Last year Dorin and I attended the Dallas SciFi Expo as fans. We had a great time at the event especially at the Sam Witwer Q&A (he’s hilarious, so if you get a chance to see him, DO!), but this year we returned to the Expo on both February 8 & 9 to cover it for SciFi4Me…
SNAFU’s IN THE SANDCRAWLER
I find it funny that the SciFi Expo is held in a building that looks like a sandcrawler from Star Wars! Really! It’s almost perfect publicity, but it has several drawbacks… the first is connectivity. Not only did we have problems trying to connect to share tweets and pictures (we gave up after a while, so sorry for the deluge of Instagram pics at the end of the days!) but almost every attendee we talked to complained about the poor connections. Top that off with an escalator that kept breaking down on Saturday, the busiest day. (Many thought it’s time to think of a bigger venue for this Expo, and I couldn’t agree more!) We actually witnessed the power “blow” one time… quite scary actually. When the escalators stopped, so did the flow of people between floors (the Expo takes place on 4 levels, with the Q&A’s happening only on the top floor). Because of this, many didn’t even get to get in the standby line to see Karen Gillan, Sylvester McCoy, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Amell, Defiance, and Star Trek WORLD. (We missed the last three for exactly that reason!) Top that off with dying batteries, tight tripods, and a few other technical things on our end, and the weekend was far from trouble free! But we weren’t about to let that stop us!
The Q&A’s are always a highlight for any convention, and what we were able to see lived up to expectations. We started Saturday with Aaron Douglas (@theaarondouglas) of Battlestar Galactica. We have a few short video snippets from his talk we’ll post soon; he’s very funny and reveals some great stories, even a few that aren’t his own! He talked about when he first learned that [OLD SPOILER!] the Chief was a Cylon and how he tried playing it as if learning this brought a clarity to the Chief’s whole life… which wasn’t the original focus but became and integral part of his story. Along with standard questions like who were his favorites on BSG (Mary McDonnell and Kandyse McClure, even though he rarely ever had a scene with her but she was always in his trailer!) he talked about his favorite Red Dwarf character (Rimmer) to how he likes Doctor Who (never seen an episode!) and what he misses most about BSG (the Chief, but NOT how emotionally draining it was). And then there’s the boobs and scotch… you’ll just have to watch the video clip for that one! If you get a chance to see him, DO!
That lead to Karen Gillan (@KarenGillan2) and Sylvester McCoy (@RealSylvesterMc), the first Doctor Who panel at the Expo ever… and the fans were ecstatic! [We did get the entire Q&A on video, to be posted soon.] Sylvester came in his trademark hat with his spoons. Karen looked lovely in a sleeveless (it was 30 degrees!) maroon dress with her hair beginning to grow out into a cute pixie cut… and she giggled a lot! She really seemed so pleased that there were so many fans there to see her and not just her and Matt and Arthur. One fan said about her return to the Smith finale, “Thanks for making me cry,’ to which Karen said, “Thank you for crying!” But the best off the cuff comment came from Sylvester when he said that working with Matt Smith was like working with an Afghan Hound! Again, check out the video for more…
Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss (@RichardDreyfuss) was next, and he was very much what I expected… insightful, honest, political, passionate, and restless. Even listening to him for a short time, I could tell that there were changes in today’s society that he truly didn’t like and that he was itching for people to come to action. The self-proclaimed First Amendment junkie said, “When did we plant our flag in how many times we can say f—? Don’t you want to write something … that really bothers the government? Stop leaning on [our] sexual victories!” Of course, a Sci Fi convention is not necessarily where the fans want to be challenged like that. Still, his passion for film is evident… and I do mean film in the theater, which he calls a “semi-religious experience,” as “TV is just furniture.” On Jaws he said he actually turned the part down twice because he was lazy and didn’t want to work as hard as the film would require but that after he saw himself in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz he called Spielberg for the job please! (Spielberg would ask why so many girls flocked to Dreyfuss after Jaws… #!) But my favorite insight was about Close Encounters. Dreyfuss wanted the part, but other actors were being considered… so he spread rumors about this one having no sense of humor or that one being crazy… and then he told Spielberg that he needed a man who was child-like to motivate him to leave his family for a UFO. Dreyfuss liked the quiet complexity of the character, and Spielberg got that. (He does find it funny that no review he saw ever touched on the fact that his character left his family!) And why did he do Piranha 3? “Money.” ‘nuff said.
Karl Urban was on Sunday, and I cannot stress this enough… if you can only see one person at a convention, Karl is your guy! He is not only hilarious, enthusiastic, and open, but he connects with fans in a funny and personal way. But do not cross him by playing practical jokes… he believes in the slow, slow, slow burn! Watch out, Mr. Pegg! [We had many technical issues recording this and missed the first 8+ minutes- which included an awesome escorted entrance, boo!- and he’s a walker which did work well with our tripod… so many apologies for the quality…]
We missed most of the Warehouse 13 Q&A, though I did get a few questions on video. The room was packed, the fans energized, and the cast was loving every minute! I honestly can’t remember much of the panel because of one woman… she had a broken ankle (?) which the cast had fun with (“Come up here for a hug!” heehee) but then she thanked them for the show and said that she has a gifted son who loves the show and that it is something that they can actually bond over and is a connection for her into his world. [sniff sniff] The cast was truly touched, and they talked well beyond their time… but they were joined by a panelist from the next Q&A… Lindsay Wagner, who had also starred on the show! She sat next to Jaime Murray, her namesake! No, really… Jaime’s mother was a huge fan of Bionic Woman, and when Lindsay’s character back then carved her name with Steve’s in a heart on a tree they had one take and one tree… and Lindsay misspelled Jamie J-A-I-M-E, so that’s how Ms. Murray’s mother spelled it! (That finally explains why I’ve been misspelling Jamie all these years!) We went almost immediately into the Bionic Q&A, which I do have on audio. While the crowd for is was much smaller than any other, the fans were almost more passionate (including myself… I got to ask Lindsay a question!- subject of a future SciFi4Chicks podcast…) Mr. Majors was amusing and still sharp for his 57 years. (“At a certain point you reverse the numbers.”) It was a more intimate but also intense end to the Expo’s Q&As.
FROM SCIFI EXPO TO SCIFI4ME
But the Dallas SciFi Expo isn’t just about Q&A panels… Dorin and I had almost as much fun talking with the comic artists, authors, and cosplayers. And with the 5th anniversary of our site, these interviews are a perfect way to start the new SciFi4Me Lit Artist Alley and Cosplay Diaries. First we spoke with author Paul Black and artists Ethan Van Sciver, James O’Barr, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mike Fisher, and a local teen phenom Brook Nelson. SciFi4Me Lit and our new Artist Alley will be a place to feature and connect with your favorites and find new and classic faves, and these five will definitely be ones you’ll want to check out!
And not to be forgotten was meeting such great characters like the god of thunder, Doctors 10 and 11 at various stages of regeneration, Captain Kirk in a pile of tribbles, Ichabod Crane, the Governor, the god of thunder 2.0, and Captain America as he readies for his new movie. So many of the cosplayers we met put so much thought and work into these costumes, and we want you to see the fruits of their labors… and share your own!
All the author, artist, and cosplayer video interviews and photos will be posted soon, so make sure to subscribe to our different channels and social outlets so you won’t miss a thing! And share your comments and experiences at the SciFi Expo below, on our Facebook page, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
vs Sunday’s Crowd
All photos by Heather French and Dorin Schadel.