November 2017~ Netflix- Star Trek: Discovery Fan Event.

In late October, Netflix began sending out emails to Trekkies inviting them to a fan screening on Sunday 5th of November at Millbank Tower, next to the River Thames in London. I initially didn’t receive an invite, so I emailed and asked to be put on a waiting list. The following day I received my invite.

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It came with the additional information that there would also be an exhibition of props, as well as a Q & A with some of the talent- Aaron Harberts (Showrunner), Sonequa Martin-Green (Michael Burnham), Shazad Latif (Lt. Ash Tyler) and Jason Isaacs (Capt. Gabriel Lorca). We were told that doors would open at 12pm.

Knowing what Trekkies (including myself) can be like, I decided to arrive early. 9 am to be precise. Shortly after I arrived, some friends also turned up. They too were also decked out in DISCO tops, all sourced from an unofficial, popular online auction site.

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We tried to get a coffee at a nearby hotel but it was jam packed so I headed back to the front of Millbank Tower to wait for another friend. Whilst there I met up with a guy from Netflix (who I would later find out seemed to be running the whole event) and he was surprised to see us there so early. He pointed me in the right direction and told me where to wait and that he would see me at noon.

Lots of friends arrived and as time went on, the crowds grew. It wasn’t really a line at one point, more of a loose assembly, but the guy I saw earlier came out, said ‘Hi’ and had a look around. He then told someone else to sort out a line, starting with me. After that I must admit I got a bit snappy if anyone tried to jump in front of me and my friends.

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12pm came and we were let in. We all received a Netflix wristband and the first 25 of us would be allowed to meet the guests and get autographs. This was an amazing bonus!

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An express elevator ride to the 29th floor deposited us in the Altitude 360 restaurant which had been transformed into an exhibition hall. At one end we had the Captain’s chair from the USS Discovery as well as props such as phasers, Klingon blades, uniforms etc. The other end had been transformed into a room holding the spore drive and console.

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As fans we could wander round, take photos and interact with the items on display and each other, all the while enjoying the vast amount of refreshments generously laid on by Netflix.

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At about 1.15pm we were directed down to the theatre to watch the 8th episode ‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’ (If you want peace, prepare for war).

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Before the episode was shown, Jamie East (of Thronecast fame) who was presenting the show, introduced the guests. The four of them said a quick hello before settling in to watch the episode with the fans.

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Once the episode was over, a hilarious Q&A followed. There is a video somewhere which I will post later. The highlight for me, apart from hearing all the behind the scenes gossip, was Jason Isaacs getting Jonathan Riker Frakes’ name wrong! All of them were extremely humble and a joy to listen to. Jason was amazing at praising his fellow actors and the creative team. Hearing the gorgeous and very talented Sonequa tell us her own backstory for Michael Burnham was equally awesome and she brings a fresh outlook to the Trek universe. Shazad was very cagey about his character and I think there is more than meets the eye to Ash Tyler. It’s also quite clear that Aaron Harberts wants Discovery to be groundbreaking but also honour all the Trek that has gone before.

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After that, it was back upstairs for a meet and greet with autograph and selfie opportunities. It was an awesome day and I would like to thank Netflix for putting on such an amazing event!

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March 2017~ An Audience With Gareth Edwards

BAFTA occasionally host “An audience with” type events. This month it was to be with Gareth Edwards, director of hit movies such as Godzilla (2014) and the latest blockbuster in the Star Wars universe, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This event was organised in conjunction with BAFTA Cymru and took place on St David’s day.

The evening began with a showreel of Gareth’s work, including some unused footage from Rogue One. Gareth then went on to talk about his work, his life in general and things that had influenced him. He then took questions from the audience.

I particularly enjoyed hearing about his work on Rogue One and how he filmed it in a very organic/fluid way. Indie hour also seemed an interesting concept where any idea, from any crewmember was considered and most likely shot.

Only one thing spoiled it for me. The day before, we received an email from BAFTA saying that Gareth would sign autographs for about 10 minutes afterwards. I took my Rogue One book just in case. There were a group of autograph hunters (more likely dealers) who shoved their way to the front and in many cases had 15-20 items each to get signed. It’s just very inconsiderate when you consider the fact that there were about 50 people wanting autographs and that he was only doing 10 minutes. Luckily, the man is a trooper and stayed long enough to sign for everyone.

Interestingly enough, lots of items signed by him appeared on a popular auction website the following day! Some starting at £50….

April 2016~ FCD ‘Out of the Ashes’

I honestly do not know where to begin. This has to be the best event I have been to in years!

FCD 2015 was a great event. I volunteered at the event and was asked by Wil and David to join the main FCD team shortly afterwards. Many months were spent in planning and preparation. At one point we did not think we would have an event to put on due to some complex issues but after changing the venue and making it a one day event, we were ready.

The team members arrived on the Friday afternoon. After unpacking we began setting up. I began by helping to construct the Klingon bridge but then went into the main event room to assist with the setup there. Once setup was complete, we had a team briefing and then chilled out for a while.

