29 November, 2009

Okay, I've seen it...

I'm sorry it's taken me so stinkin' long to get this up, but this year is called 'hell year' by most 3rd year PhD students in the UK, and thus far it's living up to that! Monumentally busy... but good :) Teaching, working in the international office, writing an article, editing an anthology of Twilight criticism, and planning some Twilight events this spring (Vampire Baseball and Fan Film Festival Cruise- wahoo!)
But, now to the point.... I've seen New Moon. Three times. My immediate reaction: pleased. Improvement. Smoother than expected. Better performances than expected. Elements still stilted and dialogue still lacking occasionally, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed it! I think I should scan in my notes that I took during the film- as it was dark (it was in a movie theater, obviously), they slant all over the place and are at times on top of each other, so I'll try to make out what I wrote.
Things I liked:

  1. Firstly, the theater was filled with girls wearing 'team Edward' shirts, shrieking, and stating 'my heart is thumping in my chest.' This is vastly different from the quiet, unobsessed viewing I had in Wales last year. Twilight fever has officially struck the UK.

  2. The opening shot of the large, golden moon: brilliantly raises the anticipation as the moon slowly waxes to reveal the title of the film, New Moon (we all knew what it would say, but it was exciting when it was finally revealed)

  3. This one begins with a voice over as well, illustrating Bella's point of view. I'm also surprised but glad that they included the 'Gran' dream. I really felt that was a moment in the book where you could see Bella's point of view. You could see the issue you would have if you were 70 and your husband was perpetually 17. Seeing that moment visualized on screen really shined a light on that fear of hers.

  4. The vamps have better contacts, and Edward's sparkling is much better. Although the tinkling bells are still there. Grrr...

  5. Whoever had the idea for Edward to recite Romeo's lines from Romeo and Juliet deserves a bonus. I don't think Rob delivered them all that well, but who didn't coo and melt a bit at hearing Shakespeare from his lips?

  6. I enjoyed the improved effect of the vampires' movements. We first see it at the birthday when Jasper goes after Bella. The speed of their movements- Edward pushing in front of Bella, Jasper slipping through Emmet and Carlisle's hands at first, and then throughout the film- Laurent's chase and fight, and of course that fight with the Volturi (I'll get to that more later), it didn't have the cheesy whooshing sound effects from Twilight, and depicted the vampires more realistically- ultra fast movements that don't seem contrived or cartoon-like.

  7. I greatly enjoyed the moment between Carlisle and Bella when he is stitching up her arm. It seemed rather natural for them to be that close, showed how comfortable Bella has become with this family, and provided an unhurried and believable conversation about vampires and their souls.

    1. Nice touch at the end of this scene, when Carlisle burns the bloody gauze- it's in the shape of a heart. It's a bloody, burning, heart in a bowl. Foreshadow much?

  1. The camera shots in the break up scene. The camera stays quite solidly on Edward, but when it cuts to Bella the angle is skewed; it's usually moving, and is often a disconcerting upshot. This illustrates the apparent calmness and decisiveness of Edward breaking up with Bella, and the utter collapse of Bella's world.

  2. October, November, December, January.... Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Wonderful shot, poignant music, continuous, driving, circular shot showing the utter despair within Bella. I remember reaching that part of the book, as I'm sure we all do, and going 'What?! What!? What?!' and I'm glad they effectively recreated that in the film.

  3. Bella's relationship with Jacob. I love Taylor Lautner, truly, but I still find the delivery of his lines very awkward and stilted. His interaction with Bella though, and their physicality with each other seems so much more natural in this film. Perhaps their camaraderie offscreen seeped into their onscreen scenes.

  4. “Dear Alice...” emails. It's a good narrative technique. It allows us to hear Bella's thoughts as we do in the novels, but without being pure, cheesy, voice over. Some of them seem out of place to me (the one before she goes into Emily's house stands out in my mind as forced), but overall it was effective.

  5. Attention to detail: Emily made muffins, Jacob's house is red, Edward was in Rio de Janero (something only true fans would know as it's in the deleted chapters from Stephenie Meyer's website), Alice had a yellow porsche... all things that aren't necessary for the film to be good, but are acknowledged and appreciated nods to the fan base.

  6. Bella is less awkward. Not as much of that blinking, lip-biting, fifteen minutes to get out one line-ness. Mike is more awkward (“gotta get that protein in there...”) and it works wonderfully. Oh Mike... definitely laughed at the 'Face Punch' scene with the boys hands ready and waiting for Bella to grab them...

  7. Two words: Thom. Yorke. Damn I love that song, and its use in that compiled scene of Victoria's chase, Harry's heart attack, and Bella about to jump off of the cliff is perfect.

  8. “When you put the dog out.” Witty line... I liked it.

  9. Clever placement of Virgin Atlantic advertising... a little tongue in cheek product placement at the protagonists' virginity perhaps?

  10. When Bella crashes into Edward and he says “Heaven.” Granted I missed the “Carlisle was right...” line, but this was the next best thing.

  11. I enjoyed the awkward moment when they're all in the elevator at the Volturi headquarters, it's as tense as anything, and then this cheesy, Italian elevator music comes on. Beautifully awkward and a nice humorous moment during such a tense scene.

  12. The vacuum sounds as Aro reads thoughts. Oddly enough, it wasn't an annoying effect; this is what I imagine you actually hear when he tromps through your head. And the fight. Wow...the fight. Definitely better visualized than what I was picturing. Strong, fast, effective, and shows the lengths that Edward would go to in order to protect Bella.

  13. The effect of the vamps breaking apart and turning into stone. So thaaaat's what that looks like :)

  14. Complete silence... and then? “Marry me.” Cut to black. Uber effective.

Things I didn't like:

  1. Jake still has a horrible wig.

  2. Alice's clothes. In some outfits she looks classy and funky and Alice like; in others she looks like Katie Holmes at her most Stepford-esque; large, old-lady type suits and childlike painting smocks.

