Masquerade Costume Contest
Director: Marilee Coughlin
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom
Sunday August 31, 2014 8:30p - 11p
In the grand tradition of convention costuming, dating back nearly five decades in SF fandom, Dragon Con is proud to present the largest Masquerade Costume Contest in the Southeast and one of the largest in the world!
The 2014 Dragon Con Masquerade Costume Contest will be held in the Hyatt Centennial Ballroom. Registration for the Masquerade will be available until midnight Wednesday before the con, by clicking on the following link and completing the on-line registration form: here
This form will require you to agree to abide by the rules of the Masquerade. Please make sure you have read them before you register. The rules are listed below.
You can also register during the con at the Contest Registration Desk located outside the Centennial Ballroom in the Hyatt. We'll be open Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Even if you have pre-registered you need to stop by the registration table to let us know you are here and to receive your backstage pass and instructions. Simply drop by the Contest Registration Desk during the con.
*NOTE: REMINDER - TIME LIMITS FOR CONTESTANT PERFORMANCE – INDIVIDUALS ARE LIMITED TO 90 SECONDS ( A MINUTE AND A HALF) AND GROUPS TO THREE MINUTES.
**NOTE: REMINDER - YOUR CD WILL BE RETAINED BY THE MASQUERADE VOLUNTEERS AFTER THE TRACK IS APPROVED AT CONTEST REGISTRATION.
Dragon Con MASQUERADE - Rules & Information
- There will be a limit of fifty entries, at the Director's discretion and depending upon the "mix" of contestants. A group performance is considered to be one entry. Registration will be at the Convention or by utilizing the on-line pre-registration form. On-Line registration closes the Wednesday before the Con. On-Site Registration closes Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
- Individual presentations are limited to ONE AND ONE HALF minutes; group sketches and skits are limited to THREE minutes. The Director reserves the right to remove contestants who violate these time limits.
- NO microphones may be used by the contestants. Except for the written emcee introduction, all audio material must be pre-recorded on a CD (see rule 4). Any contestant who attempts to address the audience will be removed from the stage immediately. (Contestants need to be aware that anything spoken onstage, without amplification, cannot be heard in the hall, or even at the judges' table located directly in front of the stage.)
- To have music or dialog accompany your presentation, you must pre-record it on a CD and you MUST bring the CD when you register so that the track can be reviewed, approved, and loaded onto our equipment. Once approved, your CD will be kept by the volunteer in case the track has to be re-copied. On your tech sheet, you will indicate when the track is to be played during your performance. Untested, unapproved, new, or changed CDs will not be accepted after registration has closed - Sunday at 3:00p. If your track exceeds the time limits (see rule 2), it will be truncated (cut off at the time limit).
- All contestants under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times; if not, they will be turned over to hotel security.
- No profanity allowed. Any contestant who violates this rule will be removed from the stage immediately. Your CD will be checked for profanity when you register. If you attempt to shout profanity to the audience you will be removed (see rule #3).
- No nudity allowed; this is a family costume show. No costume is no costume.
- No flash pots or explosive devices. The Atlanta Fire Department will shut us down.
- If you plan to carry a weapon, you must conform to the following: No illegal or loaded weapons. No whips may be used onstage.
You must demonstrate that you can carry the weapon without injury to yourself or others. Transportation of weapons to and from the Masquerade must follow the convention's weapon policy.
- Props will have to be carried on and off the stage by the contestants. If your props require more people to move them, you will have to provide the manpower. When you register for the contest, you must tell us why you need helpers and how many helpers you will have, and get backstage ribbons for each of them.
- There is no pre-judging session. Registered contestants will report to the Centennial Ball Room prep area for set-up activities and information at 6:30p; child entrants can report to the area (with an adult) at 7:45p. You must have your “Masquerade” ribbon to gain access to the area. We will do pre-show direction in the prep area of the ballroom. The photographer will also be set up in the prep area of the ballroom. There is not a large backstage area and there are no private dressing rooms; show up ready to go onstage. We will have a costume repair kit and your den mother may be able to help with repairs and make-up touch-ups.
- After your performance, you will return to the backstage area to await the judge's results. Children and their parents (2 per contestant) will be seated in a reserved area of the auditorium to see the rest of the show. There will be a big-screen TV backstage so that everyone can see the show. Entrants will compete under International Costumers' Guild skill-division rules as Junior, Novice, Journeyman, or Master. These categories are defined as follows: Master: A contestant who has won at least one major award (Best in Show) or four category awards at a WorldCon, CostumeCon, Dragon Con, or ICG-recognized competition.
Journeyman: A contestant who has won at least one, but less than four, category awards at a WorldCon, CostumeCon, Dragon Con, or ICG-recognized competition.
Novice: A contestant who has never won an award (as indicated above) in competition.
Junior: Any contestant under 16 (There will be two groups – ages 1 – 4, and ages 5 – 16).
