Wednesday, July 15, 2015

#JennAtSDCC: The 5 Best Things That Happened At Comic-Con

I need to write, like, a billion Comic-Con posts for you guys.

I have at least six interviews to transcribe and events and panels to recap from Thursday through Saturday night. I’ll probably be writing about the convention for the next few weeks, if we’re being honest here. San Diego Comic-Con wasn’t my first con, nor was it my first con in attendance as press (admittedly, I have yet to attend a con where I’m not press but that’s primarily because I’m cheap and I like having my tickets paid for). But it was the biggest convention I’ve been to and certainly the one frequented by the most celebrities. SDCC – as I’ll abbreviate it from here on out – is unlike any other experience. I’d liken it to… well, if you went to summer camp but that camp was about a thousand times the size of a normal camp and all of you were bonded over your love of fandom.

At dinner on Friday night, I was talking to my friends Kayti and Lindsay about how conventions are special because in normal, day-to-day existence, you can talk about television shows or movies or web series with other people, but you often have to gauge their level of fandom involvement and knowledge. Sure, they might say they’re a fan of Orphan Black, but when you start blubbering on about the names of episodes or stray facts, they might side-eye you and mentally back away from the conversation. Or they might find it odd when you show up in a Doctor Who t-shirt for lunch. But not at SDCC. There, everyone is on the same plane. It’s not weird that Ilene and I worked fanfiction into a normal conversation or that Melissa, Adrienne and I watched movie trailers in our room. At SDCC – much like Greendale Community College – you’re already accepted. You already belong. And there are, guaranteed, more people around you who feel the same toward fandoms that you do.

So SDCC was great. It was exhausting and overwhelming and insane. And it was great. Before I spend the next few days recapping what happened each day of the con and before I post my interviews, I thought I would give you a little preview of what’s to come by talking about five of the best things that happened at the convention. So sit back, relax, and enjoy reading all about my adventures in San Diego.

5. The people that I met

I tweeted “SDCC is only as good as the people you share it with and I had the best company.” It’s totally and completely true. I mentioned Kayti and Lindsay above, who I met on Friday night for tacos at this placed called Lolita’s, recommended to me by a co-worker. We sat and ate chips and guacamole in a back booth, munched on tacos and talked about television. We talked about life. We just… talked. And it was so great to be able to do that with them face-to-face because I’ve done so much of it with them on Twitter already. Truth be told, I’ve yet to meet someone I’m friends with on Twitter who’s been a disappointment when I see them in person.

I also met Rowell in person who had been super helpful to me in the weeks leading up to the con and has been especially awesome as I journey toward acquiring more and more things as press. He’s my new sassy gay best friend and I loved spending time with him on Thursday and Saturday. I also made a new friend in the press pit named Rose and we're now bonded permanently over our love of Arrow and The Flash.

Most of the convention I spent with the other girls I mentioned above: Ilene, Melissa, Adrienne, Jamie, and Emmy of 4 Your Excitement – the amazing and wonderful ladies who let me stay with them for the weekend. We laughed. We spent time at the MTV Fandom Awards dancing in the grass to “Low.” We drank coffee together. We walked together. We laughed at panels together and we grew exhausted together. We even got sick together (shout-out to my cold twin, Ilene). By the end of the weekend, we were all sitting on a hotel lobby floor, eating snacks and I honestly already missed them by the time I got to the airport. These are girls who – prior to this weekend – I had never actually met in person. And we didn’t just bond over our shared love of nerd culture. We bonded over life and real stuff. That’s the most you can really ask for.

I also got to hang out with Natalie the majority of Saturday who was sweet enough to bring me tea from Starbucks and patient enough to listen to my ramblings in the Hall H line about Ray/Felicity. We became friends even though we’ve already been friends on social media for a long time. I love that about SDCC. I love that it’s a place where real relationships can happen.

4. I discovered the press pit

Prior to Friday afternoon at the panel for The 100, I didn’t know that press was allowed – in at least Ballroom 20 and Hall H – to stand beside the stage and take photographs until Melissa noted that all you really have to do is flash your press badge and they’ll let you in. (Note to those who design Comic-Con press pits: please reconsider their side stage placement because getting good photographs from there (especially in Hall H) is nearly impossible. THANKS.)

Nevertheless, there’s just something so unbelievably empowering about being able to saunter up to a security guard, show them your badge, and have them step aside and let you into the pit. (In Hall H I found this to be especially true during Superhero Saturday Night.) I loved being able to be so close to the stage and to some of my favorite celebrities, not necessarily because – as I noted above – I got amazing photographs, but because it gave a sense of intimacy to SDCC that is often lacking in the larger, more crowded ballrooms and halls.

