In a film such as Connected, the costume design plays a vital role because of the lack of dialogue. We never hear the characters interacting through words, and we never get to see what they look like beneath their suits (apart from their eyes), so the costumes in Connected had to convey a lot of information. Because we never hear the characters speaking it was essential that the costumes remained believable as a natural part of the film’s universe.
We wanted the suits to look like they where designed for people trying to survive in the apocalyptic wasteland. Yet they had to look outdated and unsafe, thereby adding tension to the drama. And they had to appear slightly uncomfortable and silly because we wanted to add a light touch of humour to the story. We did not want to make the film overly serious or in any way pretentious.
Making the helmets
We kicked off the costume design process by toying with concepts for the helmets. The breathing apparatus plays a huge role in the film, so we had to figure out a way to clearly show how the air enters and exits the helmets.
Michel Riis works with industrial design at Design-People. We knew him from our time at Kolding Designskole, and we felt he was the right person for the job of designing and constructing the helmets. We showed him the script and showed him conceptual drawings of potential helmets. At first we were inspired by old deep sea diving helmets that looked heavy and very solid, but also uncomfortable. We wanted our helmets to have a similarly bulky feel.
We bought three full face motorcycle helmets. It was practical to use these motorcycle helmets as the foundation for our helmet design, because they are specifically manufactured to fit a human head by design.
We went to a scrap yard in Kolding, picking up all the pieces we thought could be used in building the helmets – scraps of iron, pipes, cog wheels, you name it. At first we taped the elements onto the helmets in order to ascertain if they fitted our vision. When we had discovered the right pieces we attached them to the helmets, and it took several weeks to complete the assembly.
Because the three costumes looked similar, it was extremely essential that every character’s helmet provided each character with a specific identity, so that the audience could tell them apart. One helmet was painted grey, another was painted black and the third was painted gold, while the helmets also featured different symbols: A triangle, a circle and the number 43 respectively. Finally we painted small details that set the different helmets apart.
The protection suits were made by fashion designer Susanne Guldager, whom we also knew from Kolding Designskole. Again we had some basic sketches of what we felt the suits should look like. We looked at a lot of safety related clothing – boots, gloves, helmets, hazmat suits and so on. We felt it would be easier to construct something with foundations in reality, but it turned out being too expensive, but at an army warehouse, Army-Varer, we were able to purchase some used pilot suits that formed the basis of the final design. We felt it would be great if the suits were made of several different kinds of fabric, so that they would look good on film while remaining credible as futuristic safety suits. Despite being incredibly busy, she managed to have practically finalized suits ready within a single week.