If you’ve seen the X-Men on DCTV this weekend, you’ve seen the panel members for the “Xavier’s School for Costuming” panel Sunday 8:30PM M103-105 (Marriott). Jevokas “Java” Green moderated the panel that included Eric Green, Tam Songdog, Kellyn Stephens, Ace Talkingwolf, and Robert Stephens.
The panel (including the moderator) was made up of members of the cast and crew from the Uncanny X-Men Fan Series on the web, currently filming their second season. Java Green started the panel by introducing the other members and then asking the audience for any questions. There were a surprising number, primarily centering on how regular people can solve costume dilemmas or asking for ideas on how to create specific pieces of different characters’ costumes. There was a lively collaborative discussion between the panel and an obviously experienced audience about the best materials and brands to use for various make-up and costuming purposes.
The discussion then focused specifically on the character costumes from the Uncanny X-Men. Eric Green noted that the reason you don’t see many fan series online is that, when you’re not backed by Fox or Marvel, you don’t have lots of money for it. Java Green mentioned that doing the X-Men is especially challenging because of all of the characters and costumes.
Eric Green said they decided not to buy cosplay costumes whenever they could create them. Songdog explained that they were designing on a dime, so many of the actors pitched in to buy or make their own costumes, and they used lots of body armor, augmentation, and layering in the creation of various costume elements. Stephenssewed and modified some of the costumes, and many regular household items (“things just lying around the house”) were given new life and repurposed as pieces of costumes.
Songdog reflected that in their effort to adapt the X-Men, they “tried to stick close to canon, but we didn’t want to do big 80s hair and outfits that don’t look good on real people.” Sometimes they adapted a costume to fit the people playing the characters and sometimes the adaptation was intended to reflect more contemporary styles or a realistic interpretation of what’s actually possible or practical (something the 2D characters in the original comics didn’t need to worry about).
One of the audience members asked how the panel decided which of the many interpretations of the characters they decided to use. Talkingwolf and Eric Green said they sometimes juxtaposed different designs until they found something that worked. Talkingwolf also acknowledged that there are lots of different ways to accomplish costumes.
Another portion of the discussion focused on the topic of costumes and props breaking during filming. Talkingwolf said an important rule when making movie is if you bust something, keep going, it might look great, and you can get a new one; but if you freak out and stop, you might ruin the scene. One example was a scene in which Wolverine slices a gun with his arm blades, but instead of the staged scene where he was only supposed to slice air and the other actor makes the gun fly through the air, he actually connected with the prop and sliced off three pieces. The actor holding the gun looked stunned, which apparently looked great on film.
The panel concluded with a quick fashion show of some of the characters in full (or mostly full) costume as worn on the show—Cyclops, Blade, and Bishop all got to show off their costumes and describe how they put them together.