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4th April 2015
An Interview with StevenCojo / Max Payne Cosplayer

Convention season is closing in and with many events now announcing dates or tickets, for cosplayers it's the time of year to start picking projects. If you're planning on going as Alan Wake or Max Payne this year, this feature is for you. I recently spoke to two cosplayers about their experiences creating the costumes and why they wanted to portray the characters.

Next up we have Steven, a cosplayer who has brilliantly portrayed Max Payne in numerous shoots. Read our interview below!


Tell us a little about yourself!

There's nothing much to say. I am a student. I play video games (on Steam). I enjoy cosplaying and performing. This would be the short version.



What inspired you to cosplay as Max Payne?

Honestly, at that time I just got Max Payne 3 from a friend as a gift, was really eager to play, but the game wouldn't run, it needed a sort of online authentication for the single player. Many players had this problem, so it was a faulty period for the game, couldn't even pass the starting screen logo. So I decided then to try to relive a bit of the nostalgia, play the first and one of the best titles (IMO), Max Payne 1. I remember finishing as a kid, the bullet-time (slow-mo) was a fresh concept at that time and that was one of the key elements that impressed me then and it didn't fail to impress me now. Being older I also started to understand the dialogues and monologues better...and also realized that the game got harder...or maybe I am just getting older...or the games now aren't what they used to be. Regardless. Initially I considered trying the Max Payne 3 version, since it involved a badass beard, most of my cosplays involved a badass beard, since I have a generous beard which keeps giving, I have the chance to 'chisel' as I desire...but since I didn't get to live the experience of Max Payne 3...I couldn't just wear his skin, without knowing his story, so that's when the idea struck me.


What tips would you give someone who wants to cosplay the character?

Regarding building the costume, you have at least 3 versions to choose from, choose one of the versions that you like and start gathering, most of them won't involve too much hassle, but it could get a bit pricey here and there. All in all you have to be committed, you might just as well end up shaving your head to put yourself in the skin of the character. Something I didn't get to do but would like others to try it, is to bring yourself a partner and work with him/her, in Max Payne 2 and 3 there are some parts where you actually need to cooperate with someone, so it might work in your favor, there are many possibilities. My advice: if a costume seems too simple, compensate with an amazing performance. Cosplay is both costume and play/performance. So you could learn some quotes.



How did you create the outfit?

'No payne, no gain'. Just as most of my costumes, I kept it simple...but memorable, it was hard thou. Why am I saying it was hard? Max Payne is quite an iconic name in the gaming world, despite the fact he doesn't have the most flashy outfit or fancy gadgets. It is really casual, easy to bring it up together and it won't quite attract many views so easily, if I'd tried Max Payne 2, I could have simply gone with a suit. Many characters wear suits. So why Max Payne 1?  You mostly see his back anyways, so there's nothing too amazing about it, is it? I might sound pessimistic and truth be told, most of my predictions were correct, many didn't quite know who I was, unless they were older or well informed, but despite all of that, I persevered. I turned all of these weaknesses into strengths. I wanted to put the 'play' into 'cosplay'.

The costume: I borrowed a leather jacket from a friend, got my church pants and shoes, a regular white t-shirt and the tricky part...the shirt. Finding a tiger patterned shirt (or at least that is what I searched) was quite a bother, I searched almost everywhere without luck, so I improvised. Luckily I had in the house a pillowcase which was exactly the model that I needed, so I simply sewed over a white shirt, it worked as a charm.

The props:  A coin key-chain as medallion, got an arsenal of weapons from a toy store (they looked real enough), printed a photo of him and his (deceased) family, got a bottle of painkillers, got rid of them, replaced them with candy (skittles, m&m etc.)

The appearance: I had to get myself a clean shave and haircut for this, most of the time I cut my hair myself, but this one required a bit more skill, most of the times I had to maintain the "Max Payne grin" face, to be more convincing. A lot of slow-mo stunts (you could say this was a vital part of my cosplay).



If you were to do anything again, would you change anything either about the costume or the photoshoot?

Not quite change...just improve. Anything can be improved, sure I am happy with the results I got, but it could have gone better. I could have gotten a few extra buttons to my jacket, my hair could have been a bit more polygonal, I could have practiced more stunts, I could have searched for more locations and poses for photos. All of those and others would have enhanced the experience, which was already quite satisfying.



How do you go about searching for locations for your photos?

I usually work with what I have. Normally at conventions there are photographers which would aid me in the quest, but it's hard to capture a certain perspective. It's hard to reach a consensus between what you have in mind and what you actually get. Sometimes you may reach a creative block, when you already used all of the ideas or it just won't turn out as you wanted, everything is circumstantial, sometimes you need to be open to new ideas, ask around and sometimes you could get great results. Lighting can be problematic from time to time, so it's best to plan ahead if you want something special and natural, if not, you could always use some effects in a photo editor. I try using locations which would fit to the character, but sometimes I like to mess around and put him in unusual locations or situations, intersecting universes, introducing him to new worlds and behaviors. Spicing things up.



Looking back at when you started cosplaying, what challenges did you face and if they were overcome, how?

-Shyness and uncertainty, despite performing multiple times on stage before in Shakespearean plays, folk dances, performing CPR to dummies, presenting Projects etc. in front of hundreds of people...you can't quite rid of it, the stage fright. "What if I forget my line? What if I trip and fall? What if they won't know who I am? What if they won't like my costume/performance?" Someone once told me that the fear is energy which can be harnessed for my own benefit. I must not be consumed by fear, I must consume the fear itself, transform it in energy. "If I forget my line, I'll improvise! If I fall, I will rise again! If they don't know who I am, I will make myself known! If they dislike my costume/performance, it's ok, I am sure there is at least one person out there who does, as long as there is at least someone who will cheer for me, I will manage!"

- Sure, whenever I had a rather simple costume (like this one) I was afraid it would be too simple, if I had a complex costume, I was afraid it would break, I would lose parts etc. That is a general fear, the costume itself. You put a lot of work into it, but is it enough? It could have been improved, but you lacked the cash, time or materials. Will they notice the imperfections, if you can really call them like that? Did I miss a detail? This challenge is hard to overcome and it differs from individual to individual, you will need to adapt and keep practicing, at least that is my opinion.

- Someone with the same cosplay as you (with an even better looking costume than yours). It happened to me only once so far, but luckily we had different costumes, despite portraying the same character, but next time I might not be so lucky. You want to be original, everyone wants that, but you can't quite know who else might dress like you. My opinion is if you do meet someone dressed like you, work with that, it might prove productive, you both get to learn and improve, forge new friendship based on a sort of 'rivalry'.

- Money. Enough said. The way to overcome it is: be smart, be frugal, do the market research. Doesn't always work and doesn't always give the best results, but it has potential.

- Time. The same as above.


Where can we follow your cosplay projects online?

I use my deviant art page http://stevencojo.deviantart.com/
Other smaller projects I keep them for myself as prototypes or future ideas.
There are some videos on my youtube, but there are mixed stuff there https://www.youtube.com/user/StevenCojocaru


Thank you to StevenCojo for the interview!

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