Category Archives: Costumes

Costumes: Captain Jack Sparrow

Some personal projects take a little while to put together, while others take years. This is one that took years. After I finished my TDK Joker, I noticed that a lot of people who were doing costumes also had Jack Sparrow outfits up their billowy rum soaked pirate sleeves. That kind of peaked my interest, as I wanted to expand my costuming horizons a bit with another large project. Over the course of the next three years or so, I started and subsequently “finished’ my Captain Jack Sparrow outfit, and had some great experiences along the way.

Jack 1
A2Z Photography

I was fortunate with this costume because I got several higher priced (and hard to find) items for relatively cheap. On one occasion I scored a set of three items for $350, which would have ran well over $1000 otherwise. Another time I purchased a pair of lightly used CA Boots for $100, which would have been several hundred dollars new. On other occasions people just flat out gave me things, like my vest from Mellissa Ebbe (who is now on Face/Off!), or some of my belt accessories which came from a costumer who decided he was done with trying to get his costume together. I was very fortunate to have so many friends in the hobby who helped out like this, as these connections also allowed me to purchase several items from the original sources, so not only was the costume accurate, but the items were from the very people that produced them for the film.

Jack 2
A2Z Photography

Eventually, when the costume was about done, I ended up doing a speech around Halloween at my community college in the outfit. This was pretty much the beginning of a new chapter in my life, as it would lead to many subsequent events. One of these experiences was that I got cast as the lead in Pirates to the Rescue!, a childrens’ show written by David Quinn, which was Kaskaskia College’s main stage play. This was my first acting experience. I can vividly remember hearing Quinn say “Oh, you’ll only have like 3 or 4 lines!”, but I’m pretty sure the final count was between 150-160. This would lead to many great things in my life that I would have never expected.

Jack 3
A2Z Photography

During this time, I was also featured on TLC’s television program Big Tiny, which was about my friend Brad Jordan and his sister. I was also hired by Macy’s to promote their fragrance department, all because I was Captain Jack Sparrow (they also thought Quinn was my manager). Eventually, I would also win several awards for acting at Kaskaskia College, including Best Actor, Director’s Choice, and the Alumni Award for two years running. I would also receive a theater scholarship, which paid for my tuition in full for two years.

Jack 4
A2Z Photography

This costume really brought me numerous and amazing opportunities, and it was always a blast to wear. Many people helped me out along the way, and it is always something that I am super thankful for. The opportunities and relationships that arose because of this costume have also been really rewarding. I would have never expected the simple concept of wanting to do a costume to have ever led to so many wonderful experiences or amazing people. It truly has been an awesome journey, all thanks to Captain Jack Sparrow!

Jack 5
A2Z Photography

 

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Costuming Problems

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

I have been doing costume and makeup for several years, but recently I have taken a break. I ended up starting a new costume, Owen Grady from Jurassic World, which absolutely drew me back into the hobby. Costuming is a pass time that requires a pretty dedicated mentality. With previous projects I have been involved in, I have done a lot of research. I’ve collected reference photos, I’ve spoken to designers, costumers, and even helped Adam Savage from Mythbusters put together his Joker outfit. With all of the costumes I have done in the past, the key to success was hands down cooperation, attentiveness, and dedication to finding sources or coming up with ideas as a group. Unfortunately, I believe there is a new trend in costuming, which is running rampant across several sites: selfish jackassdness

Now, as a disclaimer, I’m not saying I always fall outside of this definition. In the past I have made poor observations/conclusions about costume pieces or props; however I always amend my thinking when more definitive facts arise. I also make sure I read everything that I can, especially posts on forums. I also try to help others out. I know how hard it is to just jump into costumes, and support is a main topic that people need to understand. However, during my recent build I encountered (and I believe this is a technical term) a shit ton of stupid.

Many times over did I receive personal messages asking for the same information which I had JUST posted publicly in a thread. On several occasions I noticed people asking the same question several times over, even when an answer had been given just a few comments back. People not searching for information has always been a problem, but some answers are literally only one or two post above the question. At one point in time one website member also thought I was someone else, and repeatedly asked me to provide pictures of something, despite the fact I did not own it, nor was I the 300 lbs man in the picture shown wearing it. Plus, I quoted him each time letting him now it was not me.

On another forum I wanted to make sure there weren’t any better versions of an item I am currently looking to purchase. I made a brief post just to make sure no one had any other good resources on locating a specific shirt. One member took the time to ask me if I had ever considered buying something totally different. I thought perhaps he meant “another shirt”, but his real intentions were “a completely different costume”. Why would you ask me that? Why take the time, out of both of our days, to ask me to change my own personal project, especially if I am actively pursuing the completion of said project? He finally stopped replying to me when I told him I was 100% committed to the idea, yet we exchanged messages several times.

Another issue is people blatantly withholding information from one another, and making sure everyone knows it. I have seen it several times within the past few months. Someone finds a public source for an item, purchases the ones they need, shows them off, then refuses (or ignores) requests to share a link to the source. Usually people purchase what they need then share the link, yet this process seems to be more prevalent now. At one point in time I even saw someone post they had visited a public location that had been used for filming in a movie, yet said they would not be sharing where it was located. I guess this gives the person a status of “greatness” no man could match, having visited a public place.

