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What is a Costumer & What Role Do they Perform on Set?

During pre-production, you are sometimes asked “what is a costumer?”. Simply put, a costumer works in the costume department of the film crew and is responsible for assisting the costume designer. The costumer works during pre-production and is available during the production process as needed as well as to deliver wardrobes to the appropriate set location or stage when needed. The role of costumer is very important and requires unique skill sets in creativity and organization as well a curation in order to be successful. 

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This is a question that is almost certain to come to mind if you’ve been approached by a producer that is interested in adapting your book to film. So what do you charge? What is your literary work worth to you?

Costumer Responsibilities

Responsibilities for the costumer can vary greatly depending on the film and the site of the film crew. Costumers generally work closely with the costumer designer to establish the appropriate style, fabric, and elements of a costume to resemble a particular time period, era, or concept of a film.

Costumers assist the designer when producing sketches of costumers that are then used to source the appropriate fabrics, elements, and goods to make the costumes.

Responsibilities of the costumer may also focus on helping other craftspeople with costumes and garments. They sometimes work during production to provide maintenance of costumes or to deliver additional elements to go with costumes as needed.

Costumers may dress extras, provide costumes to background performers, or help with the transportation of costumes as needed.

Costumer Skills

Costumers help to process costumes but they also often work to source the materials needed to design and create costumers for the set.

Great costumers have the ability to work well under pressure and are prepared for travel when it comes time to deliver costumes to actors and actresses on set.

Additional skills of a costumer include:

-Creativity and ability to follow directions.

-People skills and ability to work closely with multiple members of the film set.

-Garment construction skills.

-Sewing and other fabrication skills.

Dying and fabric painting.

Fashion trends and historical understanding of fashion.

-Attention to detail.