A few years ago I reluctantly ventured to WonderCon at the Moscone Center, at urging of some friends who assured me that it was what all the cool nerds would be doing that weekend. I say reluctantly because, even though I had been self-identifying as a geek for years, there was something about the whole con scene, particularly the nerds getting dressed up in costumes, that I just didn’t grok…No doubt a view prejudiced by the rather stilted view of fandom presented in the documentary ‘Trekkies‘.
Well, I went, had a great time, saw some panels, and especially came to appreciate the passion, and commitment to their craft, that was evident among the cosplayers. Every year since I have been back, taking as many cosplay photos as possible, and putting them on my Flickr page, to celebrate all the hard work that these folks do just to have fun!
When it was announced that WonderCon was going to be in Anaheim this year, I wasn’t sure I was going to make the trip, but WonderCon is just too much fun to miss…Not to mention that these conventions are one of the few times a year when a lot of folks in the web content community get together ‘IRL’, as the saying goes. Also there was going to be a very special panel with my friends from ‘The Guild‘, launching their new Geek & Sundry channel, and there was no way I was not going to be there for that.
I got down to Anaheim late Thursday night, checked into the hotel, and got my mobile editing rig set up…I was thinking about doing some ‘Skippy’ videos, and other coverage, and wanted to upload as many photos from Friday as I could after shooting.
Friday was all about shooting cosplayers…Usually things get really crazy on Saturday, but there was a wide selection of Superheros, Zombies, Sith, and Jedi to choose from.
I also shot a video interview with the Rebel Alliance, a Star Wars ‘Good Guy’ cosplay group, and another with Kenny ‘GeekyFanBoy’ Mittleider, from the ‘Knights of The Guild‘ podcast, who was also cosplaying as Frodo Baggins…Those will be up on the Geektastic Nebula YouTube channel next week.
Friday night was a quick dinner of taquitos (which you really can’t find to easilly in the Bay Area for some reason), and then back to the hotel for ingest and color correction of photos and video…By about 2am I uploaded the first set of about 150 photos to flickr, to give the fans who couldn’t make it to the con something to look at.
Saturday was going to be a big day…In addition to the Geek & Sundry panel, I’d been emailing with Greg Benson (@mediocrefilms on Twitter) about plans to help him shoot some nerd/hottie-on-the-street interviews with his character, Yeshmin Blechin. This was going to be a lot of fun, and I was really looking forward to it.
I’ve known Greg, and his wife, Guild/Geek & Sundry Producer, Kim Evey, for a number of years, but never met Greg, IRL, until about a month ago…He’s a really nice guy, and we had a great time going to a local content producer’s event when I was in Los Angeles…We both share a kind of singularly-demented sense of humor, so I was very excited about working with him on one of his crazy-ass Yeshmin videos involving, well, uh…Yeah, ex-actly.
I spent the morning dealing with the 45-minute Starbucks line, fighting off cheerleaders, volleyball players, and soccer moms, for my morning fix of a 5-shot, iced, venti, skinny mocha (a basic eye-opener)…and oh, the cheerleader thing…
There was a cheerleader convention, and some sort of volleyball event, going on at the Anaheim Convention Center. It kind of had me thinking about how many nerds were re-living high school traumas at the hands of cheerleaders and athletes (But not me, of course…No major damage there. Much.) At points the cosplayers and the cheerleaders were taking turns getting photos of each other, and it appeared that some really strange crossover meme potential was gathering in the air.
And speaking of strange crossovers…
After a few hours of shooting more photos, this happened…A spontaneous worshiping of a Knight who says “Ni”, by a bunch of sword-and-sandals wearing cosplayers. It pretty much stopped traffic in the convention center hallway…The cheerleaders seemed particularly perplexed, but I think that’s just their baseline anyway…
Next up it was time for the Geek & Sundry panel…Well, more like it was time to go to the DC Comics panel and make sure you had a good seat for the Geek & Sundry panel, which was immediately thereafter…Members of “The Guild of Extras“, an elite commando unit and group of friends, formed by a cadre of Extras from “The Guild“, activated “Zaboo’s Seat Savers” network, and commandeered the best seating real estate in the hall. Well done, Guildies!