  3. Obvious CG work on the cliff jumping scene. If The Lord of the Rings can make Legolas slide down the trunk of a collapsing olliphant and make it look real, surely we can have Bella or the wolf pack jumping off some rocks and have it look believable.

  4. The vision of Bella as a vampire. Cheeeesetastic.

  5. Dialogue. There are still big chunks of dialogue that I find flat, and missed opportunities for further character development or just better film moments. Every second of screen time costs thousands or even millions of dollars- I hoped that they would fill every moment with productive elements. For example, the exchange at the cinema when Jake and Mike nearly fight; I know that Jake needs to get angry for the change to trigger, but that whole section seemed forced; in fact, I thought a lot of Jacob's elements were forced. I still find him a slightly stilted actor, but it didn't help that he got some cheesy and poorly-delivered lines.
I know I've been doing a lot of comparison to Twilight in order to rate New Moon. It's hard not to acknowledge the first film that is so burned into our memories, and was certainly such an impressing and formative filmmaking experience for me. If I were to just look at New Moon, and try to remove the preconceptions from Twilight, I don't think I'd think New Moon was very good. If I hadn't read the books, if I didn't already enjoy this world, I don't think the film would appear fluid, well-structured, and interesting. It doesn't follow the general rules of three-act script very well, character development is lacking, and honestly, I found the plot under-structured.
It is in the novel too; that's not necessarily a bad thing, the whole point of the book is to illustrate Bella's despair, show the depth of her feeling toward Edward, develop the relationship with Jacob and develop the threat of the Volturi. In that sense, mission accomplished, and accomplished quite well. But the adaptation
challenge arises here when one considers how to turn that transitory novel into an interesting film. They made it a great adaptation for fans, I think. It's a very, very difficult one to make a good film and appease the fans, and monetary success was guaranteed if they made the fans happy, so I think that was more of the focus; true to the book, true to the fans, make them happy, and they did the best that they could with the material.
Therefore, I think this was a wonderful step in producing a better adaptation. Chris Weitz always said this was a film for the fans, and he stood by that throughout. If this film was a project for the fans, and hopefully for a few people to get into the books who were unfamiliar with them previously, then I think it has succeeded. I certainly enjoyed the film. It was entertaining, I think the performances improved, I think the script improved, it was more fluid, the music was brilliant, and I thought the cinematography was often quite beautiful. It's hard to say 'this looks good for the series, it'll only get better...' because you want each film to be brilliant. You want them to stand on their own and be very good, but in this instance, I think we have to look at it in the series.
With Twilight, they didn't necessarily know what they had. They knew it had a fervent following, but no one anticipated the reception that it got. Now they DO know what they have, and that is changing the adaptation process, the filming, the release, and everything else. I think each film will improve on the previous one, but they'll continuously struggle to make a good film that is also a good adaptation.
That's the challenge, and what I find so fun to study!
More soon, but there are the initial reactions and thoughts :)

18 November, 2009

Want to make a film on a cruise?

Holy crap look at this!

So there are a ton of talented Twilight fans out there- I've seen your YouTube videos- so this is for you as well as those of you who have always wanted to give filmmaking a go, but haven't found the opportunity or the right situation.

Well I just found out that I'll be going on Fan Trips Fan Film Project as an organizer and lecturer! The trip begins in New Orleans right after Vampire Baseball (check out the link; Peter is putting together a team again- awesome), they've got a bunch of professional filmmakers, producers and editors that will be assisting small groups in making their own short.

It's pretty much like a 48 film festival, but you'll be assisted by pros, instructed in filmmaking the day before filming, and oh yeah.... IT'S ON A CRUISE SHIP. You get a day of film classes, then a few days of shooting in amazing locations, time to edit, and then at the end of the cruise we'll screen everything at the festival and the winners will be announced.

The pros will do individual workshops too, I'll
talk about my work with Twilight, and a thousand other wonderful things... on the Carribean... Oh. Girl.

Plus the grand prize winner gets a walk-on role in John Goodman's upcoming vampire film Girls Gone Vamp! Whoot. I'm getting wicked excited.

If you want to go, book fast- it's filling up like crazy, and it's really reasonable; as a film student I can tell you film classes and experiences like this are never this cheap...

Hope to see you there!


Here's the schedule, here's the link to sign up!

We'll leave from New Orleans and go to :
SunNew Orleans-5:30 PM
MonAt Sea--
TueCosta Maya10:00 AM6:00 PM
WedSanto Tomas De Castilla8:00 AM6:00 PM
ThuBelize City8:00 AM6:00 PM
FriCozumel8:00 AM5:00 PM
SatAt Sea--
SunNew Orleans8:00 AM-

15 November, 2009

New Moon Week

So the tension is starting to mount for New Moon's premiere, and I think I'm FINALLY getting excited. I've certainly been more removed from this film, both by accident and by design. I wasn't on the set of New Moon, I haven't done any pre-release events, I've been reading the updates on the fan sites and the information released by Summit of course, but I've not had much insider info on this one and have actually been focusing on writing up my PhD...go figure! But it's been kind of nice to be a bit more removed from this one, believe it or not!

With Twilight I was so predisposed to love the film prior to even walking into the cinema due to watching the process, speaking with the filmmakers, seeing scenes ahead of time, and feeling that I knew what the final project would be like before ever seeing the full thing. I enjoyed the process so much, was glad to see the care that they took with the script and how much the story meant to them, that I was pretty much already decided that I'd like the film both as entertainment and as a cinematic work. Even now, all of these months later, I still certainly enjoy Twilight, but I can be a little more discerning about it. It's not a work of filmic genius, and in retrospect, it was almost too faithful to the book, to the point that the film was quite stilted in parts; the fans could fill in the holes, but the non-fans would feel it was a bit jumpy. I think this was necessary for the first film of the series, to maintain the Fan base and still introduce a decent film (think Harry Potter; how literal the first two were, and how stilted and dry they were as films. They had to do that to maintain the fans, keep the films close to the books, then once the fans were on board completely they could change a few things, take some chances, and make films that differed slightly from the books, but made much better films).

