There are several ways of organizing labor around camera. The LA way is to divide the actors among the costumers, with the costumers responsible for everything involving that actor. The New York way used to be the supervisor working off the truck and doing everything base camp related. This allowed the supervisor to control the production around camera. The nature of supervising has changed to much more of an office job and the base camp responsibilities that a New York supervisor used to do are now done by a truck costumer.
What happens on the truck begins with the designer. In the best world, the designer would come in, drop a bag, go to set to establish, then go shopping or to the office for fittings. The worst case would be for the designer to try work off the truck, including fittings. The truck costumer has an easier job if they control the entire truck because that makes organization possible. It also helps to be best friends with the base camp PA and the transportation captain.
The first thing a truck dog does is organize supplies. There needs to be a complete office kit with printers and two sub kits for the desks, bg kit, color cover, costumer supplies, aging and dyeing kit, comfort kit, actors comfort items, socks and underwear, shoe supplies, laundry and cleaning supplies, towels and anything special the script requires. Most shows use garment bags to help keep costumes sorted.
Some shows are big enough to have a background truck. This truck would be organized more like a warehouse with the stock, but stunts and featured BG would be treated the same as principles on the main trailer. Otherwise BG would be run off the main truck, hopefully organized on Z-racks.
The principle costumes will be organized in the office on racks by character closets, hopefully complete with changes. They need to be loaded on the truck in an organized fashion as well, usually going in numerical order. There needs to be space near the door for incoming costumes, the day’s wrapped costumes, and the day’s work. It’s expected that as the day's work is set and used, the space created will be used for pulling tomorrow’s work. The top row is usually stock and dead characters that haven’t gone to the office yet. There can be space at the back of the truck for background uniforms and other BG stock. The thought there is to run BG from the back of the trailer.
There will also need to be a stock supply of shoes, belts, t-shirts and other undergarments and any stock called for by the script. A military show, for instance, means the trailer becomes a mini depot. A few broken down racks should be in the jockey boxes with the shoes. If the plan is to use Sync On Set or something similar, the truck needs it’s own wifi.
When the truck is loaded, everything should be labeled. There will never be enough room to load everything and that brings the art of compromise. Some calls are easy, like if no one on the crew sews, there is no need to pack a sewing machine. There should be a space for the designer to unpack and do some work, a couple of stations for principle costumers to work, and a space that belongs to the truck dog.
The truck costumer should understand all of the script breakout and be able to edit it. In terms of organization, a system is needed that tracks actors dressing rooms being set and wrapped. The system should also track scenes shot out and the next day’s work. It’s great to have that paperwork posted by the door, visible to everyone.
The closets should be organized by changes in order, accessories and stock. The change bag should have the complete costume. A good way to deal with repeats is to label it “same as change whatever.” Whatever is the change where it is established, say ch 4. Even if it’s later established in ch 1, it’s still listed as “same as ch 4” because you want to keep the need for edits to a minimum. There are going too many coming from other people. Structure your work so it helps ease the flow rather than add to it.
If the truck is properly organized, the supervisor should be able to walk on the truck and see how the day is going without asking any questions. In the dreaded case of a car accident or whatever keeps the truck dog from coming to work, another knowledgeable costumer should be able to step in, decipher the paperwork and keep the work flowing.
The work begins with the truck costumer coming in at first call. The only task that matters then is setting the dressing rooms for the actors who are first in. Then all the rooms that can be set are with only one costume in the room at a time. Then the cleaning from the day before can be filtered into the costume bags and placed back in the actors section. The day is spent staying ahead of the scene being shot so the actors room is set when production moves on. As soon as the prelim comes out, the next day’s work can be pulled and prepped.
Documentation is an ongoing process. I like to write the description in pencil on the back of the tag as the room is set. After it is established, I enter it in the program and print a sticker that covers my handwritten notes. The book needs to be current with the day for pictures and notes.
The art of truck dog is to know which actors like to wear comfort shoes to set or cannot be trusted to bring a jacket, for instance. It’s also knowing what is not on the truck for upcoming scenes. If there is a problem on set, more than likely the solution needs to be on the truck, so intimate knowledge with what is going on at camera is key. It’s good to have two open walkies on the truck, one on ch 2. It’s amazing what you can learn by eavesdropping.
Truck Dog thinking is like a supervisor without budget concerns. The better you do your job the less everybody else gets yelled at.