On this week’s episode of The Guild, “Invite Accepted”, we finally find out which character is within the mysterious fursuit. So, for this week’s Fan Friday, we’ll find out more about the designers behind (and often within) the fursuit, fans Bobby Bristow and Colleen Campbell. They discuss the process of building the suit, their experiences on set, and other awesome artistic projects they’ve been involved with.
How did you get involved with The Guild? Had you watched it or been fans of the show before coming on set?
Bobby: I found the Guild after I found the “Do You Want to Date my Avatar?” music video on YouTube. This led me to the series on Xbox, which I immediately fell in love with. I thought the song was so catchy it became my ringtone about a year and a half ago, and currently still is.
Colleen: I hadn’t seen it prior to 2010, Bobby got me started on it. He’s got a bucket list, and participating in the filming of The Guild was on it. It was pretty serendipitous how we got involved with this season through TJ Rotell, after meeting him on the set of a different web series. When we were asked to provide costumes for season 5, as well as build a custom one, of course I agreed. Bucket lists are serious business.
Do either of you (or both of you) have a favorite character on The Guild?
Colleen: Clara (Robin Thorsen) is my favorite. She’s an amazing actress, and so hilarious. I love her parenting techniques.
Bobby: I don’t know that I could point at anyone and call him or her my favorite. Each one has a trait to them that I love most about their character. Jeff Lewis is an extremely funny guy. I thought that he was just acting that character, but after seeing him behind the scenes, I think that might be who he is? I overheard him negotiating with the camera guys to come take his headshots and in return he would give them some used phone cable.
What did the process of designing and building the fursuit entail?
Bobby: The process starts by picking what kind of animal or creature you want to build and drafting concept art. The body suit is a fairly easy process and I recommend for people attempting their first one to buy the cheap animal costume pattern of an animal costume you can find at a sewing or fabric store. The most challenging part is the details; building the head, the boots, etc. This takes some patience and practice to get it right. There’s a lot of attention to detail and time spent on symmetry and uniformity. I take this a step further, using a custom-built CNC machine for milling some of the parts I find need detail or accuracy. We mold and cast parts out of foam, silicone or rubber (squishy noses, pawpads, etc.),
Colleen: The Tink costume was built just days before the season started filming, with help from wardrobe designer Kristin Ingram. Building it was a challenge; I drank a lot of coffee that weekend! I laugh every time I see those two episodes with Tink in her Tink Plush costume, I think it turned out hilarious.
What was your experience like being on set?
Colleen: It was definitely organized chaos, with so many people and so much crew and equipment. But the craft services were awesome, the company between sets friendly, and hanging out with some of the cameo actors and Guildie extras was pretty sweet.
Bobby: I had a great time. In fact, we were only supposed to be on set for 3 days out of the entire project originally. We started coming every day to help out and Sean Becker would find a reason or excuse to send the Dog in or use us as extras in background scenes.
What were your favorite things about being a part of this season?
Colleen: Getting to meet Doug Jones! I’m a big fan, he’s pretty ace, and just about the sweetest gentleman ever. And the quesadillas. Those were delicious.
Bobby: I had a few things that stood out. Getting to meet the cast and crew of The Guild is the obvious one. Most people don’t know truly how many people it takes to run a show like this. I made a lot of new friends and had some great experiences that I will remember forever. One of the other ones was filming some extra Master Chief Scenes with Sandeep (which I am not sure will even make it in this season). For this pickup scene there were only 5 of us including the camera guy. It was great to work so closely to someone that you have idolized. After I first found The Guild, it led me to Sandeep’s web series The Legend of Neil, which was also hilarious. As a bonus he turned out to be a really nice guy.
What was it like wearing the fursuit on set?
Colleen: Bobby and I had an epic battle of rock-paper-scissors to try and decide who got to wear it, but in the end, it came down to inches. I’m just a bit taller than Bobby.
The first day we filmed was at the long beach comic con, with all the oodles of extras. For a first day, it was a little overwhelming! Everyone wanted to pet the dog. But the production crew was quick to make Bobby and me feel comfortable and help me ‘act’ so that they got all the shots and angles they wanted. It’s hard to hear cues in a huge costume mask, so I’m eternally grateful for Kim Evey helping me hit my marks!
It was fun watching everyone’s reactions to the costume; oddly enough, when confronted with a 6′ dog, most people make baby talk and act like 8 year olds, it’s awesome. There’s a lot you can get away with when dressed as a dog. Director Sean Becker was great, too. I can’t thank him enough for being an awesome director, and using the fursuit in way more scenes than we initially were scripted for.
Not only did Bobby act as my wrangler (caretaker) while I wore the dog fursuit, we also got to work with and took care of the Master Chief performers during their scenes. Keeping a costumer well hydrated and monitoring for signs of stress and exhaustion is very important, especially on a shoot when excitement and adrenaline can disguise symptoms and make a person crash. The gents of Blue Realm Studio were a riot to work with; they do some excellent work and are just fantastic performers.
Bobby also got the opportunity to fill in for a missing body actor in the Neil Gaiman scene: he was the Blue Master Chief.
Bobby: I only got to wear one of the other furry costumes on the set twice. The first was the day we first started and no one knew us. We both were in costume and wandered down to the pier from the Long Beach Convention Center. I think that freaked everyone out a little bit, but we had a good time. The last time I got to wear it was on a day with a lot of extras. I ran around and interacted with them in extra holding as well as having some fun with the cast and crew. The best part about wearing the costume is that even the most professional person wants to come over and give you a big hug or interact with you on some level… Or steal your head and wear it… That’s right, you know who you are!
What have been some of your favorite projects with fursuits, making stuffed animals, etc?
Colleen: I like making weird monster-y creatures… In costume, in art, in huggable form, doesn’t matter. I started making cuter things with Bobby, since he likes to do charity fundraising work in costume and my dragon outfits were scaring the little kids.
We’ve made costumes and props for Video Game Reunion.
Bobby: I enjoy machining and making special effects that people often confuse with something that Disney might do. My passion is designing and building things that people can enjoy and really shows in quality. I designed software and hardware to make the lighting for this holiday house. The project had over 150,000 lights synchronized to music.
Dragonsquared is the studio of Bobby and Colleen, where they make costumes, props, sculptures, plush and other random things. You can check out more of Bobby and Colleen’s wonderful work on their Flickr Page and on Twitter.