Published: 02/12/2016 10:33 - Updated: 02/12/2016 13:30

Cromarty Film Festival: Jenny Beavan

Jenny Beavan
Jenny Beavan


From Friday, December 2 to Sunday, December 4, Cromarty film festival My Favourite Film brings its unique programme of events chosen and introduced by guests. This year including Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow and double-Oscar winning costume designer Jenny Beavan, plus Tain-based writer Michel Faber, Scottish film director Kevin MacDonald, documentary-maker Christopher Hird and musicians Drew Wright and Hamish Brown share their favourite films. Below Jenny Beavan – whose career has included Oscars for the two very different films, A Room With A View and Mad Max: Fury Road, talks about her career


by Margaret Chrystall

JENNY Beavan who has won two Oscars for costume design – the latest for Mad Max: Fury Road – spurns red carpet gowns and heels.

Preferring to create her own look – more about that later – Jenny has had eight Oscar costume design nominations behind her.

This weekend as a guest of Cromarty’s My Favourite Film Festival Jenny introduces Gosford Park for which she was Oscar-nominated.

But her own favourite film is much older.

"It’s La Grande Illusion by Jean Renoir – one of my father’s favourite films and one of mine.

"I remember being intensely moved by it and the futility of war," said Jenny.

For an idea of the contrasting worlds Jenny works in when designing costumes for a movie, take her last three.

At the end of last year Jenny was in Berlin with A Cure for Wellness – an American-German psychological horror thriller directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Jason Isaacs and out in February.

"The trailer was recently released and looks amazing," Jenny said.

Then there is a trip to space with Life, a sci fi thriller due out in 2017 starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson.

Jenny said: "Life is just finished. We did that at the beginning of the year. It is six characters on a space station – and although it is a massive challenge because on the space station they are all on zero gravity and they have to climb all the time and on harnesses – I think we did quite a nice job with lots of pockets and velcro. But they also had spacesuits to wear."

And most recently Jenny has been working on The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, directed by Chocolat director Lasse Hallström and due out from Disney in 2018, with a cast that includes Keira Knightley and Morgan Freeman.

Following on from designing in theatre, Jenny’s early career in film was working on the Merchant Ivory films – she won her first Oscar for 1986’s A Room With A View.

But these days, with more than 26 films behind her, how does Jenny choose a film project to work on?

Cromarty Film Festival programme for 2016 – happening this weekend in Cromarty.
Cromarty Film Festival programme for 2016 – happening this weekend in Cromarty.

After revealing she takes nothing violent or unethical, Jenny said: "To be honest you often don’t know the jobs are out there because they are having to find funding – but suddenly they are green lit.

"One minute you have never even heard of it and the next you are meeting the director and thinking ‘This looks alright!’.

"So it’s a bit tricky."

Jenny’s chance to work on Mad Max: Fury Road came through a text she almost missed.

"I was about to switch my phone off on the plane when I got a text from my friend the producer Iain Smith.

"I rang him and he said ‘How do you fancy doing something a really long way away for a really long time that’s really difficult?’.

"And I said ‘It sounds interesting’," laughed Jenny.

"But without that text I wouldn’t have been standing there receiving an Oscar!"

At the BAFTAs back in February when Jenny won best costume designer for Mad Max, Jenny’s friend Stephen Fry jokingly referred to her as a ‘bag lady’ because of her outfit channelling the Mad Max look.

He subsequently left Twitter over the furore that followed – but the incident spotlights Jenny’s perhaps surprising attitude to clothes.

"I’d rather buy a painting," she laughed.

"I deal with clothes day in day out, but not in a fashion way.

"My interest is when I start to use them to tell the story about how someone lives for a film.

Costume design is not work Jenny would willingly swap.

"I just love a job where I’m going somewhere new and learning something new all the time."

"I’m short, I’m fat and really cannot walk in heels, so don’t even ask me.

"And all I did was go to the BAFTAs in what I thought was a homage to my film, what I thought a Mad Max biker would wear. Obviously I didn’t go quite far enough!

"I don’t really subscribe to dressing up – other people looked marvellous in their outfits. But it just doesn’t suit me. End of story."

Jenny Beavan introduces Robert Altman’s Gosford Park on Saturday at noon in The Stables. And she will also be introducing her favourite film La Grande Illusion on Sunday in the Screen Machine at 3pm. Cromarty Film Festival: My Favourite Film runs from Friday, December 2 to Sunday, December 4 in Cromarty. For full details:

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