By Amenya Makuku
Welcome to NYWIFT Amanda Bujak!
Amanda Bujak is a make-up artist and Emmy-nominated film and TV costume designer based out of New York City. Born of Mexican American heritage, she has been working professionally since 2006. She has worked on TV, film, opera, dance, Broadway, commercials, award shows, and music tours. Amanda’s costume design film credits include The Unheard, Marvelous and the Black Hole, It had to be You, and So You’ve Grown Attached. Some of her TV credits include projects on NBC, Shudder, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, FX and Apple TV.
She holds an MFA from NYU Tisch’s Department of Design for Stage and Film.
Amanda spoke to us about what drew her to the art of costume design and her favorite collaborations.
I’m really curious about your path. Costume designers have to have such a sophisticated combination of talents. How did you get your start?
Costume designers are visual world builders. They tell stories about characters through the choices they make. I have always been an artist, an avid reader, and I have a deep love of history. I grew up in a family of artists, and I knew that I wanted to have a career in the arts.
When I went to undergrad, I took a theatre class that had me design costumes for a play, and there I found a space that allowed me to combine all of my favorite things. After that, I just kept pursuing costume design as my career.
I prefer costume design because it is a sacred space between a performer and the clothes they inhabit. It is intimate, sensitive and requires trust since you are working with people’s corporal bodies.
Tell us about your approach to costuming? To Wardrobe? What is your process?
I start with the script. As a storyteller, it is important to me to understand what the characters are going through before I begin to design. There are so many things to choose from. To me, a good costume designer doesn’t just pick things that look great on camera, they also have to tell the story about the character.
After I analyze the script, I put together image boards that pull from different sources like paintings, photographs, color swatches, historical research and any images relating to the clothing as a guideline. I use these boards as part of the collaboration process with the directors and the other design departments. Then I spend time talking with my actors to show them the boards and get feedback on how they view the character they are portraying.
I love collaborating, and my favorite part is seeing someone transform in the fitting room. Often there are characters who have a few lines, and we do not get much information on who they are. I love to design costumes that help tell that story.
Do you prefer working on movies or series? What/are the differences in how you work on one medium versus the other?
I love doing all projects. One of the main differences between designing for film and a tv series is the pacing. On a movie, you get the full script at the beginning of the project. There may be edits and changes, but as a designer you have the full arch of the story. On a series, you will get scripts as they are written. There are synopses on the plot of a season, but sometimes you are learning in real time what will happen as each script comes out and has revisions.
Another difference is the level of realism required for a project. In my experience, sometimes verism [“extreme or strict naturalism in art or literature”] is preferred in film over a TV series. Each project is different, so it’s hard to compare them as they all have different needs.
You’ve worked on some great projects. Can you tell us about some career highlights? Maybe some favorite collaborations?
I have worked on some many fun projects. It is hard to choose a favorite, but I can tell you that my favorite things about working in our industry are the good friends and collaborators you make on the job. There are some long hours and stressful times, so it is invaluable to have colleagues that make you laugh, help you out in the hustle and understand you. I have been lucky to work with some of the funniest, talented ,and hardworking people over the years. It is important to me to have a sense of community in my work.
Connect with Amanda Bujak on Instagram at @albujak.
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