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Interview with Jamie Reed, Costume Supervisor for The Vast of Night

The Vast of Night recently premiered at Slamdance and won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative feature. Set in 1950s New Mexico, the filmfollows two teens as they uncover a secret frequency that reveals an otherworldly presence in their small town. You can read my review of it here.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Reed, the costume supervisor for The Vast of Night. I love how she curated a wardrobe that was authentic to the era and visually appealing to modern audiences. I hope you enjoy learning about her work and how she styled the actors in the film!


Raquel Stecher: Tell me a bit about your background in fashion. 

Jamie Reed: I’ve always had an interest in fashion but didn’t really consider a career until I was almost out of college. I went ahead and finished my Government and Legal Studies degree and put law school on hold (what I had originally planned) while I pursued some fashion interests. I initially considered a design program but decided to start a personal shopping and styling business to see how I liked it. I mostly worked with individual clients but started doing a little media work as well. Both of my brothers work in television and is occasionally help them on projects. Over the past 15 years I’ve worked as a stylist both full-time and part-time while working other jobs. I now consider it mostly part-time as I also run a women’s lifestyle magazine, Splendry

Stecher: Congrats on The Vast of Night which recently premiered at Slamdance. How did you come to be involved with the film?

Reed: I’ve known Andrew [Patterson], the director, since college and have worked with him on several other projects over the years. When he approached me about this film he assured me it would be a small project, but by the time shooting began it had definitely grown! It ended up being a really great project and one of the most creatively fulfilling experiences I’ve had in my career.

Stecher: With the 1950s setting, what did kind of research did you do before curating/designing the wardrobe?

Reed: I spent a couple of months just researching 1950s fashion before purchasing anything. My goal was to be as accurate as possible and I had definite guidelines for what I did and didn’t want. I pulled yearbooks and browsed old photos online. I wanted this to be a realistic depiction of small town dress at this time. Andrew had a few ideas for some characters and I would show him photos to get a feel for what he had in mind. We’ve worked together enough now that I typically know what he likes and when I do need to push him in a direction he trusts my instincts and usually gives me my way.

Stecher: Were the clothes used in the film vintage, new or a mix of both?

Reed: It was a mix. The lead characters played by Sierra [McCormick] and Jake [Horowitz] wore all new clothing. We needed multiples of their clothing so vintage wasn’t really an option. Piecing together 1950s looks with new clothing was a fun challenge. For other featured characters and extras it was a mix of vintage and new. I did a LOT of thrift store shopping, buying vintage pieces on Etsy, and my assistant on the movie, Michelle [Harvey], actually had a collection of vintage clothes that she shared with us. Many of the featured extras are in great pieces she owned.

Stecher: Did you find inspiration from any films from the era?

Reed: I can’t remember if what watched any films or not, I mostly stuck to finding yearbook photos and newspapers. I was wanting to approach the look of the movie from a small-town “regular people” perspective. I’m from a small town and I know that the fashion trends tend to make their way to town a little slower.

Stecher: The basketball game scene at the high school is really where we get to see the wide array of 1950s fashion in the film. How did you approach dressing the cast and extras for that scene?

Reed: Pulling off this scene was quite an organizational feat and I had several helpers who kept things running smoothly!

I started shopping for this scene months before shooting. I probably visited every Goodwill store in the Dallas/Fort Worth area at least once. Knowing we could have hundreds of extras to dress I needed to be prepared with lots of basics. For women I knew pencil skirts and cardigans were a safe bet so I grabbed as many as I could get my hands on. I also collected dozens and dozens of men’s dress pants and suit jackets.

Luckily the boys basketball uniforms were manufactured by an outside company so I really only needed to worry about cheerleading and band uniforms when it came to the specialty clothing.

While we alerted extras of dress suggestions, we still had hundreds who showed up needing clothing. With the time constraints to dress people we had eventually we had to stop pulling clothing and then I worked to place people in the stands so we could make sure to get the best overall image. We did the best we could with the time we had and I think it was executed well.

Stecher: Tell me about dressing the two leads. Sierra McCormick has a great ensemble and I love Jake Horowitz’s look especially with the cardigan.

