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The Ultimate Partnership

By Ivy Thaide | December 1, 2020

The Ultimate Partnership

Assistant Costume Designer Representative David Matwijkow has been the unsung hero and one of the key individuals at the forefront of our IA Mask Drive. He constructed over 2,500 and cut over 5,000 masks for our UCLA healthcare workers and organized other volunteers to build as well during this pandemic.

Matwijkow has been an IA union member in Local 705 for over 15 years and joined Local 892 in 2016. He decided to run for ACD Representative in 2018 after encouragement from fellow union and Board members. He wanted to give a voice to his peers. He remembers, “I was a little unsure at first what I might contribute, and I won’t lie … it took a little convincing, but they made me see that the unique circumstances of my experience could make my voice a valuable one.” He was able to see how the Executive Board operated and was inspired by how they faced all the issues with consideration and respect for the membership.

Matwijkow has worked in theater, commercials, film, and television, and even co-owned the Costume Co-Op with 892 President Emeritus Cliff Chally. More recently, he assisted Vice President Catherine Adair on The Man in the High Castle for Amazon and is currently working with Christine Bieselin Clark on Star Trek: Picard for CBS All Access.

The scale and scope of television and film have grown exponentially over the last 15 years and it’s not slowing down, but Matwijkow takes it in stride. When asked how he saw the ACD position developing in the fast-paced TV landscape where shows that can be budgeted like feature films, he jokes, “Move into? I think we are already there!” Matwijkow laughs as he explains the creation of Marvel or DC digital live-action and ability to create TV series that looks like mini-features every episode. The invention of streaming apps has resulted in so much content that you can’t even keep up or watch it all. Also, with huge budgets, come more complexity and more work. The ACD has become a pivotal member of the team.

It is critical that an ACD be organized in order to be supportive to the designer and the rest of the costume and production team. Matwijkow’s favorite tool is “…without a question, Dropbox. Everyone should acquaint themselves with all it has to offer. When I was working with Cate Adair on The Man in the High Castle, not only were we in two different cities but two different countries. The ability to have a commonplace for the departments in both locations to access photos, sketches, receipts, pending orders, and information streamlined the process. You can pull, photo, upload, get choices, write them up, get them boxed and shipped out incredibly fast. Photos from fittings done in Los Angeles could instantly be uploaded and accessed in Vancouver.

“On my most recent job with Christine Bieselin Clark on Star Trek: Picard, we were sent to work at home during our second week on the project due to COVID-19. This meant a complete shift to a home-based design and research process for all members of the department. Being able to upload and access images immediately, share them with the designer, the sketch artists, the digital presentation coordinator, and then being able to edit, notate and reload instantly enabled us to put together a fully digital design package of the first few episodes for the designer to then present in Zoom conference with the creators and producers. Each packet consisted of approximately 120 boards, sketches, and concepts. There is no way we could have done it without Dropbox. It truly is your friend.”

His advice to aspiring ACDs about joining the workforce is to learn something about every part of the process. The more you know, and the more tools in your toolbox, the better equipped you will be for any job. It’s not enough just to know costume history or clothing brands. Many more projects these days require knowledge of custom-made, fabric, and specialty work. “I came from a strong background in pattern making and construction and I am often hired for that skill set as an assistant. Not to make clothes, but to be able to source fabric, to help make smart choices, help solve problems, and to interface with the workroom when the designer is unavailable. It will also ensure that you have the language to talk to your craftspeople when you move up to designing so you can realize your own designs more effectively. I would also say that it is vital to gravitate toward people who inspire you, share their knowledge, and support your vision of your future. The people who I have been lucky enough to work with have done all these things and it has made all the difference. Oh, and have fun! We get to explore and create strange new (and old) worlds as a job! Make the most of it.”

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