I'm excited to see New Moon, because it seems to be being handled rather differently. For one thing, it was an almost completely closed set. The producers I spoke to during Twilight were trying quite hard to get me onto the set of New Moon, but it didn't work out as there wasn't a 'visitable' day for me to go, and the gang I knew said I'd never get the kind of exposure I got during Twilight. The set was much more protected and secret. I wonder if this allowed them a bit more creative control; I wonder what liberties they've taken. I also think they've finally realized that they have something big here; a big moneymaker, an influential film in the industry, and massive power with the fan market. They're protecting their product, and frankly that seems to just be adding to the appeal! We have less leaking photos and information, and I think that is raising the suspense for the film.

I'm excited to see the visual elements under Chris Weitz's eye; it's looking more 'Hollywood,' yes, but I certainly don't think that's a bad thing for this film right now. It needed a bit of a boost so the production matched the reception; so the wolves don't disappoint, the sparkling doesn't look fuzzy and have that horrid tinkling sound, and so the romantic moments aren't cheesy and overdone..... and it looks like it's getting more of that treatment.

I'm sad I won't be at a premiere for it this year, but I'm kind of stoked to go see it normally in the theater with fans and non-fans alike, and make my own decision, removed from preconceptions.

In other news, I'm writing up my thesis, teaching two classes of Digital Communication, presenting at a conference next week on the 'Utilization of the Fan Base in Event Film Adaptations', turning that into a publishable article, I'm collecting proposals for my own anthology of Twilight criticism (see post prior to this one), working part time in the International Office, and somehow still managing to have a bit of a social life, travel, and make some plans for some Twilight-y events in the spring (Vampire Baseball anyone? :)

More soon, I'll try and do better updating this more often, particularly once New Moon comes out (a review at the least is coming, and hopefully some analysis too), and my spring activities start formulating a bit more. Happy wolf-watching all :)

23 September, 2009

Call For Papers- Critical Perspectives on Twilight

CFP:Critical Perspectives on the Twilight Saga, Edited by Maggie Parke and Natalie Wilson
Apologies for Cross-posting.
We are currently accepting proposals for essays to be included in an edited collection on Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga. We are looking for essays that examine the Twilight series, the fandom, and the films from various analytical and methodological perspectives. We are particularly interested in submissions from the following disciplines: film studies, sociology/popular culture studies, gender studies, critical race studies, literature, psychology, and education.
The collection is intended for a broader audience than is the case for many scholarly anthologies. We welcome work from academics, graduate students, bloggers, educators, and fans. Abstracts and subsequent essays should thus be intellectual in tone and treatment, but accessible to general readers.
The collection will focus on the following areas:
Twilight in the Media, Analysis of the Films, The Adaptation Process, Celebrities, and Music of Twilight
Explorations and analysis of the Fandom, Twi-net, Fan Fiction
Female Roles, Representations of Gender, Feminist Analysis of the Series
Readings of Vampire and Werewolf Lore, Consideration of Quileute Legend and Culture
Cross-Generational Issues, Analysis of Family or Mothers/Fathers in the series/fandom
Theological Considerations, Analysis of Twilight as Religious Allegory
Literary Analysis of the Series, Intertextual Considerations
We are particularly interested in the topics that follow:
Gender issues, female roles, chastity, abstinence only, reproductive rights/abortion, representation of masculinity/patriarchy
Film Adaptation, authorial influence, adaptation process
Mormonism, Christianity, feminist theology
The biological possibilities and capabilities within the mythical structure, rule-making and rule-breaking
Race, ethnic identity, cultural mythology, whiteness and white privilege
Literary and genre readings, werewolves, vampires, intertextuality, etc
The fandom, blogs, vlogs, celebrity culture
Pedagogical reads
Use of Twilight as an educational resource
Representations of family, maternal roles, paternal roles, sibling rivalry
Submission guidelines:
Send a 500 word abstract with contact information, affiliations, and a brief bio of approximately 50 words to AcademicTwilight@googlemail.com. Please use word, or rtf format.
Deadline for submissions is December 10.


Seriously? It's been a month since I've posted? Yikes... well, for 2 weeks I was in the woods of New Hampshire for camp, then my sister got married (YAY! BEST wedding!), then I repacked again, flew to Wales, and I've been here for a week. Work has started, I just got my teaching assignments (I'm teaching Digital Communications...a fancy way of saying IT class and web design stuff), and things are rolling!

Posts forthcoming: I still want to chat about working with Sandymontana productions in Portland on a commercial shoot, I've some thoughts on the New Moon soundtrack that I'm hashing through, and I'd love to do an analysis of the new trailer(s) in comparison with the Twilight one, so we'll see if I can get a few hours free to do that!

It looks like I'll be doing a few of the Twilight events with Creation Entertainment in the near future, and I'm putting together an anthology of critical essays on Twilight with a panelist from TwiCon. Certainly keeping busy! I'm hoping to get involved in some of the New Moon release events, but I've been less involved in this process as I was for Twilight, so we'll see.

Okay, more soon.

15 August, 2009

Pictures from Vampire Baseball!

