With the IATSE contract recently ratified, a group of seasoned production designers and costume designers were asked what advice they would give the next generation of people entering their fields.
“I’d just tell them never to say no,” said Janty Yates, “House of Gucci” costume designer, during TheWrap’s 2021 Power Women Summit.
Yates offered that advice during a panel titled “Behind the Scenes & Below the Line,” moderated by Yasmin Dunn of the Hollywood Commission.
Also taking part in the discussion were “Dune” costume designer Jacqueline West; “Cmon Cmon” production designer Katie Byron; “King Richard” costume designer Sharen Davis; and “Shang-Chi” production designer Sue Chan.
“I feel that the younger generation as a whole is a little bit wiser than us about taking care of themselves,” Sharen Davis said. “I mean, I’m going to say for the last 10 years people have been complaining that ‘oh these young people they don’t want to stay, they don’t want to work late,’ but they’re truly taking care of themselves. Work is over, this is a job, and I am leaving.”
Davis added, “So I tell them to respect that, respect how you feel about that, but while you are at work do 100%. Do your best and keep a great attitude and don’t, like Janty said, the ‘no’ thing, don’t ever say ‘no.’ Just work around that.”
“I’ve worked with Terrence Malick a lot and there was a call sheet once, and it was a big scene, a white call sheet, and the next day I came in and it was a blue call sheet, and it was one scene on the call sheet and it said, ‘to be shot only if the magic presents itself,’” said Jacqueline West.
West added, “I thought the producers must be going crazy, that’s why he (Malick) uses all private money. No one can say anything. A Terrence Malick movie is, like, so calm and old fashioned. You have time to think and create and he is so respectful of every single person. I’ve never heard him raise his voice at anyone but imagine a call sheet with a scene to be shot only if the magic presents itself.”
Sue Chan urged young people to learn as much as possible on set.
“I always tell them to ask a lot of questions. I think that there is so much that you don’t know, there’s so much that I don’t know. I think that a day should not go by in which you don’t ask a question of somebody or everybody in the art department,” said Chan. “Trust your instincts as you develop. Work with good people, don’t work with bad people.”
Davis added, “Every film with a different director and a different crew is completely different from the next. So if you’ve done four films and you think you know it all, you can’t go in with that attitude. You’ve got to know that you have to come in, it’s a clean slate and it’s a new canvas to paint. It’s always entirely different. So always just be aware and listen and learn.”
Watch the full “Behind the Scenes & Below the Line” conversation here.