Filmmaker and cosplayer Lea Winchcombe (of J25 Productions) screened his short film, Behind the Make-Up at MCM London Comic Con over the weekend. Screened to the public for the first time, the documentary focused on how cosplaying had changed the lives of six people: Laura Gilbert (The Infamous Harley Quinn), Lee Nichols, Stephanie Norman, Keith (Jokers Jollies), Ronald Seaman and Harriet Megan Rogers.
The screening was followed by a Q&A with Lea, and the featured cosplayers Stephanie, Harriet and Lee (it was also the first time they had seen the documentary).
“I started cosplaying right here at MCM about two years ago,” said Lea when asked how the documentary came to fruition. “I saw the looks on peoples faces, kind of judging almost, especially on the on the way here.” He added that he hoped the documentary and the stories shared by the cosplayers would inspire people, particularly those who might be scared to cosplay.
Harriet and Lee mentioned how they ended up being involved via social media. Stephanie noted how her involvement came after she met Lea at a Once Upon a Time meet and mentioned to him that she was an artist. He explained to her the documentary he was working on and asked if she would be happy to do the designs for it. However he then asked if she would like to star in it too.
“Opening up for my personal stories, I find it so easy,” said Harriet, given how emotional the documentary gets. “I’ve got to be open, people have got to be aware of the illness that I have. Because I never had any of the signs. So they’ve got to be aware of it. Things like depression and anxiety, just open it up.”
“For me, it was really difficult,” said Stephanie, as she noted how those talking about depression were sometimes classed as attention seekers. “Being able to tell people about it and how I coped with it can hopefully inspire people. That’s what I kept in my head, not what people on the other side of the screen are judging me on.”
Lea added how he had gone through depression and anxiety himself and wanted to make sure that it’s okay to talk about it. “This whole room of people who have watched it, if one person felt inspired by it, then I think I’ve done my job.” He said that he was hoping to feature the documentary at MCM conventions around the country and then noted that he would likely film a documentary looking at the professional side of cosplaying next, or do a follow-up on the six cosplayers featured to see where they are later.
The four were finally asked, if money was no object, what their ultimate cosplay would be.
“The ultimate cosplay?” said Lee, “Maybe an actual TV series, like a soap opera.”
“I’d like to make a full on Tron suit and motorbike,” said Harriet.
“I’m going to sound really boring, and because the film has just come out, Wonder Woman,” said Stephanie. “My reason being is to make really good armour.”
“I’ve been told when I was at college that I’ve got a slight resemblance to Simon Pegg,” said Lea. “So probably Shaun from Shaun of the Dead.
Photos by Harriett Greene (Manga Girl Photography)