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The Power of Conventions
Posted on August 17th, 2010 by Infernal Dreams own Mari Lynne
Since I was seventeen, when I'd first seen the advertisement for "Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors" I wanted to attend a horror convention. I'd heard of Trekkie conventions, and to have one where we talk about scary movies for 72 hours?! Oh, my geeky heart did pound. Unfortunately, Los Angeles seemed far away to a teenager working part time hours at a nursing home in small-town Ontario.
Life-choices led me eventually, to a family and job in Lexington, Kentucky where I unknowingly put myself in a prime spot for independant filmmaking. I also was unaware that it would be a prime spot for some of the best conventions!
After our son was born in 2006, we were caught up in the "new parents" rut of working, coming home to the baby and working some more. On my first mother's day, my husband bought us tickets to something called "Fright Night Film Fest" in Louisville, and I was excited! My first...FIRST!....Horror convention! And it was a DOOZY! I couldn't believe the camraderie, the carnival feel, the whole...AWESOMENESS of just hanging out with like-minded people! The actors and actresses just walking about like regular fans, and going in and out of theater screenings of cheaply-but-well-made movies!
The family-oriented attitude was what surprised me the most....We brought our nine-month-old for the whole weekend, and everyone just acted like it happened all the time. We had emailed the promoter ahead of time about it, and he was very happy we were bringing him! One fo the actresses became instantly enamoured of my wee boy and toted him around like she'd had ten kids herself!
We attended the awards dinner that first year and breaking bread with actors from the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was an almost dream-like experience to me! I never forgot it and got a taste for "convention weekends".
So my husband and I looked into attending conventions regularily. We even brought our son the next year to the Fright Night Film Fest and decided it wasn't always a good idea. We had an unfortunate incident involving Cousin Itt, a cup of starbucks, and a hyper two-year-old.
After a few years, we even began to branch out. We attended the very first Scarefest, with me toting family from Canada to meet the actors, actresses and paranormal celebrities. It was also a very posetive experience and just a fun time.
Each Convention seems bigger and better than the last, and when World Independant Film Expo started in Richmond, not far from where we lived, there we were near THREE fantastic yearly conventions....It seems almost too good to be true.
So we looked into branching out to "bigger" and further away conventions, and came up quite disappointed. For one, the cost was outrageous. The guests were charging incredible amounts just for photo opportunities...I mean I LOVED Spike from Buffy, but what else has he done?? Really, is he worth 50$ for a photo op? Fright Night Film Fest and Scarefest prices don't normally go up year after year, and the guest charges haven't changed since 2007. These people need to understand that while people DO save up, they've already spent alot with travel, food and hotel charges, leaving not much for photos, autographs and assorted sundries that vendors sell. (It must be noted that vendor charges for tables are more than reasonable still) These other, further-away conventions are quite large and intimidating, expensive and not very intimate.
This past Fright Night, volunteers and workers were tireless in walking about, making sure everyone was having a good time, and that the guests were comfortable. Scarefest, everyone's moving around, and you could bump into almost anyone taking a break, going for lunch or sneaking a smoke. If you're lucky enough to have a hotel room at the convention center, you could invite one of the guests up for a drink, they might say yes, and there you are, drinking beer with a well-known horror face like you're friends. You're not going to find that at the larger conventions, there's too many people, there's too much energy, and too much is invested, emotionally and financially. At Fright Night, you could bump into Ken Daniels himself, and tell him to his face you're having a good time! At Scarefest, you might be having lunch next to Jeff Waldridge, you never know. It's a wild, exciting time to leave reality behind, and live in the fantasy of the movies we all love. You could take your picture next to coffins, cadavers and scream queens or plunge your fist into a bowl full of zombie blood-n-guts. And at the end of the convention, there's always the let-down of coming back to work monday morning, and facing the real world again...Bills, co-workers, kids, stress...But when it gets too much, Penny Lane from "Almost Famous" said it best...You pop in a DVD...and visit your friends.
And Ken Daniels, promoter of the "Fright Night Film Fest", thanked Dante for the nice comments!! OMG! He read my article!! SWOON!