A behind-the-scenes glance at our alumni
Interviewed by Allen Lee Hughes. This month: Malgosia Turzanska ‘09
What are you currently doing in your life and career that you are proud of?
I’ve loved most of the projects I’ve been involved in, so I am proud of all of them, if not because of costumes, then because of the amazing acting, or superb script. Right now, it’s really gratifying to see Hell or High Water and Stranger Things get acknowledged during the awards season. But I just wrapped a pilot in New Mexico that I’m extremely proud of. Texas in 1868, Comanches, suffragettes and US cavalry — it was just such a blast. Also, I jumped out of a plane with a parachute this past year — definitely proud of that!
You graduated in 2009 and your career has been very productive. What secrets, principles, talents, assistance, and support do you feel have made you so successful?
I feel I’ve been extremely lucky, and one job just led to another and to another. I have an incredible team that I fight to bring with me wherever I go, and a wonderful husband who is always encouraging me to go further. He’s a cinematographer, so we spend a lot of time apart, but he’s amazing and willing to travel to remote locations so we can see each other. I really hope to work with him more in the future, so we can be in the same place for a little bit longer!
Where were you born and raised and how do you think that has affected you?
I was born in Krakow, Poland the same year that the Solidarity movement was formed, almost ten years before the fall of communism, so my childhood was deeply steeped in that era. My friends make fun of me that I only had sticks and stones to play with, but truth is there really wasn't much around, and what was available was devoid of color and quality. Watching my mom altering hand-me-downs, making vests out of sofa pillows and sofa pillows out of old skirts has definitely had a huge impact on me. When I was 11 we moved to the United Arab Emirates for a few years, and the abundance and variety of available clothes, toys, cereal and everything else was completely shocking. I feel like having the two experiences to compare side is a huge treasure I can draw upon and I'm very grateful for it.
How are you currently involved with the department? Are there any ways that you would like to be more involved?
I’d love to be more involved. Susan reached out to me recently about coming in totally about design and westerns, and I really hope it works out!
Do you have an anecdote that you think current students and faculty would find amusing or learn from?
I played Constance Hoffman in a holiday skit once, rolling a suitcase back and forth and saying “bye” a second after saying “hello”, and now, I haven’t been home for almost six months and will not be there for a good couple of months more… But Constance is still my hero!
What moment(s) of your career are you most proud of?
I’m proud that I’m continuously excited about what’s to come! Hopefully that will never change.
When did you get interested in FILM and how?
I love film as a storytelling device, and it’s always been that way. It’s a combination of literature and art. And mainly, watching a great movie is like making an impossible memory.
What or who were your influences?
Ann Roth, who just keeps on going and going, Jenny Beavan for her amazing work and for rocking jeans to the Oscars and thus changing the ceremony forever— the gowns will never look the same! Sandy Powell, for a lethal combination of brains and beauty, and Eiko Ishioka, whose design still stands strong, even years after her passing. There’s so many incredible people around that the list of influences keeps growing!
As you design and meet the challenges of being a freelance artist, are there any voices that you particularly hear from the aggregation of voices?
There have been too many amazing teachers to mention, but Constance has definitely been a huge influence. She would totally see through my b-shit and would push me further than I’d assume I could go, only to make me realize I’m nowhere near where I actually should be going! And same goes for Maggie Raywood— I learned so much from her! Extremely grateful. And then, of course, Sal Tagliarino’s “contrast equals interest” quote — ringing forever in my head.
From outside of school:
My Mom and her “This is not the time for jello in your knees” saying — encouraging in the most “behind the iron curtain” way. Love it.
Are there any challenges and/or rewards that you feel costume designers have that are different ones that other designers may have?
Rewards-wise, to see your work reproduced in the form of Halloween costumes — it is definitely a crazy feeling! And not unpleasant at all!
And challenges - we have to remember that the costume sketches are just that, sketches, and that there’s an actual living, breathing human that needs to inhabit them, and that they have feelings, comfort levels and opinions. That we’re there to serve the story and not to make our sketches come to life.
What are some of your other interests in life?
I love home improvements! Building shelves is my way of dealing with post project blues. And traveling! Films have taken me to really gorgeous places, but I want go to Peru or to Mongolia this coming year, not for work but just for pleasure.
What was your favorite snack that your assistant brought to you during tech?
I don’t like sweets very much, so one time during a shoot lovely Assistant Designer, Lou, made me a birthday cake made of cheese, arugula, avocado and hot sauce. That definitely takes the cake!
Do you have any final thoughts?
One thing I wish I had done was to PA in the costume department of a movie or a TV show before starting school or during the summer holidays. I think combining the Tisch education with the practical side of movie making would be a perfect mix.