September Recap, Part 1: Volunteering at Fan Expo

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Fan Expo occurred over the Labour Day weekend, and for the third year in a row, I came back as a volunteer. Being how busy my weeks are, I once again could only commit to working Saturday/Sunday. As a volunteer, it’s mandatory that we do four shifts during the Con, so I ended up pulling double shifts for the weekend. For the past two years I got assigned to work Volunteer Registration, which in the end really meant that I was a Floater and worked wherever I was needed. I didn’t mind it, honestly, and I was fully expecting to be there again this year. But then assignments came and I found out I got moved to Autographs! I was f**king excited! I mean I knew I was gonna be dead tired by the end of it, but didn’t matter. Because despite having to work all weekend, I still got to see most of the celebrity guests, and got to work with some of them. Well, work with the celebs, really means working with the handlers/agents who work with them. But still, close proximity!

I got to work Gillian Anderson’s line on Saturday. When she left, I got to work Katie Cassidy’s line, which was in between Danielle Panabaker and John Barrowman, so I got to see all three of them. On Sunday, I worked the lines for Jewel Staite, who brought her husband and adorable baby boy as well. Getting to work Jewel’s line was pretty awesome, because her and her handler were just so great to work with. But also, on the one side of Jewel’s booth was Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, and Ben McKenzie; on the other side, Mark Hamill. Like I said, AWESOME.

Despite all the craziness and busyness of the weekend, volunteers were still allowed to enjoy their time. That meant if there was a photo-op or autograph we wanted to get, or even a panel we wanted to go to that fell during our shift, our Team Leaders/Coordinators were very accommodating. Working in Autographs, it was easy to get them, as long as we paid for them like everybody else. We were told not to straight up ask the celebs for a free autograph, ESPECIALLY while we’re on shift, because it makes the volunteers look bad and we’re all (including the celebs) there to work. And honestly, it’s understandable. So with that being said, even with double shifts, I managed to do a photo-op with Hayley Atwell, and got autographs from Ben McKenzie and Charlie Cox.

I had never done a photo-op at a Con before, but I’ve always known that it goes really quickly. So it barely even registered that I met Hayley. Walked into the photo-op area, quick “Hi!” to Hayley, took the picture, and out. It was barely 10 seconds. Enough time for a not great picture (there’s a reason I hadn’t done photo-ops, I just generally don’t like taking pictures), but not enough time for me to get awkward.

During a bit of a lull while on shift and kind of close to the end of the show, I went over to get Ben McKenzie’s autograph. And guys, I totally forgot how much of a crush I had on Ryan Atwood! I mean every time he walked over to his booth, I’d have a stupid smile on my face. Then when I actually went up to get his autograph, I couldn’t even get anything O.C.-related to come out of my mouth. It was the standard pleasantries: “Hi, how are you? Are you enjoying your time here in Toronto?” I was just total fangirling! Ben, for what’s it worth, was just so nice and thanked me as a volunteer for the hard work we put in over the weekend.

By 4:30 Sunday, the majority of the celebs were done and gone, and it was then just a matter of cleaning up the booths. So after cleaning up and such, I was pretty much done my shift before the Con was even over. I looked over and saw Charlie Cox was still signing autographs, and he stayed there until the very end. I was just hanging around at that point, and impulsively decided to get Charlie’s autograph. End of the day, not much of a line, whatever. Anyways, when I got up to meet Charlie, he read and mispronounced my name, which happens all the time, so I just waved it off and said “It’s T.” Charlie being adorable was like, “Oh, sorry! T? I love tea! I drink it all the time. Because you know, I’m English.” It was cute, especially with the accent; I fangirled, obviously. And then, even after he got through signing for everybody that was left, I don’t know for sure how it was instigated, but he was about to leave and then came back to take a group picture with a few fans (and us volunteers that were still hanging around lol). I am still looking for that picture.

It was such a busy weekend, but my third year volunteering turned out to be the best year so far. Working the autograph lines was such a fun experience, tiring as it was, though so completely worth it. My only hope is that I get to do it again next year!

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SDCC 2014 Wrap-Up

Can’t believe another Comic-Con has come and gone! Second year in the books! It sinceriously (yes, that’s a made up word. Thank Stephen Amell) just went by so quickly, I almost didn’t want to get this post going. But here we are, already reminiscing about what happened just days ago and looking forward to next year.

BEFORE THE CON

Last year, I did a crazy thing and went to the Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z concert in Toronto the night before SDCC, flew into San Diego the morning of and went straight into the madness. No such craziness this year. I flew in early Wednesday and gave myself time to just take it easy before the Con. Of course, me being well…me, I wanted to get more things into an already packed 5 days in SD. It is supposed to be a vacation after all! After my cousin and I went to Town & Country to pick up our badges (which was a surprisingly smooth process), we headed over to The Old Globe in Balboa Park to check out a performance of Othello, which starred Blair Underwood, Kristen Connelly, and Richard Thomas. The leads were great and I had wanted to visit Balboa Park anyways, but I admit I went to see Othello to support Noah Bean (in what would be a recurring theme of me seeing the former Nikita castmembers throughout the Con). The show itself was just fantastic and it was definitely nice to do something outside of Comic Con!

