I had the opportunity in joining Ganma Magazine for Otakon 2016 in Baltimore and interviewing Men At Arms: Reforged for them. This was my first time going to Otakon and my first time interviewing with a 360 camera. Call me crazy, but I had to try it out and experience the outcome. I’d like to thank The EAT SHOW for sponsoring me with Ricoh’s Theta S 360 camera for this interview.
Otakon has given me 10 minutes to interview, Matt, Ilya, and Bill. My goal for the interview was to ask questions that can get them into their comfort zone. Questions they would hear when they’re hanging out and talking to their friends and family. Here’s how it went down…
360 Ganma Interview With “Men At Arms” Otakon 2016
Jun: How do you like Otakon so far? Is this your first time?
Matt: No, it’s our second time back. I’ve been to Otakon a few times, but as far as Men At Arms go, last year was our first year, and this was where we had our first Men At Arms panel. So definitely being back at Otakon is definitely close to our hearts. I’m from Baltimore, so this, I feel like this is my home show.
Ilya: I love Anime conventions.
Jun: Remember when the first time you made armors and weapons, it could be anything, the first thing you created. Think about that day, and this moment now, how that would transition over. Did you ever think that it would just blow up?
Matt: First thing, anything weapon… That I made, I was in 8th grade. My brother Kerry had a shop in downtown Baltimore, and I went there. I was just hanging there, and he asked me if I want to forge my first knife, and I did. I loved it, but never in a million years that I’d think that what I was gonna do in my life. Looking back on it now, I was so enthusiastic about it, it kinda made sense, but I didn’t expect it at all.
Ilya: The first thing I made was completely horrible.
Matt: Yea, mine was too!
Ilya: It was atrocious, if it looked like a metal analog if you stick a raw egg in a microwave. That’s how bad it was. However, I was excited about doing it, a little bit disappointed about the results, and I would’ve never imagined doing this right now, for a media company, for YouTube. The reason is, I have an educational planning on becoming a professor fairly soon and I’m still looking at PHD programs right now. So… But for now I’m sticking with this show, I’m gonna be doing it for a while.
Bill: Actually, Matt’s brother, Kerry, thought me some of the stuff I know. From that, I made, from what was supposed to be a helmet. Suppose to be a helmet.
Ilya: Picasso is his favorite artist, haha.
Bill: But I always enjoyed working with my hands and never thought I’d be doing what I’m doing right now. I’ve known Kerry and Matt for a long time, they’re like family.
Matt: (high pitch) Awwwww! Love you Bill!
Bill: So having this opportunity has actually been a lot of fun, one of times I actually think I’d enjoyed getting up and going to work every day, and this show is just an added bonus.
Matt: I don’t know any craftsman were the first thing they made was amazing, but I have met some teenagers that have come up to me and showed their first knife and they’re like, very ashamed of it, and I’m like, dude that is like better than my 100th knife. So, you’re off to a good start.
Jun: Pick one weapon or object that you’ve created, that gave you the most trouble. What was that weapon? Whatever is on top of your head, the first one you think of.
Matt: People didn’t see it, but one of the ones I didn’t like making the most was the, and it’s a lot of people’s favorite, it’s the Oathkeeper Keyblade from Kingdom Hearts. (https://youtu.be/1Ic-avlBAZ0)
Jun: No way!?
Matt: Just cause its size, it wasn’t huge, but it was big, all the little tricky grinds on it, so many different angels, uh, kept getting caught on my clothes, and like, it was just one of those, where I got poked so many times on my side just trying to make it look pretty… Once we were done with that, I put it in a corner and it has not moved from that corner even since. So, that’s one for me. Even though that seemed like a simple build… Once it was together, it looked so awkward and little points everywhere… I was just yea… I was not a friend of that one.
Jun: I would’ve never know it would be the Keyblade…
Ilya: Well… The most troubled was the Greatsword that we did, because we had to do it twice. One, for a convention in France… Dark Souls commissioned us to make two swords, and one of them was for camera. The second one was the one you’ve seen on the episode. The first one was made and shipped off to France. In something that looks like a giant coffin. We had a zombie head and covered it. When John was suppose to put everything in it, he opens it up, HUH! HAHAH! (https://youtu.be/MPqj6WaTFOE)
Matt: We aren’t scared to have fun.
Jun: I think that’s the most important thing. I think I realize with other craftsmen, as long as their having fun, the blood sweat and tears are nothing.
