Art director and make-up artist shares her professional insights


18 Apr 2019




Art director and make-up artist shares her professional insights

18 Apr 2019

Kathryn Hilditch (Eryn as she is known professionally) is an incredible art director and make up artist who has produced some amazing work both during her time as a student at SAE Melbourne and after graduating with a Bachelor of Film in 2018. 

Eryn talks us through her professional process and discusses some of films she found the most challenging and the most rewarding. 

I approach every film by just doing as much research on the time period, the textiles most likely to be used, shapes line etc as I can. I strongly believe the more research done, the better and more authentic the film ends up being. I also link designers to characters as I feel many design houses have been able to create a very strong aesthetic for their clientele. For example, the supporting role of Lillian in the Tutu Maker was dressed in clothing you would see in Phoebe Philo's Céline as the character embodied this design house’s aesthetic. Whereas I looked to Yohji Yamamoto for Ronin as he designs for a minimalist aesthetic. Being able to blend high fashion into a film means that the costumes feel well thought out and expensive, off the rack can tend to read as cheap and that's a curse of the student film.

I then move from the researching and mood board phase after creating around 30-70 pages of mood boards (my max is 150 but even I could see that was excessive) to the design phase where I sketch about two to three designs per costume. By the time I get here, I already know roughly the color scheme and shape of the costume, I just need to see it translated on a body. I sketch either clothing I know I already have or clothing I can alter to become what we need.

I just really believe that fashion is so integral to a character as its what really sells the character reality and universe, a big part of this is knowing the character inside out and being able to go shopping as them. I see fashion as a type of performance art, you can elicit reactions just from putting on an outfit. 

Some of my most interesting films have been: 

Ronin - Japanese Edo Period film 


I made the majority of costumes, namely the jackets, kimonos, belts, hats and props custom for the film. I wanted to push myself to create an entirely custom outfit but in the end I ran out of time to finish the Hakama and I had to rent them. I made the costumes because I just knew with a limited budget we couldn't afford authentic kimonos and I knew to buy them from a costume store was going to look tacky, so custom was the next best way to go. It took me three weeks to make everything and I was actually quite surprised with the results as I taught myself to sew from Youtube tutorials back in 2017.   

Ladies Lounge - 1960s Period Drama 

Ladies Lounge

This was my 1960s style film and I was so nervous as I was only a little baby trimester four students on a capstone. I worked really solidly to create a huge wealth of research and went back to my hometown to look through some archives that a friend of my mother’s had. I altered a few of the dresses we found as they were made in the 80s off 1950s templates and with a few belts scarves and other jewellery, items that all managed to work together on screen. This was also my first car that needed sourcing and I scored a 1964 Chev Bel Air from a family friend. My biggest challenge was realising how much you couldn't use from stock lying around at home because it just simply didn't exist at the time. 

The Tutu Maker - Ballet Film 

The tutu maker

This was my capstone project in my Bachelor of Film and as the Director I 100% overstepped and also took on the role as a semi-production designer. I worked closely with my aunt and costume designer herself, Ruth to design two custom-made tutus. We threw around about 6 designs for each one until we came up with the perfect tutus. Ruth made them and absolutely smashed it out of the park. Again we had actors in normal clothes but I wanted them super stylised. It's the small details such as the rings, brooches, socks and hairpins that make all the difference. I also made three pairs of custom rhinestone tights. Each pair had over 750 hand-applied Swarovski crystals and took over 6 hours per pair. I really enjoy those projects that induce a whole new level of pain. I also made my graduation dress based off of one of the unused designs from the Tutu Maker and really upped the stakes by using 2600 crystals- because I hadn't learned my lesson. I finished the dress at 1pm before the ceremony but was very happy with it 

TKG - Action Feature


This was my first feature and I was put in as head of SFX, a role again I had to self-teach. This was by far the most challenging as I had such a small amount of prep time, sometimes having to condense a look that would take me 2 hours into 45 minutes. I also had to work outside a lot of the time and in winter this means a lot of the (make-up) products would not blend or smooth out as well. But I was so grateful for this as it really showed me that all I needed to do was take a deep breath, it also made me level up my skills so fast. I may look back at some of the work on this and cringe but I now look at my new work and know if I hadn't done this one I wouldn't have grown as much as I did. 

Interested in a dynamic career in Film? Explore the possibilities by attending the free SAE Melbourne Information night Thursday 9th May.

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