I've finally got the go-ahead to post Vampire Baseball pictures, so here's a selection for you (they actually gave me permission about a week ago, but life's been rather nuts; after TwiCon I flew to Boston and saw friends for a couple of days and punched out some work on adaptation theory, and then popped up to Manchester NH to see my sister for a couple of days, and prep a pitch for a Critical Analysis work on Twilight...whoot! Now I'm in Holderness NH, preparing for camp. It's my 20th year there (...I started when I was 7), and my 10th year as a member of the council. Love it!).

Anywho, Vampire Baseball! Look back to
the post about it here, but I'll just post a slew of
pictures here and the rest on Webshots.
It was definitely a fun day. I'm still grateful to Leigh Trapp and Jeannie Barresi and the gang from FanTrips. It was a good time, and it sounds like it's going to happen again in the future. Wahoo!

Webshots Album here.

04 August, 2009

TwiCon: Day Three

So... day three of TwiCon! Wow, Saturday seems like six months ago already. The whole week already seems like some strange dream that happened in an alternate universe.

Okay, so the first thing I was involved in that day was the breakfast with Alex Meraz, who plays Paul in New Moon. It started a bit shaky as the food was kinda meh (danish and muffins), and people seemed a bit peeved, but then I think we helped them realize Alex was the main event...not breakfast, really. And Alex was brilliant (sorry for the fuzzy picture, flash was prohibited).

He's such a cool, laid back, and grounded guy. He
was honest, funny, and open. And I learned quite a bit about him that I didn't know. For example, he was about to sign up to join Cirque du Solei when he got the call about New Moon, he went to art school from the age of 13 (he's a painter), had a Fullbright scholarship, and is a dancer (I can't remember the name of the martial art he does; it's like break dancing...but not quite). Very cool guy, and I liked his mantra; it matches mine quite well with the 'do what you love and things start working out.... be joyful in all you do, do the best that you can, and things seem to fall into place.' It was also a nice moment of insight and calm in the middle of TwiCon craziness!

So after that I went through the vendor hall for the first time and enjoyed pouring over all of the kitchy little Twilight things. I was kind of amazed there weren't more vendors there
though- shouldn't someone
have been selling the books and the DVD? Or Hot Topic had a table of their licensed
materials? But what was there was fun. Jewelry, sign ups for fan trips, character-inspired lotions, dolls, tshirts and posters. Then I went to the session where they announced the winner of the Fan Fiction contest, and she read her story to us which was cool. The theme was 100 years after Breaking Dawn, so it was neat to hear how people thought the characters continued their lives. You can check that out on Twilighted.net.

Then I thought I'd just pop into the Dallas Ballroom to see how the set
up for the Q&A was going, and it was a bit manic! So I helped out there (and here was the apparently memorable sound check). It took a bit longer than planned to get the audience seated, but it was worth the wait I think when the actors came out. People freaked. I keep thinking I've heard the loudest these fans can get (Breaking Dawn release, UK Premiere...) but it just keeps getting more manic. Peter Facinelli, Jackson Rathbone, Alex Meraz, Kellan Lutz, Billy Burke, and Christian Serratos were there, and it was a lot of fun. The questions were kind of random ('Jackson, if Jasper had a band, what would he call it?') but they came up with some wicked clever answers (Peter: The Grateful Undead... Alex: 100 Vampires... cute). They were flirty with the audience, funny, relaxed, and gotta admit it, they looked good.

There was a bit of an awkward lull at one point, and Peter decided it was a good idea that he jump off stage and run through the audience, and upon his return he said 'That was the scariest thing...' Not gonna lie, I thought he was gonna get attacked and come back with broken ribs. Glad he made it. And he did that on no sleep and manic audience members (he'd just come back from Hawaii and had been up for something like 36 hours). But the audience loved it, and it really lifted the session. It was great fun.

It was over far too early, but they had to keep moving if people wanted their pictures with the actors. That was efficient, apparently, so that's one plus! My next stop was the Meet & Greet. It was kind of like speed dating. All of the fans came in and sat at tables leaving one chair open, and then the actors came in plus some of the periphery Big Names (Kaleb Nation, Hillywood, Twilight Music Girls etc.), and spent two minutes at each table before they were forced to switch. They were running short on time, and we didn't see everyone, but I was at a rockin' table. I was with Danyelle and Luisa, two of my fellow staff members, and then four great gals, Colleen Hearn, Elizabeth Savoic, Nicole Anderson, and Seraphina Gonzalez (sorry if I got the names wrong, it's hard to read your writing, girls!).

We were totally the party table, Billy Burke even passed another table to come hang with us, and we got some great inside info. We had prepared ahead of time so we knew exactly what we were going to ask people, and I'm summarizing their responses; they're NOT direct quotes. Here's a bit of the rundown:

We had Peter Facinelli first:
Me: Do you ever refer to the books while you are filming? Or re-read them to stay close to the character?
Peter: Yeah, I just finished Eclipse. I read the books before we start filming, but once we're filming, I just go off of the script to keep the character a bit more my own, but I still
know where Carlisle is coming from.

With Jackson Rathbone (after he did a little rap for us on the table, with the stellar lyrics of 'yo, yo, yo')

Me: So Jackson, in the first film they don't really talk about Jasper's ability. It's kinda crucial to his character... is that rectified in New Moon?
Jackson (I'm summarizing, this isn't a direct quote): Definitely. It's quick, one of those movie magic, 'easily fixed with one scene or one line' things, but basically I have a conversation with Alice where she asks me to help Bella enjoy her birthday, and then during the birthday I'm working my magic and Bella says, 'Jasper, stop that.' so it becomes more clear.
Us: Did you get to do your own stunts?
Jackson: Yes! All except for crashing into the piano. I got to go up to that point though. And that was funny, I'd run to crash into Rob, and I'd be followed by these guys with a giant crash pad, then I had to throw myself backwards to show how hard Edward threw me back and the guys would catch me on the pad. It was fun...but very strange.

