Dad Behind Epic Zoom Call Halloween Costume Creates Working Drive-In Movie Look for Daughter This Year

"It’s so much fun seeing your creative vision come to life," says Greg Dietzenbach, who also made a trap doormat costume for his son

Iowa Dad Who Made Epic Zoom Call Halloween Costume Returns with Creative Drive-In Movie Idea
Ada Dietzenbach's Halloween costume created by her dad Greg. Photo: Greg Dietzenbach

The Iowa dad who created the epic Zoom call costume for his daughter last Halloween is back — and this year, he's stepping up his game!

Greg Dietzenbach tells PEOPLE that he went all-out this year for his 13-year-old daughter Ada, making her a drive-in movie theater costume with an actual video screen.

"We love movies but we haven't gone to the theater since COVID," says Dietzenbach, 43. "A couple of months ago, we did go to an outside theater and it was so nice to have that communal experience back again."

"I feel like drive-in theaters and horror movies go hand-in-hand," he continues. "I wanted to play with that idea and tell a story of a vampire... The mind is a strange and wonderful machine, I'm glad mine is wired a little differently than others."

To make the creative costume, Dietzenbach started out with two large foam boards — one for the movie screen and one for the ground — and a projector.

To create the base, Dietzenbach lined the bottom board it with green material resembling grass. In one corner, he set up a small drive-in sign (complete with a dad pun!) and added some mini cars and trees towards the front, as well as a concession stand over the projector.

The Iowa dad then focused his efforts on making a short video to project onto the screen, using clips from the 1931 film Dracula, as well as footage of a smoke puff and a bat flapping its wings.

Later, he cut out a face hole in the top board and added vampire features — including a widow's peak, arching eyebrows, and growing fangs — to project onto his daughter's face.

To protect her eyes from the bright light, Dietzenbach gave Ada a pair of dark sunglasses, which he believes made "the vampire look more comical."

"I mean, vampires hate the light so sunglasses actually make sense," he jokes. "At work, we've been working with light projection for an exhibit so I had some experience."

"I really enjoyed making the video that gets projected. I animated the eyebrows to arch and the fangs to grow, but getting the alignment just right took a lot of trial and error," Dietzenbach adds. "My daughter is such a good sport though and helped me get it just right. Her favorite part was the little concession stand. She loves small adorable things."

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Throughout the three days it took to make the costume, things went relatively smoothly, Dietzenbach says.

"I do a lot of the pre-planning in my head so by the time I get building it's just following my mental instruction book," he explains. "I didn't know how well the projector would work until about 2:30 AM on a Saturday night. That's when I tested the projected video on myself and was overjoyed that it not only worked but looked great!"

"I would've screamed if it wouldn't have woken up the family," he jokes. "But I love those eureka moments. You build something in your mind and work out all the variables but there's always that doubt that it won't work. It's so much fun seeing your creative vision come to life."

RELATED VIDEO: Iowa Dad Creates Zoom Meeting Halloween Costume for Daughter

As expected, Dietzenbach said his daughter's costume was a hit with family, friends and neighbors

"People are just in awe of the costume," he shares. "It's a bit of a head-scratcher at first glimpse. Seeing a working drive-in movie theater on your doorstep doesn't make sense."

As if that wasn't impressive enough, Dietzenbach also created a "Sweet Trap" doormat costume this year for his 11-year-old son, Milo.

The costume, which took two days to make, features Milo in all black, laying on the ground and holding up what appears to be a "Home Sweet Home" doormat.

Iowa Dad Who Made Epic Zoom Call Halloween Costume Returns with Creative Drive-In Movie Idea
Milo Dietzenbach's costume made by his father Greg. Greg Dietzenbach

According to Dietzenbach, the mat is actually made with a foam board, fuzzy felt and painted letters. Adding a creative spin, the dad crossed out "home" and wrote "trap" in big red letters.

He also created a trap mouth on the mat, which has a "place candy here" sign between a set of pointy teeth, all made out of foam.

"For the 'Sweet Trap' costume, I really wanted to surprise the person answering the door," Dietzenbach sats. "I love the idea of someone opening the door and seeing a dangerous doormat at their feet."

"I also love the hesitation they would have placing the candy on the trap," he continues. "They have no idea when or if it'll snap on them. There's an interactivity with this one that is completely different than all the costumes I made in the past. As soon as you open the door, you are part of this memorable Halloween experience."

Dietzenbach says he plans on continuing this tradition each year because of the memories he makes with his children.

"I want to teach my kids that you can do amazing things if you just put your mind to it," he explains. "Yes, this is just a costume but it's more than that. It's problem-solving and it's creativity, and when it's completed it makes people happy. I think those are good things to strive for."

"I love Halloween and I hope my passion for the holiday and creativity passes on to the kids," he adds. "There will be a time when my kids won't go trick or treating. I'm making the most of the years we have."

And while he admits he initially felt pressure after last year's Zoom costume to keep creating elaborate ideas, Dietzenbach now believes it's all simply for the fun of the holiday.

"I realized that was a pressure I was just putting on myself. No one was forcing me to make costumes. They could be as complicated or simple as I wanted them to be," he says. "I just picked an idea that I thought would be fun to create and that would challenge me. If I'm being creative and challenged, then I'm happy. I enjoyed every minute making this year's costumes."

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