A First

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feature film

These past two months have been nothing short of incredible.

Incredibly exciting.

Incredibly exhausting.

Incredibly challenging.

Incredibly rewarding.

I left my full time job in the marketing department of a corporate law firm in downtown Toronto for the beginnings of a freelance career in costuming for film at the end of June with little more than a small, humid studio space and an indie feature film about to begin filming.

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My studio has also changed since my previous post - now I’m working in an old, shared, loft studio with little airflow and interesting co-inhabitants, my space feels more genuine and energizing. It’s currently filled with denim, t-shirts and plaid from the 90s for a little feature film I designed called White Elephant. Written and directed by my good friend, Andrew Chung, it’s a film set in the fall of 1996 that follows an Indian-Canadian teenage girl named Pooja as she navigates the world around her.

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Designing for this film was a dream. I spent a month preparing with extensive research, shopping, fittings and styling, to begin shooting right after the July long-weekend. We shot the film over two weeks during the height of summer, and although it was physically challenging to shoot outside in 30+ degree heat with little shelter, I would (possibly) do it all again.

We worked with a wonderfully rambunctious group of young actors and crew all over the city, from a small French school in North York to the Mandarin in Etobicoke, a movie theatre in Oakville to a pool hall in downtown Toronto.

Click here to view costume photos from the set of White Elephant.

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The research for the film began almost two months ahead of shooting. When Andrew approached me with this project, we knew early on that we would need a photoshoot to create some printed materials for scenes shot at a movie theatre. We scheduled a photoshoot for early June and did two looks: one was a promotional movie poster featuring a Kim Basinger-like actress (my dear friend Lauren Pietrowski), and a fragrance-like ad featuring a couple - both to be set in 1996.

The photoshoot went well and I didn’t get a chance to see the final result until our shooting days at the movie theatre location.

Click here to view behind the scenes photos from our photoshoot.

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Research for the rest of the film took up a lot of time, and I’ll be writing a post specifically on this topic soon.

Shopping and sourcing for the costumes was a tedious, but exciting, process. A good majority came from second hand stores, while Andrew scoured his basement and brought me his entire teenage wardrobe from when he was growing up in the mid-90s to use. This was a goldmine. After visiting Value Village upwards of 6 times in two weeks to prepare for fittings and adjust items post-fittings, having period-accurate items delivered to my studio already approved by the director was a dream come true.

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We powered through in the heat, with the unfortunate setting of autumn - meaning long sleeved tops, thick jeans and sweaters. The cast was incredible and made my first feature a wonderful experience that I will look fondly on for a long time.

Since wrapping up shooting on our film a few weeks ago, I’ve moved on to designing and shooting another (secret) feature film with a different group of people. With new networking and opportunities on the horizon, I think the upcoming weeks will be filled with new experiences and busy days.

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