This is part two of my interview with noted film and television costumer Dawn Leigh Climie. Part one explored breaking into the film industry, part three will dig into life on set.
Dawn Leigh Climie has worked on all types of films during her career as a costumer and set supervisor.
From big budget blockbusters like Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, 2012 and The Bourne Legacy – to smaller budget westerns, comedies and TV series.
Every project has its challenges, since in the film world the term “normal” rarely is uttered. But when pushed for which project has been her most challenging, Climie shared a fascinating story about her experiences on the set of the Miami Vice movie back in 2006.
Dawn Leigh Climie on her most challenging film project:
All of my shows have been challenging in their own ways. Some because of the cast or crew, others because of the locations, and still others because of script content. Each show has its own special challenges that make the job so different each day.
I know that some, if not all, of those types of challenges will arise on each show I do.
But for most challenging… I think that I would have to choose the Miami Vice movie. It was a hard-won choice though!
It was the first full show that I did out of country. I arrived to start working with a crew that was already shooting. After months of up and down negotiations on whether to bring myself, a Canadian, in to work on an international, but predominantly US show…the decision was made and I flew in on I believe a days notice.
After working for a few months in Miami, a partial crew including myself went to the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Paraguay, back to Miami and then finally one last flight to Uruguay to complete the movie.
Traveling that much is a challenge in itself, but just the tip of the iceberg on this project:
- We were in Miami for hurricane Katrina and in the Dominican when Wilma hit Miami, and survived through 12 tropical storms in between.
- We shipped boxes and boxes of costumes in and out of multiple countries.
- We flew one day and then dragged our jet lagged bottoms into various warehouses to wait for the hopeful release of our costumes from customs, and then prayed that all boxes arrived intact.
- We worked with electricity and without, depending on the location and time of day.
- We worked with bodyguards and protection from the Army, depending on our location.
- And in some of the poorest areas I had ever been in.
The most enlightening part of it all was talking with some of the happiest people I had ever met, even though they only had a fraction of what I had deemed necessary for living.
We were the first film production ever to shoot in Paraguay. We had a group of wonderful and amazing young people that agreed to help, not ever having seen a film camera before.
I worked with, at the time, a very limited Spanish language skill and a dictionary always in hand. I literally learned the language on the fly, as well as some wicked charade skills!
I went for days and even few weeks without being able to send more than an email home, if I could find Internet at all, to say that I was safe and all was good!
It was unbelievably challenging to be sent out in a cab alone, to go shopping for something where you don’t speak the language well and have no idea where anything is. But it was also so rewarding to have accomplished each task no matter how small it would seem at home.
It has been amazing to be able to travel to so many other countries to shoot. It has really made me appreciate the challenges of daily living that we all face.
Folks may be in a different country, speaking a different language… but our problems are so often just the same.
Stay tuned for part three coming Monday – Climie discusses life on a film set and additional tips for success