Reed: I got lucky in the fact that the movie all takes place over one night, so just one outfit for each! Andrew [Patterson] had some ideas in mind and I worked to find a variety of items to try. Once Jake and Sierra arrived we had some try-on sessions before settling on the chosen outfits.

Once they were set I purchased multiples of all items, in case of wear and tear over the entire shoot.

Sierra’s look consisted of a full skirt with ribbon hem, a blouse (ordered from a school uniform company), and tied ribbon. The outfit was completed with ankle socks and classic oxford shoes.

For Jake, Andrew had an old photo of a 1950s DJ he was inspired by. Many months after shooting I realized the final outfit we chose was spot on to the photograph, down to the stripes on the cardigan! I’m pretty sure I found that cardigan at a Gap outlet store near where we were shooting in Texas.

Stecher: My favorite element of the costume design is those vintage eyeglasses McCormick, Horowitz and other members of the cast wear. How did you decide on that look?

Reed: The eyewear was actually part of the art department’s doing! We initially tried to order frames for some cast members but the vintage pairs the art department secured ending up looking the best. This was great for me because I didn’t need to keep up with any glasses during the shoot! All someone else’s responsibility!

Stecher: How do you think the wardrobe contributed to the overall film?
Reed: The wardrobe, along with the art department and hair and makeup definitely set the foundation for the film. My goal going into the project was to do my best to not distract from the film with inappropriate clothing. I wanted the viewer to be caught up in the acting and dialogue and not noticing a new pair of Nikes on some extra walking by or something like that. I wanted everything you saw on screen to be spot-on to that time. 
There are definitely some period films where fashion is front and center. You’ve got gorgeous gowns or specialty apparel, but for this particular film, the scenes needed to look so, normal, that you wouldn’t even notice most of the outfits. 
I knew this was going to be an ambitious project and I’m very fortunate to have had the backing of Andrew and others in the film to trust my research and shopping skills and let me go in and do what I do. I was also fortunate to have a great on-set assistant in Michelle Harvey, we made a great team. 
Stecher: Do you plans to work on more films in the future?
Reed: I hope I have some more opportunities. I love the work I do with Splendry, but my styling work and costume design is something I never want to give up. If the right projects come along I’m sure I’ll be ready. 

You can find Jamie Reed on her website JKStyle and on Twitter @JKStyle1. A big thanks to Jamie for taking the time for this interview!

Slamdance: The Vast of Night

“You are entering the realm of the clandestine and forgotten. A split screen caught between channels.”

Set in 1950s New Mexico, The Vast of Night follows two teens as they uncover a secret frequency that reveals an otherworldly presence in their small town. On the night of Cayuga High School’s basketball game, Everett (Jake Horowitz) the local radio DJ who has a knack for technologies, meets up with Fay (Sierra McCormick), a switchboard operator. Fay asks Everett to teach her how to use a tape recorder. Fay hears a strange noise coming from one of the phone lines and she captures the sound on tape. When Everett plays it on the air, the two learn that something is amiss in their community. Billy (Bruce Davis), a retired military worker and Mabel (Gail Cronauer), a homebound widow, both reach out to Everett with their stories of secret military experiments and extraterrestrials. Everett and Fay are on the run to uncover the truth behind these stories and why the aliens are targeting their hometown. 

Directed by Andrew Patterson and written by James Montague and Craig W. Sanger, The Vast of Night is a dialogue driven drama. Rapid-fire chatter mixed with slow, methodical storytelling drive the plot forward. Not much happens in the way of action and the story’s tension comes from increased paranoia and the uncovering of a supernatural mystery.

“The Vast of Night an exercise in people telling stories to each other. Drawing you in detail by detail.”

director Andrew Patterson

While the dialogue is key to the film, I found there to be too much of it. Cut away 25% of the chatter, especially in the beginning of the film, and I wouldn’t have felt like I was drowning in dialogue. The real appeal for me was the science fiction element with an emphasis on mid-20th century technology: radios, tape recorders, audio reels, switchboards, telephones, etc. There is also retrofuturistic vibe with the discussion of the year 2000 and “electronic highway control.” All the characters wear period appropriate clothing and vintage glasses. Some of the scenes are filtered through a blue-tinted television screen adding to the retro vibe. McCormick and Horowitz were convincing as the curious, technology loving and seemed plucked right out of the 1950s.

