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HomeAwardsContender - Costume Designer Janty Yates, The Martian

Contender – Costume Designer Janty Yates, The Martian

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The Martian
The Martian
Costume designer Janty Yates was particularly excited to be a part of Ridley Scott‘s The Martian, about an astronaut, Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who is left stranded on Mars by his crew after a manned mission. Yates, who is known for her work on Prometheus (2012), American Gangster (2007) and Gladiator (2000), the latter for which she won an Academy Award, was drawn into the passionate and humorous script of one man’s fight for survival and eagerly got on board to work with longtime collaborator Scott on this story.

Yates began her research by turning to NASA who opened its doors to accommodate her and her team. She thought initially that she could just use a NASA designed suit. It turned out though that for practical reasons, the suits they had didn’t work out for the film. “One looks just like Buzz Lightyear and the other is a big grey thing and both of the helmets come down to the shoulder point. You couldn’t see the actors moving or their heads and ironically, it was back to the drawing board after doing all that research,” she said.

From there, it came down to designing a suit with a helmet shaped in a way so that the actor’s eyes and emotions could still be seen. “We knew that we had to have a big visor and a big dome and that, combined with a linear effect of something that was not puffy.”

THE MARTIANThere were many technical challenges in the costume design, especially when it came to the helmet. One example of this is the meticulous design of the visor on the helmet. To keep reflections from obscuring the actor’s expressions, there could not be any flaw or ripple in the glass of the visor. The glass was sent to a company who went through 40 attempts on the glass before it was perfected. Another detail that had to be sorted out was the breathing apparatus. “There are two fans in each helmet and they are powered by battery pack in the backpack so the actors could breathe. We tried to avoid condescension,” Yates said. Lastly 1,000 LEDs were used to light up the helmet.

Yates’ favorite memory from working on the film is when she did the first fitting for Matt Damon. She and her team had been working hard on the suit for months and it was the moment of the big reveal. “He was my guinea pig. We had not fitted an extra or anybody else in the suits. And he absolutely loved it. That was a very happy time and a huge compliment that he loved the suit. That meant four months of work had been a success,” the costume designer said.

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