So excited to share our exclusive behind the scenes visit to Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. plus info on tonight’s episode!
During the #AvengersEvent we were whisked away to the set of Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for exclusive interviews with the cast, a tour of the set and we had the chance to talk with Costume director Ann Foley.
While I can’t tell you where the set is located I can show you some cool pictures from our visit.
Photo credit – ABC/Adam Taylor
We had the chance to sit on the Quinjet for a photo. What is really fun is this is the second time I have been on the Quinjet. The first time was during our visit to the Captain America set a few years ago. I love that the same props and equipment are carried from one Marvel production to the next. The ongoing story lines are one of my favorite parts of the Marvel franchise.
Photo credit – ABC/Adam Taylor
We held a very important meeting at Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.S. office…so top secret even I can’t share what we all talked about 🙂
Photo credit – ABC/Adam Taylor
During our tour one of the things I was really glad we had with us was a guide. The set is a maze that we really needed help getting through. Every time you turn around there is another cool site from the show. We were so excited to stop for photos around the set.
One of the highlights of our visit was meeting with Ann Foley and learning about the costume closet. Here is a part of our interview
Question ~Can you explain what a costume closet is?
A closet, the working closet is where I pull their clothes for each episode. So what we do is I have a little closet that I use for all my fittings, for each and every episode. And in my vision board over there, these are ideas that I had at the beginning of last season that I used to show the producers and even the cast of where we were going with each one of them, so that we could create six really strong identifiable characters.
As we walked through the set Ann explained the clothes that lined the building.
So over here, along this wall, what we have are everybody’s permanent closets, so a lot of this is the stuff, the clothes from last season, and some things from the current season that have already been shot. So here’s Mockingbird, her coats from, the first time we met her. Which was a fabulous, custom-made piece that we did. But there she is. Hunter is in here as well, and his fabulous, his leather jackets that he that he’s been wearing. Hunter’s fabulous jackets. Then on the other side I have all the stock that we use to dress the background. It’s just like a permanent working stock, budget suits for my S.H.I.E.L.D. agents…
Do you have measurements for everyone that comes in? Do you know the sizes?
Yeah, we get their sizes and then we pull clothes specifically to them. Definitely for the cast. Any day players that come in, everybody gets, I get their sizes, everybody comes in for a fitting. Every single person on the show pretty much, whether they have one line or they have a big arc, they come in and I dress them all.
At this point we were at the back of the Costume Building…
So this is my workroom back here, and this is where we do build a lot of the costumes for the show.
So what I was saying is this is my workshop. This is where we build a lot of the costumes on the show, and I have a few of the costumes up on mannequins that we’ve made here in-house, one being Raina, the girl in the flower dress. She’s probably one of my favorite characters. We actually print that fabric and then we make each one of our dresses. And what we did with her is I really worked with the writers and we sort of went into her head, and depending on where her , you know, head was in that episode, that’s, you know, we tried to choose that color wisely.
So they’re all 100 percent custom made and those, that’s special to our show. Ah, and then that’s Ming’s silver sequin dress, which I think you guys remember from earlier in the season, that we made that in-house, too, which was so much fun. It was so much fun putting her in that. And we had about a week to make five of those dresses. Those tiny sequins that you see on there, we were finding those sequins all over studio. They were everywhere.
Why did you have to make five of them?
We made five because Ming was fighting herself, or May was fighting herself in the episode, so we had one beautiful one for May, then we had one that she could fight in, so we sewed stretch panels inside so she could fight and do all of her movement. She had two stunt doubles and then Agent 33 was in one as well. Yeah, so that was a lot. And then we have Skye’s new tactical outfit for this season, and the hood piece up there is her custom made.
Then of course Mockingbird, which I think you guys have all seen her. So that’s probably, again, that’s another one of my favorites this season as well. And of course here’s some illustrations that we have. My fabulous illustrator, Phillip Boutte, who I’ve been working with on both seasons and, here’s the latest and the greatest, which is our friend Deathlok, who you guys saw on Tuesday nights. And I wish I could have put him up, but he is not available to be put up yet.
What percentage of the costumes are custom made?
Well, that’s a good question. It depends on the episode.
How many outfits average in an episode?
That depends on the cast involved. Sometimes, we have up to 38 people in the show that we’re outfitting. The episode with Ming and the dress, that was, our cast was, I think was about 38. And then we’re doing the multiples on top of it, so it varies.
For an established comic book characters like Mockingbird and Deathlok, how much inspiration comes from the comic book and how much comes from just your own inspiration?
Well, a bunch. I mean, I always go to the source material, because I think it’s important. I mean, these are established characters in the MCU and I want to respect that. So, but at the same time, it’s about bringing them into our world and making it believable for the world of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. So, it’s always a little bit of a balance.
Have there been any characters that have been especially challenging?
