Carmen Thompson (Diitiidaht/Kyuquot/Coast Salish) has been designing and building costumes for theatre, television, music videos and feature films for more than 15 years and over 60 credits to her name. Known for her research & attention to detail with a commitment to cultural authenticity has made her an in-demand member of creative teams in Los Angeles, Vancouver and Victoria.
Most recently, she won the 2023 CAFTCAD Award for Costume Design in Film-Period for Marie Clement’s feature film, Bones of Crows. In 2022 she won the CAFTCAD Award for, “Kiri and the Girl” Costume Design, Short Film. She has garnered a Leo Nomination for “Best Costume Design in a Motion Picture” for Marie Clement’s Red Snow (2019), and “Best Costume Design in a Short Drama” for her work on Matthew Blecha’s Super Bingo (2018).
Carmen’s father, the late Art Thompson (Diitidaht/Coast Salish), was a renowned First Nations carver and painter and he inspired her to combine both her cultural background and technical training in her work. Her mother, from Kyuquot, raised Carmen to pursue a career in the arts, which started with acting at the age of 13 in feature films and television in Vancouver.
Carmen’s latest works include being the lead Costume Designer of the award winning feature film, Bones of Crows. In Los Angeles, Carmen served as lead Costume Designer for Jamie Foxx’s Intuition Tour and the Lead Costume Builder for the 2009 BET Award Show honouring Michael Jackson; designing & building the costumes for the Haida and Coast Salish cast for a Murdoch Mysteries episode; Lead Costume Builder for the 2009 Nickleodeon Teen Choice Awards and VH1 Rock Honors-The Who; and designing Polynesian costumes for host Duane “The Rock” Johnson and 24 dancers for the Nickleodeon Kids Choice Awards. Costume Designer of award-winning film, Monkey Beach. She has moved into theatre with Inheritance, God’s Lake and the opera, Missing.
Carmen was the Costume Designer for the international TV series, 1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus, which involved designing more than 150 historic costumes representing different Indigenous nations such as Amazonian, Anishnaabe, Inuit, Aztec, Maya, Blackfoot, Cahokia, Cree, Inca, Iroquois, Kwaguilth, Nuuchahnulth and Pueblo.
With over 20+ years of onset experience, Carmen is now making the move to producing, writing and directing Indigenous short films and docu-dramas. In 2020, she is an Associate Producer and Costume Designer for the short film Kiri and the Girl, featuring actress Grace Dove (The Revenant) in her directorial debut.
Her next project (currently in development) will be as a Producer on Forbidden Music, a historical docu-drama feature about a Jewish holocaust survivor who recorded the music of First Nations knowledge keepers in Canada in the 1940s.
Carmen is now moving toward writing, specifically, Showrunner. In October 2022, she attended the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity and completed the Indigenous Screenwriting Residency Program. In 2019, she was accepted into the Women in Film & TV, Tricksters & Writers Program.
She is currently putting to paper, Raven’s Clan – both reality based and television series based show about a highly cultural and spiritual Indigenous Family in the “Big Smoke” (Big City).
Carmen was given the Nuu-chah-nulth name “Tl’aakwaa” from her Uncle Ron Hamilton/Ki-ke-in, means copper and it is particularly appropriate for an artist whose works are luminous, brilliant and culturally centred.
Carmen joined Capilano University and helped create the pilot four day intensive, Indigenous Costuming in Film and Television. And is currently creating a Mentorship Program with Kadence Productions.