IFH 536: How to Production Design for Ridley Scott with Oscar® Winner Janty Yates



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Today on the show we have Oscars® winning costume designer Janty Yates.

Janty Yates has had a collaborative relationship with Ridley Scott since the great success of Gladiator in 2000, for which she won an Academy Award®, one of the eight Oscars® garnered by the film.

She was also nominated for a BAFTA, a Golden Satellite and a Saturn Award. She has also had CDG nominations for De-lovely and for The Martian, a Golden Satellite nomination for De-lovely and a Goya nomination for Kingdom of Heaven.

Yates is a frequent collaborator with Scott, having worked on thirteen films with him in addition to Gladiator, including: Hannibal (2001); Kingdom of Heaven (2005); American Gangster (2007); Body of Lies (2008); Robin Hood (2010), for which she received a Saturn Award nomination and her fourth Satellite Award nomination; Prometheus (2012), Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014),  and The Martian (2015). Her most recent films with Scott include the epic historical drama film The Last Duel and the biographical crime drama film House of Gucci, both released in 2021.

The historical epic is a cinematic and thought-provoking drama set in the midst of the Hundred Years War that explores the ubiquitous power of men, the frailty of justice and the strength and courage of one woman willing to stand alone in the service of truth. Based on actual events, the film unravels long-held assumptions about France’s last sanctioned duel between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, two friends turned bitter rivals.

Carrouges is a respected knight known for his bravery and skill on the battlefield. Le Gris is a Norman squire whose intelligence and eloquence make him one of the most admired nobles in court. When Carrouges’ wife, Marguerite, is viciously assaulted by Le Gris, a charge he denies, she refuses to stay silent, stepping forward to accuse her attacker, an act of bravery and defiance that puts her life in jeopardy.

The ensuing trial by combat, a grueling duel to the death, places the fate of all three in God’s hands. The film is based on Eric Jager’s book “The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France.”

It is produced and directed by Ridley Scott, Kevin J. Walsh (“Manchester by the Sea”), Jennifer Fox (“Nightcrawler”), Nicole Holofcener, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck with Kevin Halloran (“Ford v Ferrari”), Drew Vinton (“Promised Land”), Madison Ainley (“Justice League”) serving as executive producers.

You can watch The Last Duel through popular video-on-demand (VOD) retailers like Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Apple TV (iTunes), Microsoft Movies, and YouTube.

Enjoy my conversation with Janty Yates. 

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
This episode is brought to you by Indie Film Hustle Academy, where filmmakers and screenwriters go to learn from Top Hollywood Industry Professionals. Learn more at ifhacademy.com. I'd like to welcome to the show Janty Yates, How are you doing Janty?

Janty Yates 0:15
Hi, how nice of you to invite me. I'm very honored.

Alex Ferrari 0:19
Thank you. I'm honored to have you on the show. As I was telling you earlier, I think you are the officially first costume designer we've ever had on the show, and a heck of a costume designer. To do that with after almost 500 episodes of the of the of the show. I am I am honored to speak to someone of your caliber, and artistic skill because I've been a fan of your work for a long time. Probably the first the first time, of course, I recognized your name was in Gladiator a few years ago.

Janty Yates 0:54
I'm extremely doubly honored now to find that I'm the first to thank you so much. And thank you so much for your compliments as well.

Alex Ferrari 1:04
So so how did you get started in the business? What made you want to jump into this insanity that is the show business?

Janty Yates 1:12
Oh, hell, yes. I couldn't agree with you more. It really is insane. But I started making clothes when I was like 10 or 11. And I never stopped. And I just went off to college. And I did pattern cutting dress design, dressmaking. And I started off thinking I would break the fashion industry. And that was not going to happen. And I started with wholesale fashion manufacturers. And that was just not my cup of tea. I was not the inspirational Alexander McQueen or John Galliano, I didn't sleep under my cutting table to produce eight perfect outfits, I realized that I didn't have that sort of quality. And also you have to be extremely well funded, unless you do sleep on your cutting table. And so I then was living with an editor, Martin Smith, who basically steered me into the world of commercials. And I knew nobody in commercials. And I was just literally putting myself out there with friends of his and working for no money being an assistants assistant assistant, and just learning one's way around and happy to work just for no money. I do have to say my boyfriend did subsidize me for the first six months, which is pretty nice of him.

Alex Ferrari 2:53
Now, was there a film that kind of lit the flame of you wanting to jump into the future world?