Othello at The Old Globe in Balboa Park! Had to go support Noah Bean and check out the rest of the wonderful cast!

Othello at The Old Globe in Balboa Park! Had to go support Noah Bean and check out the rest of the wonderful cast!

THURSDAY

So Thursday rolls around and my cousin and I had a game plan for the morning, which of course didn’t go EXACTLY as planned (timing was a small issue) but we made it work. It was an early morning as I went with my cousin to help her get the Guillermo Del Toro signing, but when they didn’t start doing the drawings at 9 as scheduled, I had to split (she still managed to get the signing). First was a quick trip down to the exhibit hall to check with BBC America if they were doing an Orphan Black signing (nope) and find out the Fox autograph schedule [FWIW, I really think Fox dropped the ball on how they handled the Con as a whole. What up with not revealing the full autograph schedule ahead of time?! And no appearance by the new Fantastic Four cast at the panel? Come on now.]

Behind the Music: Crime, Death and Resurrection panel with celebrity moderator Shane West! Panelists (L-R): Jeff Russo, James Levine, Daniel Licht, Steve Jablonsky, Brian Reitzell, Christopher Young

Behind the Music: Crime, Death and Resurrection panel with celebrity moderator Shane West! Panelists (L-R): Jeff Russo, James Levine, Daniel Licht, Steve Jablonsky, Brian Reitzell, Christopher Young

Shortly thereafter, I made my way to my first panel of the Con – Behind the Music: Crime, Death, and Resurrection. Being a music nerd myself, I was already interested in the panel when I first saw the schedule and then they announced the special celebrity moderator: Shane West! Just like that, the panel became a priority. The panel itself was very interesting, with all these composers talking about their inspirations, how they work, and their working relationships with different directors/producers. After the panel, I got up the nerve to go talk to/meet/get a picture with Shane, who honestly could not have been any nicer while I tried my damned hardest not to fangirl. Con trip was made on the very first day, and seriously it was gonna be tough to top that interaction. I mean 4 years of trying and failing miserably to find and meet the Nikita cast in/around Toronto and I FINALLY get to meet Shane – I was on cloud nine and you sinceriously could not wipe the grin off my face. With no other panel that REALLY interested us until later on (didn’t think we’d get into Community, the Paramount Pictures panel didn’t seem entirely promising until we found out Nolan and McConaughey made a surprise appearance), we actually ended up doing a lot of our purchases. It was then onto the Witches of East End panel, a show I thoroughly enjoy and whose cast I absolutely adore (hi Jenna Dewan-Tatum, one of my favourite dancers-turned-actresses!) They actually treated us to a lengthy preview of an upcoming episode, so there were actual spoilers being teased. I think what I loved most about the panel was seeing the cast interaction, because it definitely seemed like they’ve become family. It was all very cute. It was then off to grab some food and head back to the hotel, and despite having every intention to go out to the Female Geek Bloggers meet-up then the NerdHQ party, I just crashed. I really wanted to meet the FGB community but the jetlag caught up to me; I’m deeply sorry I didn’t get to meet everyone!

Meeting Shane West after the Behind the Music panel?! AHHHH!!!! Comic-Con trip made!

Meeting Shane West after the Behind the Music panel?! AHHHH!!!! Comic-Con trip made!

Witches of East End panel L-R: Julia Ormond, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rachel Boston, Madchen Amick, Daniel DiTomasso, Eric Winter

Witches of East End panel
L-R: Julia Ormond, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rachel Boston, Madchen Amick, Daniel DiTomasso, Eric Winter

FRIDAY

Friday was actually pretty eventful. I found out Adam Baldwin was doing another NerdHQ panel (he did one on Thursday with his The Last Ship castmates), this time with writer Nathan Edmondson in the morning, so I went to see that. They were actually promoting a graphic novel they’ve been working on that’ll be released soon which will be cool, but of course, Adam got fielded with Chuck and Firefly questions as well. I was going to get my Nerd Machine shirts after the panel but checking the time and not knowing if I had enough of it, I sprinted over back to the convention center so I could catch the panel for iZombie, a new CW show based on a DC comic that is airing midseason. Got into the room as the previous panel was wrapping up and there was no line-up! Due to some small recasting, the full pilot didn’t end up getting shown here or on preview night, but they did show a fairly lengthy video which was basically the pilot in a nutshell, and hey, more time for Q&A! iZombie is executive produced by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and stars Rose McIver (Tink from Once Upon a Time) as Liv, a med student now working at the city morgue so she can have access to brains that way she doesn’t have to kill…because she’s a zombie. The cast also includes Robert Buckley (Clay from One Tree Hill! Not gonna lie, I really wanted to see him), David Anders (Sark from Alias! He will always be Sark to me), Rahul Kohli, and Malcolm Goodwin. It sinceriously looks like a really fun show and I am actually really looking forward to it.

