The television adaptation of The Last of Us is proving to be a worldwide hit and, for University of Lethbridge alumna Lindsey Kapitzke (BFA - Dramatic Arts ’15), being able to be a part of the production crew marked a major career milestone.
The Last of Us is said to be the largest television production in Canadian history, with reports that it will generate more than $200 million in revenue for the province of Alberta. Filmed in the province, local viewers recognize many iconic Alberta landmarks in the show, such as Lethbridge’s High Level Bridge, Calgary’s 4th Avenue Fly-over and the Alberta Legislature Building. The sheer scale of the production created thousands of jobs for Alberta film and stage crews, including Lindsey.
“It's so surreal working on the production and just how big it was. Then seeing the reception of it and how big it actually is, is so strange,” Lindsey says.
“During the production, one of the things that was keeping us going was the Reddit boards for the show, where people would try and get whatever information they could about the production and do their online sleuthing. It was actually really funny, because at one point, someone had posted the IMDB crew. So, it was kind of cool just to see how excited everybody was and read all their theories about what was going to happen and who was who.”
Lindsey worked as costume buyer with the costume and wardrobe department on The Last of Us. Her role, which she describes as “shopping as a job”, involved sourcing costume materials and working with the costume designers to bring their visions to life.
“If you think about the costumes of the show, the costume designer paints what the character is going to look like. My job as the buyer is to meet with our designer and build the palette that they're going to use to paint the show. Thankfully, because the creators of the game were so heavily involved in the production, we had access to all of their concept art. So, that was very valuable for us.”
Lindsey adds that she bought as much as she could locally in Calgary and worked with a team in Vancouver to source everything else.
“I always joke that it was my dream job – HBO gave me a credit card and let me loose in the malls in Calgary. Growing up, I loved shopping, and my dad was always like, that's not a job. Now, he's just so proud of the work I've done. The Last of Us is a huge highlight. I bought Nick Offerman Ugg boots, which was a very weird thing!”
Lindsey completed a BFA degree at ULethbridge in 2015, majoring in technical theatre and design. In addition to working as a costume buyer, Lindsey previously worked in dance and theatre settings in Calgary, putting her training in design to use as a cutter. In 2017, Lindsey assisted with the Calgary Stampede’s Grandstand show in honour of Canada’s 150th celebrations, and recalls meeting Jann Arden and connecting with her over costume designs.
“On the first season of Jann, she wears a dress I made for Stampede, which was my first time seeing anything I've made on television. That was really surreal.”
Lindsey made her first foray into the film industry in 2019 and is not looking back, citing the variety of things she gets to do with the medium. Lindsey says particularly in Alberta, working in film keeps her career interesting.
“The industry is massive and I'm really happy that it's blown up so big. I want the film industry in Alberta to grow, because it is such a wonderful industry. Film is always so beneficial and I'm happy that it's getting the support it needs.”
Another benefit to working in Alberta is continuing to work with many of the friends she made while a student, several of whom also worked on The Last of Us. Lindsey says making those connections and learning from industry experts were some of the most positive takeaways from her time at ULethbridge.
“ULethbridge drama graduates are really a different calibre. Having worked in this industry for a number of years now, our grads just know how to do stuff and get stuff done. I feel like they're set up with such a good mindset and toolbox to start making their career what they want,” she says.
“I loved the community when I was going to school, I loved just hanging out in the University’s spaces before classes. The technical and design professors and staff were incredible. They were so knowledgeable of their craft and they were so good at seeing where your talents were and what you could do to elevate it even more, which was really great. I'm very thankful for them and I do recommend the program to people.”
In the future, Lindsey says she has her eye on touring with a production or trying her hand at working on set, in addition to building a small business for her sewing patterns. When asked if she would come back to work with The Last of Us for season two, she replies with a resounding yes.
“If it was the same crew, I would go back and absolutely work for them again!”
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