Recently, to top it off, I posted a bit of commentary about another article of clothing. Owen Grady’s shirt changes color from grey to blue several times in Jurassic World because of the filters used, the weathering, and direct light exposure. I even went out of my way to note this in the post I made. Someone felt it necessary to message me, give me the same freaking facts, and then tell me I was only half right because of it. He also made sure to note “as many people have said” before giving me the information, yet somehow he missed the fact I was one of them that’s been freaking saying it for the past few months.

Overall, I cannot believe how much things have changed within the past few years. Sure I had visited forums and read threads on certain costumes, but being online more often and being part of the conversation has suddenly made me realize a new trend in the hobby. People aren’t being as attentive as they once were, as they’re surely not being as cooperative or dedicated to helping one another either. With that, I think people will continue to become more self-absorbed, all in competition with one another, with no trophy in site.

Costumes: Sweeney Todd

A2Z Selfie Photography
A2Z Selfie Photography

Sometimes I consider costumes for a while before I actually do them, and some other times they just so happen to fall in my lap. Both of these circumstances occurred with my Sweeney Todd costume, as I had wanted to do it for a while, but also didn’t want to pay a ton for the outfit. Thankfully, someone on a website I frequent messaged me and asked if I’d be interested in most of his outfit for like $30.

I jumped at the chance to purchase the outfit, as he included the shirt, vest, and neck scarf tie thing. Upon arrival I realized how clean and crisp everything looked, so I weathered the vest quite a bit, using paints, washes, and at one point even some makeup. It took a few days to complete, but I was pretty darn happy with the overall look, which matched reference pictures pretty well.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

For the shirt, I first did several dark washes on the shirt’s sleeves to make it look more worn. At the same time, my favorite part of the film is how much gore there is, and having never done a really gory costume before, I decided to follow through with the next stage of my plan. During Halloween a few months before receiving this, I had purchased fake blood for some reason. It came in a pump, so I decided to try it out on the costume. After just two days I had transformed the shirt into a murder sponge.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

One other purchase I made was black pin stripe pants (which I actually liked more than the screen used ones), as well as a brown leather belt, both from Goodwill. I used a pair of black leather shoes I already had, and before I knew it, I had a decently screen accurate costume for under $35!

Costumes: The Mad Hatter

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

Following in chronological order of my costumes, I do believe the Mad Hatter comes next. One thing I had noticed while figuring our my Joker costumes was that a lot of people who dressed up as Heath Ledger’s characters also did Johnny Depp’s characters. This inspired me to start thinking about new projects, like Captain Jack Sparrow for a in-depth long-term costume, and the Mad Hatter for a more short-term build.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

After getting my reference pictures in order I started looking at what I would need to construct a few items, and if I could purchase others. Thankfully some of the articles of clothing that were outside of my established repertoire became available to me though friends, many of whom I had actually met through my costuming resources. In many ways this costume was a collaborative project, with my top hat coming from my friend Crystal, oversized pins coming from my friend Charles, and the pants being a Goodwill find, which were customized by my grandma.

mh2
A2Z Photography

Though it was a quick build it came out decently accurate to the original costume. I think it turned out great, and is still one of my favorite costume designs. It did me well for the Halloween of 2010, though the Alice in Wonderland movie was a bit of a let down. Overall it was another fun build which allowed me to interact with people in a fun way, and build up my character and costume knowledge. It would also all me to play another variation of the same character on stage just a few years later in my original play, Through the Pages!

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

Costumes: The Joker

A To Z Photography
A To Z Photography

For a new segment, I thought readers might enjoy taking a look at some costumes and makeup I have done over the past few years. I got to thinking about how I would even introduce the topic, and couldn’t really decide what to do. Some people know me specifically as the guy who does costumes, but many of my new acquaintances have no clue about my other hobbies (even that of action figures or movie props). However, I decided to start from the beginning. My costume addiction began with the Joker.

A To Z Photography
A To Z Photography

It all started in 2008, when I began to see pictures of Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight movie. I had never done makeup before this, or even an open-faced costume. Over the course of several months I started to collect reference pictures of Ledger’s joker. Eventually I had over 500 images, each for something specific about the costume or different makeup applications. With the Joker, there is really a lot going on. I knew I would have to figure out clothing issues, however I would also have to look at the makeup side of things as well. It was a brand new world for me, with terms such as rigid collodion, transfer appliances, and eye shadow. It took a while to gain the knowledge of what I was working with, but even more time to practice the makeup applications.

A To Z Photography
A To Z Photography

I also discovered a few new forums that I joined, where I met some awesome people, many of which I still keep in contact with. While studying the costume I eventually started  collecting a few items here and there for my first Joker outfit. Over the course of a few months I also decided to branch out and put together all three of the costumes the Joker wore in the film. At this point I knew I had an addiction to both costumes, and screen accuracy, the process of matching your outfit’s details to the original.

A To Z Photography
A To Z Photography

For Halloween of 2008 I wore my TDK suit, and for the Halloween of 2009 I wore my bank heist suit. I also ended up wearing my nurses dress that same year, to help support a local blood drive. I was also given the opportunity to ride in the back of a squad car during a Halloween parade, one of the standout moments of my costuming career. Looking back, It was always fun to be in character around people, because for some reason everyone freaks out when they’re around a notorious mass-murdering clown of chaos.

j3
A To Z Photography