Clint Ramos (Respect): interview with the costume design panel


You can probably guess what happened Clint ramos‘mind when he was hired as a costume designer for the Aretha franklin biopic “Respect”. “It was a story of disbelief, and then kind of like the gargantuan task of just following this life and this story arc of what is arguably the greatest musical star of the 20th century. So I think it was overwhelming, ”Ramos told Gold Derby during our Meet the Experts: Film Costume Design panel (look above).

Featuring Jennifer hudson as an icon, “Respect” is a decades-long biopic, covering Franklin’s life from his 10-year-old childhood in 1952, the middle of three daughters of the famous Baptist pastor CL Franklin (Whitaker Forest) on her rise to world fame, and culminating with the recording of her live double album “Amazing Grace” in 1972. Away from the limelight, Franklin battled alcoholism and domestic violence at the hands of her first husband and manager , Ted White (Marlon Wayans).

For Ramos, Tony winner for “Eclipsed,” he preferred the challenge of conceiving Franklin’s private life rather than recreating his famous public moments that everyone knows. “I found the excavation more exciting. She wasn’t photographed much before the Columbia years, so I had to create this world in a way with Liesel Tommy, our director, so for me it’s more exciting to talk about what that inner world is and I think that’s where costume design shines, ”he explains. “It’s a method of storytelling, of evoking this human being. I am consumed by it. Pretty dresses are a science. You figure out what the effect is and you go through the process of creating it, but there’s an anchor to what you’re trying to do. But what she wore when she was depressed, her day clothes when she was being abused by her husband, all that – what was she wearing? This brings us to somehow the magic of clothing and why we put on what we put on daily. What are we trying to say? ”

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As for those public moments, such as Franklin’s concert at Madison Square Garden in 1968 or his recording of “Amazing Grace,” the biggest challenge for Ramos was the scale of the stages, outfitting dozens of extras and performers. background. But he also didn’t try to directly replicate Franklin’s costumes. On the one hand, Hudson is taller than Franklin, and Ramos wanted to polish the dresses so that it was still unique to Hudson in his portrayal of Franklin.

“The [“Amazing Grace”] the documentary had just come out when we started the preparation so I think it was fresh on people’s minds. I wanted to tweak it a bit so Jennifer would own it. The color is a little different, the fit of the caftan is different, ”says Ramos. “It looks a lot more like Aretha. We clearly played with the ladder, so Jennifer, who is a lot taller than Aretha, looked at the ladder. But then it was actually about watching the documentary, which was really helpful, and replicating all of these characters, the crew and the family. It was about making sure we got it all right because that was the only way I felt to honor that particular scene. And when we shot that, it was the church. Jennifer sang like so many songs for so long. And Liesel and Kramer [Morgenthau], our director of photography, continued to shoot. It was literally the church.

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