Our Friday column asks our members about their favorite tool, software, article of clothing, shoes on set, favorite scriptwriting software, etc.
Dana Covarrubias – Costume Designer
By Melissa Belardo
2018 NYWIFT Designing Women honoree Dana Covarrubias has designed the costumes for television shows including Claws, Master of None, Crashing, Inside Amy Schumer and the pilot episode of Broad City. She’s a member of both United Scenic Artists 829 and IATSE 764. Dana shares what’s inside her toolkit.
You are known to make everyone you work with feel comfortable, which is amazing. But what do you do to keep yourself at ease on set?
I keep myself at ease on set by constantly balancing my focus between the macro and micro needs of the show. It’s important to know what matters when. At the start of the day I make a list of the mirco (what needs to happen asap for that day to be successfully pulled off) and a list of the macro (what I need to achieve in order for next week- or for the next three weeks- to go smoothly). When you have a better understanding of that- it automatically allows you to feel relaxed and confident in your creative and managerial decisions. Long answer short: I make LISTS!
I also think it’s important to take the time to smile and say hello to everyone on set – actors, other crew members, producers, directors, PA’s, craft services- everyone! To ask people about their weekends, to hear other peoples stories and experiences – it helps you to develop those relationships beyond just the job and to realize that we’re all just people. It humanizes the job in a way that puts me ease.
What is the most unexpected item in your toolkit right now?
There are so many unexpected items in a Costume Designer’s Toolkit! Probably the craziest thing I currently have in my kit are prosthetic nipples! I have them in all sizes and skin-tones. We use them for whenever a scene calls for an actor to have “hard nipples”. They just stick on. What a world.
From your shopping trips with your parents and developing the organizing gene from your family…What is something you learned from childhood that you use now?
We didn’t have a lot of money growing up so I learned how to bargain hunt, and how to make something interesting out of nothing. A lot of films and television shows are way lower budget than you’d expect, so the art of bargain hunting always comes into play when trying to stay on budget. And being OCD! Both of my parents are OCD in their own way – and I’m lucky (and cursed) to have inherited that. A dogged attention to detail is key in my job.
What item in your toolkit you can’t live without?
A good pair of scissors, some safety pins, and a steamer. I could accomplish almost anything with those three items.
Honoring Dana was one of our favorite moments of Designing Women 2018. Click through to watch Crashing star Jamie Lee present the award and Dana’s acceptance speech:
NYWIFT member and graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology Nikia Nelson has been working in the fashion and entertainment industries for several years. She started her career working in magazine publishing in the fashion and photo departments. She was able to parlay her experience into working as a stylist & costume designer for fashion, film, and television. Nikia recently worked as Assistant Costume Designer for the Amazon series The Horror of Dolores Roach. Based on the hit Spotify podcast series of the same name, The Horror of Dolores Roach is a contemporary Sweeney Todd-inspired urban legend of love, betrayal, weed, cannibalism, and survival of the fittest. The series will premiere at the 2023 Tribeca Festival.READ MORE
NYWIFT and USA Local 829 member Naomi Wolff Lachter has designed the costumes for feature films, dozens of plays and musicals, and assistant designed on several major TV series. Every day she is on the job, Naomi posts a motivational saying from her whiteboard on her Instagram account, @wolffie78. She offered us insight into her philosophy – and why good vibes are contagious.READ MORE
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Our friends at Universal Production Services Costume Department in NYC offer a look at their services.READ MORE
NYWIFT member Jean Criss offers an exclusive recap of the December 2019 event "Costumes, Couture and Conversing with Emmy-Award winning Costume Designer Donna Zakowska," at FIT SUNY hosted by the State of New York Governor’s Office of Motion Picture & Television Development. The conversation focused on Zakowska's acclaimed work on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.READ MORE