Supanova Report

So last weekend I went to the Supanova Pop Culture Expo in Brisbane, after Dan Feuerriegel listed himself as a last-minute guest. Ergo, technically, all I need known about the weekend is that this happened:

(I'm not looking straight at the camera because he was holding my phone and I was staring at his hands. He has ridiculously beautiful hands. They are distracting, ok?? Also ridiculous: his shoulders. LOOK AT THEM THEY ARE A MILE WIDE.)

Con successful, report closed!

However, a lot of cool shit happened and I do want to get some of the details down because otherwise they'll fade far too quickly. So without further ado, rambly details under the cut!

I booked my tickets with four days' notice, had to work through the night before my 4am departure, and was so completely disorganised about everything that I forgot until check-in that I needed a visa for Australia. Oops! Luckily it's one of those electronic ones that you can still apply for at the airport, but since I was already late and sleepless, it didn't make for the most auspicious start. But it did get sorted, so after a 4-hour flight (next to a screaming toddler, so no chance to catch up on sleep), I got into Brisbane and made my way downtown to check into my crappy hostel, scoffed at the idea of a quick nap, and went exploring instead.

(Brisbane is so beautiful with all its flowers and food and cool architecture and gorgeous weather and nightlife. Perfect summer-in-the-city experience! Alas, it's also stupidly hot and I hadn't realised that 32 degrees Celsius easily feel like 45 with humidity. Holy steambath, batman!)

The convention centre was on the south bank of the Brisbane River, an area absolutely choc-a-bloc with gorgeous gardens, riverside cafes, explosions of flowers, funky birds, and all the arts/cultural centres. I could live there!

The centre itself was massively, physics-defyingly huge. The con didn't start until 1pm, but being me, I had to do the Arnold thing and go early to find out where the exits and bathrooms were. I spent a confused little while wandering through giant completely empty lobbies and corridors because I'd come in a side way and even though there were thousands of fans coming, the centre was STILL completely empty in the areas that were not designated for Supanova, that's how insanely massive it was. I eventually made my way to the right area and promptly drowned in hordes and hordes of convention-goers, every second one of whom was a cosplayer. And when I say cosplayers, I mean the real deal! I love a good dress-up, but these were the kinds of people who spend 6 months and all their time and money on a costume that could easily feature in the World of Wearable Art or a movie. (On a side note, I was assured vehemently several times over the weekend that it doesn't matter whether you commission costumes or painstakingly make them yourself or throw some old rags together on the day of, "IT ALL COUNTS AS COSPLAY" and I did my best to believe it, but still... there are levels of dedication and a lot of these cosplayers were simply pros.)

Anyhow, we got scanned and wristbanded and herded along by an army of perky, friendly and generally awesome volunteers with whom I continued to be impressed throughout the rest of the weekend. I know first-hand how hard it is to keep things organised for events like this, and they were all absolute heroes. know what, this has the potential to get incredibly mundanely detailed if I don't rein myself in, so let's have some pretence of structure sections!

Stuff I Did On Friday:

Friday was more or less a mess, to be honest. It was cool, but it was super-overwhelming.

Wandering around in an overwhelmed daze
Yeah, I know that's not very exciting, but it was necessary. The main exhibition hall was just filled with hundreds and hundreds of stalls containing every single item of geekery under the sun, and you NEEDED hours to even just take it all in. There were artists and books and costumes and weapons and action figures and zombie apocalypse outfitters and steampunk extravaganzas and lifesize Daleks and wrestlers and more artists and just, seriously, everything. Not to mention the "every second person's a cosplayer" thing. I realised early on that I could either experience the entire thing through my camera or just forget about photos - unsurprisingly I chose the latter. There was so much to see and I wanted to just live it, not document it, so I ultimately completely failed at pictorial evidence.