Matt: What about you Bill? What’s your tough build?
Bill: I’m relatively new to the show. Umm, I wouldn’t say right yet what’s the toughest build.
Matt: Oh, I know, it just hasn’t come out yet.
Bill: Yea, that’s the thing, it hasn’t come out yet.
Matt: There’s blowers involved, and gasoline, and smoke… And… Melons…
Bill: As far as what I’ve done with the show so far… It’s probably been the Gravity Hammer. That was…
Matt: Just the shier size of it.
Bill: It was a beast to work with. (https://youtu.be/lchrLLOV0hI)
Matt: Cause we had to make them, which sucked. Cause you’re tired as hell. We have 8 days, and at the very last day we we’re working as hard as we can to make it look pretty for the beauty shots. Beauty shots are in the morning, and demos are in the afternoon. So we’re tired exhausted, and we get a half an hour lunch break, and then we have to go with our exhausted bodies, and lift those things up. Smash something with them and make it look legit as possible.
Bill: And that day just happen to be the day Ilya had to work with a knife. And the last thing we film was the Gravity Hammer. I’ve already been dealing with this 6ft knife. Swinging that and doing this take, this take, this take. this take. And then it’s like, ok now we gotta do the Gravity Hammer, and I’m like, we’re gonna do this take, this take, this take.
Matt: Oh he loves it… Whatever…
Bill: Oh I did it.
Just got my 1-minute signal from the Otakon staff at this moment… Two more questions!
Jun: What current Video Game are you playing or Anime are you watching?
Matt: I am currently playing Overwatch like a fiend.
Ilya: Right now I’m watching The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. That’s the kind of stuff I like.
Jun: You have a lot of fans that are in the same line that like creating things. Props, weapons, everything. If you have something like a message to motivate them to keep on going because this is, it’s a very tough area to get into right? Some notes you can tell your fans.
Matt: The most inspiring things from us is. When we hear we inspire other people and a lot of times it’s hey I’m horrible at swinging a hammer but I started up my grandfather’s sewing machine and I’m sewing again… That is what we love to hear. You’re good at something, everybody has a gift, and sometimes if you’re not gifted work at it. Just keep going, like I said before, my first 100 pieces suck. They were horrible I would never want to show them to anyone. But it you love something enough and you’re willing to learn and put the sweat in, you can do it.
Ilya: Look at good stuff. Go to a museum. If you like making swords, try not to look at bad swords, try to not look at stuff you buy at flea markets. Go to a museum, find a trip to the museum, look at good stuff. Stuff that will inspire you, because it’s suppose to… Then that way, your eyes get use to things that are done properly and well…
Matt: And a lot of museums are free. I mean, just go to a museum. There is a reason why that work is in a museum and not in a cartoon.
Ilya: Same thing applies to painting. Same thing applies to carving, sculpting, anything, sewing. Look at museum good stuff. Always look at exhibitions of serious artists, because that’s where you get your inspiration, that’s where you get all your queues and tidbits about your particular project. Even though you don’t think its relevant at the moment. It will become relevant very soon.
Bill: Just follow up with that they said. Ask questions, don’t give up. If someone doesn’t have an answer that you’re trying to get too, there’s more people out there, just keep pushing and don’t give up on doing it.
Matt: Specially this day in age. We’re in the age of information. You don’t know how to do it? Google it. Someone is gonna tell you how to do it.
Jun: Museums… That’s very cool actually.
Matt: I mean, when we make far out video game futuristic stuff… We still relate it to a technique we learned from a historical piece. Almost every single time. That’s a goal of ours actually to incorporate one historical technique. There’s going to be one if you look hard enough. So museums, definitely.
Jun: That wraps it for the interview. Thank you thank you thank you so much for being here at Otakon and giving everyone your valued time and stuff like that. Thank you very much!
Matt, Ilya, and Bill: Thank you, thank you.
Had to wrap it up, Otakon staff signaling me, time is up!
It was a really fun time just talking to them. You can tell they’re passionate at what they do. Even though I just started working on cosplay props myself in the past few months with Mandu Cosplay, I can definitely use Matt, Ilya, and Bill’s motivational words of wisdom. I’ve never thought about going to a museum and looking at good stuff to train my eyes to understand levels of details. What they are able to craft is amazing, and you can always reference their videos on their YouTube page.