Janty Yates 3:01
Oh, no, listen, I was I could have done commercials all my life, I would have been so happy working with different directors, you know, three or four days or a fortnight or three weeks. I was so gobsmacked when I was offered just a half hour film for television. And that was because the costume designer who was doing it was ill. So it was by default, in fact. And so it just I was clambering up this Dickie scope, I think recall it. Basically, I then did a lot of television, a lot of television series. And then did my first feature in mid 80s. I think that was was probably my budget was really what I'd spend on a good dinner now.

Alex Ferrari 4:08
Times the times have definitely have changed. Yeah, I mean, working in the commercial world, when especially during those years, when there were budgets, like major budgets, that I mean, oh my god, they were massive budgets that you had so much fun. I can only imagine what a department like costume would have with a budget like that even on a commercial.

Janty Yates 4:31
Well, commercials are like mini films. And basically it's like, I want this sky blue pink suit on this man. And we're shooting on Monday, and it's Friday. You know, it's that sort of hairiness and so I was kind of quite glad to leave that behind after X amount. Oh, I've got six weeks to do this film How marvelous films I did

Alex Ferrari 5:05
So when you were working with so can you tell the audience a little bit about what a costume designer does? You know, because I think there is a lot of miscommunication. A lot of misunderstandings about what you actually do?

Janty Yates 5:19
Well, yes, we dress everybody on set, literally, from the socks upwards. And whether it's contemporary, or period, or space, science fiction, we do it from beginning to end, unless it's such a low budget that they've said, the director said, they can come in their own clothes. And then you know, you always, always do all the actors, all the main actors, it's only background that you'd let go on a on a low budget crowd seen that they, you know, and then they'd say, Well do we don't want red, and we don't want yellow. And we don't want primary colors, or we only want red, and yellow, and blue, and primary colors. Usually, they'll say that, when they've all come in beige. But a bigger film, then you get more chance to, to construct, and you have more time to do the research, which could be upwards of a month or six weeks of research. And then basically you start your cutter, and he or she cuts and you make prototypes, then your actor is with you for your first fitting, then you take photos, and the director throws it all out, or doesn't make sense. If you got your brief from your director, so I'm talking, you know, basically, everybody from leads number 12345 and six, right through we have about 185 actors on this film I'm doing at the moment. But they're possibly, you know, just one will be saying nominee parties, you know, and it's one outfit, but they're all all costumed by us. It's responsibility

Alex Ferrari 7:28
Oh, I can I can only imagine. And then it also is all themed. Do you have a whole kind of idea? I mean, obviously, depending on I mean, if it's like in the Martian when you worked on, obviously, there's the Martian costumes, and then there's the back and NASA costumes. So they're not to get but you there is a color theme. There is a general theme throughout throughout the movie itself, because even in some of the I mean, if you look at something like Gladiator, there's definitely a theme within all of the costumes that you've created. Because you could have gone one way or you could have gone another way with with theme of things. So it is all kind of cohesive. If I'm not if I'm not mistaken, correct.

Janty Yates 8:12
We always have basically, we always have a big meeting with the DOP, who at the moment is Doris Wolski, with Arthur Mac's the production designer, and with Ridley, and he will set the tone because he's a painter. And he was at art college for seven years, he went to the Slade and Royal College of Art. And he goes down to his heart at the bottom of the garden a Christmas and he just paints which is wonderful. My whole room is papered with storyboards, which he does ad infinitum on every film so you know exactly what's in his brain. And basically, you have to really go by storyboards because he's got a complete vision, a total vision, and basically no, having said no red, you know, reds, yellows and blues, nothing primary is really he's because he's a painter. He loves. He loves old masters, he loves the feel of a painting. And so it's that you veer to the feel of a master a bridle or you know, a George La Tour, you know, you will you will go to that direction, rather than just here it is the red dress or you know, here it is the blue dress. So, a lot of it is guided by Ridley we just talk along.

Alex Ferrari 9:56
Now, how did you meet Ridley Scott and how did you guys become The collaborators that you've had, because you've done a couple movies with him at this point,

Janty Yates 10:03
One or two, only as good as your last movie, so never assume. Never, ever assume, frankly, you know, I basically was doing a film with his son called Plunkett and McLean, which we thought was the most fabulous movie, and I still believe it is the most fabulous movie. And he come in, and he says, Oh, my dad was watching rushes the weekend, when I've had a huge hero worship of Sir Ridley Scott for decades, and decades, decades, and I guess I'm sure he's not, you know, I never really believed Jake. And because there was, you know, he was in LA and Jake, and we were all shooting in Prague. I thought, Oh, sure. He hasn't seen them. You know, this was back in 98. However, he did, and he he stole from Jake, the makeup artist. Me the Steadicam operator, and the second second second unit director. So there off the top was it Jake is a great commercial Jake is a very, very lovely and very creative guy. And he never minded he wasn't making movie after movie like as well there was he was quite happy

Alex Ferrari 11:34
So that's so that's how you guys got together. And it was was your first collaboration with Ridley Gladiator?