Everyone has, you know, there’s always, there’s always gonna be a challenge, even if they’re in street clothes. but I never really look at it as a challenge. It’s always, it’s just another aspect of it. I love building costumes. I love shopping them as well. So I have, you know, I’ve been very lucky in my assistant designer career. I’ve worked on some amazing films that, that’s all we did was build. We were in completely different worlds. And so it just kind of second nature to me.
How much lead time do you get? Actors may not know what coming up until the episode before, but costume is different?
Mockingbird, I got about two months, same with Deathlok. Ming in the silver dress, about 10 days. Yeah.
What considerations do you have to take for stunt doubles, fighters, and things like that?
That’s one of the most important things to me for the, in the show, is I always take the actors considerations into account when we’re building. They have to be able to do their stunts. They have to be able to fight. They have to be able to move really freely, do high kicks. And I mean with the, with the dress, the challenge was making sure Ming could punch, so she could move so that nothing would pull here, and she could flip over a table. So you don’t ever want the costume to get in the way.
And even with Deathlok, his costume is made out of the base of it is stretch, like a four-way stretch, very similar to what Mockingbird’s is made out of. So it’s a four-way stretch, and I print on top of it. It’s an ink, so the costume still moves with the actor, and that’s super, super, super important.
What kind of system do you have when you need to find a few pieces for each character?
Well, I have some fabulous shoppers on the show. And also I am a big online shopper. I’m gonna give a big shout out to Shopbop and Net-A-Porter and Mr. Porter.
Talk about the job of shopper.
To shop, shop all day long. Yeah, and it’s great, because, I mean we know the characters now, and I think the bigger challenge was at the end of last season and starting, and this season when we started going darker and edgier, was trying to find that, you know, idea of all of the characters, I mean for example Elizabeth Simmons, to me is probably one of the more challenging characters to shop for on the show because she is eclectic.
So it will be one piece from this store, one piece from that store, you know, and, and it’s just about styling her and bringing her together without any of them getting, going over the top, ’cause it, the challenge for me, I guess, going back to your original question is keeping it believable, keeping it real, and not having it be over the top. And, you know, people getting distracted by what the cast is wearing.
Who is the easiest to dress?
Who’s the easiest? I don’t know. I mean they’re all pretty, I think at this point, I know them all so well that none of them are particularly hard, it’s not that, not that hard. Yeah. I mean, I guess the harder part is maybe finding those pieces that, you know, identify each character, because I can be a little, if you ask my shoppers, I can be a little picky. They’d probably be able to answer that question better than me.
Coulson is so identified by his suit and his armor. When he’s out of it, you have to decide if he’s in an attack vest or something else.
That’s very true. I mean, and that’s the fun part, well, that’s fun, too, because, you know, Coulson is always in a suit, when I get to get him out of the suit, it’s funny because Twitter loves it. They love seeing Coulson undercover. I think that’s probably one of the most fun things for me, is when I get those episodes and everyone’s under cover. I mean, I only had, you know, a short lead time on that dress, but it’s so much fun.
And sometimes it makes me laugh. Last season, when Coulson and May went undercover as Fitzsimmons, I mean, probably the best fittings I’ve ever had in my life because Elizabeth has a very specific way of standing in her fittings, and Ming did that in the fitting photos for the cast. And I you could hear her laughing across the studio. It was wonderful. I was really fun.
Do you have a hard time shopping for yourself?
Oh, no. [LAUGHING,] If you see my, if you see my twitter handle, you’ll see it. It says shop-aholic. Yeah.
What is your Twitter handle?
Do you come home with things for the show when you’re shopping for yourself?
Well, I’ve been shopping for so long as a costumer and assistant designer, I will always say I’ve always been guilty of like yes, I will go to Barney’s and it’s like oh, this is for the show. Oh, I need one of those, too. I try not to do that, otherwise I, you know, I’d be like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. I can’t buy my apartment when it goes condo, but I have a fabulous closet.
Are you wondering what’s coming up on tonight’s episode?
WAR TEARS SKYE APART, ON “MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.” ON ABC
Edward James Olmos Guest Stars as Robert Gonzales
“Scars” – Skye is torn between her loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. and her connection to the Inhumans as tensions rise between the groups — and Coulson reveals a secret he’s been hiding from even those closest to him, on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” TUESDAY, MAY 5 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stars Clark Gregg as Director Phil Coulson, Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet as Agent Skye, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons, Nick Blood as Lance Hunter and Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse.
Guest starring are Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie, Ruth Negga as Raina, Patton Oswalt as Sam/Billy Koenig, Kyle Maclachlan as Cal, Edward James Olmos as Robert Gonzales, Jamie Harris as Gordon, Christine Adams as Agent Weaver, Mark Allan Stewart as Agent Oliver, Maya Stojan as Kara/Agent 33, Dichen Lachman as Jiaying, Luke Mitchell as Lincoln Campbell, Alicia Vela-Bailey as Alisha, David Douglas as Michael and Crystal Coney as scientist.
”Scars” was written by Rafe Judkins & Lauren LeFranc and directed by Bobby Roth.