A Masquerade is a formal costume contest, where fans can display their skills at creating fashion from science fiction, fantasy and anime. Historical gowns from various eras may also be presented. Typical sources of design are television and movies in the genre. Novel cover art and detailed descriptions from literature have inspired several well received costumes.
Running a Masquerade
It's not enough to wait for costumers to come to you. Your main job is to recruit and register them. Having masquerade registration available before the con, preferably online, shows that you're organized, helps you know what to expect, and discourages people from backing out. Post to local and general costuming lists, and market through convention resources such as a mass mailer or online communities. Reach out to the anime groups online and at their conventions.
Make sure all your areas are staffed. Make sure your rules, registration documents, and stage layout are available on the web beforehand.
Make sure the interface between you and tech is well understood. Clarify who is responsible for supplying a tech director, a stage manager, a house manager, a show caller, stage ninjas, videography, and so on.
Clarify with Programming (or Events, for conventions large enough to split these) what space and time you have available, particularly for the Green Room, and whether you will be able to conduct contestant meetings and/or rehearsals. Clarify where photography will occur and whether pro and fan photography will be separated. Often it's easier just to seat fan photographers on the aisle rather than arranging a backdrop.
Clarify with Security who is to do line management.
Arrange for halftime entertainment to amuse the audience while the judges deliberate. Entertainment consisting of many 30- to 90-second chunks, such as dancers or swordfighting demos or film previews, is best so you can commence giving awards as soon as they're ready. Your halftime entertainment may have Green Room or rehearsal needs as well.
Make sure you understand who is to order the award ribbons.
Work out ahead of time whether there will be reserved seating and for whom. Possibilities include GoHs, senior staff, staff of areas that close just as the Masquerade is beginning, press, and children in presentations who might like to watch the rest of the event.
You'll need a table in a visible area for last-minute event registration on Friday and perhaps Saturday morning. Last-minute staffing needs can be met at con, particularly for den/green room parents, ushers, and ninjas.
If you can have a costuming panel set to run on Friday it can also be used as a recruiting tool.
A panel to explain tech to your entrants is also a nice touch.
Once you have all your contestants, you'll need to pick a run order. Typically kids run first so that awards can be given to them before their bedtimes. After the kids' awards, a run order approximately from least to most experienced saves anyone suffering for the act they have to follow.
Contestants will need a place to change, and if it's possible to have some food and drink for them that's a nice touch as they may be there for a while.
Judges will need a quiet place to deliberate.
After the show, make sure pubs gets a copy of the awards list, ideally with pictures.
Sunday, you'll want to man your table again to return cds and documentation and hand out certificates. It's nice to have another panel for judges and entrant feedback. And someone has to make sure all the gear is returned to where it belongs.
Don't forget to send out thank you notes.
Entering a Masquerade
These are example rules from the Arisia ’07 Masquerade - What to Expect. Other conventions will be similar but have unique differences.
PLEASE READ THIS INFORMATION CAREFULLY. THESE RULES ARE SIMILAR, BUT NOT IDENTICAL, TO ANY OTHER RULES YOU'VE READ BEFORE.
Before the Convention
We'd like to be able to plan the best possible Event for the benefit of our audience. We've put together a great staff both behind the scenes, like me, and out in public. Our judges are very experienced artists in their own right. Our Master of Ceremonies, Tech Crew, and backstage crew are all here to make sure you get everything you need to give your best to the audience.
Before the Masquerade
Online Registration will be provided (real soon now) and will close Thursday, 11 January 2007 at 11:50pm Eastern Time.
ALL MEMBERS OF EVERY ENTRY MUST CHECK IN ON-SITE AT THE MASQUERADE REGISTRATION DESK.
The same online Registration process will occur on site at the Masquerade Registration Desk. Be prepared to type - we don't want to distort your information.
Fill in as much information as you can ahead of time and submit it along the way. We will make provision for you to change that information until Masquerade Registration closes at 1pm on Saturday.
Your presentation will be limited to 60 seconds. Entries with three or more people should discuss presentation plans with the Masquerade Director.
Contestants competing in the Re-Creation category must provide at least one photograph of the original work at Masquerade Registration. Some Judges may not be familiar with the work you are copying.