Janty Yates 11:43
Oh, no.

Alex Ferrari 11:45
You did that. You did a couple movies before that, right?

Janty Yates 11:48
No, no. No. Why me? You know, how blessed was I? It was it was incredible. You know, just the fact that we were making tunics down to the needs look like Scottish kilts. I was running around the helmets that we had. I was making sure that the brims are they're not they're actually hit blockers that they were on the end on the edge of the helmet to look like a baseball cap, right. And they just really trying to make them look cool. Rather than you know, if you look at Trojans column, which is the best place for research actually just standing in front of this column, it has acres of legionaries just marching round it all carved beautifully. And they all have short skirts they all had. They just didn't really it didn't really work. So we just cheated a little bit on their on their legionary uniforms.

Alex Ferrari 12:54
I mean, because I'm in that film alone, you had I mean, between the iconic now Gladiator. You had these multiple gladiator characters who had a very distinct look like that silver with the the Teardrop of Oh, my God. Yeah, all of those amazing costumes. And you also had the legionnaires. And you also so it's like, almost two completely different worlds. And then you have the commoners and the peasants. And this is your first big movie at this point. Correct?

Janty Yates 13:25
Completely. And I really was guided through it by my supervisor, Rosemary Barrows. And, you know, I didn't know where to go. We interviewed so many different specialists effects costume makers, we you know, we luckily, prep was delayed because of some reason I can't remember. But we they grabbed us another month and a half, which was terrific. And we had we had the germ, the barbarians, the Germans, we had the Praetorian Guard to design. And you know, it was very, very exciting. It really was terrifying. I was every single day of that entire prep and shoot, it was terrifying.

Alex Ferrari 14:12
How do you how do you research a project? Like where do you find your inspiration for the individuals like from I mean, if something from like the gladiator to the Martian, like there said that's such an alien. There's so many different or brief Prometheus. There's so many there's so different. Where do you go to find inspiration per project, and how do you what's your process?

Janty Yates 14:35
In Gladiator you just walk around Rome, you know, because every single statue is either a legionary or it's Caesar. Or it's, you know, Augustus It's extraordinary. Obviously, books, huge amount of books, Ridley came up with the most wonderful inspiration For the crowd you wanted ALMA to Deema. Who painted? He was a late 19th. No, sorry, late. He was 19 Eight, not nine today to 1880 to 1910. He painted wonderful Roman scenes. And we used a lot of his paintings as inspiration. Obviously the British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, just museums that go go libraries, and artists, and roam, and then really the Martian. Ridley, briefed me that he wanted similar to Prometheus for Prometheus. He'd said, We want skinny suits, we want them to be body hugging. And we were ahead of the curve there. We, you know, there's been a lot of movies since which have nicked our ideas. But the great thing about The Martian spacesuit was that really, it was Ridley again, who just said, I want orange in it. I want it to be silver and orange, or gray and orange. So we just worked with that. And we just worked worked. And we added and we took away. And it was, you know, a whole host of trial and error until we came up with it. And the the helmets on Prometheus, they were a work of art, they had a seat recording for sound. We lit the actors, and we had 11 monitors with tech running on them constantly. Batteries at gogo just drove everyone mad replacing the batteries. And obviously they had to breathe. So we had to, you know, pump air into their, into their helmets, and also for not fogging up. So we were doing a lot of, you know, really quite broken ground. Excuse me ground breaking work on on this. Now maybe they did all CGI, but CGI was around. We just did it.

Alex Ferrari 17:19
Practical is practical. You know, there's something about practical human human beings can feel it. It's enhancing with visual effects, even in clothing, where there's capes and things like that and other things that they do in visual effects that can maybe add to but even then, you can't replicate. Even with as much amazing technologies we have today. It's hard to replicate reality.

Janty Yates 17:45
Yeah, and all these capes are usually on fishing wire.

Alex Ferrari 17:51
Right, exactly. Exactly.

Janty Yates 17:53
Two main I decide. I should screen obviously. pulling, pulling wondering exactly.

Alex Ferrari 18:03
Not none the most. That what you think about? Yeah, not what you think about you're like, oh, there's must be something high tech. It's fishing wire. It's fishing wire in a dude in the corner polling to generally generally to now. So you've worked with Ridley for for, you know, for the better part of two decades. Now. What is his approach to costume design? How does he approach? I mean, because we know he has a vision. I mean, all his films are so visual, and he does storyboard. He is an artist, a painter? How does he specifically approach the costuming of his characters within within the conflicts? Let's say the last duel is one of his latest films. How did he approach that?

