Interview with Nova Vandorwolf from Fighting Dreamers Pro

Cosplaying is a hobby that can be done on many levels. From those who buy their costumes online to beginners making their own, all the way up to professional level cosplayers who travel the world competing in competitions. While some people enjoy this hobby by themselves, others form groups with their friends to work on costumes, skits and masquerade performances together. One of the more well known cosplay groups online is Fighting Dreamers Productions, who have tried their hand at a whole host of different skills, and attended conventions the world over. I was recently able to interview Jenna, also known as Nova Vandorwolf, one of the founding members of the group. We were able to chat about her upcoming costumes and skits, advice for those looking to get into cosplay, the dynamics of a cosplay group with mixed levels of fame and more.

Laura: Hi, so could you start by introducing yourself for those who don’t know you.

Jenna: Hello! My name is Jenna– more commonly known as Nova Vandorwolf in the cosplay community. I am a founding member of the cosplay group Fighting Dreamers Productions and have been on the cosplay scene since 2004.

Laura: Who are Fighting Dreamers Productions? How did you get started and where you are now?

Jenna: Fighting Dreamers Productions is seven friends who thought it might be fun to form a cosplaying group back in 2007. One member, twinfools, sent out an email to eight friends he had recently made at local cosplay meetups, asking if we would be interested in forming the group. All eight of us agreed and we cosplayed different Naruto characters as a group, which is where we got the idea for the group name: Fighting Dreams– a theme song from the anime, Naruto. As a group, we have done many costumes and skits together. In 2007, we began posting videos on YouTube. Currently, we have over 80,000 subscribers on our group YouTube channel, which is far more than any of us imagined we would have ever gained. The five years that we have been together as a group has been an emotional ride. Like any family, we had fights and there were many times that we all thought Fighting Dreamers had met its last battle. However, communication saved us and our friendships became stronger. 

Laura: What made you get into cosplay? How has cosplay affected your life?

Jenna: I sort of stumbled into cosplay. In 2004, I was told about the local anime convention, Anime Evolution, and decided to attend. Being completely new to the convention scene, I thought you had to wear a costume to attend. So I convinced my friend to dress as InuYasha and I made myself a Kagome cosplay. I attended Anime Evolution the following year with a new costume. However, it wasn’t until I met the future members of Fighting Dreamers Productions that I really became interested in cosplaying. Once we formed the group, I cosplayed nearly every weekend. 

Cosplay definitely changed my life in ways I never thought it would when I first started out. I have met some very amazing people through cosplay– my fiancé included. I have also traveled to a lot of foreign places to attend conventions, which I would have never been able to see if it had not been for cosplay. Cosplaying has also helped me discover my love for filming, directing and acting, which, in turn, has helped me overcome my shyness.  

Laura: As you’re part of a cosplay group I’m sure inevitably some group members become more popular with fans than others. How do you overcome this as a group? 

Jenna: This was definitely an issue when Fighting Dreamers started out. A lot of attention was focused on twinfools and myself since we were cosplaying the main characters in a lot of the series’ we did. After talking it all out as a group, we tried to organise cosplays where other people were the main characters. Over time I believe a lot of us just stopped caring. We were never cosplaying for the attention of others or to be a famous/popular cosplay group. We all just wanted to have fun. There are times when it is still an issue– like when Fighting Dreamers Productions is referred to as just “twinfools”. He is by far the most popular member of the group, which we are all fine with, but it is never a good feeling to be “forgotten” or just lumped together with a single member in a group of seven individuals. Another thing that bothers me is when people say, “Oh! Look, it’s twinfools and twinfools’ girlfriend.” Yes, I am his girlfriend (fiancée, now), but I have a name and am my own person. But really, it’s just cosplay and I never take any of that to heart. 

Laura: How much of your spare time is devoted to cosplaying?

Jenna: Cosplay is and always will be a hobby of mine. I tend to devote only a little bit of time to it– unless it is convention time. Then it’s every waking hour spent on cosplay for a week. I wouldn’t even begin to know how to guess the amount of hours I put into cosplay, but I always put friends and writing before my cosplay work.

Laura: You often take part in cosplay making tutorials at conventions. Where did you learn the skills you use when making cosplays?

Jenna: All of my cosplay skills are self-taught through trial and error and a bit of guidance. I had two friends who showed me the basics of sewing, but the rest was learnt through practice and just guessing on how to make things. Wig styling was all trial and error and I was used to cutting my own hair so it was kind of similar. I learned how to make props by watching Kenshiro (a fellow member of Fighting Dreamers) and getting advice from him for bigger projects. The tips that I learnt from him were enough to apply to other props that I had to make on my own.  

Laura: What advice do you have for people looking to get into cosplay?

Jenna: The main thing to remember about cosplaying is that it is a hobby. You do it for fun. If you’re not having fun then it might be time to step back and ask yourself, ‘what do I have to do to make this fun again?’ A lot of people get into cosplay and let drama overtake the fun. But we are all fans of anime, video games, comics. There is no reason to compete with one another or to judge others. 

Also, cosplay is expensive. Making costumes, buying costumes, wigs, contacts, props, conventions, it takes its toll on your wallet. Never let cosplay come before your responsibilities– like bills and rent.

Laura: What is your favourite costume that you’ve made?

Jenna: It’s always difficult for me to choose a favourite costume because I like different pieces of a bunch of cosplays. However, I think the one I am most satisfied with is Halloween Town Sora from Kingdom Hearts. 

Laura: Do you have any costumes you would love to make, but haven’t? If so, for what reasons?

Jenna: There are so many costumes I want to do, but I just don’t have the time or money. A dream cosplay of mine is Floral Fallal Yuna from Final Fantasy X-2, but I have no idea how I would go about making the huge flower in the background. Another costume I really want to make is the Beetle Ball dress from the animated movie Thumbelina. I haven’t made that one yet because I thought it was out of my skill range, however, I am confident enough now to attempt it. 

Laura: Do you have any cosplays or skits in the work at the moment you can tell us about?

Jenna: Currently, I am making Sora from Kingdom Hearts: Dream, Drop, Distance. I am a huge fan of Kingdom Hearts and am hoping to do more costumes from it this year. As for skits, I believe Fighting Dreamers will be filming The GAang: Episode 2 and hopefully the first episode of our Black Butler series, starring Panther (our cat). 

Laura: Do you have any final words?

Jenna: I just want to express my thanks to everyone who has supported Fighting Dreamers Productions throughout the years. It’s been such a big honour being able to talk to and meet people in the cosplay community from around the world.

I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming projects that Fighting Dreamers has coming your way in 2013!

You can see Jenna’s cosplays at either DeviantART or YouTube. You can also follow her on Twitter @novavandorwolf

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