Later that evening we had a team meal along with our guests and media partners. Then I decided to hit the sack so that I was ready for the next day.

I woke up early and went to the event rooms. We had a very quick meeting and once breakfast was over we got ready for opening. We honestly had no idea about how many people would turn up after all the trouble the event had encountered. We had enough chairs for 100 people to sit and watch the various talks etc. It was nowhere near enough…..

The doors opened. Shortly before the opening ceremony it became clear we needed more chairs so some of the team set about quickly putting more out, but still people kept coming. 483 in the end…….way more than expected.

The opening ceremony took place with Wil and David introducing the guests (Claudia Christian of Babylon 5, JG Hertzler, Aron Eisenberg and John Carrigan all from various incarnations of Star Trek) and so began the day.

What followed was a series of hilarious talks by the guests, a charity auction that raised lots of money for charities and a surprise marriage proposal by team member Simon to his partner Sheridan who was also a team member. JG Hertzler helped Simon with the deed by setting up an elaborate ruse and asking Sheridan for her help. It was awesome to watch and congrats to both!

Whilst the various talks were going on there was also the chance to have a professional photo taken with the guests as well as wander around the various dealer stalls.

The main event ended at 5pm and we had to quickly clear the room ready for the evening. It was to be a meal followed by a disco with karaoke. The theme was Spy vs Spy. There were many fine costumes on display and a great time was had by everyone. The party continued into the small hours……

Sunday was spent having a quick, final tidy up before chilling out and saying goodbye to old friends and new.

Overall, the whole weekend was a blast! It was like being at one massive family party! The energy in the main room was amazing and the constant smiles on everyone’s faces said a lot. It was knackering but absolutely worth it!

Roll on 2017 and well done to all involved but especially to Wil and David, and a HUGE thank you to all the FCD team members that made me feel so welcome!

May 2015-MCM Comic Con

I hadn’t been to one of these for years but the lure of some NCIS and Agents of SHIELD guests was too much for me and my dad. I was hoping things had changed. Boy was I wrong. Whilst getting in was easy and so was getting autographs, the chaos that was the photoshoots was beyond a joke. We waited almost 3 hours for a shoot. No information was passed our way. One overly happy crewmember almost got pounced upon because sge kept telling us to stop moaning and be happy and that we should feel privileged. Never again…..

May 2014~ Collectormania 21

I wasn’t planning to attend this time around as it normally means staying over and lots of cabs etc.

However, someone I know was announced as a guest, and as I was the one who suggested he hits the con circuit and I built his website I thought I should put in an appearance.

Whilst there my plan was to meet a number of Game of Thrones guests, plus a Star Trek guest. I also decided last minute to meet two others; one from The Walking Dead and the other Doctor Who.

My first port of call was to go and see DeObia Oparei. I initially met DeObia when he came to work at our school for a short while and ended up helping me with our production of West Side Story. He seemed to be enjoying himself and we had a good chat. Funnily enough, he was sat next to Noel Clarke of Doctor Who fame, who was an ex-pupil of our school and at one time was DeObia’s personal trainer before the acting bug bit!

Next up was to get some more signatures on my Game of Thrones canvas. It now has the following names on it:

Mark Stanley- Grenn
Luke Barnes- Rast
Alfie Alan- Theon Greyjoy
Charles Dance- Tywin Lannister
Gethin Anthony- Renly Baratheon
Nonso Anozie- Xaro Xhoan Daxos
Dominic Carter- Janos Slynt
Anton Lesser- Qyburn
Ross Mullan- Whitewalker
Joseph Gatt- Thenn Warg
Noah Taylor- Locke

Once finished, I headed over to meet Robert Beltran, who played Chakotay in Star Trek: Voyager, followed by Jeff Kober who has appeared in many shows including Buffy, Trek and The Walking Dead. Finally I went to meet Ingrid Oliver who appeared in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special.

Overall it was a very quiet Sunday and this made the guests very relaxed! I like the fact that Showmasters are using more space at Stadium:MK. It made it much nicer!

Roll on LFCC 2014!

March 2008~ Eclipse

Showmasters created a spinoff company called Massive Events.

One of its first events was a 3 day convention dedicated to Heroes. It took place over a weekend in early March in Northampton. I attended with my mate Mark and his son Jonathan.

It was an intensely busy weekend with lots of good talks and panels, photoshoots and exhibitions. There was also a small but decent dealers room. It was well organised even though it was so busy. The guests were all great!

July 2006~ LFCC

Not many guests that I wanted to meet this time around. John Barrowman from Dr Who was just starting a new show called Torchwood. He was friendly but quiet and very tight-lipped about the project.

I then met Gates McFadden of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was very disappointed. She was not busy and hardly said a word. I found out afterwards that she wasn’t well.

I also met Shaun Dingwall who played Pete Tyler in Dr Who.