Interviewing Miggy Cheng

Workshop two: Producing the set, Designing the city

Synopsis: This second workshop invites two distinguished guests to come and talk about their careers relating to set production. As a costume designer and set designer, Miggy cheng has involved in many famous film making processes of different genres, including “Rigor Mortis” and “Floating City”. During the workshop, Miggy will share with us more about her personal experiences and perception as a costume researcher and art designer.

Amy: Hello Miggy. Thank you very much for your brilliant speech. As I remember what you mentioned before, you said that the costume is like the skin which should be blended in the environment during the filming so to reach the balance. When you are designing the costume for the set,  do you think it is the architecture in the set that matters more or the appearance of the character that matters more, in order for a film to leave an impression that is able to tell a more vivid story?  

Miggy: Oh, it is similar to the question which another student asked me before. I think these two are equally important. In order for the set to reach the best effect as desired in the cinema, during the filming process the costumes must be suitable while aiming at certain purpose so that the character can to tell the audience what the story is and what he/she encounters during the moment. The costume must be tested together with the architecture and interior/exterior design along the time, lighting condition and the mood and feelings of the characters/actors themselves. Personally speaking, I think the costume might outweigh the architecture to a sense that during the filming, the camera always focuses on the faces and expression of the characters and their dressing, and given a fixed piece of architecture, there is still a lot of freedom to choose the costumes of what I imagined during the research stage. Sometimes, I  might need to think about the tiny details and start observation of the surroundings in the architecture so that the choice of the costume is more rational and the patterns can be more intricate, e.g. like the pillows in “floating city” I tried some bright patterns that look pretty good. But these details can be easily omitted by the audience. Nevertheless, for a film with a real historical background, our job is to fully respect and understand such history so that our design perfectly traces you guys back into that period of time when you are watching the film.

Amy: That sounds exciting! May I ask a follow-up question, please? You say that the costume design usually originates from one’s idea and imagination. Given so many people in a team, since everyone has a different idea and perception, then how can the team reach a consensus in costume design?  And how can the conflicts be solved?

Miggy: I am the boss so I will make the decision. Haha, I am only joking. Yes, it is very hard to put one’s idea into other people’s shoes, and sometimes right or wrong isn’t that obvious in costume design.  In the 3-dimensional set, everybody sees a different angle, and it comes out that design and thinking can be totally different. Even I am at this age,  I am stilling learning from others, and see, it is just a process of fitting everybody’s creativity in a big box can come out with the best mixture. One of my young employers, who is very talented in fashion design, and he is learning to adapt to this team collaboration, especially in set production of different circumstances.

Amy: Thank you so much for such an enlightening answer. I have learned a lesson!

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