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions by Masquerade Entrants
Q: How much does it cost to enter the Masquerade?
A: ZERO, but you must have a Dragon Con membership badge and show it to the Masquerade volunteer who registers you.
Q: How do I enter the Masquerade?
A: Use the pre-registration form prior to the Wednesday before the Con on this site by following the link or stop by the Masquerade Registration table in the Hyatt in front of the Centennial Ball Room and fill out a registration form before 3 p.m on Sunday. We will be staffed Friday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EVEN IF YOU PRE-REGISTERED YOU NEED TO COME BY THE REGISTRATION TABLE TO CONFIRM YOU ARE AT THE CONVENTION AND TO RECIEVE INSTRUCTIONS. REGISTRATION FOR THE MASQUERADE WILL CLOSE SUNDAY AT 3:00p - we need time to prepare the entry forms for the emcees, and we will be completing the tabulations for the Hall Costume Contest.
The volunteers at the table will log you in as an entrant, read your form, and assist you (if necessary) in composing the best announcement for your entrance. The volunteer will also check whether you have planned to use a CD for audio music or dialogue; if so, the CD will be tested to verify that the track is acceptable; then it will be retained by the Dragon Con Masquerade volunteers and loaded onto our equipment. You must remain at the registration table to learn if your CD will be able to be played during the show. Your entry form will be kept by the volunteers, and we will enter all the forms into a computer and print them so that the emcee will be able to read your announcement. We need your real name on the entry form, not your con nickname. You will be given a ribbon to attach to your membership badge that says "Masquerade" - this will get you into the backstage area of the ballroom at the appointed time. Do not lose the ribbon.
Q: How is the order of contestants determined?
A: All children go on stage in the first group of the evening. The children's winners are determined and announced; then, the children and two family members for each child will be seated in a reserved area of the auditorium to enjoy the rest of the show. The first item of business for the Director during the backstage prep will be to ask if anyone has a pressing legitimate need to be in the first adult group to go on stage. This will happen at 6:30p, so if you need to be among the first contestants to go onstage, be at the prep area before 6:30p. A legitimate need is defined as a physical limitation or a costume that is too hot or uncomfortable to be in for more than 2 hours or so.
All other contestants will be assigned sequence numbers for going onstage at the discretion of the Director, using a time-tested scientific method: pretty girl, monster, skit. (Hey, it works.)
Q: Why can't I use a microphone?
A: The Director has made the determination that no microphones will be given to contestants due to problems in past Masquerades. BE AWARE: Do not try to project your normal voice into the audience - it is too large a room and will have too many bodies. We have found that contestants who try to address the audience directly cannot be heard, not even by the judges at their table in front of the stage. If you attempt to address the audience directly, you will be escorted off of the stage.
We can use CDs with any music, dialogue, etc. that you wish - as long as there is no profanity. This is a family show. We will not accept tapes due to problems playing them in the past. The CD track MUST be approved by a Masquerade volunteer at the contest registration table when you register (before 3:00p on Sunday). Your CD will be retained by our volunteers and loaded onto our equipment. Our volunteers will make sure that your assigned contestant number for the show is put on your CD, and the CD will be given to the tech crew as backup in case our primary equipment fails.
If you want your CD back, you can go to the tech station in the ballroom immediately after the contest (it is located on the wall across from the entrance into the ballroom), or pick up your CD at the Masquerade Registration table on Monday after 10:00a We will not be responsible for CDs left after the end of the Convention. On Monday afternoon, they will be discarded.
Q: What's a "den mother" and what does she or he do?
A: During the pre-contest set-up, the Director will assign a Masquerade volunteer to a group of contestants. We try to keep the numbers manageable, so there will be approximately 10 to 12 people in each group. This may be 6 individual entrants and one skit of 6 people, or a similar mix. The den mother will be responsible for reviewing registration sheets with the assigned numbers, verifying that the contestants understand the rules and will abide by them, collecting contestants' tech sheets (ALL CONTESTANTS MUST HAVE A TECH SHEET WHETHER OR NOT THEY HAVE TURNED IN A CD), and turning it all in to the volunteer collecting the data for the Director and the tech crew.
The den mother will then make sure that the contestants stay comfortable, get water, keep as quiet as possible in the backstage area, and get up on the stage when the time arrives, and then help them to get backstage after their performances.
Q: The registration form asks me to categorize myself as "Novice," "Journeyman," "Master," or "Child" - why?
A: We will have all of the children go onstage first at the Masquerade - and each child receives a certificate. It is helpful to have the names of the children before the Masquerade so the certificates can be ready for distribution at the conclusion of their performance. The other categories help us create a level playing field. If an entrant has won "Best in Show" at a previous convention, he or she is considered a "Master" - then all the "Master" category entrants compete against each other for a "Best in Show - Master" Award. We award a "Best in Show - Novice" award for the best scoring first-time entrant (someone who has never entered in a contest before).