Please provide documentation sufficient for the Workmanship Judge to fairly and impartially evaluate your work. The Judge will have a limited amount of time to review your work and your documentation, so please don't write a novel. Photos, design sketches, screen shots, and short written descriptions of your work are encouraged.
The only person allowed to speak from the stage is the MC. He will be happy to work with you in reading a short script or to interact with you as planned ahead of time.
All your speech and music must be pre-recorded and handed in to Tech through the Masquerade Registration Desk as early as possible. Provide your recordings on CD or CDR (no CDR-W's). It is strongly suggested that you put only the music and/or speech that you want us to play on the CD you hand to us. Make and bring multiple copies so that you won't be out of luck should your CD become unusable prior to the competition.
Special effects must be cleared with the Masquerade Director and Tech Director before the competition. The best time to do this is before the Tech Rehearsal so that we can schedule enough time for that rehearsal for all of us (and you!) to feel comfortable that your effects will work.
NEVER surprise the crew. ALWAYS surprise the audience. Together we can insure that both these goals are achieved.
Restrictions on Costumes and Props
There will be absolutely no flame, fires, sparks, or other flaming on stage. If you are a dragon, plenty of fake and safe flame is welcome.
If you are carrying a weapon on stage, we need to know ahead of time. Clear all weapons before the convention with the Masquerade Director. There will be no sharp edges allowed on weapons. No weapon will be allowed if it ejects or shoots projectiles. If you are pointing a weapon at each other or at anyone in the audience, it must be demonstrated to NOT WORK and not shoot before the Masquerade.
Any weapon allowed in the Masquerade but otherwise restricted by the Convention must be carried to and from the Masquerade Green Room under cover and peace bonded.
Do not construct or decorate yourself or your costume or props with anything messy, smelly, or slimy. All parts of your costume must come in and leave with you.
Each person may appear only once on stage.
Purchased or rented costumes may not be entered in competition. It is possible to show those costumes OUT OF COMPETITION.
There IS NO restriction on costumes being worn at this convention or prior conventions before the competition. We ask that you use your best judgment about whether to enter in or out of competition. If you have won an award at an International Competition with this costume, please consider competing up one level or presenting out of competition. We do want to see your costumes here.
There will be Official Photography and Fan Photography. We also expect audience members to be taking non-flash photos during the presentations.
In the hallways many fans may wish to take your picture. It is entirely your choice whether to allow people to take your picture.
There will be NO FLASH photography from the audience. Your friends will be ejected from the room should they be found to be taking flash pictures from the audience.
In the Masquerade Green Room
You will find out the presentation order for the show when you arrive at the Masquerade Green Room. Sign in at the desk with the person in charge.
You will be assigned a den and given over to the care of your assigned Den Mom (may be male or female). If you need anything, please let them know.
There will be a Repair Table available for your use. Please do not abuse this privilege. It is here to provide safety pins, a little glue, a dab of makeup. Do not expect to use the table for large projects, it is here to cover last-minute emergencies.
The Official Photographer will be located in a part of the Masquerade Green Room. As soon as you are ready for your photos tell your Den Mom. They will insure that you take your turn for official photos. One will be attached to the judges' forms and will help them identify you when they are in deliberations. Official Photos will be made available for sale both to you and to any convention member on Sunday.
You may surprise the audience and we would be happy to help you. It is imperative that the Tech Crew, the MC, and I are completely aware of what you plan to do on stage. No exceptions.
Young Fans will appear first in the Competition. All Presentation Rules still apply. Entrants will be returned to the Masquerade Green Room following their presentations. Their awards will be awarded before the adults' entries start. After Young Fan Awards, entrants will be free to visit Fan Photography, go to bed, watch from the audience, or return to the convention at large in the charge of their parents and/or guardians.
Not only is this Masquerade rated PG-13 - it is also highly rated for safety.
Your Den Mom will make sure that you get into the Hall in the right order and on time to make your best entrance.