Then we had Billy Burke, who amazingly has not read the books yet; this is interesting to me as I was told last year on set that 'the central cast has all read the book'....maybe they didn't rope him into that, but I can see how Billy Burke is an entity unto himself :)

Us: How many times did you have to pull Gil Birmingham up those steps in the wheelchair?
Billy: Oh, 15 or 16 times. I've got practice with people in wheelchairs, so we didn't have to rehearse, but yeah, it was all muscle. And Gil didn't help at all. He was a big lummox.

Our last guest was Christian Serratos who I worked with during Vampire Baseball, so we cut straight to the chase with her character:
Me: So Christian, Angela is supposed to be dating Ben, and we learned about how they got together in Midnight Sun, but he's gone...is Eric replacing that?
Christian: Yes, they've kind of set it up already with us going to prom together. There's a bit more canoodling with Eric in New Moon and then in Eclipse.... (and she makes a funny face with raised eyebrows... haha)

We also chatted with Craig Deering, one of the guys from Evil Iguana. Some interesting points with him were that he saw the film first and then read the book, and was very disappointed in the book. He wanted to see more of the fighting and killing of James, and assumed the book would have more, so was pissed that there wasn't more action.... but in a rather hysterical way :) He also said girls are crazy, and guys would love to know their thoughts...sometimes.

And Kimber, who was the hand model for Twilight (it's her hands on the cover); she said her popularity has skyrocketed with Twilight and CNN is working on a story about parts modeling because of her. It's interesting how Twilight really is invading EVERYTHING.

Okay, after the Q & A we waved goodbye to the cast (Billy grabbed another beer on the way out, it was pretty great), and went to change for the ball.
Honestly at this point I was on my seventeenth wind, was really tired, rather worn out, and probably could have just crashed... but the ball was REALLY fun. It was one of those situations where you kind of remove yourself to fully absorb the craziness around you, and then I slowly just dove in head first. People took the costume aspect very seriously, and the outfits were stunning. Marcus Foster was playing when we got there, and as we hadn't eaten in about four days we ate some food and enjoyed listening to him for a bit, then started making the rounds, chatting with my panelists, running into Ashley ten times, losing Luisa, Danyelle and Kallie umpteen times and refinding them again... it was neat. It was a big slice of crazy, but once you accept that this is an exceptional situation and just give into it, it was SO much fun.

People were dancing, smiling, complimenting everyone's outfits, taking pictures with Hillywood (Jasper and Alice were in their prom gear, with Alice's dress being a perfect replica of the description from the book, and Bella and
Edward were dressed exactly like that godawful Entertainment Weekly cover from ages back... so funny.

There was a costume contest too, so we got to
see all of the costumes in all their glory. My
favorites were the grou
p of five girls who had gowns made by one of them, inspired by the book covers. They were GORGEOUS and so fun. Also the two guys who we think came on their own... smart move as they were covered in women for the rest of the evening taking photographs with them and 'Edward' biting their necks. Funny stuff... they were good costumes though. 'Edward' even had gold contacts, and 'Jacob'...well, he wasn't really in a costume, but he looked just like Taylor Lautner, just about a foot shorter. Cute. Mini Jacob.

I vaguely remember the night ending, but I somehow dragged my exhausted body to bed and passed out around 1 or 2 I think. I'll put all of my photos up soon. I need to leave Webshots, but everytime I think about doing that it's as I'm writing a blog post, and to be honest... I can't be bothered at the moment!

Well there's the TwiCon reports. I still have another video to upload too from the Q&A session, but it's taking forever, so I'll do it next time. I've got some debriefing stuff to do, I want to survey my panelists and see what worked, and what didn't work that I am able to fix... not TwiCon as a whole... just the academic bits, and then I think I need a massive breather from TwiCon. I have a chapter to finish, I still want to write up about my experience PA-ing in Oregon, and I just got the official photos (well, some of them that were approved for posting and sharing) from Vampire Baseball! So I'll get those up too. (this picture is from baseball, it's Peter in his private booth next to the dugout talking to fans during the coffee sessions).

AAaaaaand breathe. I'm in Boston now, and definitely moving into the Boston Public Library tomorrow for a full day of work. YAY.

Thoughts on TwiCon

Hey there, so my day three report is on it's way... it's about half-written, but while I was typing I was also thinking about how these events are run, and I found myself on a tangent:

Aaaaand we're done. Thank. God. Which probably shouldn't be my first reaction, but it is. I think TwiCon is a brilliant idea. There were some amazing opportunities, great activities like ballroom dancing lessons, I loved the banners around the place, the Meet and Greet was a highlight, I had a brilliant time at the ball, the blood drive was genius, face painting fun,Twilight board games exciting, and of course my discussions and panels... and once I was there, I made the best of all of it, and overall had a good time, and met some stellar people, but the infrastructure was lacking in a few places that made it hard to fully enjoy the opportunities and experiences, and I think the organizers often forgot that this was a FUN event, and therefore it was hard for the staff and volunteers to remember that too.

Key Points for a successful event (I'm talkin' about any event):
*Hire professionals with experience in an event like this (not that the organizers were ill-experienced, but they hadn't done something of this scale, to my knowledge, and some of the interactions were a bit rough; I'm not going to expand. I'm not a gossip column, just an observer who has run many academic events of 100 people or less... but there are core elements that need to be in place for any event to run smoothly, and even small events like my small ones contain them, and large events must contain them in order to be successful!) :

*Thank your volunteers. They paid to attend, often got yelled at, and some of them worked 17 hour days in jobs that only upper staff should have run, in my opinion, and these volunteers deserve a medal.

*Utilize your volunteers and staff. There are some skilled people on staff. Use them. They are free and friendly.