Janty Yates 18:45
Well, he's very visual. He's very visual indeed. And he, he is a huge collaborator. And he will, you know, he will come up with ideas. He was the one that found the most wonderful effigy, which was still the front of his CQRS to make Adams battle armor. In actual fact, Adams battle armor, he just punches around in he doesn't really do much battling he's just, you know, it's just a peers. right hand man. And he, it was wonderful. It was gold circles on each breast and a gold circle in the middle of the grass. And really found that and so we went with it. You know, I basically I'm just a facilitator.

Alex Ferrari 19:42
There. Yeah. And it just basically, whatever really comes up with you're like, okay, and obviously it's a collaboration you're he's asking you for your ideas and your input, obviously, and how to put it all together. But I mean, imagining I mean, working with someone like Ridley Scott who is so specific, yeah, about his vision. During but there's still obviously room for collaboration. I mean, you obviously are throwing ideas at him. He's either batting them away or or agreeing with him.

Janty Yates 20:09
Absolutely. And, you know, we we do go backwards and forwards. But he, for example, he's done every single scene in this film that we're collaborating on at the moment in a store in a storyboard, and I noticed that he had Josephine, because we're doing Napolean in a red dress in a red setting. And so I questioned him on that. And he said, Yes, he wanted a red dress. Well, we were doing Josephine different colorway, but we made him the red dress. And that's fantastic. So, you know, you can never really tell, but basically, his storyboards are the Bible. They really are. But we always we always get together and work out the colors. I sat down with Arthur Mac's a week ago, and we went through all the sets. And I mean, we're shooting entirely on location that he always shows me through, says, Well, what do you think? Should we redo the drapes on this bed? And really won't necessarily have any input on that, but he will. You know, he'll comment if the drapes are wrong. And you know, he'll comment in time for them to make new ones. It's same for paste a bed.

Alex Ferrari 21:33
Right! He's, he's not gonna do it on the day of generally speaking,

Janty Yates 21:43
Generally speaking. I wouldn't know but I mean, he did this on Gucci, E. LG, I came running down with LG, she had this red dress that we'd made another red dress for, ironically, that we'd made for eight weeks, we'd been making the twile, fitting it, making it in the fabric, fitting it, fitting it again. And then we run down to the set. It's supposed to be when she meets Maritza, for the first time. And we're doing what's this? And I said, it's the red dress. And he won't see her legs. So we put her up on an apple box. And thank God, she brought her wonderful man from New York, who did the cutting because I would have just gone like, we took 18 inches off the hem of the dress to make it a nice legs dress. Oh, my hemming, nothing just like with five camera crews all standing around drumming their fingers. Chewing gum waiting for us.

Alex Ferrari 22:56
Oh, that must that. I mean, I can imagine that's a little bit a little bit of pressure, a little bit of stress

Janty Yates 23:01
Ohh no on his role with Ridley his called role was Ridley he'll say, he'll say something like on the in the court of Ramses the third, he'll go or is read again. Actually, he's he'll say everyone's in white and gold. And you know, there's lots of clerics and say, I don't I'd like something red. You're just about to shoot. On maybe there's 10 clerics. So it's roll with Ridley, you know,really.

Alex Ferrari 23:32
And you're and you're always locked and loaded, just in case, I'm assuming at this point in the game?

Janty Yates 23:38
Yes, of course. Haha.

Alex Ferrari 23:41
You figure it out. You figure it out. But that's what makes?

Janty Yates 23:44
I know, I know. You never know what he's going to come up with. What? Okay, right. I mean, I remember on the Martian, and Matt, Matt's just sitting in a park and 20 students jog past him. And he went, why haven't they got any baseball caps on? Okay, and as Sarah said, run the crew. And we were blocking a gaffer taping. I mean, that's just a day in the life of costume designer, blacking out the Nike signs, you know, just beanie hats. Yes, I'll have 10 of your beanie hats, camera crew for, you know,

Alex Ferrari 24:25

Janty Yates 24:28
Because it was supposed to be New York, or America really.

Alex Ferrari 24:32
Exactly. Now, can you talk a little bit about the power of color in the work that you do and the emotional attachment that we have with color? And you know what red kind of means what green kind of means? Or is it basically just whatever, you know, release feeling that day? Is there. I mean, obviously red has a very different distinction than blue or green and address. Can you talk a little bit about that for the audience?

Janty Yates 24:57
Well, he basically He only goes to red. Usually when it's involved with something quite personal, something fairly, maybe sexual, you know, it's sort of it's the naughty woman will wear red. And the reason that LG wore it was because she was kind of on the hunt, even though she was very innocent and young in that time, early, early days when she's seduces Maritza that night on the dance floor. And he's not very keen on brush colors is not keen on. On what's the word? When you can see them at night,

Alex Ferrari 25:50
Neon, neon loud.