Adam Baldwin & Nathan Edmondson panel at NerdHQ

Adam Baldwin & Nathan Edmondson panel at NerdHQ

iZombie panel L-R: EP Rob Thomas, EP Diane Ruggiero-Wright, Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, David Anders

iZombie panel
L-R: EP Rob Thomas, EP Diane Ruggiero-Wright, Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, David Anders

My cousin braced the Hall H line this morning so she could check out the Game of Thrones panel, and because we weren’t going to make it to the Marvel TV panel if we wanted to get into our MUST SEE panel of the day (her 2nd b/c she got GoT) I headed on down back to the exhibit hall to take pictures of Hayley Atwell during the Agent Carter signing at the Marvel booth. I probably could’ve tried for the signing itself, but I had no idea how Marvel did the ticketing for it (at least I now know for next year though!) I have to say that the Marvel booth and how well they handle the hoardes of people and the signing were amazing. They were beyond efficient and even with Hayley taking pictures with fans, they let random people standing around the booth go for an autograph because they had gone through the initial people who had gotten tickets and still had time. I was so close to being one of those people, but not close enough. I didn’t seem as enthusiastic as everyone else around me I suppose. It’s okay, I managed to get some great shots of Hayley!

Hayley Atwell at the autograph signing for Agent Carter

Hayley Atwell at the autograph signing for Agent Carter

So before Comic-Con started, the four panels I was most looking forward to were Orphan Black, Arrow, Sleepy Hollow, and Salem; in a cruel turn of events, the first three were all scheduled for Friday…AT THE EXACT SAME TIME (technically, they overlapped within 15 minutes of each other). I had a huge decision to make: I figured OB was in too small of a room (6A really?) and as much as I wanted to see the entire Arrow cast, I missed Sleepy Hollow last year, so SH it was (John Freakin’ Noble and Lyndie Greenwood being on the panel certainly helped make the decision a little easier). Again, not really being sure as to how full 6BCF would get once the SH panel came around, I made a conscious decision to get into the room a good two panels before SH. Sat through the panels for The 100 and Falling Skies, two shows I don’t watch and though looks kind of interesting there wasn’t much of a draw for me to get pulled in. So the Sleepy Hollow panel! SO MUCH FUN! Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie with their facial expressions were my everything. Orlando Jones, ever the jokester. Katia Winter, so gorgeous. Lyndie, just being awesome. And oh yeah, did I mention JOHN FREAKIN’ NOBLE was on the panel? Just bears repeating. Tom Mison also promised he’d do his Heisenberg/Bryan Cranston impression at next year’s panel, so it’s out there, we have to hold him to it next year!

SLEEPY HOLLOW panel!!! L-R: Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, Mark Goffman, Heather Kadin, Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter, Lyndie Greenwood, John Noble

SLEEPY HOLLOW panel!!!
L-R: Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci, Mark Goffman, Heather Kadin, Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter, Lyndie Greenwood, John Noble

Putting to good use what I learned at last year’s Con from my Nikita fan friend, after the panel I ran out to the hallway and kinda milled around waiting for the cast to come out and go over to the break room/holding station? across the hall. For the record, my cousin and I just wanted to get a close-up picture of the cast and say “Hi”; we’re incredibly respectful fans, almost to a fault (explains why I failed miserably to meet the Nikita cast all these years). Security was tight immediately after the panel but once they had gone to the other room, it wasn’t so bad. I mean Tom Mison walked out to greet a friend shortly thereafter like it was no big deal. Lyndie walked out, getting ready to leave and I managed to get in a “Hi Lyndie!” and “Go Toronto!” for which she then turned around, waved at me, and asked “You’re from Toronto?” I probably should’ve asked for a picture, but I knew she was on her way out, and there I go again being so nice and respectful. But hey! Two days at SDCC, two interactions with former Nikita castmembers! I’m HAPPY! Oh man, that hallway though after the Orphan Black panel let out? CRAZINESS! My cousin and I managed small interactions with Jordan Gavaris, Kristian Bruun, Dylan Bruce, and Maria Doyle Kennedy as they walked past: eye contact, waves, “Hi!”, complements, thank yous – literally seconds of interaction and you can tell how nice they are (seriously though, I made eye contact with Dylan Bruce and swooned lol). Trying to get a picture of Tatiana Maslany though? Impossible. There was like a mob around her. Even with us being in front of her, we were like running to get out of the way of the mob.

