Don't forget to read Part 1 of this article - Contestant interviews! Click here.
The Crown Championships of Cosplay at C2E2 is the biggest cosplay event of the year, drawing competitors from around the world. Many cosplayers out there wonder what goes on behind the curtain, such as how ReedPOP (the company behind C2E2) chooses competitors. Here's my correspondence with ReedPOP's Global Brand Marketing & Creative Director - Brian Stephenson as he gives us a more in-depth look into the selection process for the competition.
A lot of people are wondering how the selection process takes place on who gets to compete in these competitions (ECCC, NYCC and C2E2). Would you be able to run us through the process on how competitors are selected?
Each competition has a separate screening process that takes place in the months preceding the show. Potential competitors can apply via the respective show websites, submit samples and tell us a little more about their costumes. We love to get as many details as possible from the potential competitors prior to reviewing submissions. From there, our team along with a group of cosplay experts reviews each costume submission for a wide variety of criteria. After those reviews take place we invite the best costumes to compete.
ReedPOP holds regional competitions around the country, but some people believe that there is really no strict rule with regards applying for your own region for these contests. For example, someone from the East Coast qualifies for C2E2, and someone from the Midwest qualifies NYCC. Which means these competitions are more of a free-for-all who apply. Is this correct?
In the past we have not had a hard and fast rule in regards to making sure a competitor is based in a specific region and can only compete in a show from that specific region of the US. Sometimes a cosplayer’s personal schedule won’t allow them to come to one of our spring shows but they could travel to compete in one of our fall shows. People also sometimes relocate throughout the year and could attend one of our shows on the west coast vs where they used to live on the east coast. Our goal has always been to make sure we are attracting the top cosplayers and giving them an opportunity to compete at our shows. With that being said, we are always reviewing our guidelines and this is something that we will be reviewing for the 2018/2019 competition circuit. We would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this as we always want to do what is best for the competitors and we plan on continually improving the competitions based on feedback from the cosplay community.
"Our goal has always been to make sure we are attracting the top cosplayers and giving them an opportunity to compete at our shows."
A lot of contestants are not clear about the criteria in each category. Would you be able to provide us with this information?
Our competitions are judged based on overall craftsmanship. Although if you ask anyone who’s made a costume before, you know the word “craftsmanship” can take many forms. So we try to be as comprehensive as we can knowing that a giant suit of armor with props should be judged differently than an intricately sewn gown. As such, our contestants are divided into 3 categories – Armor, Needleworkand FX. Each of which has their own specific judging criteria. Without getting too specific, we tend to look for (among other things) the below:
- Needlework – quality of seams, hems, dying, printing, embroidery
- Armor – quality of sealing, molding, finishes
- FX – blending, makeup, prosthetics, electronics
On top of category specific criteria, we also have some general things we look for – how well can the cosplayer move in the costume, extra aesthetics or functionality, etc. We instruct our judges to be very thorough during the pre-judging that takes place the day of the competition. They are looking inside, under and all around the costumes to get a specific and up close sense of quality and detail.
Planning events like the Crown Championship is not an easy feat, but we'd like to hear more about what goes on behind the scenes for the C2E2 team. Can you tell us how the con gets ready for this competition?
Many months of work goes on behind the scenes to make all of the competitions in the ReedPOP Global Championships of Cosplay happen! This is especially true for the C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay as we have competitors traveling from all over the world to compete in Chicago.
Preparation happens year round and can take many forms depending on how far out we are from the competition. At the earliest stages we are booking quality judges who will bring a worthwhile perspective to the competition while also working with sponsors like SINGER to elevate the competitions. We are working with all of our global teams on their competitions and collecting all of the information on their champions. Towards the middle of the cycle we are working on reviewing and approving competitors, gathering up all their info and making sure they have everything they need from us.
Towards the end of the cycle we are making sure all shipping and travel is arranged for our global champions and then making it all happen at the show. Anything from helping a giant centaur get up the ramp on to the stage to strut their stuff, to making sure that costumes are clearing customs, to going over all of the video and music packages for the stage show! There are tons of other things that are happening as well.