*Offer volunteers and staff members food (bagels, cream cheese and coffee every morning does a lot to save sanity, stomachs, and goodwill); if the event is at a location with little to no food nearby (as it was in Dallas), offer this option at a massive discount or free to attendees. Or hold it in a hotel that offers free breakfast to guests.

*Include details in the program. I collected the bios of everyone for the academic panels weeks ahead of time so that they could go into the program and people would know it was being run by professionals, but they were never included in the program; i.e. people should have known that the 'music panel' was Sam Bradley, and 4 rockin' industry pros (MTV, Wired, The Onion/AV Club, and Bloodshot Records) and we'd have more than 37 (thanks Marah) people in the audience.

*Communicate with your staff. Staff debriefing ahead of time is crucial so everyone is on the same page, and feels involved. I could have had 11 panels on Dr. Suess and I don't know if anyone would have known, since it didn't seem they could even agree about elements I'd confirmed multiple times ahead of time (apparently they 'never knew' that another musician was supposed to be on my panel as well... right.' I've never even been to a summer camp or a chorus that didn't have an 'orientation' meeting with a schedule, itinerary, and things like t-shirts, folders, pens, etc.

*Remember this is FUN (this goes for every conference and convention. People come because they are interested). We like Twilight, remember? We got into this for a fun, loveable, sparkly vampire. So did all of the fans. I don't think it takes much to make Twilight fans excited and happy (of course the big events; but a smile, music, and decorations go a long way too), so that should be projected from the roof tops. The academic panels are a new depth to Twilight appreciation and I'm stoked they were included, but in general, a little fervor and excitement is all you need, and it goes a long way.

I had one woman come up to me yesterday morning and say one of her favorite parts was when I did the sound check before the actor Q&A... how sad is that? I mean I had fun, and I'm glad I could get people to laugh, but that shouldn't have been the best part. The best part should have been one of the programmed things! The sound guys asked me to run down the mics and sound-check them, so instead of 'test 1, 2' I said things like 'paging Dr. Cullen, Dr. Cullen in the house?' and 'I need a little Jacob Black'... those kind of silly things. It was just fun, and entertaining... but it should be a given, not a highlight, if you know what I mean.

So parts of it were rockin'. I'm sure they learned a lot, but yeah... you need to utilize your staff when you have capable people like this, appreciate what they are doing for you, and be willing to smile, and please people. It's not hard with Twilight fans! You blast the soundtrack, say 'Edward Cullen' from time to time, and cheese up the situation!

Day Three report coming... as well as a report on my time as a PA in Oregon on commercial shoots, pictures from Vampire Baseball, and thoughts on adaptation theory perhaps, if that's how I continue to progress, but I just thought I should get this down while I was thinking about it.

I'm also realizing that the fandom is a lot of fun, smart, influential and interesting, but I think I really get my kicks from the film making, and the development process. This is an interesting tangent and I do hope I might be able to run my own event in the future or something... but that may be a back-up. I think I'm more inclined towards the film creation, adaptation, development and marketing than I am to the offshoots of the piece. I think I'm more interested in the adaptation... not the retranslations and interpretations of the adaptation, if that makes sense... Hmm... I'm still figuring all of this out, can you tell?

It's certainly been interesting, educational and eye-opening for me. I hope it has for the partners as well, and the fans had a good time overall, despite the hiccups. Hmm... still pondering, waxing and wondering... we'll see!

01 August, 2009

TwiCon: Day Two

TwiCon Day Two: Oh girl... so this was my big day. For some reason, the organizers of TwiCon decided to put ALL of the academic programing and panels on the same day. There was simply too much going on. Granted I approved what I set forward, but of course I didn't realize there'd be a massive line for Christian Serratos's autograph and tickets for the 100 Monkeys concert, plus insanely popular informal programming sessions like Alice's Makeover Room, and Jasper's Relaxation Room, so it was manic.!
(pic is Courtney Smith, Genevieve Koski, Marah Eakin, Angela Watercutter, and Sam Bradley)

One of my biggest panels was the 'Music Industry and Twilight Panel.' It was rockin', regardless of our small audience numbers. I had Marah Eakin of Bloodshot Records, Courtnet Smith who worked for MTV2, Genevieve Koski who writes for The Onion/The AV Club, and Angela Watercutter who is a researcher for Wired magazine. So basically, kickin' people who know more about what they're doing than most people, and with all of them combined, the conversation was so insightful.

The industry pro's came out first, talked about how artists get onto labels, what labels mean, how songs get onto soundtracks, who picks those songs, what hurdles may occur... all of that nitty gritty stuff that we just never hear about but most of us think about. Then we brought out Sam Bradley (co-writer of 'Never Think' amongst other lovely credits) and he talked about what it's like from a musician's point of view. He was brilliant. I really appreciated his honesty and humor. He could laugh at himself, the situation, the circumstances...and still seemed to be having a really good time.

So my big gripe was the advertising for the session. If people looked in the program, they just saw 'music panel'...and not who was there. Who wouldn't want to see these people?! So yeah... It was awesome. The audience that attended had possibly one of the best seats in the house and got some stellar inside info on the music industry and Twilight's influence with the music. Of course I wish more people were there, but we had such a good time, I don't think anyone really minded.

