Getting Costumes for Your Digital Video Film

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A Brave New World

When producing a narrative digital video film you will often have to create a world that did not exist before. This means constructing a story space that is fictitious, and that may require a lot of outside elements. Sets, props, and other details help develop an artificial landscape that is more suited to your story. One of the most important of these outside elements is the costumes.

Not Easy

This can be a difficult proposition if your costumes require special attention. Often they represent a different period in history, certain details about the characters, or a driving element of the story. The best way to do this is to alter the script where you can to include items that are easily found. Begin scouring thrift shops and clothing stores looking for what you need.


The likelihood is that you will need two, three, or more pieces of the same clothing. Something may alter the clothing while filming, both on purpose or unintentional, and therefore you will need several for different takes. If the character needs to be wearing the same garment in more than one scene then you will likely have to take time to wash them, which will also make them unavailable. If it is not possible to get more than one of the same items of clothing then you need to take special care not to affect the garment while filming.

Official Garments

It is hard to get official clothes, such as those used by government workers. You can make official requests to government and military agencies, but there are a number of laws that will limit your ability to use them. Try heading to military surplus stores to find uniforms and prop elements that may help.

Theatrical Costumes

If you are looking for more dramatic attire then you may want to head to local costume stores or community theaters. They will often have costumes available for sale or rental, and if you find a small theater that is looking to get rid of some of their inventory you may find a deal. Likewise, schools and universities often have a large catalogue of costumes you can rent or borrow depending on your relationship with the institution.

Make Sacrifices

Your best bet is to always try and use what you have. Go through your friend’s closets and try to find the closest items to what you envisioned. The truth is that when working on a low-budget digital video film you are always going to have to make sacrifices. Costumes are no exception.

This post is part of the series: Pre-Production

Learn about some of the elements of digital video film pre-production.

  1. Chopping Up Your Screenplay
  2. The Elements of Pre-Production for Documentaries
  3. Pre-Production Tasks for the Digital Video Producer
  4. Final Check Digital Video Pre-Production Tasks
  5. The Importance of Using Photo Release Forms
  6. Making a Cast and Crew Liability Release Form
  7. Using a Location Release
  8. Creating a Group Release Form
  9. Lowering Production Costs on Your Digital Video Film
  10. Getting Costumes for Your Digital Video Film
  11. Creating a Shot Log
  12. Creating an Equipment List and What Should Be On It