The C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay is a signature event within ReedPOP’s global portfolio and our entire global team pitches in year round to make sure it goes off without a hitch.
Since this is my third year qualifying for the contest, here's a list of things that you may not know about the competition:
1. It will more than likely take up your entire day
And I mean your entire day! For me, it's typically a 14 hour day just devoted to this contest - from getting ready to the end of the show. I go to the dressing room before the convention even starts on that day. Then after getting ready, you go through prejudging, which is when the judges inspect your cosplay up-close. There are a lot of contestants that have to go through the prejudging, so it may last until mid afternoon before they finish. This is the same reason why sometimes you don't see your friends who join this contest, because they're probably in the dressing room waiting for their turn. And then the contest doesn't start until 7pm and ends around 10pm onwards.
2. Contestants are not chosen by the judges, but by ReedPop's cosplay committee
I have confirmed in my interview above that contestants are not chosen by the judges, but by Reed Pop's cosplay committee. In terms of who they are - I don't know. But as said in the above interview, it's a group of people who are knowledgeable about cosplay. For the past three years, I have heard of people complaining about who gets selected for the contest. All I can say is this - if you find people who you don't think deserve to be there, lay off these cosplayers and complain to Reed Pop. It's not their fault that they were chosen.
3. If chosen, do your homework before the competition
This is sometimes the most common mistake that contestants make during the contest. Not knowing where the prejudging room is, not knowing which entrance to go to , knowing the size of the doors (if you have a bis cosplay), the schedule, etc. Make sure to ask ALL questions you can think of to the convention staff. And as always, other experienced competitors will give you advise. Ask anything! You'll be surprised of little things you never thought of that ends up affecting your performance once you go on stage.
4. Prepare yourself physically and mentally
Sure, this is a contest of showing off your skills. But people forget that with any contest it will take a toll not only on your body, but mentally as well. If you have nerves of steel, then I applaud you! But being in the contest is a lot of commitment. As I have mentioned in #1 - it WILL take up most of your day. Sometimes prejudging times get pushed back, and with 29 other contestants that are competing and going through prejudging, make sure to prepare yourself. Believe me, when this happens it will sometimes throw you off.
5. Always have a cosplay handler
It doesn't matter if you have a simple costume. On the day itself, you will feel nervous and the whole day will pass you by. You will get extremely busy and sometimes you won't have time to do everything you planned for the day like meeting friends and photoshoots. Handlers are "handy" (intentional pun! LOL.), because they can help with keeping you in tract with the time, helping with minor repairs, and especially be your cheerleader before, during and after the contest. My husband is my number 1 fan and handler for the past 3 years I've been competing in Crown Championship of Cosplay, and he knows the drill right now. I get nervous that he reminds me to drink, eat, go to the bathroom and breathe! Yes - even breathing because I get so nervous.
6. The judges will inspect everything...
And I do mean EVERYTHING! Down to how straight your stitches are, how you paint your armor pieces, what you did to attach each piece, etc. The judges are mostly cosplayers themselves, so they are familiar with the building techniques. They will also ask a lot of questions - technical ones to know not only how you have successfully built your cosplay, but it will also catch when people cheat. This is how they find out if you really built your cosplay.
7. You may not always end up in the category you sign up for.
During the application process, you normally indicate which category you want to compete in (sewing, special effect, armor). This not only helps you highlight your strengths with regards to the craftsmanship in your cosplay, but would also give weight into the judges decision when they inspect your cosplay during prejudging. More often than not, they will move contestants if they find more than one skill-set (armor, sewing special effects) on your cosplay and transfer you to even out the number of participants in each category.
Check out a few behind the scenes pics I took while I was getting ready -
I'm definitely excited for next year! I learned my lesson and I'm starting my build next month.
Wish me luck!
And the Winners Are...
Photo from C2E2 Website