Part 2: Wardrobe Day
After receiving contact from the Production Assistant assigned to make my early arrangements (Sarah Rissmiller), I learned my costume fitting would take place at 1:30 p.m. at Paramount Studios on Sept. 23, 2004. As you can imagine I was pretty excited when I pulled up to the studio that afternoon for the first time. After driving by their beautiful and famous gates, I decided to circle the studios in my car to get a feel for the size of the facility and it was impressively large, the size of half-a-dozen large city blocks.
We’ve all seen the famous front gates of the Paramount Studios, so it was more than a little inspiring to pull through those gates in my car. After having them search my car rather extensively, I gave the guards my name and they immediately waved me through and pointed me toward the Star Trek wardrobe building and stages.
After parking my car, I got my bearings straight on the map of the studio the guards had given me. The parking lot was right in the middle of the lot, and the Trek stages were in the northeast corner. In walking toward the wardrobe building, I took in everything I could of the fascinating surroundings. A number of the stage doors were open and there was plenty of action in every direction: caterers, lighting people moving rigs, “StarWagons” everywhere serving as trailers for the stars, etc. It was an impressive array of activity.
After a short walk through a number of buildings, I found the wardrobe facility in one of the many similar looking buildings throughout the lot. The only posting that really marked the area was a small, tattered sign through some large bay doors that read “Star Trek Wardrobe” with an arrow pointing to the left. I entered the open doors and worked my way to the left and through a musty old garage-like setting, across a less than sturdy floor board and eventually emerged into a huge room that was obviously the home of all things Trek wardrobe.
The room had three well-used desks along one wall, dressing stalls, not unlike those at any department store, lined the long wall to my left. In the center of the room were obviously rows and rows and racks and racks of Star Trek uniforms. It was an impressive site. I would later find that along the far walls were the worktables for the incredible labor put into making all of the costumes.
As I stepped through the doors, there was a man on the phone at one desk and a woman behind him. I asked for Carol, my wardrobe contact, but she wasn’t there, so I stood around a little awkwardly for a few moments, admiring all things Trek that I could pick out on the walls: a few uniforms, a few signed photographs, some calendars, a couple of “Trek” labeled bikes in the corner (obviously for messenger deliveries around the studio).
After probably less than two minutes, a woman came in through the main entrance pushing a wardrobe rack and we made our introductions. It was Carol. A very nice woman, she led me to one of the wardrobe stalls that had been set up with a number of uniforms inside for me to try on. It was so much fun.
“For the Uniform”
When she took me into the room and I saw the uniforms hanging there, I was thrilled to see for the first time that I would be wearing a red-trimmed uniform, indicating security and engineering ranks. I, of course, was also interested to see what my rank would be and all the uniforms there were “non-comm” (for non-commissioned officers). I had been hoping for something like a Lieutenant ranking, but if “non-comm” is good enough Chief Miles O’Brien, it is good enough for me.
I actually had to go through four uniforms before they found one that worked. I’ve always had a problem finding the right clothes to fit my 6’1” frame because I have a long torso (but not long legs). That issue was exacerbated by the one-piece jumpsuits worn on Star Trek: Enterprise. The last uniform they tried on me was a good, tight fit, and Carol just had to take out a little length in the legs, which you can see in the photos from my fitting. She also mended a tear in the underarm and I was all set for the next day.
The uniform consisted of a black button up undershirt, again, a very snug fit, but comfortable, as well as zipper boots that were actually extremely comfy. The boots zippered on both sides and had a cool wrap around piece that attached with Velcro around the upper ankle for a nice sci-fi look. As for the suit itself, it was extremely difficult to pull up over my shoulders. When I say extremely difficult, I mean I was literally contorting my body and twisting every way possible to get my arms through the sleeves and then the suit over my shoulders. I am not a very limber person, and that was a painful experience (especially since I had a bit of a neck strain going into the weekend).
At one point in the middle of a uniform switch, a nice older lady working there (Phyllis) knocked on my stall, needing to receive something, and asked “If I was decent,” and I said, “Sure, come on in. I’m in my boxers, but who cares!” She was quite funny and immediately came in.
During the fitting the man I’d seen on the phone earlier came back after Carol had explained who I was and introduced himself as Bob. Once I had settled into my final wardrobe, I asked Carol for a couple of pictures and she said, “You should get a picture with Bob, the designer.” And I said, “You mean that was Robert Blackman? Wow! I didn’t recognize him! I would love to get a picture with him.”
Bob Blackman, of course, is the longtime designer of all things Star Trek wardrobe, and is the man responsible for everything in Trek from about 1990 to 2005.
Bob returned at that point and we had a nice exchange. I thanked him for the great work he and his staff do, and then at some point I hollered out loud to everyone in the big barn who could here me saying, “You know, what, I just want to say to everyone here, ‘THANK YOU! The work you do is wonderful and truly appreciated!’” It was pretty funny. As I stepped back into my stall to change back into my civvies, I could here Bob saying to Carol, “What a nice guy; funny guy.” That was nice. I don’t think he knew I could hear him, which is surprising since the stalls were like loft bedrooms with no ceilings in this big cavernous room.
After changing my clothes, I left the wardrobe area (about 90 minutes after I had arrived there) and went exploring across the Paramount lot. I literally walked to every corner of the lot, just taking it all in and enjoying the perfect weather. Once again I saw plenty of people in costume and plenty of activity in every direction. During my walk I stopped at the commissary and got a Coke, and I also made a point to find the Cooper Building, which houses the Star Trek offices. I didn’t stop by the offices, as I was still in awe and not knowing what awaited me on Friday.
After another hour on the lot, I eventually got back into my car and had a joyous ride back to Manhattan Beach, where I met two co-workers for dinner.
“Call to Arms”
Just prior to dinner at 5:30 p.m., I got my first call from the Second Assistant Director (Tag) who said my call-time in the morning would be 11:30 a.m. That meant I was supposed to show up at 11:30 a.m. at wardrobe to start preparing. Well, I wouldn’t say that was disappointing, since it was so exciting to get the call at all, but 11:30 a.m.? That was just too late in the morning!
Oh well, I would just show up early any way. However, after dinner, Tag called again around 9 p.m. saying that my call-time might move up a couple of hours, so he wanted to make sure I wasn’t planning anything else in the morning. (Duh!) I told him no problem and to “call me anytime, I’m ready.” By 10 p.m. or so I had decided to go to bed to make sure I had a full nights sleep. About 45 minutes later, Tag called again and I answered my phone in a perfect fake wake-up voice, so he had no idea I’d been dozing.
The call was good news and my new call-time would be 9:30 a.m. Excellent! Everything was coming together.