Trevor: Hey guys, it’s Trevor with Comic Con Tips. I’m here today with Brian. Why don’t you tell us about yourself a little bit.
Brian: My name is Brian, I’m from Salt Lake City, Utah. I was born and raised here. My current cosplay is a Steam 3PO. Steampunk Star Wars C-3PO that I’ve been taking to all the conventions around here lately, and it’s a lot of fun.
Trevor: Nice. So, we just did a mini-shoot at Trolley Square and got bumped out by the security guard guy. So you get two shots is what we get.
Brian: We had no permit to shoot here.
Trevor: No permit. Apparently they closed an hour ago, so no luck.
Trevor: So Brian, how did you get started in cosplay?
Brian: I’ve always been a huge Halloween fan, so I usually spend all year getting my Halloween costume together. Sort of when the whole cosplay thing started getting big, especially when the conventions started happening here- Comic Con last year. I was like, “Wow. I don’t have to wait until Halloween to get a cool costume together, and it doesn’t have to be horror or Halloween-related. I can just do whatever.” I’ve always been a huge Star Wars fan, and I thought Star Wars and steampunk, C-3PO would be a good fit for that. So I started working on it. I got the idea on May the 4th this last year.
Trevor: This year, in 2014?
Brian: Yeah. It took a few months to put it together. I’m always still working on it though. I’m always adding little things here and there to it.
Trevor: And you’ve been invited to wear it to a festival?
Brian: Yeah, Winter Faire is happening in December. They saw me at Comic Con this last September, and asked me to come be a special guest because there’s a steampunk element to Winter Faire. So that’s pretty awesome. I was pretty excited about that.
Trevor: Yeah, that’s really cool. Besides Steam 3PO, what other costumes have you worked on?
Brian: I just started working on a steampunk Deadshot based on the character from the Arrow series. So steampunk Deadshot, then of course Halloween’s coming up so I am working on a 7-foot stilt walker skeleton Halloween costume that I’m doing for a Halloween party.
Trevor: That’s cool. This being your primary costume, what were the challenging pieces that went into this one?
Brian: The hardest part was the face because I don’t really have fabrication skills. I couldn’t really make the face, so I had to try and find sort of a way to buy it and then embellish it. What I ended up finding was— the C-3PO masks that they make today are not very good quality in my opinion. What I found was an original 1977 vintage 20th Century Fox C-3PO mask. Most of them were selling for hundreds of dollars. I found one on eBay that was like $20. It had a little bit of a scratch and dent, so I got that. The color was horrible. So I had to paint it. I had to add a bunch of accessories to the face. Actually if you go to my Facebook page, you can see the evolution of the mask from the first day I got it through what it looks like now. It’s funny to look at— it looks pretty crappy to start with. But as it evolves, I think it comes together pretty nicely.
Trevor: That’s cool. So speaking of your Facebook page, before we get to say what it is, how do we get to your Facebook page?
Brian: It’s just https://www.facebook.com/steam3po. Or you could just search for Star Wars steampunk C-3PO. I’m the only one on that comes up.
Trevor: You’ve been in the cosplay community for a year-ish. How’s that treating you?
Brian: It’s awesome. I love it.
Trevor: Are you meeting people?
Brian: Oh, yeah.
Trevor: Tell us about that experience.
Brian: It’s been great. The first time I did anything dressing up was for the FanX.
Trevor: This past April?
Brian: This past April, yeah. Then I did Fantasy Con, and Comic Con, and Steamfest. I’ve met a ton of people. It’s funny because the cosplayers talk about how great the community is and how great the people are and you kind of think, “Yeah, right.” It really is. Everybody is so nice- the online communities, at the conventions, people that are putting together the cosplay contests at the conventions and things. It’s been really great. It seriously has opened up a whole new world of friends and people that I’ve met. It’s been great. I’ve started going to a lot of the classes that are being offered around town just to try and –
Trevor: Work on the fabrication skills?
Brian: My skill level of sewing and fabrication stuff is not great. So it’s been a huge learning opportunity too, just to learn all kinds of new stuff. And I’ve made a lot of cool new friends.
