Monday, August 12, 2013

"Training It" - Final Blog about SDCC 2013

            We use to call it the San Diegan, then in the year 2000 Amtrak decided to remain the train and it's been the Pacific Surfliner ever since.
            And so it was the Pacific Surfliner that Shannon and I traveled on down to the San Diego Comic Con International and then back home again.
            It is a great way to travel. Sitting back and relaxing, take a nap, read a book or write one. Sure beat being trapped in traffic on the 5 Freeway.
             It was also a whole lot less expensive then trying to get a hotel room.
            The only bad part of it was that we had to get back to the station about an hour before the train was scheduled to depart. We had reserved tickets, but for SDCC there were so many people getting on board that it filled up fast and we wanted to make certain we sat together (twice on the way down, we had to sit separately for about half the trip). On top of everyone trying to get down to the Comic Con, that was also the opening weekend for the Del Mar racetrack. Along with the over two hundred people that got on at the start, there would be nearly another two hundred there.
            So we couldn't attend any of the movie screenings or events that were held at night, because if we missed the last train we'd be probably be sleeping the train station or in Hall H. (Shudder the thought.)
            Having to wait in a line to catch the train sometimes proved to me entertaining then waiting to get into a panel at the convention.
            On Friday evening we got in line and as we waited three limo drivers showed up. One was a woman, and she must have found her client because wasn't there for long. The other two drivers were waiting for the arrival of the train from Los Angeles, which we would be catching to go home.
            One of the drivers held up a sign that read the name of a television production company. Of course I took notice of this since it is a company I would really like to work for. The other driver talked with him for a bit so it was clear they would be picking up clients that were part of the same party. So Shannon and I began to have fun anticipating who might be arriving from Hollywood for the convention.
            A few minutes before the train arrived, a woman walked up to the two limo-drivers and introduced herself. She was obviously there to make certain the VIPs arrived safely.
            She was really devoted to the job assigned to her, because making certain the limo drivers were there, and checking with the ticket booth for when the train would be arrived, wasn't enough for her.
            Her job, as studio representative, must have depended on making certain these actors arrived safely, because when the train did arrive. She marched forward through the arriving passengers until she found someone.  Then the studio rep brought the VIP over to the limo drivers, and turned right around swam up stream through the crowd, located another actor and brought him back.  She did this a third time. It was like lifeguard jumping into the water and bringing drowning people to shore from a sinking boat. (The metaphor doesn't quite work with a train.)
            Her bosses must have been upset that their stars were willing to travel with the great unwashed.
            I wonder how she survived getting each of her VIPS through the Convention up to whatever room they were going to have a panel in.
            That was Friday evening.
            On Saturday, the show was not who was passing by, or getting off the train, but rather who was waiting in the line with us.
            I'm not a name dropper so won't go into that because I respect the privacy of my fellow professionals, but it was really great to be among these people.
            Along with fellow animation writers who had been at the gathering earlier in the evening. There were also guests of the Con. One I actually got to speak with briefly about board games and being a nerd (oops I said too much.)

            The lesson in all that is, the best entertainment and networking doesn't always happen on the Con floor, and take the train you'll meet a whole lot more people then when you're stuck in traffic on the 5.       

            And so I end my set of blogs about Sand Diego Comic Con 2013.  Hope you enjoyed.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Post Comic Con 2013 Blog #3 or "How not to be a Wallflower."

I am my own worst enemy.

Aren't we all?

I can be extremely shy. Not only with people I haven't met yet, but also with people I really respect and don't want to come off looking like a fool. That fear has saved me from time to time, but more often than not it has been a hindrance to achieving what I was really after. Letting great opportunities slip away.

In a Comic Convention setting this can be a real problem. So many people wanting to talk with the same people you want to it is so easy just to chicken out.

As professional animation writers, Shannon and I have been able to attend the Writers Guild of America gathering at ComicCon. Over the years we've gotten to know several people in the group, and with some it's really easy to talk with. However even within that environment it can be difficult to talk with others beyond a few words as more and more people crowd the room. After a while we end up standing off to the side and I return to being my usual Wallflower self for the rest of the TWO HOURS as the event goes on.

There's where the answer lies.

This year, as mentioned previously, Shannon and I were taking the train back and forth to ComicCon each day. This limited our schedule, but that actually turned out to be something good.

In order to attend the party this year, we had reserved tickets on a later train, but were required to be at the station at least an hour early. (Anyone who took the train will tell you just how long the lines were. You'd think they were waiting to get into Hall H.) Because of this we were only able to stay at the party for only the first half hour.

With only 30 minutes we watched the door as different people signed in. Anyone we knew, or wanted to talk to, we immediately said hi to and began to chat. We only got a few minutes with each person, but they were well-spent minutes.

In those thirty-minute we probably spoke with more people than we usually do in an entire two-hour evening.  There was no time to become wallflowers.

What I learned from this night is this: don't plan to stay at the party all night. Set yourself a limited amount of time and with that deadline talk with as many people as you can. Keep moving around, or find a good position near the entrance where people are forced to walk past you. Quickly say hi, make introductions and chat for a while and then let them get on to the food while you find someone else to talk to.

This may not be what works for you, but it will be how I will fight the Wallflower Wars from now on.

Yes, we did catch our train on time and even chatted with more people in line, but more of than next time.