This year’s Silicon Valley Comic-Con was all about the combination of futuristic technology and modern day media, and how it ties so well into the “Nerd” world. Naturally, in order to celebrate that, they invited Mythbusters host and die-hard-Hellboy-fan Adam Savage to speak at a panel and speak he did! He opened up talking about how much he loved to cosplay, from Totoro to Hellboy himself. He tends to handcraft every costume he has worn. This year, Adam teamed up with Broken Nerd to build the Knights of Ren costumes from Star Wars. On Saturday morning, April 7th, 2018, they walked through the convention taking photos with fans, and one thing we loved is that no one actually knew they were talking to Adam Savage! We found it hilariously entertaining, and thoroughly enjoyed the happiness that came off of Adam when he spoke. Fairly quickly, he turned his panel to the floor to answer fan questions, and the adorable anecdotes he told us left everyone in such a good mood! Check out some of the questions he answered!
What are some of your favorite tools to use when making cosplays and one day builds?
Well, I’m a bro who sews. So I LOVE the sewing machine. I find it amazing, and it’s a great time to get into sewing. The sewing machines they make now compared to the price of one I bought twenty years ago are so much better and so robust. But the one that never leaves is my Leatherman. It’s always on my belt, in fact, I have now taken to checking my luggage wherever I fly so that I can have my Leatherman in every city I’m in – Cause I wanna live a life like Maguyver.
Have you ever finished a project and been sad when you were done?
Every Single One. Seriously, I lost my mind when we wrapped Mythbusters. I didn’t know what do with myself for six months!
I have two questions – one is kind of a stupid one…can I get a hug? Two, I was wondering…what’s the problem you’re most proud of solving?
It’s usually the one I just solved. So…we finished yesterday on our costumes. I had about three hours alone in my shop. So I did a couple of things, I took a nap – boy did I need that. I then got up and I cleaned my shop really well, and then I looked down and I realized I had some – Does anyone follow the YouTube channel Clickspring? If you don’t know about this, talk about mechanical problem solving. Clickspring is an amazing machinist who hand builds clock in a shop that is smaller than this stage. He does it with unsurprising precision…one of the machines he uses in his shop is called a Die Filer, and I didn’t even know this existed! It’s a little table, and a file comes out of the middle, and the file goes on an oscillator and it just goes up and down. And for precision filing, this is the perfect tool. So I saw his file, and I was like what is that? Where do I get one? and it turns out there’s a kit, there’s a guy on the east coast who makes these kits. Now, what does a kit from a Die filer look like? It is these 5 pieces of cast iron with no machine surfaces. And you have to machine every single surface and line everything up, and put it together yourself. And I had never done this kind of thing, I’m a moderately experienced machinist but this is way outside my range. So after taking the nap and cleaning my shop, I chucked this like 14 pound hunk of cast iron into my lave, and I started it spinning, and I slowly made a couple of reference surfaces on it. Again, I haven’t done anything like that at all. It was an hour and a half of really careful, precise work, so I was thrilled the whole time. Even as hot chunks of cast iron are flying into my face and burning me, I’m like THIS IS AWESOME!
How did you feel when you were dropped off a building in bubble wrap?
Uugh. The Bubble wrap episode. That was awful. So, just to recap this was an episode of how much bubble wrap would you need to protect you if you jumped off of a building. And there was a video in which a guy put a bunch of bubble wrap on the ground and jumped off a building onto it. The worst kind of viral video, ’cause it was totally fake but what is the end result? Someone’s gonna try that and you’re going to be responsible for someone having died! So we wanted to show that it’s not safe to do that, but then we wanted to see..if you wrapped me in bubble wrap, and you figured out how to drop me perfectly vertically so I didn’t change and I bounced off the ground safely, could we show complicated it was to do that? So we wrapped me in 4 feet of bubble wrap, and I don’t mean 4 feet long, I mean I was a burrito 8 feet in diameter, and 8 feet long with little me as the creamy candy center. And Jaime had to pull the line and drop me. Now, I trust Jaime more than anybody in my life to take responsibility for that specific task. And vice versa.
To tell the tale of Jaime’s trust in me, when we did the Batman episode and he made a little wench with a tiny bit of high strength cable, and he shot it over a garter and rose up to the 40 foot ceiling – it was then he’d revealed to us he hadn’t figured out how to unwind it. I’m like, Okay Jaime well..we’ve got you [wired] so you can cut the rope. Now, if I was in Jaime’s position, I would go okay cool, and then I would look at the rope clipped to my belt, and then I would look at the pulley system, and then I would look down to the people holding onto it, that’s just my nature as a rigger. Jaime reached up with a knife and sliced the rope. It gets better, so he pulled himself up to cut it, and when he cut it, he punched himself in the nose. He broke his own nose.
