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).