Trevor: That’s cool. If you were going to give us five of your best convention tips, what would they be? No “Hydrate.”
Brian: I was going to say, “Everybody says ‘Hydrate,’” and it’s so true.
Trevor: Don’t say, “Hydrate.”
Brian: For me, I’ll relate these to what I’ve learned from my costume. People that have seen it and know C-3PO, the mouth hole is really small. So bring food that you can fit in your mouth hole. I had to live on like Chicken in a Biscuit crackers, and for the “hydrate” part, I always had to bring a straw. The costume’s a little difficult to get in and out of. So especially if I’m entering a contest or something, I can’t really just take it on and off. So I have to leave it on, so it’s a straw and cracker-sized food that fit in the mouth hole.
Brian: Repair kit. I took a little Altoids mint tin and just filled it with safety pins and duct tape and whatever I could think of that I might need to repair my costume.
Trevor: Did you break?
Brian: I haven’t broken. Actually I did break. There’s a button extender on the collar because the head’s so big. I did break the button extender on the collar, and I did have a spare in my kit. Have your kit on you. Don’t just bring it and put it somewhere. Have it on you because when you need it, you need it.
Brian: Man, top five tips. I need to be doing this longer so I learn more lessons of what not to do.
Trevor: What should I do and what shouldn’t I do?
Trevor: So you have a hard time seeing, I noticed as we were wandering around here.
Brian: Visibility’s terrible in that thing.
Trevor: So did you have a helper, or somebody to help navigate you around?
Brian: I went to a couple conventions where I had a handler, who actually is my son, who helps me out. And I’ve been to a couple where I haven’t had a handler, and it is very difficult. Basically, I can only see straight ahead. There’s no peripheral vision. Again, the C-3PO eye holes, very tiny. So if I don’t have somebody with me, I just look straight ahead and walk, and just hope nobody runs into me.
Trevor: So what is a typical day cosplaying Steam 3PO, what does that consist of? Do you go to panels and stuff, or are you just stuck walking around?
Brian: What I usually try and do is – like at Comic Con, at the multi-day conventions – I try and see the convention the Thursday or Friday, and not go in costume. And the save the Saturday, which is normally the bigger cosplay day. It’s usually when the costume contents are as well. I’ll do Saturday in the costume. That day is pretty much a bust for actually seeing any of the convention, especially in that costume. I’m hoping with the Deadshot costume, it’s a little easier removed and it’s just got the eyepiece. So I’ll actually be able to enjoy the convention in addition to wearing the costume. But taking pictures with people is obviously a huge part of wearing the costume, so you really can’t plan your day to go to a lot of panels or to see a lot of the exhibition hall. You should pretty much plan on getting stopped for pictures and really just be there for pictures. Especially also if you’re going to enter the costume contest because that’s a half day commitment in and of itself.
Trevor: So walk us through the costume contest. I don’t know that we’ve interviewed anyone that’s described that for us. How does that go?
Brian: It’s a long process.
Trevor: Do you have to preregister way in advance?
Brian: There is pre-registration, which is definitely recommended if you’re going to do any of the costume contests. Preregister. I preregistered for the Comic Con cosplay contest, and it was a lot smoother. I did not preregister for the Fantasy Con and that was— so you have to get there really early for prejudging, and it’s a wait list. So depending on if you get there later, you may not even get into prejudging. I was lucky. I got there early at Fantasy Con. I got into prejudging, and I made it into the cosplay contest for Fantasy Con. If you preregister, it’s a lot easier. You can submit your music ahead of time. You don’t have to worry about the wait list for prejudging. Once you go through prejudging— some contests, if you preregistered, you’re in the contest automatically. Some, you have to go through prejudging and if you make it, then they’ll let you know that you made it into the contest.
Trevor: What does that prejudging look like?
