Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jessica Risser Milne- Costume Designer/Script Supervisor/Fellow Blogger

Hello there! It’s been so long! Sorry about that! To get this thing started back up again I thought I’d interview costume designer/script supervisor/fellow blogger, Jessica Risser-Milne. Jessica is a theatrical costume designer who runs the ever-popular Costume Design Blog, which is a good resource that provides advice for students looking to get into the field. Enjoy!

How did you get into costume design?

In High School I loved to sew, but I hated my HomeEc teacher. Hate might be too strong a word... Greatly disliked would be better. So I was looking for something else to use my skills, and found the theatre!

You also work as a script supervisor occasionally, how does that differ from costume design?

I like to say that working as a script supervisor (or stage manager when I was in college) gave my creativity a break, and exercised my right brain for a while! It's all analytical, structure, and disciplined concentration. There aren't wild, last minute discoveries. And you work with a completely different side and section of people. Folks come to you looking for facts, not opinions. I find that refreshing.

I once met costume designer Jennifer Von Mayrhauser when I interviewed for a position as a production assistant with her on her current show Unforgettable and she seemed so nice. What was your time at Brandeis University as an MFA student and on Law and Order as an intern with her like?

Jennifer is a wonderful person! She was clear in school that she wanted to be more of a mentor than a teacher and this was especially true of the time I spent with her on Law and Order. Even though I could only be there for a week, she made sure that I saw/worked on every aspect of the show. I was exposed to every aspect of creating a weekly television show, from production meetings, to shopping, to shooting, to storage. There was just so much new language in that week! I still find myself going back and remembering things and saying, “Yes that's what they meant....”

What made you start Costume Design Blog?

There are so many little things that you learn on the job, that no one thinks to tell you when you are in school. I realized this and thought, "I could tell people who are interested." Blogging isn't nearly as intimidating as, say, writing a book. And if I can help people through the blog, or even just entertain people, that's great! The response to the blog so far has been tremendous. I really didn't anticipate many people reading it. That is such a cliche thing to say, but it is true.

On your blog, you give students a lot of advice and tidbits about what it's like to work as a costume designer. What's the best advice someone ever gave you?

Oh, there are so many! "Use a bigger brush" and "Don't be boring" come to mind quite often these days. Sadly, I often throw out advice when I first get it, and then come back to it days, weeks, or years later. Just a quirk of who I am.

Thanks for your great answers, Jessica!

And on a personal note, for the past couple of months I've been fortunate enough to work backstage at the Vineyard Theatre on a sweet little show called "Outside People." We close this Saturday which makes me really sad but on the bright side, we'll always have this nice little trailer to remember it by.