Multitalented Maui girl Melody Koerber is a sought-after costumer in Hollywood. The 2000 King Kekaulike High School graduate has amassed an impressive resume since she got her first break in 2003 working as a personal assistant on the set of "My Name Is Earl," during the television series' second season.
She is back home on Maui after finishing nine months of production work on Disney's "The Lone Ranger," which is scheduled for release in mid-July. The film stars Johnny Depp in the role of Tonto and Armie Hammer in the title role.
"Johnny is so sweet," said Koerber during an interview Thursday morning in Makawao. "He is always kind and acknowledges people. He is nice to the whole crew."
Melody Koerber is back on Maui for a break after completing nine months of costuming work for Disney’s “The Lone Ranger,” featuring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. The film is due out in mid-July.
The Maui News / RICH VAN SCOY photo
Koerber's costuming skills are varied.
"I do everything; sew, make jewelry, draw," said Koerber. Job duties change as production progresses.
"You start off drawing, sourcing, fabric design and actually dressing people at the end," said Koerber. During filming of "The Lone Ranger," she was called upon to repair costume malfunctions after multiple, intense action takes. She did everything from sewing torn pants to creating another shirt from scraps after it was irreparably damaged following seven continuous takes.
"That was the most intense thing I did on this film," said Koerber.
Koerber also got to make jewelry for Depp and picked the fabric for The Lone Ranger's costume.
"He's dark and quirky," said Koerber of Depp's acting persona. The jewelry she created for his Tonto role was "traditional stuff with a little twist." For example, she incorporated black bones instead of white.
Koerber also got to work with Depp during "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011).
"We came to Oahu to film part of 'Pirates,' " she said. "My mom loves Johnny Depp and got to meet him."
Koerber's parents had an influence on her artistic interests. Her mom is well-known artist Deybra Fair, and her father, Rodney K., is a musician, currently performing with "The Vamp."
Koerber had an interest in theater and costuming from a young age. She was involved with all aspects of the theater program at King Keakaulike High School. "I was also big into Halloween."
When it was time to choose a college, Koerber selected the Fashion Industry Design & Merchandising school in Los Angeles.
"I wasn't so much into fashion. I like period (pieces) and science fiction. I knew I wanted to go into production."
A costuming course during her third year at FIDM and subsequent personal assistant job helped lead to her current career.
Nancy Capper, supervisor of the costume department for "My Name Is Earl," loved Koerber's work.
"She helped me get into the union, which is important."
Koerber's costuming credits include major motion pictures like "Fast & Furious" (2009), "Drag Me to Hell" (2009), and "Unstoppable" (2010), starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.
When she's not working on films or television programs, Koerber diversifies her time with costuming jobs for photo shoots and by creating original jewelry. More of her work can be seen by visiting her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Costumes-by-Melody/104746056234354.
Penny Rose was the lead costume designer for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," and "The Lone Ranger," said Koerber.
"It's a team," she said of the monumental costuming effort. "There are hundreds of people."
Koerber said she is enjoying her break on Maui. "I'm doing the next 'Pirates.' They may film 5 and 6 together." Production is scheduled to begin in February or March. In the meantime, she'll busy herself with other projects.
"You never know until you're there," she said of the nature of her work. "You have to take other jobs. You're a freelancer."
* Rich Van Scoy can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.