APDG Costume Supervisor Pathway Program

Costume supervisors play a crucial role in the success of our designers, elevating the Australian Film Industry to global recognition. However, within our department, the number of Costume Supervisors across the country is alarmingly low and currently experiencing a worrying decline. The demanding workload and lack of adequate compensation have resulted in burnout among some of our supervisors, leading them to withdraw from or leave the industry altogether. Furthermore, the scarcity of individuals with the necessary expertise to oversee high-budget Australian or offshore productions is even more pronounced.

Only a handful of experienced supervisors remain active in the industry for these large-scale productions. However, as these highly skilled women eventually retire, we will face a shortage of supervisors capable of handling significant shows filmed in Australia. Consequently, producers will be forced to import supervisors to fill this crucial role. Enhancing the skills of mid-career supervisors is urgent. The APDG Costume Supervisor Pathway Program is essential to ensure that the invaluable knowledge of these senior costume supervisors can be shared and to provide the industry with the opportunity to cultivate aspiring supervisors who can step into their shoes. Mid-career costume supervisors need a clear pathway to gain experience on large-scale productions. Our aim is to transform this culture by fostering the retention of this remarkable pool of experience and talent.

Establishing a clear path is crucial, from supervising mid-budget projects to overseeing an entire department on a large-budget production. Our Skills Development Plan introduces an innovative solution: A pilot program that creates a new position in the costume department. The role of Assisting Costume Supervisor will serve as a dedicated training position, providing aspiring supervisors with the necessary exposure and expertise to thrive in larger productions. This initiative bridges the knowledge gap and inspires a new generation of confident and skilled supervisors who are prepared to tackle the challenges of large-scale projects.

This additional training position in the department is designed to provide comprehensive on-the-job mentorship. This mentorship, led by a seasoned senior supervisor, is a crucial component of the Skills Development Plan. It pairs experienced professionals with mid-career supervisors, fostering knowledge transfer and skill development through personalised guidance and support. The senior supervisors offer invaluable insights, share their expertise, and assist mentees in navigating challenges that may arise during large-scale or offshore productions. This immersive and hands-on experience will empower mid-career supervisors to leverage their existing skills while acquiring critical new knowledge. It will enhance their proficiency in establishing costume workrooms, managing on-set crews, and overseeing larger budgets, facilitating their evolution into accomplished costume supervisors. The comprehensive training program covers all aspects of the production process, from pre-production and shooting to post-production. For larger-scale productions, the program extends over 32 weeks or more.

Filmmaking budgets are becoming tighter, making it challenging to convince producers to support this program without incentives. The training plan has been collaboratively developed with senior supervisors and screen costume designers. The APDG Costume Supervisor Pathway Program aims to accelerate the professional growth of three costume supervisors in the mid-career phase. These mentees will be placed in the new trainee position of Assisting Costume Supervisors with offshore productions. They will receive competitive wages per the MEAA offshore agreement by the production and gain an end credit of Assisting Costume Supervisor.

It’s important to note that the Assisting Costume Supervisor position is not currently part of the costume department structure. It will be specifically implemented as part of this training pilot program. The APDG will utilise funding from Screen Australia’s successful grant application for the Skills Development Fund to place the mentees with large-budget or offshore productions under the APDG Costume Supervisor mentorship pilot program. The allocated funds will assist in covering several weeks of the mentee’s wages, the balance of wages paid by the production company will be considered in-kind contributions supporting this Skills Development initiative.

The mentorship program we’ve designed offers numerous benefits that are instrumental to mid-career supervisors’ professional advancement. It provides an opportunity to work under the tutelage of seasoned supervisors, enabling the mentees to gain profound insights and learn effective strategies for managing large-scale projects. This transformative learning experience allows them to refine their existing skills and acquire new competencies. As a result, mentees are well-positioned to oversee larger budgets and manage more extensive costume departments, enhancing their career prospects. Moreover, the program ensures the workload distribution, allowing senior supervisors to maintain productivity while avoiding burnout. Hence, this initiative champions the growth of individuals and strengthens our department’s overall resilience and effectiveness.

This training plan offers producers an unprecedented opportunity to elevate their productions. By investing in the professional growth of mid-career costume supervisors, they cultivate a more experienced, skilled, and professional costume department. This, in turn, enhances the quality of the production and eliminates the necessity to import offshore costume supervisors at great expense to the production. Additionally, supporting the advancement of local mid-career costume supervisors can lead to improved budget management and overall production value.

To future-proof our department, the APDG Costume Supervisor Pathway Program prioritises training and development. The goal is to secure ongoing training opportunities for mid-career supervisors, nurturing their career advancement and ensuring continuous growth.

By implementing this pilot program, we can demonstrate the resounding success of the training and encourage producers to recognise the vital role of including the assistant costume supervisor training position in all large-budget productions. This strategic move will safeguard the future of our department and elevate our international competitiveness.

Applications Open
March 1, 2024 (Midday AEDT)
Applications Close
March 18, 2024 (Midday AEDT)
Successful Applicants Announced
April 1, 2024

Prospective applicants should Australian citizens or permanent residents, possess at least five years of costume management experience, outstanding organizational and communication skills, a strong ambition to advance their careers and a genuine eagerness to learn from seasoned professionals. We are committed to actively recruiting applicants from the diverse backgrounds. Successful applicants must be APDG members, you can JOIN HERE. If you are experiencing financial hardship, please contact us about your membership options in regards to this application. 

For all applicants who wish to be considered for the APDG Costume Supervisor Pathway Program, please complete the application form. If you have any questions about the program, process or application, please CONTACT US

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