See? Tom Mison walked out of the holding room like it was nothing

See? Tom Mison walked out of the holding room like it was nothing

Tatiana Maslany however? I think the blurry picture says it all...

Tatiana Maslany however? I think the blurry picture says it all…

Jordan Gavaris and Kristian Bruun managed a selfie with a fan though!

Jordan Gavaris and Kristian Bruun managed a selfie with a fan though!

SATURDAY

Unfortunately, we didn’t have Saturday badges. The panels I was looking forward to (Salem, WB/DC TV, TV Guide Fan Favorites) and the signings I was hoping to try for or even just pass by and get a glimpse of (Agents of Shield, Avengers, Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, Salem, Arrow) weren’t gonna happen. But ya know what? We made the most of having no badge. Checking out some of the offsite stuff was pretty cool. All the Simpsons stuff was neat – sunscreen station? Free cotton candy? Games? Hells yeah! The Gotham zip line looked cool, and I was gonna suck it up and do it despite being scared of heights, but I saw how fast people were going and completely chickened out. It was then over to NerdHQ, just to check things out and get some merch before the Orphan Black panel. Oh yeah, did I mention I got completely lucky and scored tickets for the OB NerdHQ panel? SO EXCITED and SO MUCH FUN! Funny thing, while waiting and hanging out at NerdHQ, my cousin and I were sitting in the stands and noticed the area where the celebs were coming in and out, before/after their panels. Basically, we were trying to do our best spy work and being paparazzi ahaha. Also, we just wanted to stick around in hopes of getting in on the Smiles for Smiles. We correctly assumed that there wouldn’t be one for the OB cast (Tatiana definitely wouldn’t have had time to do it, we were holding out hope for everybody else), but was wishfully thinking that whoever was doing the Badass Women panel would do pictures. As soon as my cousin got the notification (which she didn’t even read, just saw that it said “Smiles”), she was like “Let’s go!” and we got in line not knowing who we were gonna get pictures with. Turns out it was Missy Peregrym (-Levi?), Retta, and Yvonne Strahovski! I’ve met Missy and Retta before, so not that I wasn’t excited to meet them again, but omigod Yvonne! I would’ve liked a tad bit more interaction with them (though maybe it was for the best, less time for me to get all awkward), but I understand the efficiency of keeping the line going. NerdHQ clearly knows how to handle photo ops.

Free cotton candy! Thanks FXX and The Simpsons!

Free cotton candy! Thanks FXX and The Simpsons!

Gotham zip-line. Yeah, I chickened out...

Gotham zip-line. Yeah, I chickened out…

ORPHAN BLACK panel at NerdHQ!! Love this cast so much!

ORPHAN BLACK panel at NerdHQ!! Love this cast so much!

Paparazzi shot of Jordan Gavaris heading backstage

Paparazzi shot of Jordan Gavaris heading backstage

SUNDAY

I spent another morning at NerdHQ, as I somehow managed to get a ticket for Stephen Amell’s panel. Things magically worked out, because despite that major Friday panel conflict, I still got to see a lot of my favourite celebs throughout the weekend. So yeah, sitting in a room for 45 minutes just listening to Stephen answer questions and be his charming self, was pretty much a great way to spend Sunday morning. Oh, and this is also where he made up “sinceriously,” which we’re all just gonna run with now because it’s funny. Before the panel, I made a prediction that if anyone was gonna do a Smiles for Smiles, it’d be Stephen, just because he’s super charitable, and it’s the type of thing that he’d do. And I was right! Bonus: it was only for people who were at the panel, so I didn’t even have to worry about missing the notification! Again the efficiency and swiftness of the whole thing led to minimal interaction, but I did manage a “Hi! Nice to see you again!” not that he’d remember me from FanExpo last year, but I just wanted to say it anyways. Ya know, like it’s no big deal.

Stephen Amell panel at NerdHQ

Stephen Amell panel at NerdHQ

So after all that NerdHQ goodness, I went back to the Convention Center to meet up with my cousin and our friends, and just kinda milled around the exhibit hall, making our final purchases. After going along with me to my Witches of East End panel on Thursday, it was only fair that I went along with my cousin to the Sons of Anarchy panel (even if Charlie Hunnam wasn’t there).

 

And just like that, another Comic-Con was in the books. I paced myself a little bit better than last year, but clearly I still have some work to do. I got to meet some of my favourite celebs, caught up with friends from last year, met some new friends, and most importantly, I had lots of fun. I still am really sorry that I didn’t make it to the FGB meet-up Thursday, but next year FOR SURE! (Or earlier, if there’s anyone around Toronto who wants to meet up or you L.A. folk because I know I’ve got an L.A trip in the works for early next year.) Thanks for putting up with my super long post. SDCC 2015, will be epic, I’m already sure of it!