Who Doesn't Love A Costume Shop?
Everything's More Fun In Costume, directed by Megan Wilde, is an official selection of the 2018 Oregon Documentary Film Festival. Furthermore, this film was nominated for the Best Director and Best Oregon Film Awards. This short documentary film screened on Friday May 25, 2018 at the Oregon Documentary Film Festival. It was an emotional screening for the owners, supporters and employees of Helen's Pacific Costumers. A business owned by women with incredible history and a loyal customer base has closed. It was revealed in the Q&A, just how much this costume rental shop supported so many community events for 120 years. There were several interesting stories about how some of the employees were hired as well. Tearful laughs and warm emotions filled the room for this documentary. Bursts of laughter from all over the room could be heard throughout.
Synopsis: Everything's More Fun In Costume
"Everything's More Fun in Costume is the motto of the costume shop featured in the documentary. It also embodies the spirit of the film. Helen’s Pacific Costumers has been dressing up Easter bunnies, gangsters, beavers, and Medieval wenches in Portland, Oregon for 128 years. Schools and community theaters depend on the women-owned business for keeping big dreams aloft on tiny budgets. Helen's talented staff make playing dress up fun for even the most reluctant party goers. But the shop has struggled as Portland and the costume industry change."
Director's Biography: Megan Wilde
Megan Wilde is a journalist, documentary producer, teacher and mother in a little one-stoplight cow-town called Alpine, Texas. Wilde seeks out stories about eccentric people. Hanging on to unusual ways of life and wild things on the edge of existence. She is a former producer of Nature Notes on Marfa Public Radio. Megan's writing has been featured in mental_floss, Salon.com, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, and regional newspapers. Her first documentary short, Smokey, was awarded Best Documentary Short at the 2017 Deep in the Heart Film Festival.
Megan Wilde Interview "Everything's More Fun in Costume"
Why did you choose the Oregon Documentary Film Festival? "Everything's More Fun in Costume, is about a 127-year-old Portland institution and celebrates the weirdness, creativity and whimsy that make it such a wonderful community. The film is also an elegy for pieces of Portland that are being lost as the city grows and changes. A Portland documentary film festival in Portland seemed like a perfect audience to appreciate a very Portland documentary."
Did you discover certain story elements during the production of this film that you never expected to find? "I was surprised that every woman who worked there was so interesting, creative, and worthy of their own documentary. Then there were the customers. However reserved or reluctant customers were when they arrived, playing dress-up always transformed them in surprising and hilarious ways.
Interview: "Why Did You Tell This Particular Story?"
"My daughters heard about the Portland Mermaid Parade and wanted to participate. I found Helen's Pacific Costumers online while looking for costumes. I read about the history of the shop and the fascinating people who worked there. Then I found out some of the staff were trying to save the costumes before the store closed. I'm drawn to stories of loss, precariousness, and people hanging on to a precious niche in a changing world. The film was about an eccentric small-town newspaper publisher in tiny Monahans, Texas. They are running the last newspaper printing press in the western half of the state. I followed that up with a documentary about how the decimation of peyote in south Texas. Jeopardizing the 6,000-year-old bond between Native Americans and their most sacred cactus. So an old costume shop on the verge of closing was right up my alley."
Documentary Cameras and Gear
What camera(s) did you use to during the production of this film? Discuss any advantages or limitations that you may have run into, from an equipment perspective.
"I lost a day of awesome footage, including a particularly touching interview with one of the costumers. An SD card disappeared somewhere near "the clown cabinet," where all the clown costumes were stored. The SD card was never found, as apparently happened to most things that went missing near the clown cabinet. But other than clown-related equipment problems, I made this film while taking the DIY Documentary workshop at NW Documentary. I rented a Canon T5i and a Panasonic HMC150 camcorder from them. When I was working alone and learning to use the equipment as I was shooting. I felt frustrated by how much better I knew the documentary could be, if I knew more about what I was doing or had people working with me. Renting equipment also came with some challenges. Like being able to get the camera or lights I wanted or finding they had glitches."
Megan Wilde Interview Continued ...
- Did anything happen during the production of this film that was very interesting, but never made it on camera. "When I was shooting, the shop manager Sally was working her tail off to create a non-profit to buy the costume collection and turn it into a sort of costume library for community and school theaters. Originally I thought the film might be "Save the Costumes," about the heroic salvation and transformation of the costume shop. But I ended up leaving out this whole part of the story, because for various reasons, the non-profit didn't work out. There were also several customer and costume creation stories that were fantastic but I left out, because in the interest of time, I felt like the stories I used captured the same stuff better."
- Do you have any advice for a future filmmaker that is about to start a documentary project? "Start! It's so easy to talk yourself out of projects before you even try them. And even more important, find collaborators. I did this project almost entirely on my own, and I think it would have been even better if I'd had others working with me. I funded it myself. Ouch. Thankfully as a one-man-band, my only expenses were equipment rentals and festival entry fees."
Interview: "What Kind of Audience Reaction Are You Getting To This Film?"
Discuss any Positives or Negatives that you feel comfortable talking about. "All positive so far. I've loved watching people watch the movie, because I get to vicariously experience their delight of getting to know the costume shop and laugh at all the costumes and customers all over again. And then I find some comfort in their gasps and tears during the second half, as they realize this magical place might disappear. Working on the film was such a blast, but it was all tinged with grief for this place and community of fascinating people that Portland was losing. So sharing that with an audience is therapeutic."
What Is Megan Wilde Working On Next?
"I'm almost finished with my documentary about peyote. I have a few other shorts in mind set in my hometown of Alpine, Texas, but since I'm about to have my third child this fall, I'll probably have to hang my filmmaker hat for a little while."