Janty Yates 25:52
Exactly, exactly. He's not keen on those sort of colors. He prefers the colors of an old master. He loves grays, browns, beiges. He loves all those all those tones. That was navy blue, he loves blues of all colors. But it's all dependent on the setup, all dependent on you know, whether it's contemporary, or period, everything is pertinent to the set.

Alex Ferrari 26:24
Now on a film, like the last duel, which I just I just recently watched a few days ago. And, you know, I have to say there are very few directors left working inside the Hollywood system that can paint with a brush like Ridley does, that's given the resources to paint these large on large canvases, which are not based on a superhero, or a major IP or Harry Potter or something like that. I can probably count them on one hand, one or two hands, how many of these are left? What was it like working on last duel in this? I mean, if you've also worked in the kingdom of heaven, which is also a massive, medieval medieval part, how was it like working on and last? And how did you specifically question? How did you handle the mass amount of people and battle sequences and clothes? You know, costuming, all of those? What's the process?

Janty Yates 27:30
Yes, you basically you have a wonderful wardrobe supervisor who I have in Italy, and we get a lot of costumes from Italy. And they just look after the street. People. They look after the upper class, the middle class, obviously, the the battles where they had to be really in full armor. So that was, that was a problem. We rented a lot of armor, because we couldn't make for every single soldier, you know, there's no way we could afford that. Because it was bad enough, just getting the 12 or so for each of the, of the leads. So they basically they did work we had one or two, maybe five or six in actual metal, but most of it was urethane, which is you know, the go to fabric of making armor now. And so that was that taken care of the deal. They were all upper class along the the top most of them were actors. So we we designed them I mean, it's a very I could just drone on about it, you know, from where everybody everybody costume came from, you know, the king we had embroidered in Chalk Farm, North London, for example. And the queen, you know, everything I really could I could sort of write a book about where everything came from, you know,

Alex Ferrari 29:19
So so on on a project that big, you know, because most filmmakers listening to the show will never be able to play that kind of, you know, that kind of color palette is a very few people that can do that. What is the process of just literally the actual production process of clothing? On day one everyone's call time is five o'clock in the morning. Okay, we've got you know, 1500 extras 250 extras is everyone going through a tent and just basically almost like a assembly line, getting fitted for the for the background and things like that and maybe on a battle sequence. We're working to see on screen at one time, maybe 500 to you know, not 500 but 100 people at a time because I know a lot of my be added in post to make it look bigger. But I know from what I've read about Ridley, he likes to do as much in camera as possible. Is that correct?

Janty Yates 30:08
Yes, that's absolutely correct. And we fit them all in advance. So they all come in the day of shooting, they know exactly what they're wearing. There it is literally a production line, they come into us, they get dressed, they get then go on to hair and makeup, they go there. And then after they're out of hair and makeup, they go to the armor, let's say we're talking soldiers here. And also, there's a huge amount of stunts that are used now in in battles, because they're more useful, frankly, than just having extras who can ride. So they have their own tents they have, but there's exactly the same production. And the same with the civilians, they literally will come in maybe at three or four in the morning. Not quite as bad as Gladiator, which was 132 in the morning. But we had 3000 there.

Alex Ferrari 31:12
So was it was it really literally 3000 people that you guys had to

Janty Yates 31:16
Yeah, he had 3000 in Morocco. So one of the smaller battles. And then 3000 A day in Malta for the Colosseum for four weeks, I think.

Alex Ferrari 31:36
I can't I mean, I can't even comprehend on a production of that magnitude. That's just the people let alone feeding the people, let alone clothing people, let alone bathrooms.

Janty Yates 31:51
It's, it's a huge moving circus, you know, it really is. But we've always fitted them before we fit them, you know, upfront. And basically, they know what they're going to wear. They know what they've also visited hair and makeup before. So they know they're going to get a, you know, a shock of new hair or, you know, brows or, you know, great big bushy beard or whatever. And so they know all of that. And there's no surprises, really. And they know what arms because the armors always deal with, you know, however many there are 200 300 400 they deal with them, and they have them out, you know, when they're actually on set. As for feeding them and Lou stops, then you know this huge, great tents of catering honey wagon that go on as far as the eye can see.

