A Session with Joe Kucharski by Sandy Saravia

For our third Fashion Styling for the Media class session, we had the great opportunity of holding a video conference with costume designer, writer, speaker, professor, and editor in chief of Tyranny of Style, Joe Kucharski. Joe has worked in all film, TV, and theater realms of costume design and styling and provided us excellent insight into all fields. Below are five key points that perfectly summarize our session with Joe.

Drawing focus. Joe began the discussion by focusing on the theater aspect of fashion styling. His key point was that it is highly important to utilize color, design, lighting, props, and other items on stage to draw in the audience. On the contrary, (in film) cameras are used to draw the focus to where the director wants the audience to look—you see what they want you to see.

What is a weekend? Joe continued to inform us on other varying factors between theater and film. In film, actors and extras show up on a film or TV set ready to shoot the scenes and promptly begin producing the final product. However, theater requires the entire cast and the rest of the team to hold dress rehearsals for 1-2 weeks prior to opening day to ensure that everything is in order before the big reveal / performance. Both processes are considered long and extensive in their separate ways.

Work your way up. Joe proceeded to provide us with insightful information in regards to obtaining a job in the film or TV industry as a costume designer. It is evidently a difficult process that requires hard work in which you “start from the bottom”. All employees are required to be in the union in order to work in film and TV, however, they cannot do so without having experience in the union—resulting in quite the dilemma. Joe suggested three ways to break into the industry: (1) work on non-union projects, commercials, etc. (2) work on student films, and (3) start as a personal assistant. It is important to somehow build your resume and portfolio by working on smaller outside projects. Being a personal assistant is a great way to network, meet mentors, and move up on the ladder of costuming, which is why it is recommended we start there.

Become a mentor. Joe is a person who actively seeks to help others succeed. He strives to become a mentor to those who need one and it was quite inspiring to see a professional in the field be so authentic and kind. He stated there is no hurt in helping others and I found it a great motto to live by.