Two years ago I had an idea. It seemed crazy. So crazy I kept it to myself for a long time until I felt brave enough to start asking my friends what they thought about it. My idea? Plan a cosplay and photographer retreat in the remote mountains of BC.
I’ve been cosplaying in BC for 4 years. I always do my cosplay shoots outside in the wild. Why not? It’s readily available all times of the year in this part of Canada. I attended cons but never planned to do full shoots there because my costumes didn’t fit the city scenery. And natural, wild, scenery is what I live for when it comes to planning cosplay shoots with my photographers. Summer, Fall or Winter I dragged them out to some isolated areas. It made for some awkward situations with the locals but we had great stories to tell when we got back. I knew there were others who wanted the same aesthetic for their own photos.
For the event I spent a few weeks searching for the right place and thinking of the right time to do this. Will it compete with a popular con or long weekend? Is it too far out of the way? Are people even going to come to this thing?? After some research I settled on the tiny settlement of Birken and Lakeside Resort as our venue in May. Having a remote, and low populated area in the mountains was paramount. Why? In my opinion it’s not considered a retreat into nature if you’re surrounded by bus loads of tourists and “keep to the path” signs. Birken was really away from it all and very quiet. I checked out the resort physically in October 2015 and drove around scouting out close by places of interest.
After discussing the details with trusted friends and cosplay colleagues I wrote a page on my cosplay website and called the event Mountain Cosplay Retreat. I started emailing and messaging photographers and cosplayers I knew and invited them to register. Then I started sending messages to ones I didn’t know but I had seen their work online or published in magazines.
Word spread and people registered. We had participants come from Edmonton to Vancouver and even Vancouver Island. We all had dinner on the first night to break the ice as most of us had never met each other. There were 15 of us in total including spouses and friends who came to help. The Starktorialist, Tarah-Rex, DV8 Props, White Wolf Cosplay, Ellipses Cosplay, and myself were our cosplayers. Caroline Slade, Austin Jeng and Jessie Pozzolo were our photographers. All weekend I couldn’t believe how hungry everyone was to take photos, help photographers, explore the area, hike kilometres up trails taking photos the whole way. Doing shoots until almost midnight and then socializing in the hot tub after that. Up the next day to do it all over again we forged lasting friendships and connections. That was something I didn’t plan for or anticipate. How close we all came to each other and how eager we are for next year.
Naturally I had to plan another one. With a brand new website I launched MCR 2017 registration and the cosplay category filled up in 30 minutes. Everyone from last year is returning and we can welcome 5 new participants for our retreat this May. It’s been an incredible journey planning MCR and I cannot wait!
Note: Mountain Cosplay Retreat’s website has all our photos and information on next year’s event. Visit the website for more information.