Unordered List

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Interview: "Snowpiercer" costume designer Catherine George.

Following my review of Snowpiercer, I originally intended to write a post discussing the film's very striking costumes. But after looking back at some photos and clips, I was struck by how much more I wanted to learn about the process behind this film's visual design. Each section of the train had such a strong theme (filth and poverty in Tail Section; delusionally wholesome springtime pastels in the school car; opulence and luxury towards the front of the train), but nevertheless felt grounded in reality.

Happily, costume designer Catherine George agreed to an interview about her work on the film. She discussed the inspiration behind Snowpiercer's most memorable costumes, and what it was like to work with director Bong Joon-Ho and a cast including Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton.

HelloTailor: To begin with, how did first you get involved with Snowpiercer? The combination of Korean and English-language production made me curious about how you came to work on the film.

Catherine George: Director Bong had seen We Need To Talk About Kevin at Cannes in 2011, when he was on the jury, and he liked how the costumes looked. They sent me the script a couple of months later and I Skyped with Bong and and his producer Dooho because they were already in Prague prepping [for Snowpiercer]. Before I knew it, I was on a plane to Prague. Bong also met with Tilda Swinton at Cannes as they were both fans of each other’s work, and he decided to cast her as Mason -- a role that was originally written as a man.

[You can read more about the costumes of We Need To Talk About Kevin in this article by Clothes On Film.]

HelloTailor: How much did you consider the idea of finite resources onboard the train? In the Tail Section, people were wearing whatever rags they had left after 17 years. I was wondering what kind of thought went into the idea of a world where you can't really obtain new materials for new clothes. Was this a major concern when you were designing the overall look of each train car?

CG: Yes, we talked a lot about how long the passengers had been on the train, where they’d come from, what random materials they would use to fashion practical clothing. In the Tail Section, the aging and distressing was quite heavy and their clothes were made of different parts of garments pieced together. They had to improvise with whatever materials they could find. Curtis' coat had layer upon layer of repairs.

The character Painter wore a poncho made from old moving blankets. He also wore a helmet with a lantern left over from the train utility-wear, to enable him to draw in his cage at night.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Summer convention schedule: LonCon3 and Nine Worlds.

I'm going to be at two conventions in August, both in London! The first is Nine Worlds (A.K.A. London Geekfest), a really fun-looking media and fan-culture convention on August 8-10. The second is LonCon3, the World Science Fiction Convention, August 14-18.

I'll be on several panels at each con, and while I suspect my Nine Worlds schedule is probably more relevant to this blog's audience than my WorldCon panels, hopefully some of you guys will be there anyway! Here are the panels I'll be participating in, if any of you are gonna be at WorldCon or Nine Worlds next month. :)

Nine Worlds
All of my panels at Nine Worlds are somewhere called "County B," which I assume will make more sense once we're actually at the convention center.

22.15 - 23.30, The Fanvid Phenomenon. I love fanvids, and am looking forward to learning more about the creative side of them from some actual fanvidders on this panel!

22.15 - 23.30, Collaborative Fanworks. A couple of months ago I contributed to a Captain America fanfic written and drawn alongside several other fans, called Steve Rogers at 100: Celebrating Captain America on Film. It tells the story of various different (nonexistent) Captain America movie adaptations set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and has somehow led to me being on this convention panel about creativity and collaboration in fandom. IDEK, you guys. IDEK.

09.00 - 09.45, Remixing the remix: The etiquette of transforming fanworks. This is a panel about remix culture within fandom, but since it's at 9am, I have no idea what it will be like. Hopefully I'll be awake and coherent enough to not make an idiot of myself, anyway.

13.30 - 14.45, Fashion, Costume and Inspiring Fans: three talks on fashion and costume. I'm doing a talk on movie costume design! This is undoubtedly the thing HelloTailor readers will be most interested in, and I'd really love it if any of you decided to show up. :)

17.00 - 18.15, Legitimacy and Monetization of Fandom. This is a really interesting topic for me because I write a lot about the media campaigns behind big-budget franchises like The Hunger Games and Marvel, which leverage the power of fandom to help publicise their movies. However, I'm also the managing editor of a publishing company that was crowdfunded by the fan community, so I have a personal perspective of the indie side of things. One of our authors, Erin Claiborne, will be on this panel too, as well as a couple of other panels throughout the convention. You'll be hearing more about her soon because her book is coming out this Autumn!

I know far fewer people at WorldCon than at Nine Worlds, so feel free to contact me (Twitter @Hello_Tailor is probably easiest) if you want to meet up or recommend a particular event!

18.00 - 19.00, Capital Suite 7+12, The Superhero-Industrial Complex. REALLY psyched for this panel, where we'll be discussing Marvel's success with the mega-franchise model of releasing multiple movies set in the same universe.

15.00, Producer and Celebrity Relationships with Fans. This is a discussion panel and Q&A on the topic of actors, creators and celebrities breaking the so-called fourth wall between fans and celebrities.

12:00 - 13:30, Capital Suite 3, Commercializing Fans. Another panel where I'll be appearing in my capacity as managing editor of Big Bang Press, discussing the intersection of fandom and business.

11:00 - 12:00, Capital Suite 16, The Internet and the Evolution of Fan Communities.

I'll also be appearing at GeekGirlCon in October, in Seattle. But I'll post more about that in a couple of months, once I know my schedule!

Thursday 3 July 2014


Miraculously, Snowpiercer lived up to the many months of anticipation I've experienced since it was released elsewhere. My friends, I have been waiting a long time for this movie.

Every component part of Snowpiercer was another thing that I love to see in blockbuster entertainment. I don't just mean in the shallow, tropey sense that I love dystopian sci-fi, but in the sense that Snowpiercer is a straightforward adventure story that doesn't play to the lowest common denominator. It's simple, but it's not stupid. Its characters are people, there aren't any shitty moments of casual sexism or racism, and it's structured around a piece of interesting, thoughtful political symbolism that you could probably still ignore if you just want to watch Chris Evans Save The Day. 
A friend of mine had issues with the implausibility of Snowpiercer's setting, but I found it pretty easy to accept on its own terms. Like the contrived scenario in Sunshine (another sadly rare example of a good Chris Evans film), the plausibility of the premise was almost meaningless. No, you can't reignite the sun with a weaponized disco ball rocketship, Sunshine. No, it isn't feasible for an entire civilisation to spend 17 years in a perpetually moving train, Snowpiercer. But there were plenty of intentionally surreal touches there to remind us that director Bong Joon-Ho was well aware that the setting wasn't "realistic.". More importantly, the underlying metaphor was clear: Crash the train and risk killing everyone to gain freedom for a few, or maintain the horrifying status quo so that more people can survive in undeserved squalor.