Heads up: SyFy's new Cosplay Melee premieres tonight. It's a competition show, bringing four new contestants into a workshop each week to build original props and costumes in three days--and perform in them--for a chance to win $10,000. And while weekly theme challenges and the requirement to create characters not based on exisiting intellectual properties put the cosplayers on even footing for the competition, it's the time constraint of building a prop in eight hours and a full costume from scratch in two days that may make the show interesting to watch. Another factor is that the cosplayers are working in a space that's not their own, using tools and materials the showrunners supplied, set up and organized by the show's production design team.
I chatted with Ian Mallahan, Cosplay Melee's Executive Producer, about the build out for the show's workspace and how contestants made use of the supplied tools for their builds. For Ian, who previously worked on American Chopper and Ellen's Design Challenge, cosplay required a different kind of workshop to fit the needs of different types of build styles. I started off by asking him how the production team chose what types of tools and materials to provide.
Ian Mallahan: I thought the best way was to go straight to the source, ask them what they used, and what their dream tools would be. Iltimately, we surveyed the contestants. We we started building out the workshop, we had just finished finals casting, and we had a really good pool of who we thought was going to be in the show. And what i wanted to do was provide them with a workshop that would cater to their specific needs.
If there was a top material and top tool, the top material was EVA foam, and top tool was the Dremel. If this was the wild west, the Dremel would be the six shooter. It's in play nearly constnatly in the workshop. And with eva foam, they're able to transform that humble material into costumes and characters that look like metal. It's unbelievable what they're able to do with that pedestian material.
What were the tools that ended up getting used the most? Did what you supplied inform what types of props and costumes could be made?
They were on the bandsaw quite a bit. Scroll saw was used quite a bit, and belt sanders got a lot of work too--useful for shaping insulation foam and aging soft materials, like fabrics. That kind of worn aged look was the difference between something looking like a halloween costume and the real authentic thing. All during produciton, heat guns were blazing. It sounded like a hair salon in there sometimes.