So after the music panel (btw, I'm going to post all of the documents, PPs, playlists etc. that I can, as soon as I can, so you can see all that we saw in regards to formal programming), I chaired the Webmaster's Panel (talking to webmasters from HisGoldenEyes.com, TwilightSeriesTheories.com, BellaAndEdward.com, TwilightGuy.com, and TwilightMoms.com), then had a quick break where I ran up to Kalle and Kassie's podcast and did a bit on the 'news of TwiCon' with them, then back down for the Adaptation Panel. (Pocket Edward-wannabe joined in; picture is me on panel, with P.E. in the front)

It. Was. Awesome. Every now and again, I get a feeling that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing with my life. TwiCon has been a good experience: networking, learning what works and what doesn't, etc., but overall, I don't really think I want to do this again unless I'm running it. There were too many basic things looked over, and the partners seemed so stressed; they forgot this was a fun, enjoyable, exciting event! But I digress... my panel was great, because once I got started talking about the adaptation of Twilight... it was brilliant! My fellow panelists and I had a great banter, we took lots of questions from the audience, debated with each other, fought for our opinions about actors and scenes, and generally enjoyed all aspects of what makes a book work, what makes a film work, and what were the hurdles that we've witnessed and what do we anticipate for New Moon. SO much fun. I left that flying high, feeling good, and full of fun....that's saying something after two days of nearly no food and nearly no sleep! (Picture is Ashley Benning and Jennifer Dee on the Adaptation Panel)

Afterwards we had a well-deserved break, saw Bobby Long and Marcus Foster play at Poor Davids (oh so much fun; they are hysterical, and they played together at the end... very fun. I'm a fan; I think I like Marcus and Sam better than Bobby, oddly enough, but it was uber fun). Then we bolted back to the hotel, grabbed some grub, and caught a bit of the 100 Monkeys show (where I also met Larry Carroll of MTV, who apparently wants to look at some academic-y elements of Twilight... hi. Rockin'.) (Picture is Bobby Long)

That was possibly the fastest post I've ever written, but those are the immediate bullet points so I remember what to expand upon later if I want to.

Lots has gone wrong which really makes me want to run my own convention/conference (possibly after the PhD thing is done... we'll see), but the things I've been involved with have turned out really well. I've been super happy with all of those efforts. My panelists are great, as are my volunteers, and honestly, those little details about friends, thanks, and fun times can really make all of the difference when organzing something like this.

More soon.... and eventually I'll have all of my pictures up on webshots, but for now, I shall tease you with a couple of random shots. (Picture is Danyelle Utley, Kassie Rodgers, Kallie Mathews, and me).

31 July, 2009

TwiCon, Thursday

Well, day one is in full swing at TwiCon 2009. There were a bunch of glitches planning, lots of little hurdles to overcome as we worked through the details, and tempers and patiences were getting tight... but honestly, now that the fans are all here, it's been pretty rockin'. It's hard not to get excited about what you've done when 2,500 people are all smiles, wearing home-made Twilight shirts, and are screaming at anything Twilight related.... and there's a whole lotta Twilight related things around here at the morning, so there's a lotta screaming!

I got here Tuesday and it's been two very full days of organizing my panels, and finishing up last minute details to make sure it all runs smoothly. I think we're gonna be okay (I sure hope those aren't famous last words). The fans started arriving early today, and it was fun to play 'who's for Twilight, and who's for Mary Kay?' (There's a Mary Kay convention going on at the same time, so we're filling the Sheraton).

Registration opened at 3pm, and the lines were MASSIVE. I haven't heard of any fights breaking out or anything, so I really hope all is going as smoothly as it looks like it is. I met with my
chairs and panelists, and I think we're all ready for the events of tomorrow. I haven't finished my adaptation presentation yet... but meh... details. At this point I can totally wax on without notes...right? Right.

I've just come back from the welcome reception and parts of that were UBER fun. The energy at the beginning was infectious. It's always good during these events to take a step back, pause, breathe, and look around at what we've put together. I started towards the Lone Star Ballroom tonight, where the welcome reception was, and was greeted with tons of cheers. Music was pounding, the TwiCon logo was all over the ballroom, people were hugging, laughing, jumping up and down, and sporting SO much Twilight gear. I haven't seen this kind of mania since the London premiere in December!

It started with the members of the Hillywood spoofs coming out, in character (Edward, Bella, Jasper and Alice) and they re-enacted moments of Twilight, but applied them to the TwiCon audience ("Don't worry, Jasper, you won't hurt the audience"). Cute. They were so well-dressed, and stayed in character uber well, it was a lot of fun; like a Saturday Night Live sketch, but TwiCon Day One Live :)

The middle bit dragged, but it had all of the necessary information needed at a big convention, and I particularly enjoyed Kaleb Nation's video about not asking actors creepy questions, and keeping the stalking to a minimum. Fun.

The best bit was the Evil Iguana spoof of the ballet studio fight scene in Twilight. It was hysterical! I'll link it as soon as it's up. HYSTERICAL. First of all, Alice was played by a dude and just took it to the enth degree; it was hysterical. "It's going to happen Edward, I've seen it" and burrying Edward's head in 'her' bosom. Oh so funny... and Carlisle constantly referring to the fact that "I'm a doctor..." in a cocky, very un-Carlisle way, but in a very hysterical way.

More soon, but there's part one! I'm off to the VIP reception on the top floor, and last minute touch ups on details for tomorrow.

Watch this space! And follow my Twitter too; tons of us are Twittering about TwiCon... but I think I'm from a slightly different perspective, if you know what I mean...

More pictures soon too... they take FOREVER to load here!

29 July, 2009

MaggieParke.com downtime

MaggieParke.com is down for a bit. It's kinda making me crazy because one host won't release the domain and therefore I can't do anything with it, and I'm just not THAT computer literate or have the time to fight with it right now.... so yeah, I'll work on that after TwiCon is over!

Thanks for the patience!

TwiCon: Day One- travel and prepping

Well, I'm officially in Dallas for TwiCon 2009 after a rather harrowing journey. It was good for awhile; my original flight in Portland was delayed, so they switched me to a direct flight to Dallas (yay! Direct flights are always nice), I sat next to a cool guy who's in the Air Force, lived in Japan, had just come back from Alaska... a fun seat partner and good chatter, but then when I landed.... no luggage. So they switched me, but not my stuff. Then they informed me that they could locate one, but did not yet know where the second one was... Joy.

So I got to the hotel after wading through a sea of Mary Kay representatives (there's a Mary Kay convention here too... at least I'll know where to go when my eyebrow furrow gets too pronounced), and met up with my roommates for the next few days. After a shower, food, and a little mindless TV, things were better. They still hadn't located my bags, but as of this morning they had both, and they were at my hotel and are now in my possession! Yay!

So today is all prepping. Putting together the program details, making sure everything that I'm able to prep for is prepped for, and trying to maintain a normal level of sanity :)

I'm getting stoked. I think it'll be neat when the fans get here and really see the excitement, and use that energy in the convention. Right now, I'm just ready for it to start!

I'll try to keep things updated on Twitter too, and will post full reports after TwiCon if not during... it'll depend on my exhaustion levels, I think!

25 July, 2009

TwiCon: Webmaster's Panel

Hello All!

Well TwiCon is now only 5 days away- YAY, and also, YIKES!

At TwiCon we're doing a panel with Kallie and Kassie from Twilight Series Theories, Kaleb Nation from The Twilight Guy, Lisa Hansen from Twilight Moms, Michelle Pan from BellaandEdward.com, and Kimmy from HisGoldenEyes. I believe it'll be recorded so more than just the attendees can see it, but basically, I want to ask for YOUR help.

In the comments to this post, I'd like you guys to post questions that you'd want to ask these Masters of the Twilight Online World :) Maybe how they first got into Twilight, what's one of the hardest aspects of running a Twilight site, who have you been able to meet...anything! I'll collect the questions and ask the best ones (and sign your name and location if you want me to credit you with the question) during the panel on Friday.

Happy Questioning!

Get thinking!

17 July, 2009

Vampires for Dinner? Why not...

I'll certainly be posting about Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, because I've got all sorts of adaptation stuff to comment on (Ginny and Harry's kiss... seriously?!), but first I'm sharing the adventures of dinner at the View Point Inn with Ashley and gang.

So I first met Ashley when she submitted a paper for TwiCon. She was stuyding something I was uber interested in, so I asked if she might want to help out with TwiCon planning. She did, she's cool, and thus she's my co-hort in formal programming for TwiCon. She and 10 of her friends and family are going on a massive Twilight-inspired trip to Portland, Forks, and all of the sights along the way and in between. Last night they were all in Portland (well, by the airport, and if the trip doesn't include a trip to Powell's, I'm not sure if you can say you've 'been to Portland'), and invited me to join them for dinner at the View Point Inn... aka the location of the prom in Twilight.

We all shlepped out there, missed the first exit, and therefore took a long, winding road to get to the Inn. I'm kind of glad for that though. It looked similar to the drive to the Cullen's house in the film; green caverns of trees with a road ploughing through, but every now and then we'd get a stunning view of the Gorge. It was great! Perhaps a bit longer, but worth it, methinks.

We finally arrived, and then the 'ooos' and 'ahhh
hs' began. It's a beautiful set up, hence why it was chosen. It's smaller than I'd expected, but it had that classic 'old grand lodge' feel to it, know what I mean? Like a ski lodge built in the 20's or something, and you expected men in tails and women in gowns to stroll through with a cigarette on the end of a stick. They took us through the foyer, through the main hall (beautiful! big log furniture, candles, hardwood floors, and the whole thing opened up to the outdoors), and out to the patio and our dining 'tent.' It was so much nicer than a 'tent', but that's the only word for it.

We had the option originally of the 'Twilight menu' or the normal menu, and believe it or not, we went with the normal menu (many more options... much better). I did get a kick out of the Twilight items on the menu- Edward's Elixir (I can't remember all of it, but it was a mix of blueberries, raspberries, pomegranate? and spritz), I ordered the Twilight Martini- basically the same ingredients but with vodka...so good. Also, we got the 'eternal love cake' which was a red velvet cake with chocolate icing. It was really good, but honestly the rest of the desserts
hugely overshadowed it. It was really pretty though.

We all got our own meals (bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with apples was mine... aaa-mazing), and then we just got one of every dessert and passed them. Brilliant. I liked dining with this gang :) The fluffy cheesecake or the flourless chocolate cake was my favorite...

Anywho, amazing food aside, it was neat to see the film's location. The broad scope and large feel from the film actually turning out to be a quaint, historical, gorgeous spot, and to see how they changed the look. The 'Monte Carlo' arch is still there, but randomly shoved into a corner of the yard. It's certainly not a natural place for people to walk from to get to the Inn, but for the film, by having them walk from back there without a fence behind, it looks as though the property goes much further back; a larger scope. Also, there's a big pond in the middle of the yard with a fountain and whatnot, and we figured the gazebo must have gone over the pond in the film.

I'm also glad it wasn't freezing when we were there as it was in the film. Apparently during filming they'd put down coats on in between shots... I feel sorry for those girls in strapless silk dresses! Luckily it was warm, pleasant, breezy, and there was no need for a sweater at all except to ward off the mosquitos.

It was also neat to see how Twilight has seeped into this Inn's daily life. In the entrance area
there's a little gift shop with the expected trinkets like key chains and stationary, but now there's also two bookshelves full of Twilight items. Calendars, photos, t-shirts, the books, the dvd, Twilight-themed soaps... you get the idea. They've added Twilight items to their menu, and they have a section of the patio where you can buy a brick, and there's one for Edward and Bella. Cute.

I hope the Inn gets through this economic slump; it's out in the middle of nowhere so I could certainly see how it's problematic, but the food was phenomenal, the views unbeatable, and the staff rockin'. Definitely a good time, and it was good to meet my TwiCon cohort in the flesh before the madness that will be TwiCon. Oh girl...

HP: HBP soon. Webshots album here.