Set Costumer Melissa Kidd began her career studying theatre, tech/design, and costume design, gaining hands-on experience as an intern and later as a PA. Her experience as a PA connected her with the right people and shortly after, she landed her first non-union costuming job, which later turned into a low-budget union job and joined MPC 705. Since that time she has discovered a passion for the ins and outs of set costuming and honed her skills in wardrobe issues and day-of troubleshooting, as well as on set strategy and logistics. Read on to learn more about her love for set costuming and the places it has taken her!
How she got educated in costuming: by studying theatre, tech/design, and costume design and working as an intern and later a PA.
Her most memorable experience: working on the set of a wedding scene where Kristen Chenoweth and Hall and Oates performed!
Some of the major shows and movies she has worked on: Major Crimes, Angie Tribeca, True Blood, The Closer, Big Love, You Again, Barry Munday
What do you do as a costume professional and how long have you been doing it?
I specialize in set costuming, meaning I take the costumes that have been made, shopped, prepped, fitted and make sure they are worn by the right character for the right scene in the right way and in the right condition. I work closely with the cast and other crew to anticipate wardrobe issues and be prepared for every shot. I also troubleshoot the many things that can be unexpected during a shoot day. On many jobs, I have also led the on set day-players (extra costumers), delegating tasks and making sure all our needs are covered.
What are some of the shows and movies you’ve worked on?
Major Crimes, Angie Tribeca, True Blood, The Closer, Big Love, You Again, Barry Munday.
Tell us the most creative or original thing you’ve ever done to pull something together on short notice to build or procure a costume.
This must have been one of the early times I was in the “hot seat” and likely why it’s memorable. We were filming a scene where a character was chopping something in the kitchen and cuts her hand slightly. She was wearing a vintage long sleeved dress, which, of course, was a one-off (meaning we didn’t have it in multiples). Predictably, after a couple takes she got blood on her sleeve, just near her hands that they needed a close-up shot of. The 1st AD, who I found very intimidating, called me in to fix it, now. With the whole cast and crew watching I quickly made a call not to try to wash it out (I was worried it would just smear more or get too wet then we’d have to take more time to blow dry it). Instead, I used some top-stick (double sided toupee tape) and a quick stitch to basically create an extra pleat in the cuff that perfectly hid the stain and we were shooting again in less than two minutes!
What is your most memorable experience working in the business?
This isn’t specifically costume related but one of my best days on set (ever) was shooting a wedding scene for a film. I was in charge of background for the day; it was one of those magical days with a great group of background that was well-dressed and easy to watch and maintain. But the best part was, as part of the wedding scene, both Kristen Chenoweth and Hall and Oates performed musical numbers. And I got paid to see that! Paid a lot actually; it was a very long day!
What do you love most about your job?
1) The people, first and foremost. I have met some of the most interesting characters and best friends of my life through this career.
2) Strategy and logistics — I love managing multiples, working with ADs on changes, figuring out call times for the costume crew, delegating to a team of day players to divide the work and make sure it all gets done, etc.
3) Interesting location work — I have seen some really cool old buildings, abandoned hospitals and prisons, and had access to areas of LA that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
How did you educate yourself or get enough experience to get into the union?
My degree is in Theater, Tech/Design, and Costume Design. I moved out to LA having a contact for one designer that turned into an “internship” (aka free work in exchange for gas money and catering), which led to PA work, which led to more PA work with other teams. Eventually one of the supervisors I worked with got me on a non-union film as a Set Costumer that thankfully flipped to become a low-budget union film and I got my 30 days!