Costume continuity: I dress witches and wizards for Fantastic Beasts

Meet Rianna Charles, a costume standby who has worked on everything from Coronation Street and Call the Midwife to the latest Fantastic Beasts film. Part of our Making the Magic collection.

You're the last person actors talk to before they go on set. You need to be calm, smiley and judge whether they want to talk or to stay in the zone.

What does your role involve?

As a costume standby, it's my job to make sure there's continuity for all the costumes across scenes in films and on TV shows. Scenes are often shot out of order so it's my job to make sure that, when they're edited into chronological order, there aren't noticeable changes in characters' costumes within scenes.

On a typical day, we spend some time in the morning prepping the costumes (steaming and pressing them) and then help dress the actors. We'll go through the scripts for the day to see what the filming order is and then head onto set with our artists (the actors). We often travel with them to and from set if they've got any scenes they aren't in and help with any costume changes. At the end of the day, we'll help them out of their costumes and wash and prepare them for the next day. We stay with our artists throughout filming so we need to be very attentive to their needs and build good relationships with them.

How did you get your job?

I found it difficult to find anything when I left school to help me on my path into film. However, researching further into roles, I found relevant events to go to and started attending seminars and meetings to get contacts. My big break into the industry was doing a full year training at ITV as a standby trainee. It was my first paid job in TV and I made various contacts with supervisors who were freelance. From there, I've got new opportunities by word of mouth and people recommending me.

There are lots of different roles in costume – designers, buyers, makers, alterations teams – the list goes on! It's not just roles in designing and making, there are lots of different aspects to it, like my role in continuity.

Two of Rianna's projects: DCI Banks and Unforgotten 2.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

It's been difficult when I've been out of work for a few weeks and worried. I overcame this by trying not to doubt myself, keeping busy and continuing to send CVs out. I also kept personal projects going – I have a small clientele that I carry out alterations for.

The long hours can also be difficult. I've tried to tackle that by managing my time, doing things other than work but understanding that my body needs to rest and scheduling in down time.

Being on the frontline on set, you can sometimes get shouted at in the heat of the moment. I've learnt not to take this personally and remind myself it's a result of the intense environment. It doesn’t make it right for people to get angry but we must all try and work as a team and understand that there’s a common goal.

What's your career highlight?

Working on Call The Midwife for two full series. I built such a rapport with the cast and crew. Going to work was exciting, despite the pressures. It was lovely for me to work on something that I have passion for, especially the script and the influence it has. I learnt so much about history, midwifery and medicine.

Rianna's top tips

  • Research and be proactive – email and call/text supervisors and line producers
  • Try to get work experience, even on short feature films
  • Do short courses (eg sewing courses, film courses) to keep up to date on skills that you need
  • Learn how to drive
  • Resend your CV!
  • Be available, and keep up to date with checking emails and messages.

Rianna's recent projects

Fantastic Beasts 3Film
Call the MidwifeTV
The WitchesFilm
Dunkirk: World on FireTV
Peaky BlindersTV
Been So LongFilm
Unforgotten 2TV
Emmerdale and Coronation StreetTV

Want to know more?

  • Find out more on the My First Job in Film website about roles in the costume department and how to become a costume trainee
  • Check out Warner Bros. Creative Talent for scholarships, apprenticeships, work and training placements, mentoring and masterclass opportunities.
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