Steven C. Miller's Under the Bed will start its limited theatrical release this Friday and we have a number of special features coming up. The first is an exclusive Q&A with costume designer Ambre Wrigley, thanks to FancyDressCostumes.co.uk. In this feature, Ambre talks about her fear of monsters as a child, taking inspiration from music, and modifying costumes for horror movies.
How did you get involved with Under The Bed?
Ambre Wrigley: I responded to an ad looking for a costume designer. I met with Steven Miller (Director), Will Clevinger (Producer), and Ben Rabbers (UPM). We interviewed for about 15 minutes until they said they'd get back to me and about 20 minutes into my drive home I got a call offering me the gig. I was so excited about it I couldn't stop grinning for days. I'd just landed my first full feature as a costume designer.
Are you a fan of the horror genre and what’s the appeal?
Ambre Wrigley: I'm a bit of a horror anomaly. I have a very difficult time watching them (they seriously scare the hell out of me) thanks to being traumatized early on by a best friend while watching one. However there's nothing I have more fun working on. So many great opportunities to really elaborate on a character, plus I know what would scare the --it out of me! Once I was sitting in a meeting for another horror film and the writer and director were both there. The writer wanted the murdering psychopaths to all wear interchangeable coverall uniforms, the director wanted them in ski masks with red rings around the eyes and the mouth and to me those things have been done before and are somewhat typical. I suggested coveralls that had been altered a bit to resemble straight jackets utilizing buckles and tabs to tighten or shorten in certain areas for definition and abnormal movement for the eye. The ski masks were also an okay idea but I know for a fact that some guy showing up at my house in a ski mask with the mouth stitched shut like an unloved scarecrow and the eyes painted up like a psychotically escaped rodeo clown who just finished crying over losing god knows what would scare me a hell of a lot more. I love, love, love, costuming the horror genre. I have no issues on set it's watching it afterwards that gets me! (and yes during the premier of Under The Bed I screamed twice).
Did you have a fear of monsters lurking under your own bed as a child?
Ambre Wrigley: Ironically this question was a fun topic on set. After seeing "Poltergeist" as a kid my fear was the closet. I hated the closet. I also hated my dolls at night and would frequently stuff them all into the dirty hamper, take it from my room to the bathroom, put a heavy box on top, and shut the door, before I'd be able to get to sleep. On set though there was only one time I got freaked out and that was during the shoot where "Paulie" (Gatlin Griffith) gets dragged under the bed. I have two kids and can say seeing "Paulie" disappear like that did give me nightmares for awhile.
What other films did you draw inspiration from when working on this movie? And why?
Ambre Wrigley: I don't ever like directly drawing inspiration from any films ever when it comes to costuming. Sometimes a director will suggest to me what the style of the film will be to story and or portrayal and if I haven't seen the recommended film I'll check it out, but I never use other films for costuming inspiration. I use Music! For Under the Bed I specifically used Dubstep. Skrillex "Equinox" and Flux Pavillion's "Cracks" were my fav's but there were tons more that I can't recall. Ironically when I came on set our lead Johnny Weston was also listening to it.
Music inspires me and is super helpful when breaking down a script. It keeps me focused and the style of what I choose to costume too has a lot to do with the type of film I'm working on. Right now I'm finishing up a drama/action film and the songs are "Beauty" by Tryad, "Breathe Me" by Sia, and "Kiss the Sky" by Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra.
Since kids are central characters in the movie, what was your approach to dressing them?
Ambre Wrigley: It's a contemporary film so dressing them is pretty simple. You just need to know which group they fit into. For Johnny and Gatlin, Steven wanted skater style kids. So I took that as a base and then factored in ages, habitat, emotional stability, personality, hair color, skin color, and then eye color in that order. After that you need to look at the actions that are taking place in each scene and make sure that the clothing used can perform with what the actor is being required to do on top of the additional performance equipment that may need to be used i.e. harnesses, straps, velcro, ropes, etc..
The film transitions from 'reality' into an 'Under The Bed' environment. Did this pose any challenges?
