I survived Gen Con!

Day one started at GM HQ where there was actually free badges waiting for me, unlike Dragoncon last year. This was a great relief to my compadres, Veronica Diaz and my dad. I scored the Karmic Courage Badges due to the fact that “First They Came for…” had two screenings at Gen Con and I was assigned to be on 4 panels.

By Day 3 I realized just how much this “free” badge was costing me. It felt like the entire city of Indianapolis was trying to screw over the gamers. From parking to food, to extra events to beer, just about anything they could up the prices on, they did. With as many cost-cutting strategies as I could muster (yes, I’m poor as dirt) I ended up blowing about $100 because I got a “free” badge.

Day 1 was a recon mission. I didn’t have any panels or screenings assigned to me so Veronica, Dad and I got the lay of the land – well, sort of. There is so much going on and spread all over. Not only is Gen Con in the Indianapolis Convention Center but the Westin, the Marriot, the Hyatt, Scotty’s Brewpub, Union Station and the Ram. The seven-pound program guide really wasn’t a help. Apparently gamers have their own code that is foreign to me. My co-conspirator were otherwise occupado as Dad was fielding a slew of business calls and Veronica was too busy trying to understand the costuming.

Veronica: “She’s got kitten ears and a fox tail?”

Me: “Just rock with it, it’s a convention!”

There was a handful of “Star Wars” people, I saw one yellow shirt (“Star Trek”), bioshock people, Sailor Moon girls,  and a crap-ton of steampunkers. I love steampunk. My favorite costume was a steampunked Rosie the Riveter.

Without knowing how to read the program we spent most of Day 1 in the vendors room. We checked out the booths, trying to figure out how best to do a Karmic Courage Productions booth for “Leah Not Leah” and how to get the most bang for our buck.  We brainstormed, we shopped, we looked at art, said hi to friends and colleagues and then left.

That night I took stock of my schedule and thought of all the days to dress up Day 2 would be the best day to do it. I dragged out my pink wig from a Halloween fairy costume from 8 years ago and tried to come up with some outfit that would work with it. Luckily my husband is more of a gamer than me and put together an anime school girl look. I figured since I had two (not super serious) panels I could bring my daughters (age 3 and 7) and it would be more fun to dress up.

Interesting thing happened…I talked to a lot more gamers. Sure conversations started about my wig but I met new and friendly people who I doubt I would have sparked up a conversation with if I was in my standard Kate Chaplin get-up. But when I reached the film track, my colleagues, who I’ve worked with for years weren’t really talking to me. I don’t know if it’s because they didn’t recognize me or it was too weird seeing me dressed up. Mostly likely it was because I was stinky because that wig was sweltering!

First panel was Friday at noon called “Getting Work in the Movie Biz.” Because of parking nightmares and the fact that on our 42 mile walk to the Westin I quickly realized that my little girls stride is not as large as mine. We did however arrive with 1 minute to spare. When I got into the room I was so happy to see that the one-and-only Lloyd Kaufmann and Toxie were on the panel too!

My first thought was, How cool I get to say that I was on a filmmaking panel with Troma’s president! My second thought was, Crap, how am I going to have anything to offer that is as beneficial as the man with 36 years of independent filmmaking experience?

There was about 7 people in the audience, and Kaufman was brilliant. I tried to hold my own giving quick and concise answers to questions. Good questions were asked and I think we might have helped.

Next up was an expensive and non-filling lunch and shopping before the next panel; Independent Filmmaking: Pre-production. This panel was packed. There was only a handful of seats left vacant and there was cameras of all sizes filming us. There was 7 of us on the panel plus a moderator. It was really too many panelists. We could have address more questions with fewer people. Many of us were saying the same thing just in different ways. We all did our best and did have a lot of fun in the process.

My daughters were amazingly good all day at the convention. They stayed hand-and-hand through the crowds, no one got lost, there was only a few tears, one stomach ache, one cuddle while I was up on a panel, one broken heart moment (I didn’t have enough cash to buy a Pokemon deck) the girls did get a reward of mermaid ducks for being so good. They went home happy and tired.

