The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is seeking to achieve pay equity commensurate with our economic and creative value to production.
Costume Designers are magicians. We weave the story into our work and our work lets the audience know who the character is without one word of dialogue. We don’t just design the clothes; we design the characters, the people. The people are the story.
Since the dawn of the movies, we have struggled for the respect that we deserve. With our majority female membership, our work has historically been dismissed as “women’s work”. It’s incredible that the Academy Awards were created in 1927, but those Golden Age costume designers were not honored with their own Oscar until 1948. It took twenty-one years for the distinguished members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to figure out that costumes are integral to the telling of stories on screen. Sixty-five years later, in 2013, the costume designers were finally deemed worthy of our own branch at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Our value as costume designers go beyond what we create for the screen. If we are lucky and our television or feature production is a hit, our work will provide an abundance of additional revenue streams for the studios. We generate this additional post-release income for studios without compensation. Our designs will be reproduced as Halloween costumes, toys, computer games, and fashion lines. Today, motion picture and television costume designers are work-for-hire, and the studios own the rights to our intellectual property. Our designs become instantly recognizable and commemorated as international popular culture.
This fight is about our VALUE. Costume designers bring serious economic value and publicity to every production. The audience is excited and engaged. They want to know about the costumes; they want to wear what their favorite actors are wearing. Costume designers are influencers and taste-makers. We set the tone and the mood for each story. We bring the characters, the people, to life.
Join the revolution! What can you do to advance this fight? The Pay Equity Committee has a four-step plan:
Educate – Our members must become experts in the fight for Pay Equity. Know the statistics and history. Visit the link tree on our website for news articles and statistics relevant to the Pay Equity debate. Educate others: your agents, producers, UPMs, and the audience.
Initiate – Get involved! Join the Pay Equity Committee and help get the word out. Start conversations with professionals across all departments about Pay Equity and what it means for everyone. Get other departments interested in our cause. Be the spark that gets people interested in our fight to be recognized and paid according to our value.
Negotiate – Demand favored nations terms with the production designer in all of your contract negotiations. Ask your agents to ensure that you are paid equal to (and receive the same benefits as) the production designer on every job. Create a precedent so that others who come after you can benefit from your progress. Share your salary and terms of your contract with costume designers who are working for the same studio, so they know what to ask for next time. With generosity and solidarity, everyone can achieve more!
Advocate – Post content relevant to Pay Equity on all of your social media. Please use hashtags attached to our message: #CDGPayEquity and #NakedWithoutUs. Use your voice – make some noise! Let’s demand what we deserve – what we are worth. Let’s keep this important conversation going!