My Other Me: A Film About Cosplayers
Vancouver-based independent documentary filmmaker Josh Laner is always searching for a good story to tell. One day, a few years ago, Laner was walking his dog near the convention center downtown, and stumbled across a flock of dashingly costumed men and women headed toward a cosplay event. “I recognized some of the costumes from the video games I’ve played all my life,” he says, “but I didn’t really know much about cosplay at the time. I thought it was pretty amazing.”
Laner snapped a couple of photographs of the cosplayers that very moment and made a date to connect with them at the convention itself the following day. “At that point, I was hooked. I needed to know more about these people and their passion, and it quickly became clear to me: this is my next movie,” he says, explaining the genesis of My Other Me: A Film About Cosplayers, available now on iTunes, Hulu, and other online venues.
What Laner found in charting the cosplay community throughout North America for more than a year was “a really amazingly accepting community.” Laner was particularly moved by the Glop Circles he encountered repeatedly, a variation of the game “Spin the Bottle.”
“You spin a bottle, but instead of kissing someone, you just take them in your arms and give them a hug. Sometimes they pick each other up and scream and yell and hug,” he smiles. “I got the impression that for some of these people, these hug circles were the best part of their lives. During that time, it was one of the best parts of my life.”
Inadvertently, Laner and his film became much-decorated touchstones for the LGBT community, owing to the film’s tender portrayal of several transgender cosplayers. “I’m very proud of that,” he says. Laner also enjoyed the bacchanalian side of the convention scene, occasionally partying with his cosplaying comrades. “I could not believe how hard many of them partied,” he says. “Some of the afterhours stuff gets really insane, and I came to really love these people. There’s this magical kind of thing that happens in the cosplay community where it just doesn’t matter what anybody looks like, you’re just accepted. I think that’s a very cool thing for people in the world today.”
Although Laner is not a cosplayer himself, he says one day he may eventually doll himself up and hit a convention as The Crow’s Eric Draven. “Never say never,” he laughs. “Maybe one day!”