Wynema Chavez Quintana at Bonaza Creek Ranch (western set) in Santa Fe, NM
The work of Textile Artist and Costumer Wynema Chavez Quintana can be seen in New Mexico made movies and series such as “Wild Hogs,” “Terminator: Salvation,” “The Lone Ranger,” “The Avengers,” “Breaking Bad,” “Longmire,” and many, many more.
Wynema was gracious enough to shed some light on here work, one of the thousands of behind-the-scenes jobs that make up the state’s booming film industry, for the summer 2016 issue of Fine Lifestyles Santa Fe magazine. Below is her full interview.
Whenever a film from NM is released it creates a sense of pride for the people who worked on it, our families, our friends and the state in general.
CV: How long have you been a Textile Artist?
WCQ: I have been working in Film Since 2005.
CV: How did you learn the craft?
WCQ: I was attending UNM for undergrad (Sociology and Business) and I got a work study job at the Theatre Department in the costume shop. During one season we had a Textile Designer come in to design a show. She was dying clothing and I mentioned to her one of her colors was “off” compared to the others. She said that if I see that I have really great eyes. She decided to take me under her wing and teach me the Art of dying fabrics. After these lessons I was able to learn how to manipulate fabrics to change colors, dull down or make them not so loud which is one thing I’m constantly doing for my job.
As far as The Aging Aspect of my craft I learned that on the job. My first few movie gigs I learned the craft from some of the finest Ager Dyers and Textile Artists who came to work here in NM from Los Angeles (Jack Taggart, Ivory Stanton, Bren Cook) [who] also took me under their wings. They taught me how to add texture, break-down, distress, sand, paint, add dirt and manipulate fabrics to the desired effects. A lot of what I learned is also from trial and error. There are times where I have never encountered a problem but I have to figure it out. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. We look for our own approaches to things and sometimes develop new ideas in the process. As a Textile Artist there are many approaches to breaking something down as artists we don’t all have the same approach. That’s the beauty of our industry. We all have our own idea of the end result. Part of my job is to interpret what the Director, Producers or Costume Designer may see and use my skills to execute that.
CV: When did you get involved in the film industry and how did that come about?
WCQ: I was brought into the industry due to a lack of Ager Dyers in NM. Word on the street was that I knew how to dye and a film needed some dye work done and I was called. In the meantime I was still pursuing a college education unrelated to this industry. I had worked part-time in film while obtaining a masters degree in Social Work and as of 2010 I have been full-time in film. Something about film keeps calling me back. It’s a fun industry. No day is ever the same and I get to use my artistic side to create some beautiful clothing.
CV: Are there any productions you can name or particular experiences with films or actors that really stand out to you since you’ve been doing this?
WCQ: I really get a sense of happiness when the films partner out to the community. On “Longmire” we had the character Branch getting Native children to come to our sets to see what film was about. I even saw some kids from my own community. I was teased as being a “movie star” by some of those kids. But some of the moms were so happy their child got to see someone from their community working in NM Film and this created a sense of “If she can do it, I can do it.” Sometimes [that’s] all it takes. As a special request I take these kids and let them know you can do this too all you have to do is work hard and be passionate about it.
CV: What do your friends and family think of your work in “the biz’
WCQ: I’m very lucky. I come from a very supportive family. My husband is very understanding about my job’s demands, hours and the time I have to dedicate to NM Film. He is a strong support with our children. I come from Santo Domingo (Kewa) Pueblo and we come from a place where it takes a tribe to raise our children and I am again fortunate in that as well. My whole family is supportive and understanding. If I miss a dinner, a birthday, can’t make a doctors appointment for my child they understand and also help. Working in film is a lifestyle not just a job and always a balance when you have family.
CV: How do you feel about the impact the film industry has on New Mexico?
WCQ: The industry has done some amazing things for me personally a professionally. It has allowed me to obtain a job where I can be creative a proud of what I’m doing. Whenever a film from NM is released it creates a sense of pride for the people who worked on it, our families, our friends and the state in general. There are so many aspects to film and it touches so many lives. I enjoy when films partner out to our communities. They show future generations that they can work in our industry too.