MATRIX: What does being the Kym Barrett’s Assistant entail?

KATHY: It entails doing anything and everything that Kym [Costume Designer] needs me to do, from answering her emails, through to keeping track and record of her accounts. I also play a role within the Costume Department, assisting in fittings; it’s a role that’s made up of a lot of different things.

MATRIX: How did you get into the film industry?

KATHY: I originally studied fashion design at Sydney Institute of Technology, which was a three year course. When I finished studying, I decided I was more interested in working in theatre and film in costume, so I went about getting work in theatre, and found myself working mainly in opera. Then I spent a couple of years overseas, working in Scotland for theatre and opera companies there. When I came back to Sydney, I worked on the Olympics, then found myself at the Belvoir Street Theatre Company, and have finally found myself here.

MATRIX: The Olympics must have been a remarkable event to be a part of.

KATHY: The Olympics were where I met Sue [Osmond, Costume Coordinator]. My role was to assist Sue for a couple of weeks at the end, when all the madness was taking place. We had to organize the distribution of costumes for thousands of children, so it was pretty crazy, but it was really good and everyone in film, theatre, and commercials was working on it, so it was a really good gig.

MATRIX: How does film differ from the experience you had on the Olympics?

KATHY: They’re two completely different roles; the pressure is different. We get really, really busy here, but it’s a long job and a long contract, so it’s more consistent. Working on the Olympics was like a burst, in terms of my role. I just came on in the last couple of weeks and helped out when it was really manic and crazy, and there were huge volumes of costumes to get through, whereas this is a more consistent sort of role.

MATRIX: What role would you play in a new Trinity costume, for instance?

KATHY: Kym takes full responsibility of all design and all design decisions, so I don’t actually play a role in assisting her in the design process. Most of the costumes were designed in the States in pre-production; there were at least six months of pre-production when all the designs were done. My role started here in Australia once shooting had already begun, and all the costume designs had been pretty much established.

MATRIX: Once a costume has been designed, and there’s a picture of it sitting there, when is it decided it will be made, and the fabric bought?

KATHY: Once again that’s mostly in pre-production, although there are still costumes that are being established and designed, for principals as well for the extra roles. It’s a process that takes a few weeks: Kym will discuss what she wants with a buyer, and the buyer will go out and find the fabrics. Some costumes can be bought off the rack for extras – it’s just a case of going out there, collecting different pieces, bringing them all in, then Kym will sift through everything, pulling out what she wants.

MATRIX: What skills have you picked up on this project that you didn’t learn at college?

KATHY: I’ve learnt a hell of a lot; it has been incredible. I have learnt people skills, and that communication is very important. Kym has a very relaxed style in how she deals with people.

MATRIX: Do those communication skills come into play with the actors? It’s not a particularly comfortable thing having a costume tried on you and adjusted.

KATHY: It’s a very relaxed process and a very relaxed environment when an actor comes in and tries on their costume. It’s about making the actor feel good and happy in what they’re wearing, and always being open to suggestions. It’s about making sure they feel comfortable, and that they can do the movements they need to do in that costume. There’s always social chat as well, which puts everyone at ease.

MATRIX: How much input do the actors have into their costumes?

KATHY: That would vary a lot, when it comes to the action they have to do in the costume. That is also a part of the whole design process. Often an actor can bring something special, something extra to a costume; something about the character that they understand and can explain.

MATRIX: Were you involved with the setting up of the Hel Night Club scene?

KATHY: Yes, that was a mad, mad crazy week. We had two hundred extras to get through and most of them brought in their own selection of bondage gear, and we accessorized and selected what we wanted them to wear. We also had racks and racks of our own bondage gear as well, so we’d mix and match with various things. We often found that the most hardcore looking people were the most polite and the most sweet, so that was pretty interesting, it was a very colorful week.

MATRIX: What’s been one of the most challenging things that you’ve had to do on this production so far?

KATHY: It was that week, I think, dealing with all the latex, the rubber, the sweat and the talcum powder.

MATRIX: Having seen the original film, and then having read the scripts, did you anticipate the direction they went in?

KATHY: No, I don’t think I did, I didn’t know what to expect, but I think the direction it’s going in is pretty amazing.

MATRIX: Thanks very much Kathy.

Interview by REDPILL
May 2002