Emily Coutts and Ariel Barer moderated a panel of several of the creative visionaries behind music, make-up and costumes for Marvel shows, movies, and Star Trek. Emily Coutts stars on Star Trek: Discovery, and Ariel Barer is on Hulu’s Marvel’s Runaways series.
Among the panelists were Ruth Carter – costume designer for Black Panther, Jeff Russo – composer for Star Trek: Discovery and Legion, Sarit Klein – make-up designer for The Defenders and Daredevil, Sean Callery – composer for Jessica Jones, Stephanie Maslansky – costume designer for Luke Cage and The Defenders, and Siddhartha Khosla – composer for Marvel’s Runaways.
Each described different highlights and challenges in what they contribute to the shows and movies. Jeff Russo talked about how Legion is a “mind trip” of a show and how the music reflects it. It’s a more open ended show for him because it’s not based on any previous show or movie. Star Trek: Discovery, on the other hand, is part of a history and the challenge was coming up with an identity while referencing what’s been there previously. For him, getting the Star Trek job was mind-blowing. He’s been a longtime Star Trek fan, and grew up with The Next Generation in particular. He expressed his amazement at being able to compose for the new show.
Sean Callery has worked on Jessica Jones for both seasons currently out and first brought out a melodica to show how he developed the theme for the show. It was notes on this instrument that gave way to the theme we know now. Callery also said how he thinks of the character as a cat that prowls around. This idea influenced what he’s composed for the show as well.
Ruth Carter described the scene in her home when she found out she got the job of costume designer for Black Panther. She jumped around and then started to go through the design process, but realized she didn’t know a lot about Black Panther and started jumping up and down again. One of the touching things she told about is that the necklaces in the film are influenced by a jewelry designer that she saw on the streets of New Orleans. Since then this artist is off the streets and has her own jewelry line.
Carter, Maslansky, and Klein talked about the transformation of actors and actresses when they put on the costume or make-up. Sarit Klein described what would happen to Wai Ching Ho after putting on makeup for Madame Gao in the Marvel Netflix series she appears in. The actress had spots and wrinkles put on almost every part of her exposed skin to make her look older. After she’d have that process done she’d look in the mirror, frown, and start speaking in Mandarin. Stephanie Maslansky said she had her own ideas of characters’ history and was able to “transform” them to this. For Madame Gao she imagined her as a possible warrior that a Terra Cotta Warrior statue depicts. For Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra, Maslansky saw her as a longtime warrior and put metallic elements on her clothes in reference to armor.
Khosla composed scores for shows and also wrote songs for them. In a moment during the panel, he and Barer sang a lullaby from Runaways. For that show, he said that the score is “less super-hero” and more grounded. It’s about the relationships more than it being a comic book show.
This panel featuring these great designers and composers really shows how the movies and television shows are a team effort. Each showed the passion they have for the characters they have created for. It was a great treat to peek into the behind the scenes of these popular shows and movies.