Being in charge of the costumes on any film is hard work, but when the film has zero budget, you can image it must be about 10 times harder. As part of our Women of Wednesday in Space series, we caught up with Paris Matthews, who was responsible for organising the costumes on the student-made zero-budget film.
What did you study at university? How is costume something you got into?
It’s a hobby. I study psychology at university. Costume is something I got into when I was around 12 or 13. I used to be a little bit of a weeb and I used to do a lot of cosplay, and then I spent a year or two as a goth. I learnt to do a lot of stuff by helping friends with costumes for conventions and things.
So what did your role involve?
During the movie there were two characters who needed to be painted blue every time they were onscreen, so that was a whole process. A lot of the time the paint would set properly or it was a bit flaky. In the mornings, first thing after breakfast I would have to sit them down and be like, ‘I need to paint you blue, you might be here a while!’ I ended up altering a costume or two, such as Bella’s which was a little bit too big. After that I was mostly doing makeup and I help to make a few of the props. I also ended up being Bella’s body double at one point.
Given the tight budget, did you find yourself getting involved in other ways during filming?
Yeah, I ended up holding the green screen at one point during a scene with Ed when he was playing the bass. I ended up getting a little bit more involved in certain props that I wasn’t used to, as well. Me and Nick were sat one night trying to do a spaceship board and we were trying to connect wires to make it light up. I don’t have any experience of stuff like that aside from DT back in school, so that was a tricky one. I also had to do some more practical effects that I wasn’t expecting, like making people bleed. And like I said, I also ended up being Bella’s body double.
How did you deal with organising costumes on a small budget?
I got there on the second day so Ben had already bought the costumes. His mum already had a sewing kit and I also brought my own stuff. So for the blue paint I used my own setting powder and glue sticks and wire from other creative stuff I do to help. I thought it would be better plus it’s stuff I’m used to. One problem we had was the copious amounts of fake blood that were needed at certain points. At one point the blood just wouldn’t stodge up and I only had two containers of corn starch to last the whole week. It took a lot of trial and error to figure something else out, because with the budget being so low I couldn’t just go out and buy more or better quality fake blood. I had to work around it with items I already had.
Did you look to any specific films or costume designers for inspiration?
For the costumes, no, because Ben had already decided the looks. I was asked to do certain props, so I went and looked up designs from other cosplayers. I tried to emulate a particular Star Trek episode for the helmet Bella wears.
Who is your favourite woman in the film industry?
Angela Bassett. I’ve grown up with her on my screen as we’re a mixed household, my father is black. I’ve seen her in a lot of different films and of course she was in Black Panther. It was good to see someone of colour who I could relate to onscreen.
What was your favourite costume?
I think it had to be Nick and Ezra’s costume. So Nick plays Mr Zim, and he has this light-up bowtie. One night, I walked into the room we were sharing after a long day of filming and he’s passed out in bed, having forgotten to turn off the light in his bowtie so it’s just flickering in the darkness. It was pretty funny.
Without giving too much away, what was your favourite scene to film?
I think I liked the opening best. It has a lot of comedic value in it, and it really just sets the tone for the whole film.
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