Alex Ferrari 32:52
Basically no other productions are around you at that time. They basically have taken all the honey wagons. Yeah, exactly. Now, I mean, you've had the pleasure of collaborating with Ridley for the last, you know, couple a couple decades, you must have been on set multiple times watching him? Is there anything that you can see, because it takes a very special director to be able to orchestrate on such a large scale? You know, it, you know, really doesn't make private movies in a room? That's not he doesn't make the one location film. That's not what really does. What did you What do you see in working with him over these years? That is a skill set that he has, that allows him to continuously? Not only do this once every few years due to a year? It's insanity. How does he What does that thing you see?

Janty Yates 33:49
Yes, it is. It's just madness. He's a complete fiend for work. You know, I've spoken to him over Christmas. And he goes, No, I'm just going down to my shed to paint. You know, I can't bear this hanging around nothing to do. You know, he's an complete, he's a fantastic workaholic. But what I never, ever will understand is how he can position five cameras and be done. That's what I can't answer. I can watch him work. And I can see his brain working. And he's mapped it all out beforehand, every shot that he's going to shoot, which is extraordinary. I mean, that's extraordinary in itself. But the fact that he handles these five cameras, so commonly he in the DOP is Doris Wolski at the moment, you know, they just handled camera crews so gently and so you just put yourself there and you get this close up and you get the mid shot. You know, they just do it. I mean, x amount of times a day, and very often he'll feel Shirley because he's got everything in two tapes. He's a miracle worker, he really is.

Alex Ferrari 35:06
Yeah, I was gonna say, because to be able to shoot at that scale with that kind of Canvas, and with that kind of just humanity that you have to deal with sometimes, especially like on the last duel, or even out of Gucci, there's so many people you got to deal with. I've heard that he shoots five cameras at a time, that is a master as a master at work, be able, because to be able to light four or five cameras, be able to move and capture everything, he has to be able to move quickly to be able to efficiently to be able to work within these budgets, and he's working within.

Janty Yates 35:42
Well, absolutely. And I think Daris works, they work very well alongside each other. And they've got it down to a really, you know, a fast pace. And it's fantastic. And he moves on. He beats the schedule, sometimes.

Alex Ferrari 36:01
He's ahead of schedule, sometimes on some of the most massive projects going on in Hollywood.

Janty Yates 36:08
But he's confident in what he's got. That's the thing. It's amazing. I mean, that's what he wants.

Alex Ferrari 36:15
Right! Exactly. Because he's been I mean, he's gone to war so many times. I mean, he made his first feature, and at I think 40. But before that he had shot 5000 Commercials

Janty Yates 36:26
5000 Probably 6000. Exactly. He was a past master even before he shot, you know, the dualists his first feature.

Alex Ferrari 36:37
Yeah. It's remarkable. Now, all these years as you've been working, is there ever been a day and I have to believe there has been when there's a day on set where everything in your department, something has gone wrong? The world is coming crashing down around you. You're like, oh my god, how am I going to get out of this? And what was that moment? And what project if you can tell me? And how did you overcome it? Or does it happen every day?

Janty Yates 37:07
Every day. How a costume designer can just sit at their desk, and let everything go on around them. I'm on set all the time, because Ridley will come out with Well, we're going to have a couple of horses, can we just get a couple of Grooms and, you know, maybe a child on the back of the horse or something like that, you know, oh, okay, running off putting out fires all the time. You know, he's just, he's inspirational. He really is. And you've just got to roll with it. Because otherwise,

Alex Ferrari 37:44
You lose your mind.

Janty Yates 37:46
Yeah, but he doesn't. He doesn't get what he wants. So you're facilitating him? As much as you possibly can, you know, and I mean, he understands if you haven't got that sky blue pink suit, you know, over the weekend. That's fair enough. He understands that. But he's he's a very tight taskmaster. He keeps you on your toes. He but he inspires constantly. So what's not to love?

Alex Ferrari 38:17
And when you were so when you run that set of Gladiator, and that's your first big movie, which I can't believe you were thrown into the deep end of the pool at your first feature. I mean, you're basically working with a living.

Janty Yates 38:31
I did a lot of features before but never anything of that.

Alex Ferrari 38:36
Right! With Ridley Yeah, if you had worked on future

Janty Yates 38:40
Huge budget, huge. And then for it to have the success. Unbelievable. You know, it was extraordinary. But now I had done I have done some features before.

Alex Ferrari 38:54
No, no. Yeah, I know you've I've done yeah, but nothing at the scale of gladiator and being kind of tossed into your into the deep end with Ridley. I mean, I have to ask you, because I always love asking anybody who happens to win an Oscar, what's that all experience being in that hurricane? The center of the storm like that, being on your first big monster Hollywood film? What was it like?

Janty Yates 39:18
Well, it didn't belong to me the Oscar, she belonged to my entire team. She you know, had four different companies making armor. I had you know, even from the drivers for everybody in Morocco, everyone in in Malta, I think there are probably, you know, 200 people that that Oscar belong to, and my assistant and my supervisor. I didn't feel worthy of it, to be honest.