3. The roundtables

I only was approved as press for one room, but it was a doozy: the CBS press room. Since CBS brought five shows to Comic-Con this year in its three-and-a-half hour panel (six, if you include Supergirl which was a separate part of the weekend, as it fell under Superhero Saturday Night), all of the roundtables took place in a one and a half hour block on Thursday following the panels. Yeah, that’s right. I spent a LOT of time with CBS on Thursday and it was great. Our table was really excellent and from what I’ve been told, that can truly make or break your experience in a press room.

I was able to sit right next to Marg Helenberger, who was an icon in my childhood (I ran into her in the bathroom before the panel and was too scared to tell her that, honestly) as Catherine Willows on CSI. I listened to James Wolk tell our table the story of why he’s afraid of squirrels. I briefly bonded with Jake McDorman because it was both of our first times at SDCC. I listened to the producers and director of Limitless discuss the challenges and joys of making the show. Robert Patrick personally acknowledged me twice during our roundtable with a hand on my shoulder and I loved hearing about Scorpion’s trajectory from one of its EPs, Nicholas Wootton. Hill Harper gave such articulate responses that I could have listened to him talk about his character all day. I enjoyed hearing from the cast of Under the Dome and the producers of Zoo.

Even when I wasn’t asking a question, I just loved listening to my fellow table members ask thoughtful, good questions and the response of the talent. We all meshed really well together and I’m thankful that my first press room experience was such a good one.

2. I made it to all the panels I wanted to see

Here’s something you should know about SDCC: you’ll never be able to see and do everything that you want. It’s just a fact of life. You’ll be torn and you’ll have to make some difficult choices because times will overlap or else be so close that there will be no way to feasibly make it into a panel.

It paid to stand in the line for Hall H for two hours before the first panel I wanted to see (the EW Women Who Kick Ass one) not just because I was able to see that panel but because I was able to move up and be so close for Superhero Saturday, as well as check out some amazing presentations from FOX and the tail end of the Lionsgate one.

BE EARLY. I don’t care if your friends sleep in or think you’re crazy. The fact that I was with people all weekend who desired to be hours early made my life so much less stressful. It meant we got really good seats. It meant I could relax and actually enjoy what I came to SDCC to enjoy. I had to give up a few things along the way – choosing the CBS panels meant missing Doctor Who and Mockingjay; choosing Hall H panels meant I had to give up seeing John Barrowman’s panel, etc. – but I can honestly say that I don’t regret attending any of the panels I did because I crossed every last thing off my list.

(With the exception of the Geek Nation rooftop party because I was sick but I’m glad I didn’t go – a person at the airport told me he went and it was a bust anyway. Next year, I want to score an invite to the EW party. So, you know. Hook a sister up.)

1. The scoop we got

SDCC is a place where spoiler-free people probably plug their ears and hum “Ave Maria.” I can’t imagine attending it if I didn’t love spoilers as much as I do because though most producers and writers and actors cannot give away TOO much information, this is the place to drop hints and exclusive sneak peeks and entire pilots. Some of my favorite things:

  • I got to see the pilot for Limitless during the CBS presentation block and can honestly say that I’m interested in it now more than I was before the panel. Jake McDorman is stellar in it and I’m not just saying that because he’s an attractive human being (which he is, even more so in person). Plus, Bradley Cooper plays a big role in the show as an EP and may or may not have a place in the pilot, too, where we all cheered. See? SPOILERS. (Though that’s been revealed in the trailers anyway, I think.)
  • An exclusive look at Colony on USA, which is Carlton Cruse’s new show starring Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies. Their panel was interesting, actually, and the show looks like it’ll be a perfect fit for USA.
  • We were treated to the blooper reel and some AMAZING videos for Orphan Black. (Fun fact: BBC America sent out their press release with an embargo on it prior to the panel actually starting. So we were treated to those a little bit earlier than others.)
  • The official Deadpool trailer aired and it was received with such raucous cheers that the audience began to chant “One more time!” and the hall was treated to an encore viewing of it.
  • We also got special looks into the new X-Men, Maze Runner, and Fantastic Four films. It paid to be at FOX’s presentation in Hall H.
  • Stephen Amell debuted Green Arrow’s suit in character, monologuing as Oliver Queen. It was dark and he emerged from beside the press pit, where we all promptly lost our collective cools.

It pays to be at SDCC, because you feel… special. In the loop. Part of an exclusive club that only you and a few thousand others are in. I loved it.

So there’s a bit of an overview of my time at SDCC. In the following weeks, you can expect write-ups (featuring lots of pretty photos!) of my coverage. Until then, feel free to hang out at the site and tweet me your favorite parts of SDCC, whether you attended in-person or in spirit. :)


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