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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: July 29, 2002
Volume 38, Number 2

Baca works on Suspect Zero film

By Laurie Mellas-Ramirez

Dorothy BacaUNM Department of Theatre and Dance Assistant Professor Dorothy Baca is one of two costume supervisors for the full-length feature film “Suspect Zero,” which begins filming in New Mexico Aug. 5.

Produced by Jonathan Sanger and directed by Elias Merhige, the psychological thriller stars Sir Ben Kingsley as a former FBI agent suspected of killing serial killers.

Baca, who has more than 25 years experience in film and television, and Liz Wolf of Los Angeles, will assist costume designer Mary Claire Hannan.

Costume fittings and accessory selection for actors will be part of Baca’s work.

“The leads in the film are primarily males, in modern dress,” Baca says. “My job is to help the costume designer distinguish one character from another, to interpret for each actor the look of a truck driver, a homeless person or the minister. The costumes help tell the story.”

Detail is Baca’s focus on technical problems. The lead actor may actually have five identical copies of each costume to reflect different events or times in the script.

“We may shoot the costume in a dirty, muddy scene first, and the scene where the actor is clean will be shot a couple of weeks later. I have to make it seem perfect, seamless, so you can’t tell that they are different costumes. That ensures continuity of the script so it looks as if it was shot in sequence, although features are never shot in order,” she says.

A member of several film unions, Baca learned about the opportunity to work on “Suspect Zero,” from New Mexico’s film local union, IATSE 480. It was also listed on New Mexico’s Film Commission hotline. “I’ve always been a proponent for bringing films to New Mexico. It’s very good for the economy,” she says. “ I hope all the community is supportive, so more features will consider shooting in New Mexico.”

At UNM for six years, she has returned to Los Angeles to work on other films, including “Batman and Robin,” “Wild, Wild West” and the Mel Gibson film, “What Women Want.” Previous television credits include “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” “Major Dad,” “Charles in Charge” and “Murder, She Wrote.” Baca’s stage work includes Bette Midler’s signature character, Delores DeLago, the mermaid who rides on a wheelchair designed for the “Divine Madness World Tour.”

Baca teaches costume design courses and a cultural studies course, called “The Decorated Body,” which includes tattooing, scarification and other types of body modification. With funding and support from UNM, Baca is researching the costume history of New Mexico during the Spanish Colonial period.

During filming she will bring students from her fall semester costume design course onto the set for hands on learning, she says.