Meeting Dan Feuerriegel
Dan is a Brisbane native and was in town for his brother's wedding, so he graciously decided to do the con as well while he was there. Because he was a last-minute addition, he wasn't in the program and figuring out where he was going to be or what he was going to do at any given time during the weekend was an interesting challenge. He was *supposed* to do a Q&A in addition to general autographing/photo taking, but since all the panel rooms were planned for, no one knew for the longest time whether that was actually going to happen. Anyway, on Friday he was doing autographs, so I went and got in line and did that and even got the above selfie out of it. It was... surreal? He was super-lovely and his smile is just, like, blinding, but I was so jet-lagged and hadn't slept in 48 hours and just felt like a complete awkward mess. But I did manage to ramble at him about how Sparty-obsessed I got this year and how awesome it is and how thrilled I was to meet him, and he did a lot of beaming and awwwing and thanking and gave me a cuddle and have I MENTIONED how nice his hands are?? (I need to write about 27 more ficlets about Agron's hands, stat.) He also wrote "KILL THEM ALL!" on his autograph photo, so that can be my motivational work poster, lol.

Some panel about something Tolkien-ish
I pretty much wandered off in a daze, my eyes blurry with glare from Dan's smile (he doesn't seem to have a fake "work" smile, by the way - every single one of them just radiates sincerity and genuine good humour and it's a little hard to cope with!) and my hand tingly with Dan's handshake, and sat down in the nearest panel, which happened to be a dude talking about Tolkien art. It was very informative and cool - he must have one of the biggest personal collections of Middle Earth memorabilia in the world, and he pimped a couple of amateur-made-but-seriously-awesome-looking LotR prequels that I want to check out: Born of Hope and The Hunt for Gollum. Honestly though, it all kind of blurred together in my by then very tired brain.

Meeting Isobelle Carmody
I've only read the first of the Obernewtyn books, but Alsha is a fan of the first hour, so I had promised to get the latest (and final) instalment of the series signed for her by Isobelle. She wore a sparkly sparkly wrap that attracted me like a magpie and was just lovely and witty and fangirled over every costume of the people in line for her. (There were two genies just before me because Barbara Eden [of I Dream of Jeannie] was at the con, and Isobelle insisted that she wanted pictures with them. It was so cute!). She also made the inscription for Alsha really personal and was just a complete treat.

Wandering past various legends
Reminded by Isobelle that Barbara Eden was around somewhere, I then did some more wandering and ogled both Barbara and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) from afar (autographs/photos were pretty pricey, so I had to prioritise throughout the weekend). At least Peter was pretty easy to spot all weekend - just look out for the dude that's ~2 heads taller than everyone else. (There were also so many Star Wars trailers all weekend that my already whetted appetite got even keener. GIEF THAT MOVE ALREADY!)

Crushing on Stef Dawson
I'd got a token for a photo op with Stef Dawson more or less on a whim, because I was curious about her - and I was so, so glad I went for it! I learned later that the photo ops were a very tightly run production line of rushing people through the photo studio really quickly, with no real opportunity for interaction with the actor other than a quick "hi" and "thanks" (at least with the more big-name people, which most of them were). Stef was different. This was late in the day and she only had about 10 people for photos (we all bonded in the queue), so she actually made time to chat with us, and what can I say, she is the most adorable, bouncy, tiny, utterly charming pixie! She seemed genuinely excited that people wanted to meet her, she was joking around with us, and when my turn for the photo came, I rambled at her some about Mockingjay and how much I loved Annie and she basically squealed "ME TOO!" like she hadn't just played her on screen, lol. There were (obviously) strict rules in place about not hugging or otherwise creeping over the guests, but just as I turned to leave, she pounced me and gave me this fierce, bouncy hug, and not gonna lie, I think I fell in love a bit. She is just too adorable.

Cosplayer panel
Still floating on a fluffy pink cloud, I drifted back into the general convention area and stumbled into a really cool panel by a girl who's been a professional-level cosplayer for 12 years and was holding a presentation/Q&A about daily obstacles you encounter as a cosplayer, from monetary/time constrictions to resistance from friends and family, to how to find your people. She's also a licensed psychologist, so she came at it all from this really interesting perspective of professional theories about social anxiety, the wish to be someone else, methods to cope with other people's lack of understanding, ways to balance your obsession with your real life, etc etc. A lot of it applied to creative passions other than cosplay as well, and it was just really fascinating.