Brian: It’s a panel of 3-5 judges. Usually you bring a book that shows the progression, a photo album basically, of your costume. They ask you about your techniques that you used, just how you put the whole thing together, where you got the ideas from, depending on if the contest is judged on your ability to create. Fantasy Con had two contests, one for creators and one for people who just sort of put the costume together, which is the category I fit into because I don’t saw any of my own clothes, I don’t make my own boots. Some cosplayers out there, there’s crazy skills to do all that stuff. So mine was not the creators contest, so it wasn’t as heavy on, “Did you stitch that? Are your seams well-hidden?” All that stuff. It was more about, “Where did you get the elements to put it together? Where did you get the idea?” And creativity just on the idea, and stuff.
Trevor: So then you finish the prejudging, then what happens?
Brian: They let you know if you made it into the contest or not. If you didn’t, you’re just sort of released to go do whatever you want. If you did, there’s a set time you have to be back. It’s usually within a couple of hours of when the prejudging ends. You have to be back in costume, ready to go to the actual contest. They sort of march you behind the scenes through the kitchen and the back alleys of the convention center to get to, usually the South Ballroom is where they’ve had it. You hang out there and wait for an indeterminate amount of time until they call you up. Then you go up. You get about 60 seconds of stage time usually. Some people choreograph skits. Some people sort of just walk on and do sort of a model posing and things. Basically you have 60 seconds to show off your costume to the judges, walk off, wait for everybody else to get done. There’s usually a break. At Fantasy Con there was a long break until— the awards ceremony was a whole separate event. Comic Con, there was just a break with entertainment while they tallied up the scores then announced the winners. It can be a most-of the-day commitment, especially if you don’t preregister.
Trevor: Sounds like it. Do they give you feedback on your stuff afterward? If you place or don’t place? What kind of stuff happens after?
Brian: There isn’t a whole lot of feedback, actually. If you make it into prejudging, they let you know you made it to prejudging, but really no specific feedback. Once you walk on, unless you win, they don’t really talk about your costume anymore. I guess there is one thing, I did get some good feedback. At the prejudging at Fantasy Con, I got some good feedback. Just as far as the walk, the C-3PO walk, and that I should always sort of be in that character in the prejudging and in the contest and stuff, which was really good advice that I took. Now, when I’m in the contest, I always try and mimic the walk as much as possible.
Trevor: What does your demonstration look like?
Brian: It’s kind of been evolving. I’ve done just two contests now. The Fantasy Con and the Comic Con. At Comic Con, I was hoping that they would use— you could submit music ahead of time. So I edited together a whole thing that went with a scripted skit, and I used sound clips from the movies, C-3POs voice. At Comic Con, I had a blowup, remote-control R2D2 that I had put a steampunk hat and steampunk goggles on, and a friend of mine was remote-controlling him from the audience. So I had this dialogue between C-3PO and R2D2. I had the Star Wars theme music. Unfortunately, they didn’t have time to play everybody’s music. So it was basically a walk on, pose, R2D2 sort of comes on, I sort of chase after him and sort of chase him off the stage. So that’s sort of what it was at Comic Con. I’m hoping for the next contest to get that music in there. There’s a part where I do the robot. So I’m hoping to get all that stuff in there.
Trevor: What does the future of cosplay hold for you besides the one costume you’ve told us about?
Brian: Just keep creating and keep on learning more. Like I said, keep going to the classes. It’s been great because of the interest in the cons, and then cosplay is being a huge part of that. There really are a lot more opportunities for classes and things. Comic Con’s obviously been putting on classes at The Leonardo. There’s a great group that I want to plug. You may have actually talked to some people involved in this, called Craft-Fu. Craft-Fu put on a great bunch of classes just a few months ago and they’ve got another one in January. It’s two days, one hour classes. There’s three classes during every hour. You pick which one you want to go to. I learned a ton at that one. I’m excited to learn more at this one, and just keep incorporating those into making Steam 3PO a cooler costume, and just new costumes. I really like steampunk, so I may continue to do more steampunk versions. I like mashup costumes as well. So yeah, just more costumes and just looking forward to being in more in the community and seeing cosplay growing as the cons and everything continues to grow, especially here in Salt Lake.
Trevor: That’s awesome. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Brian: It was awesome to meet you. I appreciate it.
Trevor: Hopefully we’ll see you at the cons in your new costumes.