Alex Ferrari 39:49
Really, and it just kind of like it must be it must have been surreal. It must have been surreal.

Janty Yates 39:57
Well, it's like nothing else that whole weekend of completely feeling like a princess. And you know, I didn't. There's no way I was going to get it. You know, the fact that I got it, I was completely stunned and speechless. So that was, that was extraordinary. But I wanted to thank everybody, you know, I would have stayed up there for an hour, listing everybody's name because I didn't feel it belonged to me.

Alex Ferrari 40:30
Now, I have to ask you, you also worked on another film that just got released. Because really releases a movie a week apparently. House of Gucci. When I saw that, when I saw the trailer for that I was like, oh my god, the costume designer must have had a ball diving into the archives of Gucci of all companies. What was it? Like? How much fun did you have on that project?

Janty Yates 40:57
Had so much fun. It was great. And basically, they open the archive. But the archive was moving. And they were storing us we finally got to see the archive, there only about 20 outfits, but they allowed us to ship them over to LG. And she fit them all like a glove. They were fabulous. And we actually then this was October, we fit her kind of, I think in January in LA. And then basically, or maybe it was December anyway, it doesn't matter. Then they when we started shooting towards the end of February, they released them and we kept them in a strong room in the hotel. We were all bubbled in. And so we basically we knew that they fit and we knew that they look great. But Patrizia Reggiani didn't wear a lot of Gucci, because it was kind of a bit conservative. She liked Eve zanla Wrong. She loved Dior. She loved she Vaughn, she etc. So I was so lucky. I found two really. And they had the most wonderful archives. Also alamode and Ferrante. They had archives as well. But it was it couldn't see the other end of the room. It was just because I was thinking where am I going to find all of this costume that I need for LG because I had a cutter, and he was making the most wonderful stuff. But I needed the archive as well. And I found all of your all of Shivaji all of Eve Center at tirelli. It was amazing. Absolutely amazing. So I was very, very happy. And you know, LG would come into a fitting and she goes, that's what I'm going to wear when I meet or Axio. Or this is what I'd like because we all have all the stuff that we'd made as well. I my cutter started very early. And so we'd have a lot that was just punted to fit. And then we'd have to see.

Alex Ferrari 43:08
I mean, I mean, Lady Gaga is essentially a, essentially a fashion icon in her own right prior to being here. So I could only imagine having her almost as a collaborator, as well as going, Hey, I want that. I think this would be good. And let's ask Ridley

Janty Yates 43:25
She was great. She was so collaborative, and so happy to, but she would never ever wear the same outfit. She had 54 different outfits. She would always say right, that's it that's done and we'd pack it away with the earrings. With the three necklaces, with the bracelets with the brooches with the handbag, we'd pack it away and it would never be touched again.

Alex Ferrari 43:49
Wow, really? So sitting somewhere in a warehouse.

Janty Yates 43:53
No, it's actually in LA. Oh, it's over. I think MGM I think they have it the moment. But everything else. For example, the 40 suits I made for Adam and the 1520 seats. I made Frappuccino there at the moment in a warehouse in Rome because they're embargoed until the film has come out. Well now. Last week it came out so we'll be sending those all over to MGM. I guess.

Alex Ferrari 44:27
You're too busy on Napoleon right now think about things like this. Guess Yeah. Because normally you get you get a year off, you know, you know, between projects. So you're like, oh, maybe I get six months off. But I guess working with Ridley you don't get much breaks.

Janty Yates 44:42
Well, this has been extraordinary. You know, I think what happened? Because I knew about Gucci a year before we actually started it. And I was sent the script I went to the museum in Florence is beyond fantastic. It really is Gucci museum. And I went there, and I crewed up all my Italian crew. And then we didn't do it that year, because Matt brang Ridley, and said, Well, I've just written a script with Ben, would you like to shoot it? And he went, Yeah. Would you like shoot it now? Because we're all free? Yeah. So you know, that just came like a missile out of the blue.

Alex Ferrari 45:30
Again, the small little independent film that Matt wrote, Matt and Ben wrote that's the thing. It's like,

Janty Yates 45:38
Came along, you know,

Alex Ferrari 45:40
It wasn't a small little movie to like, sneak in between house of Gucci.

Janty Yates 45:46
Well, in point of fact, because COVID happened, right? There's six weeks in France in medieval France. And then we thought we were going to Ireland to shoot the rest of it. But no, we were all sent home from Ireland. So that

Alex Ferrari 46:05
Slowed things down

Janty Yates 46:06
A bit. Yeah. That was COVID. But MGM reached out to me and said, Would I like to do six to eight weeks on research and development of Gucci? During during a lockdown? Yes, please. Thank you. We did a huge amount of research. It was terrific.

