Pros and Cons of Cons
I have a long history with Scifi conventions. I attended the second or third Star Trek Convention ever held in the early 70s when I was barely a teenager. The Hubs has been going to Philcon forever, it seems. However, it wasn’t until moving to Los Angeles that we really started attending major conventions with any frequency. That wasn’t by any design on our part. I had begun the insane writing experiment, The Secret Logs of Mistress Janeway. Because of those stories and later, the webpage, we started getting invitations to speak on panels at conventions. We became even more popular on convention panels after I appeared in the documentary, Trekkies. I was in fangirl heaven for a while. If a convention paid for me to attend, I had money to buy lots of stuff from the vendors. I bought t-shirts and buttons from my favorite shows, and I wore them, gleefully identifying myself as a fangirl. The only things I didn’t do was Cosplay though I really wanted to and Filking which I never want to do.
Convention appearances were more complicated for us since we moved to LA. At conventions where actors appeared, it was problematic. Since Jon and I were writing scifi scripts to produce, we were hoping for a professional relationship with some of these actors. Now, I’m not saying that actors are snobs. They meet a great many people during their careers. It makes sense that they would put people they meet into categories as quickly as they can. If I was introduced as a fangirl, I may have had a lovely moment that made me feel like I was the only one they were thinking about. Then, they would have forgotten the meeting or worse, they would remember meeting me in my one of a kind caricature t-shirt of their TV or film character. They would then justifiably refuse to take me seriously about a part I may offering. Thus, I demurred at the notion of meeting them while they were signing things or before their panels. The one exception to that was the bar Toronto Trek. It was at the nexus of corridors and a patron could see everyone passing by. That was where I would hang out and wait for Jon or our friends. I usually was dressed normally while in that bar. Since Canadian fans tended to be far less intense than US fans, actors felt comfortable hanging out there. And it was easier to actually talk for a time in that setting. I actually cast one of them that I met there, Jason Carter, in Demon Under Glass years later.
Things got really weird with actors at Conventions after we made our first pilot presentation, The Privateers. By then, Jon and I were dressing like we were going to a pitch meeting when we attended panels. We didn’t know who we might run into – especially conventions with a heavy media presence. We had to dress and conduct ourselves like a business meeting might happen. A few times, they actually did. Not that we were in suits and ties. It was LA business casual – no fun buttons or stickers on our bags. At any rate, one of our Privateers/Demon Under Glass alumni outed us in an autograph room full of actors as film producers. Twenty heads snapped around to where we were standing. That made things really awkward as we weren’t hiring at that point in time. Finding a balance is a challenge. At our last visit to Dragon*Con, one of my favorite conventions, Jon and I did a talk about how to attend the Cannes Film Market and Festival on the cheap and get a lot done. We even dressed the way we did most days in Cannes. That same day we had a panel on the viability of fan made productions as an economic model. I was also the lone fangirl on a panel about Trek versus the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. That was a great fun.
We found a balance of sorts with regards to conventions. Though we no longer just go for fun. I regret that sometimes. When we go, we’re usually networking at the very least. The next couple of conventions on our horizon are about marketing the upcoming books and web series. It’s lots of fun roaming amidst the really cool stuff on the vendor tables or endlessly debating about our favorite shows for the debate’s own sake. We just can’t justify the time unless it’s also work related. One consolation though. I still wear things that identify me as a fangirl. It’s just a lot harder to spot. Those vendors do have some amazing stuff.