We award a "Best in Show - Journeyman" award to the best competitor in the Journeyman category (someone who has won a category award previously).
We award a "Best in Show" to the best non-Master entrant. In any future Dragon Con Masquerades they enter, they will then compete in the "Master" category.
Q: How are the award categories determined?
A: As stated above, we will have "Best in Show - Master", "Best in Show - Journeyman", and "Best in Show - Novice" awards. The top-scoring entrant who is not a Master will win an award entitled "Best in Show."
We will have awards for other categories, depending on the entrants. In years past, we have utilized the following categories: Skit, Humor, Horror, Fantasy, Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Historical Recreation, Farscape, Lord of the Rings, Comic Book, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Audience Favorite . . . the list goes on.
Basically, the judges score all entrants, the scores are logged into a spreadsheet, and we check the tallied scores for the highest total scores. This is a very quick process - thank goodness for computers! The contestants with the highest scores are then checked for category. If there were two Star Wars contestants who scored equally well and we had 6 or more Star Wars entrants, we might break the category into Star Wars Hero and Star Wars Villain. However, if you are the only Farscape entry it does not necessarily mean you will win Best Farscape; you may be moved into a general SciFi category. It all depends on the number of entrants, what they do on stage, and the scoring by the judges.
Q: How do the judges score the contestants?
A: The judges (3 to 5 convention guests) award a score of 0 to 10 for each of 3 attributes for each contestant. The attributes are:
Originality/Adaptation: Is this the most original concept the judges and audience have seen, or the best adaptation of a known concept? For example, a contestant made a "super hero" costume out of gold lame placemats; another contestant had a completely authentic Alien costume, down to the dripping mouth drool. Note to contestants: describe the inspiration for your costume in your emcee announcement.
Composition: Did someone go out and buy this, or did the contestant spend hours gluing, sewing, welding, etc. - is this a labor of love or dollars? For example, a contestant had hand-sewn thousands of yards of lace to make a beautiful historical costume; another contestant had hand-hammered hundreds of metal rings for chain mail. Note to contestants: tell us how long it took and the craftsmanship required in your emcee announcement - blow your own horn.
Presentation: Does the contestant(s) stay in character (or do something completely out of character) that grabs the audience? For example, the Alien guy made a little sign that he whipped out after he had menacingly advanced towards the emcee - the sign said "Ripley Sucks"; two contestants in historically correct medieval attire slowly crossed the stage while giving the royal wave and nod to their subjects - and we all felt like their subjects; a group came out in Klingon makeup - with Kiss make up on top and declared themselves to be a Klingon Kiss rock band. Note to contestants: get into character and stay there, or find a way to exploit or turn your character into the unexpected - grab the audience - humor helps.
Q: What do the winners win?
A: There are plaques for Best in Show - Master, Best in Show, Best in Show - Children, Best in Show - Journeyman, and Best in Show - Novice; the rest of the category winners get a nice certificate suitable for framing. Winners may receive dealer bucks. Dealer bucks are tokens accepted in the dealers' room for merchandise. Dollar amounts have not been announced for this year. In years past, it was $50 for Best in Show - Masters and Best in Show; other category winners received $25.
Q: Can I use pyrotechnics, flash paper, smudge pots, or smoke machines?
A: NO - we cannot risk the Atlanta Fire Department shutting us down.
Q: How big will the stage be?
A: We can't say for sure at this time - but we will get back to contestants who have a specific concern.
Q: How do I get up and off stage?
A: We have a ramp on the entrance side of the stage, screened from the audience with pipe and drape. We will have volunteers to guide contestants up the ramp; the director will be at the end of the ramp to help you on stage. On the exit side of the stage, there will be either, a set of stairs or another ramp - and two Masquerade volunteers to help contestants down and direct you to the backstage area.
Q: Can I have someone take pictures of me in my costume?
A: We will have a professional photographer take pictures of all contestants for Dragon Con backstage before the show. After the Masquerade, the photographer will take pictures of the winners. We will have a "photo op" in the Centennial Ballroom for all convention attendees who would like to take pictures of all the contestants. It is suggested you have pictures taken prior to your arrival backstage.
Q: Can I have friends backstage with me?
A: No - we do not have adequate room backstage for anyone who is not directly involved with the show. If you have a large prop, you can have a helper or two - but they will have to be approved by the Director prior to the show on Sunday and they have to have Masquerade ribbons.
Q: What happens to contestants who break the rules?
A: Storm Troopers at the disposal of the Director will escort the offending contestant(s) from the stage. BE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE RULES LISTED ABOVE – AND BE AWARE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF ALL THAT CONTESTANTS SHOULD UNDERSTAND – DO NOT BORE THE AUDIENCE.
We hope this answers your questions - if not, please stop by the Masquerade Registration table at the Hyatt in front of the Centennial Ballroom.