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ICD Exclusive: Cosplay: The Documentary

6:00 PM on 08.27.2010 // Lauren Rae Orsini

And now it's time for the best part of our International Cosplay Day festivities: an interview with Erica Weatherbee, aka Reeka Valentyne, the director of Cosplay: The Documentary. (That's her, cosplaying as Matsumoto from Bleach, above.)

As it includes interviews with such well known cosplayers and cosplay groups as YuffieBunny, Cupcake Cosplay and BLiTZ Cosplay, I've been looking forward to the release of Cosplay: The Documentary ever since I found its Facebook page this spring.

Erica was kind enough to consent to an interview with Japanator a couple weeks ago. Over the phone, she told me she got the idea to make a documentary about cosplay five months ago.

"A little voice in my head -- nobody believes me about this -- went, 'You should make a cosplay documentary!' Perfect. I checked to see if it had already been done and it hadn't. So I decided to take on the endeavor," she said.

However, Erica's love of cosplay started years ago, when she was just 14. She credits her younger sister, Krista (aka ExileFate in the documentary) for getting her into the hobby. 

"it was Halloween, and my sister was making Haruko from FLCL and i said, 'What are you doing?' and she said, 'Cosplaying.' She showed me and i said, 'This exists?' and i got really excited and wanted to do it too," she said.

For Erica, cosplay has always been about the community. She said this is one of the major points she is trying to get across in her documentary. 

"There's so much people dont see from the outside. The community, friendship, invention, dedication, the whole cosplay community really inspires me," she said. "The whole idea of the documentary is pretty much inspired by wanting to show everyone how amazing it is."

Still, there is a lot more to creating a documentary than just having a great idea. Even though Erica is an accomplished filmmaker in her own right (she has filmed a TLC show, music videos for Disney stars, and a Nickelodeon TV pilot to name a few), she still needed the help of a crew, equipment to rent, and cosplayers to film. 

"It's really not just me making this documentary," she said. "I was the person who got the idea and needed to get the idea to be, 'All right its happening.' I have my amazing crew to thank: without them, it would not have happened. My former college very generous and helped us with our first shoot. Plus, there are all of the cosplayers letting us behind the scenes, letting us in... I feel like they're making this happen. I just kind of show up."

Erica said that the most rewarding part of working on the documentary has been the friendships she has formed with her film subjects, and the relationships they build with one another.

"When I was filming Cosplay Pirates and BLiTZ Cosplay at Otakon, they met and ended up becoming sister groups,  forming this amazing friendship. Two members ended up forming a relationship with each other because they met! I was so inspired by that. Without cosplay they never would have met," she said.

"Every time i film, something crazy happens that inspires me to keep going," she added.

Cosplay: The Documentary will be released in the Fall or Winter of 2011. If you are a beginning cosplayer or a cosplayer who has decided to retire from cosplay and you are interested in being in the film, please contact Cosplay: The Documentary on their website.


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