Alex Ferrari 46:25
What it shows on that it shows on the on the screen that you had you would you have gotten that much time prep on a movie like Gucci? Or did was COVID allowed you a little extra time that you wouldn't have normally had?

Janty Yates 46:38
No, I think I'd have probably been asked to do research and development. Anyway, they might. But I had to get my cutter to start early. Because we were just Dancing in the Dark measurements wise, we haven't sure for everything up with LG. So thank goodness, the MGM head of physical production. said yes, he can start early. So I might have been just asked to do that research and development then. But who will never know we

Alex Ferrari 47:16
Never will never will look after COVID has changed everything for everybody on the planet. So it's will never there's a lot of will never notice of what if there's a lot of what ifs?

Janty Yates 47:28
No, I was I was working at a local food bank. And I was just happy to actually earn some money during lockdown. That was great.

Alex Ferrari 47:40

Janty Yates 47:43
I'm saying Alice that. Very happy to get my teeth into Gucci.

Alex Ferrari 47:49
That's fantastic. Now, what advice would you give a costume designer or that wants to kind of break in of someone who wants to get into your kind of line of work in the business?

Janty Yates 48:01
Well, I knew nobody. Absolutely nobody. And my partner at the time was an editor. And he said he pointed out you know, commercials and little films and things like that they all need costuming, I didn't really. I didn't know that knew. I mean that's how naive I was. But I had been to college and I had you know, done my time. So I basically worked for anybody who'd have me I did stills I did you know and assistants assistant assistant, working for no money, literally sort of you know, but she washing stockings and awning skirts and doing anything that they give me to do. And gradually I sometimes be asked back and given a small amount of money. So really it's get yourself a basic training. And persevere. Be as nice as you can because that helps that you get us back. Never seen no. Right All right. All always carry a notebook and if you can't think of anything to do on something

Alex Ferrari 49:20
No, that's so look busy is what you're saying if you keep busy. Wow, that Jan she looks she's working hard over there. We should bring on the next. No, now I'm going to ask you a few questions. I ask all my guests. What is the lesson that has taken you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Janty Yates 49:43
Well, I've trusted people terribly and made terrible choices. And I really still always believed the best of everyone. And I'm getting more and more cynical as I get into my Olden age, so, I think really, I would just say, you know, always give people the benefit of the doubt. But only three times.

Alex Ferrari 50:16
Wow, only three times. That's just once three times. So you're not that cynical yet. You're not that cynical yet. No. And what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Janty Yates 50:30
Oh, well, Lawrence, of course. Every Yeah, I just still, I watch it probably once a year. And love it, I will say loved Anna Karenina of that time with. And listen, there's another David Lean. Direct directorial. I love David Lean any of his work. The third one, I can't really think I'm just running through all the movies I've seen. There will be blood, possibly such. Yeah, that's such a Great Dane is who? Thomas Edison. Just all day? No, just amazing.

Alex Ferrari 51:23
Now, are there any projects that you would would aim someone interested in costume design to look at? Are there any films that you can go? Oh, if you want to get it? I know. It's a tough question. I know. She just made she if anyone just listening, she just gave me a look. It's anything that pops to the top of your head, you're like, you know what, these, these two or three movies are really great. But there's 1000 of them out there. But the things that may be synced to you personally?

Janty Yates 51:50
Well, it's very, very hard. I have to say that's why I was I was giving you the look of what there's so much out there. I really didn't think off the top of my head. I could pick anything to say, watch this and learn. Because I think you learn every day from everything you see. Every film, every movie that you watch, you just learn. And you know I could I honestly cannot think of three just off the off the cuff like that. I would have to email them to you. Hard, like, oh, but that's not fair on that one. That one.

Alex Ferrari 52:39
It's like putting a guest list together for a wedding. Well, if I invite this person to help them and then you got 500 people.

Janty Yates 52:48
Yeah, exactly. I'm sorry. I'm gonna Wiltshire's that one.

Alex Ferrari 52:54
Fair enough. Fair enough. Fair enough. Jessie, thank you so much for being on the show. It has been an absolute pleasure and honor speaking to you and please continue doing the amazing work you're doing with with all with every every project you work with and, and and with Ridley because we need. We need projects like the ones you're working on out there because it they're an endangered species in Hollywood. They really are. So thank you so much for the work you do.

Janty Yates 53:22
Well, thank you so much for talking to me. I've so enjoyed it. And really, it's all Ridley it's not me.


  • Janty Yates – IMDB


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