For many people, Halloween is the one day a year to have an excuse to dress up in crazy costumes. For others, creating and wearing costumes is a significant part of their lives. Two years ago, three friends and I made a documentary exploring the topic of cosplaying. This was for a Documentary Production course at USF.
The term 'cosplaying' is a combination of 'costume' and 'play', and refers to people who create costumes and dress up as their favorite animated characters.
This hobby is especially popular in Japan, but it has recently become a subculture in its own right in the United States.
Before making this documentary, I didn't have a good understanding on why people would want to do this as a hobby. Why would you want to constantly portray fictional characters, rather than just being yourself?
After interviewing a sampling of American cosplayers, I found out that it's a way to hone their creative skills. Not only that, but it's a way to gather with like-minded people and form communities of friends from all over the world.
With this documentary, I really wanted to get to the heart of why people devoted so much time, energy, and money to this hobby.
Cosplayers often get a bad reputation as being 'geeky' or 'weird.' I'll admit that I had that impression before I actually met the people who do it.
I think that Kathryn Harper, one of our interviewees, summed it up best: "It's setting myself free to be who I want to be."
People have so many different sides to their personalities, and there are a countless number of characters you can dress up as to reflect certain aspects.
Most cosplayers also make their own costumes, so it's a hobby that allows your crafty side to thrive.
I can't say that I'll be cosplaying anytime soon, but I can say that doing this documentary gave me a great amount of insight and respect for this subculture. Plus, they probably have the best Halloween costumes...
Anime Comes To Life on Current TV
If you're curious about cosplaying, check out our documentary, "Anime Comes to Life." It first appeared on Current TV in November 2008 (our first paid documentary!).
Check it out here or below: