Some people rush to movies if their favorite movie star's face is prominent on the poster. Others swear allegiance to directors. Obsessive cinephiles go for all sorts of reasons. One of ours at The Film Experience is Sandy Powell. If she's the costume designer, we're there, no questions asked. We sat through The Tempest (2010) just for her and trust me that that's devotion.
Meeting her in person earlier this season to talk Carol and Cinderella, which brought her her 11th and 12th Oscar nominations and could well bring her a 4th Oscar, was a personal joy. I had talked to her once before by phone but in person we were able to look at costume stills together and had a great conversation. This cinematic MVP was a fun, lively, and personable interviewee. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.
NATHANIEL R: I intervewed you once a long time ago and I was really taken aback by something you said. You implied that you were surprised and amused by analytical readings of your work.
SANDY POWELL: I was talking about that today with Judy Becker and she said thing "I've learned so much about my work today!". People read things into it that you weren't consciously thinking about. But they're not bad things! You start thinking "maybe subliminally..." You start taking credit for it!
A lot of the time you work so fast that you make snap decisions and you don't know what it's based on. I do work instinctively and intuitively. I don't sit and analyze. I don't think about the significance and "What shall I consciously put on her or him or her to convey that?" I do what feels right. And quite often just by doing that you've got it right, you actually have given something so symbolism.
NATHANIEL R: Do you start thinking of full outfits while you're reading a script?