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  • Writer's pictureMeg

Working in the Film Industry as a "Costume Truck Supervisor"

One persons experience as a member in good standing in 'Hollywood North'

As some of you may know, I work in the film industry as a Costume Truck Supervisor. One day I decided that I wanted to write about working in the film industry. Today I will share with you an excluuuuuuusiive sneak peek at the first chapter of my novel (which I'm sure I'll never finish and never publish). Let me know what you think!

A woman standing in the doorway of a Costume Trailer
Yours truly posing in the doorway of her very own Truck

Show #13: My first supervisor role

I work in a steel box. An egg-white 15-foot trailer filled to the brim with expensive clothing. We just call it ‘The Truck’. For about 8 months of the year, I work in this box 80 hours a week. I wash, steam, iron and prepare the clothes for various people of various fame to wear in various scenes in various tv shows and the occasional movie. I am an overworked laundromat, which we in the business call a Costume Truck Supervisor, but I make good money, and the money prevents me from ripping my hair out.

Another benefit of my job is that, when we are on location away from the studio, I get to work alone in my box. I will have the occasional phone call and I text my bosses all day, but I only interact with the two girls, Amelia and Jasmine, that start the day on the trailer, depart to the filming location, and come back at the end of the day. I like those girls, so I count that as a benefit. I used to do their job, working all day on set, and I don’t miss it. Once the exhilaration of working on a film set wears off, you are just left with exhaustion. Lately, I have spent the majority of my days listing benefits in an attempt to overpower the threatening detriments.

This particular day is good. It’s a brisk day; we’re halfway through February so the snow is beginning to melt. My little window by my desk faces the mountains. Every so often, if I’m lucky, we roll into a location that allows for my trailer to have a chance to face something nice. That day is today. The heater is on, I have a cup of hot tea (with at least 3 slices of lemon and 2 slices of ginger), and I’ve finished all of my morning work. I can finally sit down.

I squint at the snow-capped mountain peaks, marvelling at the province I live in. It’s as if the bedrock is coated with vanilla frosting for my personal consumption. I want to dip the nature cookies into my tea and devour them whole, but I settle for admiration. The sun shines and reflects off the snow, blinding me through the window. I close my eyes and feel the heat on my face. My fingers curl around my novelty mug and I focus on my breathing. Sometimes that’s all I want to do, and sometimes my job allows me to take small moments of peace and solitude. Sometimes.

I hear footsteps, slow and deliberate, on the steel stairs outside and I open my eyes and refocus them on the computer screen in front of me. I have been researching places to travel in my downtime, so I quickly minimize the personal windows and open the work windows. God forbid anyone discovers I’m looking out a real window.

To my relief, it’s only Pete who, whenever it’s called for, moves my steel box. He straps down all of the clothes, sweeps the floors, tucks away my mess after I leave, gets in the cab of the truck and drags my home to a new parking lot or gravel pit. Sometimes he works for so long that he ends up sleeping in the cab. Pete is an overworked transport driver and one of the few people in his department that calls me by my real name and not some pet name.

He stands about halfway down the length of the truck, sunglasses perched atop his bald head. Bald head. I cock my head to the side, and call down to him.

“Pete! You shaved your head!”

Pete maintains the blinding smile he always sports, which is usually surrounded by a dark, rough beard, but in its place is smooth tan skin. I add to my previous statement as my eyes process the transformed man before me, “-and your beard!”

“Yeah, it’s springtime!” He states this matter-of-factly as if everyone knows to shave at the beginning of spring. He holds a water jug to replace the almost empty one by the door, which he already removed. He swings the jug in a swift arc and slams it on the water cooler, which gurgles in return. Pete pats the top of the water jug and heads out the door. I thank him as he leaves, and turn back towards my view. I sip my warm tea and take a breath.

The grey hair of a familiar head saunters past my window, and I hold my breath, hoping he will pass my truck. But the sound of footsteps on steel comes again, this time hasty and loud. I sigh, but I am at work and I must do my job. I don’t get paid to look at mountains. I push myself away from my desk and walk towards the door as it opens. Another friendly face greets me and belongs to a man named Jay. He has wild grey hair and an enthusiastic attitude. He’s also very good at his job as an overworked babysitter, which we in the business often call the 3rd Assistant Director. I like Jay. He stands in the doorway, letting the cold air in.

“Mira would like you in her trailer!” His grey eyes widen and his brows perk up when he says it. Mira is a new actress and this is her third day on our show but she won’t let anyone forget that she’s worked in the industry since before many of us were born.

“Oh god, what does she need now?” I ask as I slip on my coat and scarf.

“I don’t know. She yelled at me from her trailer and asked me to send wardrobe to her.” He attempts her European accent in mock emphasis.

I replace my slippers with my boots and pull my coat tight around me as I glide down the stairs. The air chews my cheeks and I shiver. It’s a lot colder than it looks from the warmth of my trailer window.

“I hope she just wants my opinion on jewelry again,” I confide, treading slowly to avoid slipping on the ice.

“Honestly,” Jay sounds exhausted, “You never really know with her.”

I find myself standing in front of Mira’s trailer door, but unable to knock. Jay walks away with a Good Luck tossed over his shoulder and he’s off to do better things.

The last and first time I spoke with this particular actress, she had yelled at me for setting the “wrong bra” when in fact it was the same bra she had worn the night before. I had taken it directly from her room, hand-washed it in the sink, hung it to dry, and before anyone had gotten there the next morning it was clean and back in her room. After I had explained this to her, she scrunched up her face in a scowl, told me not to wash her bra so often, and slammed the door to her trailer in my face. I managed to squeeze an apology in before the door closed, but I’m not sure she heard it. Or cared.

I brace myself for the unexpected and give a gentle knock. I hear rustling inside, a chair being dragged along the floor, and the water pump running. My mind is racing as I try to remember what I must have forgotten. The door finally opens and Mira’s face smiles down at me.

“Hello dear! How are you!” She opens the door wider for me. “Come on up sweetheart, it’s a cold one today!” She beckons me up, smiling so wide I can see her gums. There is decay between each of her long teeth, which is a refreshing change from the usual unhuman-like white veneers I’m used to seeing. I cautiously step into her trailer.

It’s warm inside, which makes me regret wearing a wool scarf. Mira tells me to close the door to not let any of the heat out. Her room smells strange. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, but it’s sour and sweet like perfume sprayed liberally to cover the stench of sweat. Her room is also a mess; remnants of breakfast tossed across the counter, countless little paper coffee cups staggered through the room, and clothes strewn along the length of the trailer. I spot the blouse I had meticulously ironed for her to wear today resting in a crumpled mess on the couch. Good thing I had ironed three identical shirts and sent them with Amelia this morning to take to set.

“What can I do for you?” I ask, putting on my best waitress voice. I hear myself and try not to grimace. I was never a very good waitress.

“Do you use Instagram?” She asks, pulling out the chair at her desk and relaxing into it. She doesn’t offer me a seat.

“Uh, yeah. Occasionally.” I nod and hover behind her. She grabs her phone from the counter and opens her photo album. I stand next to her while she scrolls, pulling my wool scarf away from my neck.

“I want to post this photo but I can’t decide which one. It’s for one of those age challenges, have you heard of it?”

I nod, feigning interest. Instagram is the last thing I care about right now; I’m not a famous person or an influencer so my interest in social media is slim to none. I never thought you could pay me to care about it. But here I am, getting paid to care.

She pulls up three near-identical photos of herself and I tell her she glows in the second one, and how gorgeous her outfit is in the third. She tells me she’s leaning toward the first photo. I tell her she looks beautiful in all three, it’s a hard choice for me. She tells me what photo she’s going to choose and I gush about her beauty again; her skin is radiant, and her hair is beautiful, so it's hard to take a bad photo. This isn’t a lie. She really is gorgeous. She soaks up every single compliment with a smile. I blow kind words into her ears and inflate her ego like a balloon.

Mira thanks me profusely for helping her, even though she chose the only photo I didn’t suggest and begins to change in front of me, which I take as my cue to leave. On my way out the door, I catch a glimpse of her breakfast in the garbage which consists of eggshells and salmon skin. That would explain at least two of the smells.

The cold air hits me again, only this time it’s a relief. I take my time walking to my trailer, breathing in the cool and crisp Canadian air. I count this as one of the benefits of my job, I get a lot of fresh air. I figure I’m getting the hang of this, as I return to my desk and take a sip of cold tea.


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