The Vast of Night will appeal to fans of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Twilight Zone. The heavy dialogue can be exhausting but if you have the patience to get through it you’ll be rewarded at the end.

The Vast of Night had its world premiere at Slamdance 25.

Jessica Pare in Brooklyn (2015)


This post is sponsored by DVD Netflix.

Brooklyn (2015) Poster

Stations: Historical Drama
Time Travel Destination: early 1950s Ireland and Brooklyn, NY
Conductor: John Crowley

I’m the daughter of immigrant parents. My father traveled across the Atlantic from Portugal to Brazil before heading north and settling in the United States. When he married my mom, he brought her from the tropical climes of the Dominican Republic to wintry New England. For both of my parents the adjustment to their new lives must have been difficult. But they had to leave everything and everyone they knew behind to start a new and better life. While their sacrifice was ultimately worth it, they left a big piece of themselves behind.


Based on the novel by Irish writer Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn (2015) tells the familiar story of immigration but through the lens of young woman in the early 1950s. We follow the story of Eilis (Soirse Ronan). She lives with her sister Rose (Fiona Glacott) and mother (Fiona Glascott) and works a thankless job at the local market under the management of the tough-nosed Miss Kelly (Brid Brennan). Her sister arranges with Father Glynn (Hugh Gormley) for Eilis to make the journey to Brooklyn, NY where a room, a job and the chance to go to school for book-keeping awaits her. The adjustment is more difficult than Eilis imagines. Soon she meets Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen), a young Italian man with an eye for Irish gals. They quickly fall in love and Eilis starts planting roots. When a major event happens back in Ireland and she travels back, she quickly settles back into her old life. Torn between her two homes, which one will Eilis chose?

Brooklyn is a story about what it means to leave your home and make a new one in a strange and far away new world. We see Eilis’s struggles; the long and difficult boat ride over the Atlantic, the crippling homesickness, prejudice, adjusting to a new lifestyle, new people and new work. There is a touching scene when Eilis helps Mrs. Keho (Julie Walters) and Father Glynn feed the poor and homeless of the community. Everyone in that room is Irish and there is a poignant sense of togetherness. One of the men stands up to sign an Irish song in the traditional Gaelic and I couldn’t help but shed a tear. There is a palpable sense of mourning for the lost country.

Brooklyn (2015)

This film is also a love story. It’s about the inherited love of one’s family and homeland but more deeply it’s about the joy of finding love in a new relationship. Eilis and Tony’s budding romance is so tender and sweet. It made me want to revisit those early days when I was falling in love with my husband. All those feelings are so new, so fresh and so electrified.


Brooklyn (2015)

Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn (2015)

Saoirse (pronounced Sur-sha) Ronan is mesmerizing in Brooklyn. She is so enigmatic and has such an inviting face that I couldn’t help but get lost in her beautiful eyes. Ronan reminds me very much of Ingrid Bergman. Both are incredible talented actresses but are also alluring on screen. Ronan is only 23 years old but already has an incredible resume including 3 Academy Award Nominations, including one for Brooklyn and another for her performance in last year’s Lady Bird.

This film has an eclectic mix of familiar faces and many relative unknowns. Fans of Mad Men will spot Jessica Pare who plays Miss Fortini, Eilis’ boss at the Brooklyn department store.

Jessica Pare in Brooklyn (2015)

Brooklyn (2015)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the exquisite detail that went into this period picture. Especially the costumes, oh the costumes. I wanted to steal practically every outfit costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux dressed Saoirse Ronan in. The palate is colorful and vibrant. The tones match the different seasons. Ireland and Brooklyn are steeped in rich hues which make the 1950s of both look like veritable dreamlands. It may not be the most realistic but for someone like me who revels in mid-century modern aesthetic, Brooklyn is a feast for the eyes.

I had one small quibble with Brooklyn. I felt like it took too long for us to fully appreciate why Eilis left Ireland for New York. Her situation didn’t seem dire enough for her to give up everything she knew for an opportunity with big unknowns. I wish that had been established a bit more early on in the story.

“One day the sun will come out. You might not even notice straight away it will be that faint. Then you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Someone whose only yours. And you’ll realize, that this is where your life is.”

DVD Netflix Brooklyn

Brooklyn (2015) is available to rent on DVD Netflix.


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