INTERVIEW: Erica Rice And Getting Tacky Just Right For Between Two Ferns: The Movie

Between Two Ferns is a web series from Funny or Die, hosted by Zach Galifianakis that awkwardly interviews famous people. Now on Netflix is Between Two Ferns: The Movie, starring Galifianakis and costume designer Erica Rice has plenty to say about what it takes to make the oddball style of all these characters look right.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie is directed by Scott Aukerman and features Zach Galifianakis as himself, delivering a deliciously dead-pan character who asks strange questions, mispronounces things, and gets facts completely wrong while interviewing the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Gal Godot, and David Letterman who Zach calls “Meth Santa.” In the film, Zach and his crew seek to restore their reputation after Will Ferrel embarrasses them on Funny or Die (the film’s producer). It’s meta within meta, and if you loved the web series, there’s no doubt you’ll love the movie.

PopAxiom un-awkwardly interviewed Erica Rice about her work making costumes and the tacky-chic of Between Two Ferns.


Making Costumes

Erica was interested in acting and directing from an early age and “…went to school for theatre.” Not soon after, “I went to L.A. to pursue acting.” Erica was making costumes for her own multimedia theatre company “… out of necessity. We were small.”

Soon, she started making costumes for other companies, then indie movies, then “… I did 80 episodes of Comedy Bang Bang.”

Erica’s career’s taken into the wardrobes of things as large as Marvel films. What’s the significant difference between those films and smaller budgeted projects like Between Two Ferns? “… time to prepare. On a Marvel film, you have months to work things out, and you have multiple fittings.”

Doing Tacky Right

Zach’s version of himself on the show is notably a bad dresser. “Of course, Zach is the first one cast. He wanted to stay consistent with the web series. He had a couple blazers he wanted us to remake … which came from his dad’s closet.”

Erica and her team completed multiple versions of the blazers. “… he wouldn’t even try them on.”

According to Erica, Zach would say, “It’s better if they don’t fit well.” She attributes this to Zach’s “… and Scott’s sense of humor.”

“I knew going into it that it wasn’t going to be some sleek design job … it was so much fun. Every fitting was like a playground.”

Look Of Carol

Zach’s on-screen team includes Lauren Lapkus as Carol Hunch, the equally awkward right-hand woman and producer of the show within the movie. “We made her pants a little too short and gave her black socks so they would stand out … a shirt with ruffles … then Scott suggested a vest over that.”

“We found these weird little eccentricities.”

In comedy, it’s all about the joke and less about looking unrealistically fabulous at all times. “It’s a joy working with comedians.”

Celebrity Guests

The show’s first guest is Matthew McConaughey “A lot of the celebrities dress themselves or have a stylist. So I would talk to their team and tell them to dress like they were going to a daytime talk show.”

The effect? The celebrities feel, “… more elevated. So that Zach would always be the worse-dressed person in the room.”

In the case of McConaughey, who opens the film in a crazy water stunt, there was a stunt double and a need for many versions of his look. “We spoke to his team, learned what his favorite brands were, and gave him a rack of options. He chose what felt most like him.”

For another star cameo, Peter Dinklage, “… we made a kimono.”

Erica had to work fast because some celebrities were only available for a limited time. “You’re getting casting two nights before. It’s kind of a form of improvisation. I think we made Dinklage’s robe overnight. You’re having to really work on the fly and think ahead about the idea of the character so that you’re ready.”

Fabric And Tech

Erica’s been in the business now for nearly 10 years, and what’s something she’s learned along the way? “Fabric is key. Early on, I would do a lot of flat colors and fabrics. But as I worked with designers, I learned about texture.”

Every era and every genre has a certain style that requires a specific fabric. “Superheroes have their own specific type of fabric. It’s an industry kind of standard across the board.”

“Fabric means everything.”

Technology improvements change the film and television industry seemingly every year. It’s no different in the world of costuming. “3D printing’s also become a big thing now. There were a lot of things on Black Panther that was 3D printed.”

“It’s an exciting time. The possibilities for creating costumes are sort of endless now.”

Wrapping Up

Short films, television shows, movies. What is Erica’s primary source of inspiration? “… real people. Especially when I’m working on something like Between Two Ferns. I love to watch people and the way they dress. I love that about living in the city and seeing people walk around and how they dress.”

Erica adds, “I do watch fashion shows and pay attention to what the new trends are.”

But affirms, “… so much about costume design is about character, and so it goes back to real people as to where I get my ideas.”

If Erica heard of a remake happening, what film would she work extra hard to get the gig as the costume designer? “I think it would have to be The Princess Bride.” I told Erica that there are rumors of that remake happening, and I could feel her face light up. “I had that movie completely memorized when I was a kid. And it’s a combination of period and comedy, which is my dream job.”

Between Two Ferns: The Movie is out on Netflix. So, what’s next for Erica? “A movie I worked on called The Space Between … a movie about the music industry in the 90s starring Kelsey Grammar and Paris Jackson. And a couple other things that I can’t talk about just yet.”

Thanks to Erica Rice and Impact24 PR for making this interview possible.

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Ruben Diaz
Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.