‘Once’ Chicago, Fandoms, Conventions, and Star Trek.

It isn’t all that often you’ll find me excited to be waking up at three thirty in the morning.  I’m really not a morning person at the best of times, but that Saturday morning was a definite exception to the rule.  I was off to Chicago with my guy, and to the convention, run by Creation Entertainment, for the ABC show Once Upon A Time. We were flying in and out just for the day – a total whirlwind.

Let’s be completely up front about this – it wasn’t our first rodeo. We’ve been to conventions before, we’ve been to many, many conventions before, and a lot of them run by Creation, though usually for Star Trek, and the ones we’re used to are a lot bigger than the one we’d be going to that day, so… we pretty much knew what to expect – mostly.

The two main differences seemed to be because of size (the number of attendees), and of course, the nature of the fandom. Firstly, on the whole everything was more laid back. There were a couple of exceptions to that, mostly down to the personality of the ‘stewards,’ and secondly – and maybe this is just a sign of me getting old – oh, my word, the fangirling!

We had been lucky enough, thanks to a computer glitch and a really kind and helpful employee of Creation, to secure tickets to the morning meet & greet with Emiie de Ravin, (with a quick pop in by Rose Reynolds), there were nine of us, plus Emilie, and it was a fabulous experience especially when the questions and conversation focused on the work… could have done without the ‘squeaing’ though. However, Emilie was amazing, included everyone, and kept the conversation rolling on so that the half hour experience seemed to go by lightning fast, and then she was gracious enough to take a selfie with everyone there – and really was very attentive, trying to make sure everyone that wanted the picture had the opportunity.

We had been to a couple of the Creation meet & greets before, one for Christopher Lloyd, another for Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating, and the nature of the those, in comparison with the one with Emilie felt wildly different. Christopher Lloyd was all talk of theater, Connor and Dominic’s event was… well it’s hard to describe really, a mix of comic hi-jinx and seriousness, mostly work focused, aside from Dominic’s propensity for being the joker in the pack. The level of fangirling in the experience with Emilie was undeniable – and yes, it was all girls. I don’t know why this surprised me, but it did.

The main auditorium was where we spent most of the rest of our day, listening to the Q&A’s and the questions that were actually quite different to the ones we expected and are used to from the Trek conventions we’ve attended, where the questions tend to be all the same every time, and usually on the subject of, ‘what was your favorite episode and why?’ and similar kinds of questions. While there were a couple of questions like that in the ‘Once’ Q&A’s, I’m happy to say that mostly they were questions that seemed to draw a deeper level of participation from the celebrities.

One of the main differences that I could see between this convention and the others we’ve attended that were run by Creation is the ‘Gold Ticket Holder’ exclusive Q&A panels. I don’t recall that ever happening at the Vegas ST Con, and honestly I think there would be a riot if they tried. The other main – and very welcome – difference about the Once Q&A’s was that they’re not ‘moderated’ by anyone. The celebrities could spend the entire time answering fan questions, and not wasting most of the 45 minute session speaking to the moderator’s rambling thoughts. Let’s be honest, he might believe that this is what people want, but Adam does tend to Bogart the on stage time at the Trek Q&A’s meaning that fans get little time to ask their questions and have their few seconds of interaction time with the celebrities. So, having 45 minute sessions devoted entirely to fan questions was a refreshing change.

Rose Reynolds was a strong advocate for ‘being yourself’ and not being afraid to play into your own strength and weaknesses. She was approachable and very sweet with the one or two gushing fans who professed their love for her, in among her very many searching questions.

Sean McGuire certainly wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, refreshingly unafraid to tell-it-like-it-is where the writing and running of the show is concerned, while mindful of the nature of his character and how it reflects upon himself as a person. It’s a shame that there were a few people that didn’t like that kind of outspokenness, and initiated the kind of drama that is sadly rife within the fandom, and though I love the show, is the one thing that puts me off being a part of the fandom itself. I fear it will ultimately lead to the dissolution of the fandom once the show comes to its end in later this month – unlike the fandom, and being part of the fandom of Star Trek, which persists and spans generations, and added to itself with the release of rebooted movies, and now also with the advent of ST: Discovery. If that’s judgmental, then so be it.

Giles Mathey, and Emilie de Ravin appeared together in a ‘mother and son’ Q&A’ and through their wacky and playful back-and-forth banter, gave us a glimpse of what it must have been like in those times they were working together – and also made us realize, all the more, the fact of Robert Carlyle’’s absence.

Giles is funny, and was a chatter-box using his answers to keep a little bit of a ‘remove’ while allowing the fans to see enough of him to satisfy the need to connect, but up close, (and personal – while signing autographs) connected in some way with each of the people that came to his table, and was wonderfully genuine and attentive; remembered us when we got to the photo op that we took with him and Emilie together.

Speaking of photo ops, I have to commend the company that Creation were using at the convention for their speed of getting the pictures printed and out to the fans. It was almost immediate, which was good for us because we had a flight to catch soon after the photo was taken, and Emilie’s autograph signed, which meant we didn’t have to stress about rushing to the airport or having to download and print the jpg ourselves. This is a far cry from the last time we had a photo op that wasn’t a group shot of friends sitting having breakfast or lunch together.

It was odd, being on ‘that side of the table’ again. Even so, I enjoyed the day a great deal.  Not to say there weren’t things (and a certain ‘jobsworth’ of a steward) that were irritating to a point, but it was an experience to be a part of a regular convention again – and sad that these cons will come to an end with the ending of the show. I would have liked to see more beyond the last of the year.

I made a remark, a question, to my guy to ask what on Earth Creation are going to do when all the shows for which they host ‘official’ conventions come to an end.  They’ve already scaled back what must have once been one of their biggest revenue generators so that now there’s pretty much only the one Star Trek convention a year – the big one in Vegas – and have even cancelled the last remaining, smaller Trek con.  This seems to me to be a little odd in light of the fact that CBS is forging ahead with Discovery, which has certainly breathed a new Trek incarnation to life. Maybe it’s due to CBS having its own official cruise each year, or maybe it’s some other market force of which I know nothing. These last few Once Upon and Time conventions are being billed as the ‘Farewell Tour.’  Supernatural, and Vampire Diaries are not going to last forever, and Outlander is finite by the very nature of it being based on books, of which there are only a limited number in the series.  What happens when all these shows come to an end? What then for the future of conventions and for the members of the fandoms (various) to attend? Will we ‘regress’ to smaller, fan run conventions, or will we enjoy multi-fandom events run by other companies, with Creation being displaced from the top of the heap?

I don’t know the answers to any of those questions, but it will be interesting to see what happens as the years – and the shows – come and go.


About Eirian Houpe

Writer and Teacher. Published works: Eternal Dance (as Linden S Barclay) and articles for Wigston Magna Dog Training Club, and SFX Magazine.
This entry was posted in fandom, Movies, Television, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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