Rosalie Ham | A blank canvas - Rosalie Ham
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October 6, 2014

A blank canvas

7I now realise that before I even arrived at Docklands Studios for costume fittings, the costumieres had consulted my head and full body shot, checked my measurements and knew my shape. The hair stylists, also, possibly sighted and discussed each extra and their place in the story arc, knew how long it would take and what to do with our hair, and what we would look like in the scenes assigned us. The director probably chose us because we were the desired blank canvas that the artists needed to paint and decorate us so that our presence would create mise en scène, covey meaning and the feeling intended. In fact, we were ‘chosen’ even before they sighted us because they needed humans that could be made to fit the collective vision, and take direction. Each artisan possibly knew what they were seeking from the second they read the script, or in Jocelyn’s case, from the time she decided she’d direct the movie. We were subsequently chosen and matched to the shared vision so that we would contribute to the palette, texture the scene, and add subliminally to the audience’s experience.
Shame for those who arrived early for fittings sans makeup and their acting CV professionally presented. If there is no scene that requires someone with an extra ear, then so be it.
            So when they spread us out on the floor and looked at us after the ‘she’s in…he’s out’ cull, they put our photos next to our scenes and the wardrobe mistresses were attaching us to frocks they knew they had, considering our shoe size and the hair artists were deciding styles based on age, class and cheekbone structure.
They’ve done that with 300+ people. Thinking back on my reflection from the fitting room mirror, I understand it wasn’t ME they picked, it was a badly dressed older woman with orthotic shoes and a string bag that they would, at some point, dress in the stunning Azure silk ensemble assigned me, and this in turn would make audiences gasp. In other words, they couldn’t do it without me.

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