On Set With ‘Sparkle’ Costume Supervisor Devon Patterson-Wilson

The Detroit native explains how what she looks for in employees and how Sparkle helped her hometown's economy

What tools do you use on a daily basis to do your job effectively?

There’s a program that we use in our business called CPlot Pro, which is a budgeting and breakdown program [that] is done by a fellow costumer named Betty Besio and she’s made my life so much easier by the invention of this program. Being able to plug things in and get printouts; everything from character changes to tracking our budget in real time. It’s all just a one-step process because of this program.

What are the advantages of having a film like Sparkle being shot and produced in your hometown of Detroit?

The simple fact that I’m from Detroit and able to come back and actually work here is great. The last time I was able to come home and work was on the movie 8 Mile. The advantages are obvious, because the Michigan economy is so bad we are allowing a lot people to work and have income. Not just the people that we hire on the crew, the hotels, the hotel staff, the restaurants, the car rentals and airlines. When a film like Sparkle comes to Detroit, it brings in revenue that affects a lot of people across the board. When you take that away, you take away a serious amount of income. A film with a budget of $10-80 million to do it in a city like Detroit right now has huge advantages. It’s millions of dollars being pumped into the Michigan economy. It really does affect a lot of people.

Being that the economy is so bad in Detroit, you must get a lot of job applicants. How did you go about selecting who you’d hire on set?

Because we are a union show, we must go through the local union, which is Local 38; Local 38 has a roster of people that’s available. There are times when you are able to work around that, but every position has to be filled in order for you to hire outside of the union and it’s largely the relationships because I’m from here and I know people that already do this business so that makes my life a lot easier.

Can you talk about challenges with the costume department on Sparkle?

It’s a period movie that had a smaller budget with a lot of people. In a contemporary film, the background [actors] can wear their own clothes and fit into a scene, however, in a period film like Sparkle we have to dress almost everybody in the movie because of the period—it’s 1968. Most people don’t’ have wardrobe in their closets from 1968 and because we want to keep it authentic to the period, we had to do that. I’d say that was the biggest challenge on this movie.

Because you have to work with a myriad of people, personalities, educational and financial levels, what skill set do you tap into most to manage everyone?

It’s sort of personality based; you have to be able to get along with people and get people on your side. It’s sort of like using psychology, which helps you a lot in no matter what job you’re doing but especially in this field, because you can read people to know how to relate to them and figure out how to approach them.

What should fans expect when they finally see Sparkle in the theatres this summer?

That they’re in for a ride; a very beautiful and glamorous one.

Watch below as Patterson-Wilson speak on her career path and working on Sparkle…


Shot and edited by Chapter3.tv

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