While Red Hood in Mint Condition was designed as an Easter Egg — a nod to Jensen Ackles’ voice acting performance in Batman: Under The Red Hood — the continuing adventure with the costume was wonderfully unpredictable. The initial version had been a process mainly motivated by my own preexisting excitement, and then, on the first of two days shooting on the set of our fictional comic shop “Smash! Pow! Collectibles”, seeing the reaction from the boys (and director, additional cast and crew for that matter) when they entered the shop was incredibly inspiring. Jared helped position the costumed mannequin, wanting to ensure it was in the opening shot of the main characters entering the store, and Jensen looked at it and immediately expressed his desire for the whole costume for himself for Halloween, a genuinely enthusiastic compliment I graciously accepted.
My response to Jensen was instant: I can make that happen. It’s yours.
Realistically, having the costume live in my closet for the rest of eternity seemed useless anyway, and what better use for a designated character outfit than to have the voice actor (and a truly excellent choice for a face-claim) wear it for Halloween. I immediately contacted Tanja from Tiger Stone FX about a new helmet because the one by Tiger Stone which played in the store was a piece belonging to someone to whom I had once given it. Tanja and her husband Nat are the wonderful people behind the brilliant work of Tiger Stone, and also happen to be fans of the show. What a lovely coincidence. They went to work right away making Jensen’s new helmet and mask. It is always a pleasure working with them, and their work is absolutely exceptional. I can’t recommend them enough. The helmet was and is certainly a highlight – as was watching Jensen run around the comic book store wearing it.
There were several other additions I needed to make for the costume, since while the outfit played as a nearly direct reflection of the animated movie design, I felt it needed updates to make it fit a realistic setting. Also, the mannequin is wearing my lace-up tactical boots. They were not going to fit Jensen. They barely fit the mannequin. In fact, let’s start with those.
Regardless of how difficult I thought it would be to have everything come together or get finished in time, nothing was more of a struggle than finding knee-high lace-up boots in Jensen’s size. It’s not even as though he’s an unrealistic size – in fact, that was the problem. Every pair of boots I was even remotely interested in for the costume was out of stock in his size. Call after call to manufacturers and stores across the United States and finally, finally I managed to find a woman willing to go to the warehouse of the factory to see if one of two designs happened to just be sitting on the shelf in the appropriate size. I bought the very last pair after a lot of silent cheering. But it was really down to the wire by the time I managed to get a hold of them.
In addition to the alterations required for the jacket and shirt I had previously made for the episode (luckily the pants were the perfect fit), I made extra accessories for the shoot – like Jensen’s requested hood, bloody ninja stars, belt accessories, new but distressed gloves, and Jason Todd’s pair of handguns. I had a lot more time to finish the extra odds and ends, and because they were part of the costume I had on my dream checklist, I had so much fun with them. I love weathering and painting, and don’t often need to do so on pieces I make. Having the opportunity to utilize some of my other interests for this project was really fantastic.
It was the day before Halloween by the time I had everything done. We were shooting at the Supernatural Stages, and so I had asked Jensen if he wanted to try everything on together to see how it fit. I arrived at studio in the morning to ask if lunchtime for the fitting was a good idea if he’d have time, and his suggestion instead was just to do the photoshoot then. Keep in mind, set-lunch is a half hour marked period of time from when the last crew member on the shooting crew goes through the line, which meant pressure was on. Limited time to dress and shoot…very limited.
Luckily, I live extremely close to studio, and went home, packed up absolutely everything costume and camera wise, and drove back as quickly as possible.
Having Jensen try on the suit for the first time was pretty unbelievable. I love making costumes for other people – in fact, it gives me far greater joy than any costumes I’ve made for myself ever have and most likely ever will. There is something about another person’s sheer joy and excitement that completely obliterates any negative thoughts I have about my creations. This time was of course no exception. I will never forget when he looked in the full length mirror, straightened his jacket, and said, “Man, I have never felt so cool. I feel like a real superhero.” The ‘me’ who put Red Hood on my dream-costume list years earlier never thought this would be how I would check it off.
Trisha, the Head of our Makeup Department, was a true sport, and helped us out by blackening up the space around Jensen’s eyes and putting on the mask. And with that last step, we jumped into Cliff’s car and were off for a photoshoot, a round-trip adventure of less than twenty minutes.
Ironically, I never do much for Halloween, despite the vast amount of costume choices I have for the holiday, but I think this was definitely the ultimate way to celebrate for 2018. I have never had so much fun with a costume before.
I edited the photos that afternoon, ready in time for a Halloween release. The response was overwhelming, and I wish to express my gratitude for the continued support and kind words in regard to my work. I would again like to thank Tanya and Nat at Tiger Stone who helped make this possible, and of course Jensen Ackles for being excited, willing, and one hell of a real life action figure.
Photos of Jensen Ackles shot and edited by Clockwork Shadow Creations
Nikon D810 / Nikkor 1.4f/58mm / Nikkor 1.4f/10-24mm
Behind the scenes photos by Cliff Kosterman
Fabric garments and accessories: Clockwork Shadow Creations
(Belt canister print: Retronano)
Helmet and mask: Tiger Stone FX
Neck guard: Hernandez FX