Do you have any advice for cosplayers on how to cope with any judgment or criticism they receive?
Ugh…people are such d*cks. It’s easy to say don’t listen to them, but it’s hard not to listen to them. It’s hard not to let criticism get to you. Y’know, I agree with Chris Hardwick who says that reading your own YouTube comments is effectively cutting. It’s so true! But y’know, you can’t really ignore it when people say crappy things about you. You need to build your own group as a bulwark against that kind of critique. You’re a woman so you’re going to experience a level of critique I have no idea about and I’m really sorry. I literally can’t know what that’s like but I do know that the people that support me, and the people that I love, the people that I choose to spend my time around help me keep coming to the conclusion that the dumb weird things that I do are still the engine of all the good stuff that’s in my life. and y’know, while people are d*cks and they go out there, they seek to harm other people for whatever reason of their own loneliness, or sadness, or terror, or fear, they seek to pass that around, it’s incumbent on us to support the people around us and let them know that what they’re doing is great!
What was your favorite Mythbusters episode that you’ve filmed?
it’s hard to pick a moment. For me there are high points, both in terms of my experience or in terms of the experimental design, or in terms of the story-telling. For me that was the most rewarding aspect of this show, was telling the stories. In the beginning when we first made the pilots, we weren’t thinking of Mythbusters as a science show, we weren’t thinking of it as an educational show, I promise you we were never thinking of the children. But we had a couple of explosions, we had the guy on the toilet that got knocked off, and Discovery’ single note when they awarded the show is “This is great, we want 13 let’s make this show, can we have an explosion in every single episode?” I remember being like..sure maybe? But there was an episode we did called “lead balloon.” so we made a 14 diameter floating balloon out of 28 pounds of rolled lead. It took us two years to find a company that could roll lead thin enough to do this, and lead that is thin enough to make a balloon out of has the consistency of wet toilet paper. Like it will fall apart in your hand if you hold it wrong. So to make something like a balloon and distribute that lack of strength across an entire structure is really difficult. Now whenever we would plot an episode, our editors would expect a certain amount of footage. They’d look at an outline and say “This is probably a 15 minute story.” So when we first handed in an outline for Lead Balloon, the editorial thought it was going to be like a 20 minute story. The first cut came in at 55 minutes. At the end, it became the A story of the episode, not the B story as we thought. It carried the episode and I loved that because there were no explosions, no fires, no injuries, it was just two guys trying to solve a problem that no one had.
If you could revive the Mythbusters television show would you?
Well it’s already been brought back. For me, understand my relationship with the show has an arc. I loved doing the show, but I also love so much other stuff. Not to say…never to say never, but y’know Mythbusters had peaked around 2008-2012, and then as we continued on toward 2012-2013 the ratings had started to come down, and every television show has a natural life span. Ours was almost 14 years. That’s crazy great! look, I love the two guys hosting Mythbusters now, they’re great human beings and I can’t wait to see what they do with this material. If they called me up, I would totally give them advice on how to do stuff but y’know…there are thing in the works that..I would potentially come back to television to do, let me just say that.
What advice or tips would you give to the current generation of makers or inventors?
I saw Tanahashi Coates speak recently where he was in front of an audience and he was like “Whenever someone gets up in front an audience people ask them all sorts of questions that aren’t their expertise” and he was very careful to not pretend to expertise he doesn’t have. So I wanna be careful about not pretending to expertise that I don’t have. In terms of looking at advice for young makers in this generation, it’s very interesting and important that when you’re thinking about things you want to make out in the world, it’s important to think what the impact of what you’re making will be. Whether it’s an app or a piece of software, or a piece of hardware that makes your life easier, there are ways in which it might make your life complicated. I love having Alexa in my house, but I’m also very nervous about having Alexa in my house. She knows me too well. We’ll do better if we raise this generation and every subsequent generation to talk about the subtleties of these things.
Are you going to be in season three of The Expanse?
No, I died already. I’ve already died. But I’m happy to die on anyone else’s television show though!
What was your favorite myth that you guys tested on the show?
It’s impossible to choose a single thing as the high point. We made 207 hours of television, I was on set for over…oh gosh I can’t even remember these numbers anymore. We did 2,500 experiments on the show. So to me it is just the memories. Like hand-feeding an octopus, or sliding down that water slide towards pain.
When you did the t.v. show Mythbusters, what did you do when you were done for the day?
I would drive home. I lived only ten minutes from where we filmed Mythbusters, but just the act of driving home from a job as weird as Mythbusters was a thing. Try to imagine my wife getting exhausted of hearing about the crazy things we did every day. It was a tremendously great job, but while I’m gone it’s like..One of my dogs vomits on the floor, one of my kids is being a pain, and that’s life! That’s the best part of it!