Behind the scenes of Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D!!
WOW!! I had no idea what all goes into filming a TV show. This is understandable considering the fact that I am a full time accountant and a part time blogger. That is why I was so excited to see how things work, what goes on behind the scenes and throwing in a guided tour of the costume department was the cherry on top. I am so excited to share this experience with you all.
We arrived at the set of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, its location will remain a secret, we received security clearance, got wrist bands and our bus drove in. I felt like a kid going on their first field trip, except this was so much cooler than the museum or reptile park.
We got off the bus and were lead to our first stop, where we would interview Clark Gregg – “Phil Coulson”, Ming-Na Wen – “Melinda May”, Co-Creator & Executive Producer Jed Whedon and Executive Producer Jeff Bell (make sure to come back next week to read all about those interviews). Of course I already posted about our interview with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D cast members Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Brett Dalton, Henry Simmons and Adrianne Palicki, click HERE to read it now.
Did I mention that this first stop just happened to be right next to Lola and the Quinjet? Take a look at this great picture that was taken of us sitting on the Quinjet. Yes that is me, on the right, first chair 🙂
After our interviews and pictures with cast members, including photos that were taken at Coulson’s desk (coming next week), we got to tour the more of the set. The lab that Simmons and Fitz work in, the bunker where Ward and some others have been held and we made a stop in their living room and kitchen area, if you look at the picture below – to the right of us is the kitchen and the left is the living room. In the picture you see 25 excited bloggers, all excited about the opportunity to explore the set. Yes it does appear that I have snuck my way into the front again, on the right 🙂
As a part of our behind the scenes tour we got to meet and interview Ann Foley – Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Costumer Designer. She was gracious enough to welcome us into her home away from home, AKA her office 🙂
She explained her vision boards to us – working closets of the entire cast. It was interesting to see what examples she had up for each character and where they come from. Then we got a chance to ask some questions as we moved through the costume department.
Can you explain what a 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.”
How awesome is it to have a job where you do a vision board as part of your job?
It was really fun, and a lot of this stuff was inspiration for season one. I have a few things up there for season two, and as most of you guys know, there was a big progression in the cast from season one towards the end and the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., we went a little darker and, you know, everybody grew up. So season two, it was a little darker. It was a little edgier. It was actually fun, it was kind of a nice change.”
As we moved through the costume department Ann continued to show us everyone’s ‘permanent’ closets with prior seasons clothes and some from the current season. Ann showed us Mockingbirds coats from the first time we met her. Explaining that it was a “fabulous, custom-made piece” that they did.
We were also shown the items used to dress the background, and Ann was asked, what kind of background do you have in a typical episode?
It depends. We could be shooting somewhere, you know, in Europe. Last year we had a really fabulous, probably one of my favorite episodes, was when we were in Russia and we did a little Russian bar. That was amazing. And so that’s what we do. We pull, you know, pull from my permanent stock .”
Do you have measurements for everyone that comes in? Do you know the sizes?
For specific background, yeah, we get their sizes and then we pull clothes specifically to them. And 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.”
We followed Ann back to her workshop; she showed us some costumes on mannequins. They were all costumes already used in prior episodes; take a look at the picture below.
One is 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 head was in that episode, we tried to choose that color wisely.
So they’re all 100 percent custom made and those, that’s special to our show.
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. 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.”
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, ah 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.”
“Then we have Skye’s new tactical outfit for this season, and the hood piece up there is 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.”
What percentage of the costumes are custom made?
Well, that’s a good question. Depends on the episode, I’ve never (guessed), I don’t know, maybe 30 percent, I guess. It could be higher than that, but I don’t want to, I’ll skew lower. It does feel like we’re making a lot of stuff back here and I love to do that. It just depends on the needs of the character, ’cause sometimes you just can’t find it at Bloomingdale’s.”
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. 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.”
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.”
Who is the easiest to dress?
Let’s see. Who’s the easiest? I don’t know. I mean, they all, they’re all pretty, I think at this point I know them all so well that none of them are particularly 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.”
You can follow Ann on Twitter at @AFoley24.
After meeting with Ann, we had an opportunity to watch a scene be filmed. Let me tell you, there is a LOT of waiting around. Lots of people doing a lot of things ‘behind the scenes’ but when you don’t know what exaclty is going on it results in a lot of waiting 😉 . We were lucky though, our waiting resulted in us having the opportunity to meet Chloe Bennet who plays Skye. They were waiting too, ok Skye was having her costume/props fixed. She was extremely friendly and open to chatting with us, fielding a couple questions.
After being treated to some snacks and our quick meet and greet with Chloe we were given headphones to be able to watch a scene, from the season finale be filmed. We also watched a spoiler be filmed, but don’t worry, I won’t ruin anything for you – you’ll know next week along with everyone else.
Overall, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon. It was truly such a treat to get this behind the scenes insight into a TV show that we all grown to love. Remember to tune in to MARVEL’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Tuesdays (TONIGHT) at 9/8C on ABC.
Disclosure: Disney provided me with an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles including travel, accommodations and activities. All thoughts and opinions are my own.