I definitely agree. The more time you get, the better the quality, and that’s shown on Discovery where I think everyone can agree that part of the shows praise comes from the quality of the production. I’ve talked to other costume designers in the past, and they’ve given me mixed results on the level of inter-department collaboration that happens. On Discovery, do you collaborate with the other departments?
Yeah, we collaborate a lot. Like a lot a lot a lot, everyday. What’s very cool is that, when that first outline comes out, we have what we call a concept meeting, and all the department heads are in the meeting together with the producers and the director of that episode. And we’ll get together and talk it through. Usually by then the production designer has already gotten visuals that they’re showing, and then I know what I’m doing and I will talk with [production designer] Tamara Deverell who is amazing: I’m quite happy that I was able to work with her through this journey. And we spend a lot of time talking about color, what I’m going to do, what she’s going to do, so that we can collaborate. I also collaborate a lot with Mario Moreira, our prop master, and I talk a lot with the DP Glen Keenan, and now Tico Poulakakis. But yeah, definitely. There’s a lot of collaboration going on.
And I think that’s what makes our show look so great, what holds it together so well. We all are talking and signing together. Like I love going out to the art department and just looking at the walls there and seeing what they’re doing, and then going into the set deck room and looking at the fabrics that Peter P. Nicolakakos is working with. So yeah, I think it’s the best way to work really.
I will say that this is probably one of my most collaborative experiences. Everybody is well-versed and primed to do it together and talk to each other about what we’re doing so that we can all share resources and just try to create the best product we can.
That’s wonderful. I always love hearing stories of strong set chemistry, obviously for the cast but also the crew as well, because they’re the ones who are making everything good.
One of the cool things about Discovery is that it is on the CBS All Access streaming service, compared to past Star Trek shows which were produced for cable television. Having done work in both fields of production, have you found there to be a big difference for you between the television services?
Well, this field is definitely more filmic, it feels like we’re making movies. I do feel like that freedom and that access and that ability to just have the time….you know we’re doing 10 days per an episode filming wise, but we do second unit on it as well, so it’s usually about 12 days per an episode that we end up shooting. So even just having that luxury of time, which is not exactly a film time, but it’s definitely more than your usual television episodes.
All those things go into making a very beautiful looking project, and well-active. Like all the beats are there and I really like that approach. There’s just a little bit more freedom to tell a little bit more of an adult story. That’s the other thing that’s very cool about streaming.
No I agree. They’re not restricted by like the MPAA as much as cable servers are. Television has grown so much. And to your point about budget, it reminds me of a story a film professor of mine told about how she was working on an indie movie eating a cheese sandwich for lunch while her friends on Mad Men were having like lobster and stuff [laughs].
[laughs] Yeah, no, it’s so true, it’s so true. I have to say that I feel very very lucky to have the fine crew that we’ve had and the ability, because we build 90% of our product that we’re screening, and that goes for all of the departments basically. So the fact that we’ve got the budgets we need to produce the things that we need has been great. It’s been a fun and freeing experience. I mean, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like more money, because you always want more, and more time- for us, the time is the cruncher thing, like I would love more time!
But I do think that, for what we have, it’s been amazing to work on this show and have the opportunities that we’ve had.
I agree entirely, and I hope Discovery runs as long as previous iterations of Star Trek. You Ms. Phillips, are of course a big contributor to its quality with your costume design.
I do have a great team, I have a really great team that supports me and makes it all happen with me, so it’s been great. You know, we’ve been learning and growing over the last two-and-a-half years, so it’s been brilliant.
Yeah, like I said, the crew chemistry is amazing to hear and I hope that it continues to be a great experience for you. Thank you so much for speaking with me!
Thank you, take care!
Flickering Myth would like to thank Ms. Phillips for sitting down with us.
Special thanks to Stephanie Pfingsten of Impact 24 PR and CBS for making this interview possible!