Day 3 was a day with the Harris’. On the agenda was the “First They Came for…” screening and a screenwriting panel, where I was to make a big announcement for Karmic Courage. Because it was more of a “serious” day I was back in the standard Kate Chaplin uniform of a dress. Jason Harris is a huge Troma fan and has worked with the Troma team a few months back at the River Bend Film Festival where he dressed up as Toxie and assisted Mr. Kaufman.  Jason was eager to help Troma at Gen Con to promote the brand and sell some merchandising. Katie Harris and I hung out at the Troma table with Jason, Ron, Jeremy and of course Lloyd Kaufman.

Before I get into the rest of the day I really want to say what a gentleman Lloyd Kaufman is. Little things like, he insists women walk through open doors first, he offers to buy anyone who’s helping him out at least something to drink, and if you are hangin’ with him, he even introduces you to the people and you feel like you are as important as the Indie Mogul. When he’s not “on” with a fan he has the worn-down look of worry that all filmmakers have. Can I make money at this? Are people understanding what I’m trying to do etc. He’s humble, he’s genuine and he works so hard. I’ve got the pleasure to hang out with him twice this year and I have to say, I’m an admirer of this man. (thanks, Jason)

Okay, so Day 3, the screening of “First They Came for…” went good. There was about 20-ish people in the audience, I started counting then I think I got into a conversation. Most of the people in the crowd were the filmmakers of the other shorts that were screening and a good deal of them had already seen FTCF at one time or another and so I was a little bummed because the whole hope of a screening is to fill chairs with people who haven’t seen your project and get an idea of a reaction to your work.  Now I will say that I love watching FTCF on a big screen. It really comes to life, there is a lot of detail and subtle things in the visuals that really pop on the big screen. The sound (because the movie is mostly silent) works so well on a big screen because it brings you in to listen more. Where as on youtube, we tend to watch more than listen. Anyway it was fun to see my colleagues projects as well as some new project by filmmakers I got to meet that day.

immediately after the FTCF screening was the screenwriting panel. Again there was too many of us on the panel so we asked our moderator, Chris who was sitting in the audience to moderate this again. Again, he did a great job. The audience was a little more than half full, which was good because I had an announcement to make.

My plan was to talk about screenwriting, show that I know my stuff and that I can answer specific questions and not make it about me; then announce a 8 week screenwriting intensive workshop that Karmic Courage Productions is hosting but as we went down the panel it was feeling more like a used-car salesman contest and I didn’t want to get in on that.

I hate “selling myself” I’d rather just be me, and people like me for that and be interested in the programs and services I offer, like workshops than shove it down people’s throats. So I just stayed on the subject of screen writing. Probably not the best idea, as I do want people to come to the screenwriting workshop, it’s going to be really hands on, but I just didn’t feel comfortable shoving flyers down people’s throats.

After that we hit lunch and beer!! I needed the beer! I think I was pretty drunk for the rest of Gen Con. We did have to leave early because of another event.

I decided I was burnt out by Gen Con to make it to Day 4. There was a screening of FTCF at 11:30am. I hope it got a good turn out. I wanted to spend a day with my family and maybe save a little bit of money.

Overall I like the Gen Con experience. I like Dragoncon better. I was overjoyed that “First They Came for…” showed at Gen Con and that I did get to talk to filmmakers of all experience levels on the panels and off. I learned a lot from them. I do need to work more on promoting. Got to find the used-car salesman in me. Or maybe I should just hire Jason Harris. 😛

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One thought on “I survived Gen Con!

  1. Ang says:

    Kate, you wonderfully held your own in the Screenwriting workshop. Too many panelists were “plugging their wares” rather than sticking to the topic at hand.

    I wish I could do DragonCon, but this year there is a major timing issue. Maybe next year. 🙂

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