By: Dorie Triplett
Image Courtesy of Kimberly Needles Photography
Taylor Burke, Key Costume Designer and Art Director for Shenandoah University’s film in production A Cupid for Christmas, has returned after graduating from SU in 2019. Since leaving the university, she has worked on several big productions at her job in the costume department at the famous Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Shenandoah’s Santa Girl was her first feature film. Burke has since honed her organizational skills when it comes to preparing costumes for professional entertainment. She recalls feeling overwhelmed for Santa Girl, but after stints with SU’s thriller flick Get Away, professional music videos, Ford’s Theatre, and working as the Artist in residence at George Washington University, she is much more prepared for the job.
Bailey Ontiveros is the Assistant to the Art Department and has been helping Taylor prepare ensembles for all of the actors on screen. She graduated from high school in Warren County in 2020 and decided to jump right into the industry. She has experience in all aspects of theatre, including acting, staging, props and production design.
For A Cupid for Christmas, Taylor thought it would be great to shop exclusively locally for the costumes. That way they can help the community and promote small stores in the Winchester area. The two planned ideas for what they wanted the actors to wear using mood boards while they went shopping at the stores in Winchester, Virginia.
“It was great working with local small businesses to costume all the L.A. talent. We found so many great and unique pieces.” Taylor said enthusiastically.
They also had to make sure to get several of the same exact outfits due to some magical stunts and double takes on the film. Bailey explained that since it is so hot while filming a movie that takes place during the winter, they have been promptly attending to the actors’ weather-related needs.
According to Bailey: “What we do, is if they have coats on, when we’re done filming the scene and not immediately going back in and taking another retake- Taylor and I hold their coats, we have ice packs on hand, we have umbrellas to shade them from the sun, we get them waters, we’re trying to do what we can, of course they’re still going to be hot.”
Although the crew and cast have been doing very well at their social distancing and COVID protocols, both Taylor and Bailey exclaimed how fun it has been making friends on set.
When Taylor described one of her ideas that she was able to put into action during filming, she said everybody could not stop laughing at the stunt, including the Director, Blayne Weaver.
“It was a moment of ‘Oh my god, this is so fun’ and everyone was laughing so hard. Everyone just loved it. Every time Blayne would say cut, everyone would just break out with laughter.”
Bailey knew she wanted to go into this industry to get to know people, as well as spending time with her brother, Trevor Ontiveros, who is the Production Designer. She also explained how nice it is to spend time with others in contrast to the isolation she has maintained during the pandemic.
They both emphasized the protocols don’t take away from the experience of being on set, although there is a lot more cleaning and structural organization.
“We make sure that every single item is wiped down a couple times a day. I make sure that my rack is completely covered in plastic so no one touches it. We have a lot more rules, and it’s all about keeping everyone safe.” Taylor said. “I’m actually enjoying this new way of doing it, not completely because I can’t be as hands on, I can’t have any fittings in person unless it’s with the main actors and I’m wearing full gear. There’s things that are very different.”
We can’t wait to see the characters and their fashion personalities that Taylor and Bailey made through their hard work and creativity for A Cupid for Christmas, thanks ladies!