Theaterkunst Talk

Ulé Barcelos

Costume designer Ulé Barcelos is a very busy woman! The feature film “Milchzähne” and “Sophia, Death and I”, as well as the two series “Clashing Differences” and “Zeit Verbrechen” are about to be released. She was also the costume designer for the films “System Crasher” and “No One’s with the Calves”.

The series “German Genius”, set to launch on 23 May on Warner TV Comedy, will also showcase her costumes. The wonderfully self-deprecating journey through the ups and downs of the German film and television world has attracted an illustrious group of German actors: Kida Khodr Ramadan, Detlev Buck, Heike Makatsch, Maria Furtwängler, Tom Schilling, Frederick Lau, Britta Hammelstein, Momo Ramadan, Christina Große, Sascha Geršak, Trystan Pütter, Olli Schulz, Katrin Bauerfeind, Kurt Krömer, Veysel Gelin, Wim Wenders, Volker Schlöndorff, Leander Haußmann and even Ricky Gervais.

Plakat: ©Warner TV Comedy


Ulé Barcelos

The cast of the series “German Genius” reads like a who’s who of the German film business. What was your first thought when you read the script?

Besides the cast, what caught my attention when I first read the script was the perspective behind the camera. I really liked the satirical depiction of the entire process of creating a series, including all of the production departments. After all, I know from experience how much comedic potential there is on a film set.

It will be a wild ride through the different eras. The trailer shows it all, from Goethe to Kaiser Franz, Albert Einstein and a Viking. Isn’t that simply heaven for a costume designer? How did you organize your ideas?

It was a wonderful challenge, as a matter of fact. Of course we did our research, but it quickly became clear that this project was not about exact historical representations, because we’re also depicting the realities of a shoot, sometimes with a minimal budget – so it left plenty of room for imagination. And of course, for this project in particular, we enjoyed optimal support from the historical department of Theaterkunst!

What do you think is so special about a costume collection?

It’s the huge selection of unique pieces, combined with great colleagues and their expertise. Every costume has its past lives, has its own history and patina, and that could never be artificially produced in such a short period of time.

What factors in a production determine whether you borrow a costume from a collection or purchase it new? Do you feel that now, in the interest of sustainability, more costumes are being borrowed?

For the most part, I’ve always borrowed a lot and worked with second-hand items. Of course you still have to buy things sometimes, maybe because you need several identical pieces or because it fits the role. My team and I always try to donate the clothes afterwards. I’m happy to see that on the whole there’s a growing awareness of sustainability in costume design and other film departments.

“German Genius” makes use of costumes from a variety of different eras. What time periods do you like most and why?

Most of all I like working with contemporary themes, because I’m interested in how our era is portrayed in film. Today, clothing is understood in global terms, and we tell more and more stories that question social structures and mechanisms. I find it challenging and extremely interesting to make costumes with this in mind, and to rethink them as well!

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. See you soon at Theaterkunst!

Thanks, and see you soon!