These are some very basic descriptions of the different titles in the Costume Department. There are more responsibilities and many interpretations for each job depending on the situation. If you feel slighted in anyway with what I have written here, give me a shout out and I will change things up to make it feel better for all!
The Costume Designer is an integral part of a film or television production’s creative team. In pre-production, they work closely with the Director, the Production Designer and the Producers to develop a look for the characters that best serves the story. The Costume Designer seeks inspiration from many sources, including interviews with the actors who will play the characters, and extensive historical and visual research. When shooting starts, the Costume Designer works to maintain the visual unity of the production while establishing new costumes and designing looks for new characters. The Costume Designer is considered the head of the Costume Department.
The Assistant Designer helps the Designer with research, shopping, rentals and fittings for all characters. On lower budget productions, the Assistant Designer may also be responsible for the script breakdown and taking on the duties traditionally handled by the Costume Coordinator/Supervisor.
Costume Coordinator (Canada)/Supervisor (US)
The Coordinator is responsible for the day to day running of the department. They analyze the script breakdown and production schedules to prepare a realistic Costume budget, manufacturing and purchasing schedules and crewing requirements. They handle all the financial records for the Costume Department and are responsible for maintaining the costume budget. They coordinate all labor efforts for pre-production (the build) and the actual shoot.
Set Supervisor (Canada)/Key Set Costumers (US)
The Set Supervisor helps to maintain the Costume Designer’s vision for each character while on set. They’re responsible for maintaining the continuity of the costumes during filming and the managing the day-to-day running of the on-set costume crew. The Set Supervisor communicates with each department for special script requirements such as the Special Effects Department and Stunts for effects like burns and bullet hits, and Visual Effects Department for Motion Capture.
The Truck Costumer helps set up the costume trailer (the mobile work base for the Costume Department), orders supplies and expendables, organizes items needed for cast comfort, arranges the costumes into the actors’ trailers at the start of each day and for each costume change during the day, and prepares what is required for upcoming days. They have the responsibility to track and maintain the costumes for the duration of the shoot.
Costumers are a key part of the costume department. Costumers must maintain a wide variety of skills to help in any situation. On any given day they might be in the office to help with fittings, in the sewing room for alterations, on the road shopping for supplies and last minute items, and on-set assisting the Set Supervisor with cast and background players.
A Dresser may assist in fitting, alterations and construction of costumes as assigned by the Designer or the Cutter. They may also assist in dressing the Background at the trailers/tents
The Cutter is responsible for making patterns, cutting, fitting and construction of costumes from specific designs or sketches supplied by the Designer. The Cutter may assist in selecting materials and supervising the costume construction.
Stitcher (sewer, seamstress, costume builder)
A Stitcher works in the sewing room with the Cutter during the construction of the costumes. The Stitcher will sometimes assist during fittings to help with pinning and alterations.
Textile artist/Breakdown and Dyer
The Textile Artist and Dyer works under the direction of the Designer to bring the costume to life by what is required of the feel, look and action of the character and scene. This is done through ageing, distressing, painting, printing and dyeing. Through dyeing the dyer can manipulate colours, brighten or dull colours of the costumes, and create effects through the various dye techniques.
The textile artist/breakdown and dyer often work on creating the looks for stunt scenes that require multiplies of the costume and often work on set creating looks at a given notice.
It is the part of the costume department that is the final step of the making process and it an essential part to completion of a costume.