Ambre Wrigley: Not for costume really. I think every project has its challenges but on this particular one there weren't any that seemed unusual to me. Yes they get drenched in monster fluids and you need to watch the continuity on it. I guess I would say that the hardest part was the movement of the clothes after being soaked in blood dyed hair gel that gave me a little stress, but it was still fun.
Did director Steven C. Miller have a specific vision on what the monster should look like?
Ambre Wrigley: I'm sure he did. The only major influence I had on the monster was the sheet I covered him in. The rest was created by the extremely pleasant to work with and very talented Vincent Guastini.
How did Ivan Djurovic get on with wearing the creature costume?
Ambre Wrigley: I have to say that Ivan was such a great and wonderful experience on set. There was nothing more surreal than knowing that man was under that costume. It was such a gory and freaky suit to look at, yet underneath it is this gorgeous and extremely kind man... I have two fun stories from set on this one. When he was on set there was always this drool dripping from his mouth. I was so intrigued on how they made it consistently flow so of course I go up and touch this dangling piece of drool to check out the texture and ask him "So do you have some sort of tube in there Ivan?" to which he popped out a mouth piece and informed me through his and the local crews hysterical laughter that "It's a mouth piece and its all Man made." so yeah I played with his spit. LOL. The other moment was an evening when we were shooting the scene where he rips off 'Terry's' (Peter Holden) head. Johnny, Ivan and I are sitting in the back waiting for the next set-up, Johnny's covered in slime and blood, Ivan's in this huge monster suit with the drool dripping and he says completely normal... "So Ambre how's things been going with you?" It's still to this day the funniest and most surreal moment for me on set. I always giggle about it and think about how fun my life gets to be.
Did you have to modify any costumes for practical reasons (i.e. special effects, wires etc)?
Ambre Wrigley: I got to modify costumes nearly every day on set. Someone was generally being attacked, slimed, or shirts were being shredded and bloodied at least once a day. Vincent and his team were so much fun to work with and they'd be right there having fun with me. Allison Bryan who was the make up artist also would have a huge effect on where the blood would go. She and I teamed up for the sliming of each actor.
The last 20-25 minutes of the film turn into a gruesome creature feature. What input did you have on that?
Ambre Wrigley: Steven knows exactly what he wants, which is why its great working with him. They told me what they were going to do and my input was specific to making the costumes match. They'd really just ask me what I needed to make it happen. The biggest thing I wanted was their clothing to not blend into the background so much so that we'd lose them or their actions as it was dark and chaotic in there.
Finally, what was the best part about working on this movie?
Ambre Wrigley: Costume wise it was the constant goring up of the costumes that was my favorite. The intricacies required and the challenge of keeping it realistic but as terrifying as possible was a fun game. On another personal note it was by far the crew and cast. I've continued to work with several of them on other features, shorts, music videos, etc... I've stayed in touch with a lot of them and was so very proud to be a part of this project. The actors were amazing and had so much talent. A lot of us talk about Under the Bed and how it was such an amazing experience. Every department was on their game and we all appreciated and respected each other. I loved going to set everyday and always look forward to running into them in this small town. ;) I hope in the future we can all make another one soon.
"Every child knows about the monster under the bed—Neal Hausman’s mistake was trying to fight it. Neal (Jonny Weston, Chasing Mavericks) has returned from a two-year exile following his tragic attempt to defeat the monster, only to find his father ticking ever closer to a breakdown, a new stepmother who fears him, and his little brother Paul (Gattlin Griffith, Green Lantern, Changeling), terrorized by the same monster. While Neal and Paul work together to try and fight the nocturnal menace, their parents are taking desperate measures to get the family back to normal. With no support from their parents, the brothers have nothing to rely on but each other, and courage beyond belief."
Under the Bed was directed by Steven C. Miller and stars Jonny Weston (Chasing Mavericks), Gattlin Griffith (The Green Lantern, Changeling), Peter Holden (The Social Network), Musetta Vander, and Kelcie Stranahan.
Under the Bed Release Dates: