Attending Comic Con International in San Diego is a dream come true for many. More than 125,000 attended last week and going as a member of the press probably sounds pretty cool to those who were not able to secure a ticket or had to stand in a line to attend a panel. As a member of the press you do get a few things like a free convention ticket, invites to red carpet events, and film premieres. One thing that you miss out on though, is the fan experience. As the press office for the convention related to me, the four day event is for the fans. If you read Comic Con Intl’s online information about being a member of the press you would discover, that other than the free ticket (if you qualify), you will not have any specialÂ privileges. So dreams of cutting the Hall H or Room 20 line go out the door. This means that if you want to get into Hall H you have to wait in line (as it should be) like everyone else. I knew this from the 2011 event and was aware of the impending decision I would have to make.
This policy can mess up journalists looking for more than cut and dry information. My choices: risk a guaranteed press conference spot (if you get invited) at The Hilton Hotel, or fight the crowds for Hall H (which seats 6500 people). If you make the wrong decision you will be stuck with nothing but listening to folks brag about how they saw this and saw that. You will also be dependent upon the online press kits for those who miss the events, -boring.
Because of this I had to make a decision on how I would spend my time at the world’s largest pop culture convention.
It’s a tough decision and for those who have never been to the convention it’s hard to describe how insane and crazy this place is. Anything can happen. Multitudes of Hollywood’s biggest stars are showing up, many unannounced. You have to be in the right place at the right time and knowing where to go takes experience and luck.
I had to decide if I was going to forego the fan event or stick around the hotels and do press conferences. Doing those equates to no exclusive film footage and interesting tidbits that people love to read about. With that in mind, Â I opted for a combination.
For the first official full day of the convention I decided to do the press thing and skip the Twilight panel (I did it last year, read my article here). I got invited to Disney’s panels at The Hilton Bayfront to hear about 3 of their films including Sam Raimi‘s Oz: The Great and Powerful. The highlight of the press panels, getting to ask Tim Burton which one out of all of his films was his favorite? He answered me, and about a hundred other press outlets that of all his work, “Edward Scissorhands was his favorite.” Ground breaking news here folks! I really wanted to ask him, what he was thinking when he threw in the whole werewolf thing in Dark Shadows but under those circumstances no one ventures into territory like that. It’s all dry and professional.
The experience isn’t bad but since I have been going to Comic Con the last five years I know how much more exciting it can be in Hall H. Crazy fans can ask and say weird things from the question line, and film directors showcase special clips and trailers for upcoming films that no one else will see. Trust me, it may seem cool going in the press room, but Hall H is way funner.
Needless to say, after a day of the press room which actually started at The Wired Party at The Omni hotel featuring free drinks inspired from The Game of Thrones (yes I was seriously buzzed when I spoke to Tim Burton) I was more than determined to ignore my press invites and do the fan experience regardless of lines. Yes, I wouldn’t have a front row seat, like I did during Frankenweenie, or getting to see just how beautiful Michelle Williams is in person (absolute knockout!) sitting directly in front of me, but the return on the energy of fandom and geekdom all around me in Hall H was worth the effort and risk.
I feel like this is a trade secret but when you travel to San Diego and pay big bucks for your trip you have to take a pro-active approach to Comic Con if you are going to celeb site and get free stuff (I’m pretty good at it, but there are always things I want and miss). Of course the art, comics, video games, toys, costumes are all very popular too but you don’t have people like Matt Damon (Elysium) and Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Expendables 2) in front of you either.
So anyway, I was determined to get into Hall H on Friday for The Walking Dead, Games Of Thrones, and The Big Bang Theory. Â To do it, and be guaranteed in the door, you pretty much have to sleep outside in the line. But for those who are in to it, this really is part of the fun and the allure of fandom.
You can meet other hard-core do or die fans, people who want to share and talk about their passions for the TV shows and films, or just plain weirdos that are as entertaining to listen too as to watch. In this environment, in the middle of the night anything can happen and anyone can show up.
Friday night at about 2 AM I got into line after attending the Expendables 2 party at The Hard Rock Cafe (free drinks and celebrity sitings). My friends were all tuned up… and while they were getting into bed at various hotels (mine being The Hilton at $300 a night) I showered and hustled down to the line with my $1.99 blow up air mattress. What did I see outside in front of the convention area? Joss Whedon, the man himself of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, The Avengers, writer/director fame talking to people in line for his Room 20 – 10 year Anniversary of Firefly that was the next day. He was fantastic moving through the line chatting it up with fans. People who love Firefly and Nathan Fillion were out there sleeping on hard concrete, and here he was shaking hands, taking pics, and signing autographs. That’s what Comic Con is all about… meeting the creators of pop culture.
Of course, on Friday I did get into Hall H and was able to see those panels, I have articles coming out about each. What I wanted to share with you though in this fan inspired blog was that Friday night – going into Saturday the line out there gets even more intense. Saturday is traditionally Warner Bros big day where they unveil the most anticipated films and line-up surprises for fans. Everyone who loves films wanted to be in there Saturday to see Superman, The Hobbit, Pacific Rim and whatever Warner Bros. throws your way (Godzilla!).
As a member of the press you can miss out on so much. I am glad that I took the fan route. If I hadn’t I would have missed this shot of Ian McKellen. As he related to the crowd, he looked down from his hotel room (at The Hilton) and felt that he had to come out to the fans. It was about mid-night, I had forgone several parties including SyFy’s party, a Dexter Party, and a Star Trek party as well as skipped out on a film premiere/red carpet to get into this line.
Check out this video I shot with my I-Phone of the star. It’s simplyÂ unbelievableÂ to think that a star of this magnitude would come down to us crazy folks and sign autographs. After all, he is Sir Ian McKellen.