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Show & Tell

Esther Teichtal

A burgeoning frum show industry seems to be upping the ante each season. Increasingly sophisticated theatrical productions leave their audiences enthralled — and curious as to how these women pull it off. Follow us behind the curtain as we take a peep at the exhilarating, if demanding, jobs of six ladies in on the action.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Heidi Bergenfeld

Ruchie Elias Films


Past productions: A Part of My Life (Pitom), Sand Castles (Dma’ot Shel Chol), and others


Currently working on: Escape (Matnat Ha’esh)


Position: Costume manager


My official job description is…

…researching the period, location, and social status of characters in the script. Then I must either rent, purchase, or get the costumes sewn. I also assist actresses in getting in and out of their (sometimes) complicated costumes.


And what I really do is…

…help out in any way the director needs. Each scene is shot twice (in English and in Hebrew), which often means helping coach actresses with the translation on set. I also encourage everyone to stick to the timetable. If an outfit rips or stains, it’s my job to get it fixed. (We must use the same item throughout the shoot, as changes will be noted.) A boot got destroyed while shooting inRomaniaand I had to sleuth around — a local carpenter finally repaired it. And whenever an extra is needed on set, I get to dress up and act in the movie!


The craziest thing I ever had to do in this role was…

…probably the trip toRomania. We filmed one week in a village and another in a castle. The village was a three-hour drive from the capital through a mountain range, and another hour on a dirt road to reach our location. We had no indoor plumbing, cell phones, or landline communication, and only minimal electricity. The locals live like they are frozen in the 12th century. Although this wasRomania, they only spoke Hungarian — I doubt they ever learned that the borders had changed! The arrival of a Jewish Israeli film crew must have been tremendously thrilling.


The most exhilarating part of my job is…

…seeing the final product on-screen, when it finally shows in public. I’m always a little worried that something will be missing. An accessory in one scene must be there throughout. Our latest film was set in the period of the Spanish Inquisition. Filming it in a foreign country with period clothing was a challenge, so the feeling of accomplishment was enormous.


The hardest part is…

…the pressure to prepare actresses as quickly as possible between scenes, while remembering every item of clothing and identical hairdos from the previous shoots. My job begins a whole hour before filming starts, and ends two hours after everyone else’s. A day of shooting takes 12 hours — which means I work 15 hours straight. Still, it’s tremendous fun!


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