, items such as shoes, belts, pouches, tools, etc. were needed to finish the costumes as these add great visual interest and realism to the final look. Like the clothes these were bought, borrowed and donated, but many were made by volunteer leatherworkers and other craftsmen for Ren. The final step in the creation of the costumes was the aging and distressing. For several days the team took sandpaper and graters to the pristine items to wear down the edges, elbows, etc. This was followed by soaking them in thee, smearing and dusting them with mud and paint all to make them look like used clothing and less like costumes. At the start of filming Miriam Davies and her team had produced 187 costumes for the principal actors, supporting cast, stunt team and extras.