There will be Stage Ninjas (people in black) both at the entrance and exit from the Stage. They are there to help you with a hand up, to move your props onto or off the stage, and to catch you if you stumble. It's up to you to tell them how much assistance you need. The more assistance you need, the earlier you should let them know. So, if you have big props, please tell them all about it at rehearsal. Tell me in your Masquerade Registration as well. That way we'll have the right people there to help you.
There will also be Stage Ninjas at key points around the stage to try to stop you from stepping off the stage by mistake. Do not run, skip, jump, or dance so fast that the best they can do is let you go. You are ultimately responsible for your own safety.
Your presentation will be limited to 60 seconds. After 60 seconds your lights and sound will fade, or we'll find a hook to remove you. Entries with three or more people should discuss presentation plans with the Masquerade Director. Remember, SF fans are easily bored. You will make your best presentation by making sure they have enough time to see your whole costume, see what you can do once, and then leave the stage. A good costume and presentation can be ruined by taking too long on stage.
After your presentation you will be led to Fan Photography by your Den Mom. Fans must sign up for the privilege of taking pictures in this area. Some may also be offering free or paid copies of their pictures to you and others. Make direct arrangements with any Fan Photographer you wish to do business with. We will make a list of as many Fan Photographers as possible available to you after the convention.
After you are finished in Fan Photography we advise you to return to the Masquerade Green Room. Feel free to get comfortable. Watch the competition on TV. Watch half time entertainment in the Masquerade Green Room or from the audience. Be available.
Awards will be given when the Judges are ready. Be prepared to be called back onto the stage for awards.
Workmanship Awards will be given, then Presentation Awards. You may be called onto the stage more than once for different awards.
We will be using the Graduation Ceremony format of presenting awards. When your entry and title is called, please file up onto the stage from the entrance to the exit. You will be given a ribbon. Pass on and exit immediately. This method will give you a moment in the spotlight but will allow the awards ceremony to pass quickly.
This judging will be to evaluate the best parts of your costume, up close and personal. Please indicate to the Workmanship Judge specifically what you are most proud of in your costume. Tell her a little about how you made your costume.
If in doubt, visit with the Workmanship Judge even if you're not that impressed with your work on your costume. Leave it to her judgment whether your work is special in the context of this competition.
The Workmanship Judge will join the Presentation Judges at the beginning of the show so try to be sure you see her before the show starts.
This judging will be to evaluate your overall quality from the point of view of the audience.
These divisions are based on Guidelines published by the International Costumers' Guild and have been modified for this competition. As always, when in doubt check with the Masquerade Director before the competition.
• Anyone who is considered a Master in International Competition, or • Anyone who is considered a Craftsman in Regional Competition, or • Anyone who is a professional costume maker, or • Anyone who has won three or more awards as a Journeyman at the Regional or International level, or • Anyone who chooses to compete in this division
• Anyone who does not need to enter as a Craftsman or Master or • Anyone who has won at least one award as a Journeyman at the Regional or International level, or • Anyone who has won at least three awards as a novice at the Regional or International level, or • Anyone who chooses to compete in this division
• Anyone who does not need to enter as a Journeyman, or • Anyone who has won fewer than three awards as a novice at the Regional or International level, or • Anyone who has just become old enough to NOT qualify for the Young Fan Division
• Anyone who is under 13 on the day of the competition (born on or after January 14, 1994), and • Anyone who is also not part of an adult group.
A group should compete in the skill division of the group's most experienced member.
WHAT COMPETITION CATEGORY SHOULD I COMPETE IN?
Original, a costume inspired by a Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mythological, or other original source, but whose design is the creation of the contestant.
Re-Creation, a costume whose design is copied from a film, television series, art, comics, theatrical presentation, book illustration or other medium showing at least one good view of the costume. Recreation costumes are duplicates or design adaptations of the published design work of someone other than the contestant. Recreation costumes require documentation of source. A picture or verbal description must accompany your registration forms.
After the Masquerade
On Sunday you will have the opportunity to retrieve your CDs, CDRs, any documentation we can return, order Official Photos for purchase, and participate in the Masquerade Wrap-Up session on the program. Please make sure to drop by the Masquerade Registration Desk and/or be at the Wrap-Up session. We reserve the right to NOT mail your stuff to you after the convention.