Nfld. & Labrador

Things can get hairy in Frontier's costume department

Want to wear that buffalo fur? Better grow a beard.

Frontier's costume designer Michael Ground says it's a 'dream job'

Want to wear Jason Momoa's signature buffalo fur jacket? 'You’ll have to fight him to the death,' says Ground. (Caroline Hillier/Discovery Canada)

Viewers of the hit show Frontier will likely not be surprised that the show's costume department includes a room dedicated entirely to furs.

There's also special equipment for sewing and cutting all of the furs that make the show's costumes.

"Fur can be messy," Michael Ground, the show's costume designer, told the St. John's Morning Show

Ground was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for costume design for his fantastic furs for Frontier, a historical drama about the fur trade of the 1700s shot in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Michael Ground is the costume designer for Frontier. (Caroline Hillier/CBC)

And from what he says, fans and industry honchos aren't the only ones who appreciate his designs.

"You'll have to fight him to death for it," he said of star Jason Momoa's attachment to the massive buffalo fur jacket he wears in the show.

Keeping stars warm

Aside from all the furs — which Ground said come from the aforementioned buffalo, as well as coyote, wolf, mink, badger and rabbit — Ground and his team have to find innovative ways to keep the stars of Frontier toasty warm.

The hangers in Frontier's costume department are hung with furs and hides. (Caroline Hillier/CBC)

They often sew electric warm-up coats into the pieces they make for the characters, said Ground, and they even use electric long johns.

Ground and his team also disguise warm winter boots by wrapping them in strips of leather and animal hide.

And if you pause the show and zoom in on those boots, looking for hints of Gore-tex under the strips of hide and leather?

"You could try," he said. "But we do a pretty good job of covering them up."

The hairier the better

Frontier fur isn't showing up on just costumes, according to Ground. He's met a number of local young men growing out their hair and beards in hopes of being cast as an extra on the show.

"I run into them and they're like, 'I'm growing it out, I'm going to get on the show!'" he said.

Michael Ground was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Costume Design for Frontier. (Caroline Hillier/CBC)

And just how important is it for these folks to be hairy?

"Very important," he said.

"If they want to be a cool frontiersman, they need to keep growing their hair and keep growing those beards."

'Dream job'

And if they do wind up becoming frontiersmen or even part of the team behind the show, those hairy hopefuls should be prepared to work hard, especially if they're working with Ground in the costume department.

Ground says he heads straight for the furs whenever he walks into a vintage shop. (Caroline Hillier/CBC)

"It is a dream job and it's been very rewarding, but it's been a nightmare as well, at times. I won't say there have not been stress migraines," he said.

"But seeing actors come alive as you present them with this twisted look … watching actors feel their characters through their costumes — that's when I feel the most gratified with my job."