Costume Designer Whitney Anne Adams worked her magic on Happy Death Day 2U, the upcoming sequel to the sleeper-slasher-hit from 2017 about Tree (Jessica Rothe), a girl who just can’t stop dying at the hands of a killer and must relive the same horrific days again and again until she figures it all out.
Happy Death Day is what you get when you cross Groundhog’s Day with murder and mayhem. The slasher tropes are there but in fun, clever ways that blend with the weird, time-loop storytelling that’s going on. For Whitney, creating costumes for this world required a lot of organization since scenes repeat, almost exactly but not really.
PopAxiom used the TARDIS to keep Whitney in one timeframe long enough to talk about her career as a costume designer, what makes up her designing DNA and taking the reigns for Happy Death Day 2U.
The first hint that designing costumes and working with fabric was in Whitney’s future happened early on “I was totally into sports my whole life. A complete jock. But in fourth grade we made quilts. I made four in the time it took everyone to make one.”
Whitney is a self-professed movie-freak “I owned 500 movies by the time I graduated from high school.” Out of all those movies though, Whitney points to one as a pivotal turning point in her personal timeline “The movie Moulin Rogue means a lot to me. It’s where I really fell in love with costume design.”
In high school, Whitney was also part of the theatre crowd “… never thought I could make a career out of it.”
In college, “I was pre-med and switched that up after three weeks. I took intro to theater design, and it changed my life.”
How did Whitney break this news about going from doctor to starving artist? “I prepared a whole PowerPoint presentation for my family.”
In the PowerPoint, Whitney detailed the hardships and how she would work to progress “My parents couldn’t really argue with it.”
Examining an interviewees filmography as any writer does, I notice a funny title early in Anne’s career called Weiner Dog. Whitney laughs and replies ”I assisted on that movie.”
About her first official movie, Whitney answers “My first movie was The Great Gatsby. I assisted Catherine Martin. It was a really beautiful, intense, wonderful process where I completely fell in love with making movies.”
About Happy Death Day 2U
Whitney’s been busy since The Great Gatsby having worked on projects such as the upcoming Piercing and Irreplaceable You. Happy Death Day 2U starts this week. If you don’t know the movie, it’s a slasher flick with a time-loop twist. So, if making horror movies which tend to get dirty is already hard enough on costumes, what’s it like having to keep things straight in all the timey-wimey-ness? “It all goes back to my powerpoint days. I organize everything into photoshop boards. So, I have continuity boards for every single character; what they’re wearing in what scene. You can kind of see the whole movie on one sheet. So it’s my cheat sheet for every character.”
Technology can make things a lot more streamlined too, and Whitney makes the most of it “I could update the boards and send them via text or email to people on the set to keep them up-to-date. It cut down the time I needed to be on set so I could handle other things.”
If it’s not clear by now, Whitney declares “I’m very much into organization.”
What information did Whitney receive from the previous costume designer? “I received the movie Bible. All the work I do is digital, but this was a physical binder. I took a ton of screenshots of the first movie too.
The first movie also handed off something even more important “I was given the wardrobe for the entire movie. Well, except for two boxes of background costumes that mysteriously disappeared.”
Considering that time is looping, and things have to (relatively_ look the same, Whitney says about not having the background clothing “It was a challenge to recreate the background. But I had all the key costumes for all the principal characters.”
Time may be repeating, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fresh, exciting new things in the film “In this movie, Tree has a whole new slew of looks, so it was fun to peek into her closet a little more.”
Whitney shares a little of what she goes through when it comes to creating clothes for new characters “I read the script a few times before I really start to design.”
Where does Whitney ’s mind go as she reads a new script “Who is this person? You have to jump into their minds. Where do they buy their clothes? How long have they had these clothes? Why are they drawn to these clothes? That gets me started. You do research into when and where that story takes place. So many places that you draw from. But, for me, it starts with getting into the psychology of the character.”
Whitney jokes “So, you really have to be a psychologist, historian, and costume designer all in one.”
Whitney ’s influences come from music, theatre, art, and just about anywhere. When it comes to costume design, she has two dear influences that make up her designing DNA “… definitely, number one influences were Catherine Martin and Baz Luhrmann. I love how theatrical their movies are.”
The second influence “I also love Eiko Ishioka who did Bram Stoker’s Dracula … a lot of really beautiful movies. I got to work with her for two years before she died. It was exciting to sit around her kitchen table and sipping green tea talking about how she designed Dracula.”
What’s next for, Whitney ? “Piercing comes out soon. A Liam Hemsworth action movie coming out in the Spring. And a short film from a dance company.”
Happy Death Day 2U comes out TODAY!
Thanks to Whitney Anne Adams and Impact24 PR
for making this interview possible.