The Geek & Sundry launch panel took off with Kim Evey introducing the panelists, including Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, Mike Richardson from Dark Horse Comics, Veronica Belmont, and Tom Merritt (I’m not making introductions because, with the exception of Mike from Dark Horse, if you don’t know who any of these folks are, you probably wouldn’t be reading my blog in the first place. 🙂 )
Felicia introduced a trailer highlighting all of the new shows for the Geek & Sundry YouTube channel…It looks like a lot of fun stuff, including a vlog from Felicia called, ‘The Flog‘ (which was the original name for, what is now, feliciaday.com, bitd), an animated series from Dark Horse Comics, called ‘Dark Horse Presents‘, and a re-imagined web tv version of Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt‘s ‘Sword and Laser‘ podcast that I’m quite excited about.
‘Sword and Laser’ is being produced up here in the Bay Area, and anything that brings more web tv production up here is something to stand up and yell about (which I’m not doing, because it’s undignified…But I’m ‘woo-hoo’-ing internally in a major way.)
Wil Wheaton is doing a celebrity board game show called ‘Tabletop’, and there is also a kids’ show from nerd singing-duo, Paul and Storm, called ‘Learning Town‘ that I can’t wait to hear more about (love those guys!)
Geek & Sundry has a full line-up of shows, and there are trailers and full information on all of them at the Geek & Sundry site…The programming kickoff is set for April 2, 2012, but you should go on over to the G&S YouTube channel and subscribe now, so you don’t miss out on any of the new programming.
After the panel, it was time to go shoot some Yeshmin with Greg Benson.
It was a little touch-and-go on Saturday morning, as Greg messed up his ankle a while back and was scheduled to have surgery on it this week (today, in fact. Get well soon, Greg!), the cold, rainy, weather was aggravating the injury, so we weren’t sure it was going to happen, but it did, and the results are hilarious.
Greg is an extremely talented, and knowledgeable, filmmaker…Shooting with him was not only fun, but an amazing learning experience. He can slip in and out of character instantaneously, doing some pretty outrageous, not to mention quick, improv with his ‘victims’, while maintaining complete situational awareness, being on the lookout for interview opportunities, and making the folks he interviews feel completely comfortable and at ease (despite Yeshmin’s propensity for being, well…provocative?) Anyway, it takes a lot of talent, and experience, to pull that off and make it look easy.
Also, the shooting style is very run n’ gun, using just a simple HD camcorder and hand-held audio recorder. It really made me re-think the need to carry around as much equipment as I usually do (although I come armed for video and still photography.) Great stuff.
There are four videos that came out of it on the MediocreFilms and MediocreFilms2 YouTube channels, plus a vlog that Greg shot during that day in which I make a short cameo, in a highly sleep-deprived state. 🙂
Saturday night was about a magnificent dinner with friends at Morton’s Steakhouse…We all tend to work unreasonably crazy hours, and not get out a lot. This was a chance to kick back with a lively bunch of people in a forum that doesn’t require Skype, or a Google+ hangout, and have a good time…The food at Morton’s is spectacular, and the company was amazing. A night of great food and lively conversation with a bunch of smart, funny, and articulate people. It just doesn’t get better than that.
I opted to head out of town on Sunday morning, knowing that if I returned to the con for the third day, I would have probably spent all my reserve cash on priceless objets d’arte…Like this vintage ‘Watto’ character from Episode I, who seemed to be using Jedi mind tricks all weekend to get me to take him home …
It was a great WonderCon, and I’ve still got lots of video and photos to share. Been traveling a lot lately, and will be staying at home, shooting and working on a lot of video projects for the next few months, before VidCon and San Diego ComicCon…Both of which I’m really looking forward to.