Official opening ceremony (a.k.a. Michael Rosenbaum is a nutcase)
This was held in one of the larger panel theatres, and I remember that it was all completely surreal and side-splittingly funny, but I think I'd be hard-pressed to recreate the details. Let me try: Michael Rosenbaum was there. Michael Rosenbaum is apparently an insane person whose sole evil purpose in this world is to actually make you split your gut laughing so that you lie twitching and bleeding at his feet with your intestines spilling out, still laughing as you die. (Side note: The free wifi at the convention centre was called "LexCorp." The panel hosts spent a suspicious amount of time reassuring everyone that it was not evil.)
Highlights included Michael and the hosts (who knew and loved him from many previous cons) snogging each other, making a lot of fart jokes, and at some point, one of the hosts got mysteriously scratched and had ACTUAL BLOOD running down his cheek, and then everything deteriorated into bizarre blood jokes and other non-recreatable weirdness. Also ran: intros for many of the writers who were attending the con (Isobelle Carmody included, in a dramatic swirling red gown in homage to her new novel "The Red Queen"), an up-and-coming Australian comic writer bizarrely named Tom Taylor (you could not make this shit up), Greg van Borssum, who's the stunt and weapons consultant on Mad Max: Fury Road, and Dean Haglund from The X-Files trying to upstage Michael in the "make your audience actually die with how funny you are" department. I...yeah, I have no words for how bizarre and hilarious that hour was. You had to be there.

An improv'd episode of The X-Files with Dean Haglund
Dean Haglund apparently does a lot of stand-up comedy, so his challenge for this evening was to completely improv an episode of The X-Files based on nothing but audience participation. This involved a lot of us writing absurd X-Files plot points on little bits of paper, shouting out ridiculous prompts when asked to, and a few unfortunates being ordered on stage to assist Dean as he and Mulder defeated some bizarre breakfast-foods-based tentacle monster. (It may or may not have been ultimately defeated by him peeing on it). Again, it was utterly hilarious but beyond my powers of description. Sleeplessness probably helped at this point because it boosted the dazed hilarity of everything by about 300%.

Nobly persisting until an acceptable bedtime
I spent a few more hours after the con finished that evening wandering about, trying to process everything that had happened, taking in Brisbane nightlife and... actually I'm not sure what I did. If Aussie police comes after me for a murder during those hours, I've got nothing. I remember a lot of sparkling lights and the constant soothing rush of the river. That's all. Eventually I stumbled back to my hostel (which as per usual was inhabited by at least 60% Germans) and fell into bed.

Stuff I Did On Saturday:

On Saturday, I dressed up as Amy Dyer, basically recreating one of my Every Saturday Is Halloween entries. Compared to about 90% of the cosplayers at the con, it was really basic, but I wanted to try it out and I was glad I did. I had seriously considered Mira, but eventually decided against it because 1) I couldn't have got my bow through customs as carry-on luggage and 2) that dress is so flimsy that there was no way I wasn't going to suffer a wardrobe malfunction at the worst possible moment. I'd picked Amy because her costume is pretty comfortable, BUT I had not reckoned with Brisbane summer heat! Don't walk through Brisbane in summer wearing a woollen cardy, is all I can tell you. Thankfully the convention centre was air-conditioned. So yeah, that was an interesting experience - everyone else's costumes were so awesome that I was surprised to get asked for pictures by a few people. The coolest thing, though, was when I was wandering around between the stalls at some point and someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Sorry - you're Amy, right? We've been stalking you for 10 minutes!" and I turned around and saw a Kieren and Simon! We squealed lots and spent a few minutes talking about the show. Otherwise, I got asked a few times whether I was from [insert various other zombie shows/movies/comics] so I got to pimp In the Flesh to a few new people. Yay!

Stef Dawson's panel - intensifying my girlcrush!
First thing in the morning, I went to Stef Dawson's Q&A. Holy crap, that girl is awesome. It was moderately full and I didn't get to ask any questions, but I could have listened to her for hours. I'm more bitter now than ever that her part in Mockingjay wasn't bigger, because it was just so obvious how much she loves the character and that she totally gets her. She was a fan long before the movies came along and Annie was her favourite character before she ever dreamed of playing her. She tried to keep the Q&A spoiler-free because not everyone had seen Mockingjay Part 2 yet, but everything she said about Annie just made it so clear how much she cares about the character and how fascinated she is with all of Annie's facets. She has all sorts of deep thinky thoughts about Annie's background and history, including the early days of her and Finnick (interestingly, her perspective on how they got together pretty much exactly lines up with Scylla and Charybdis, so everyone should go read that!) She also talked at length about Annie's PTSD and how she (Stef) would use Annie mannerisms like putting her hands over her ears and staring off into space as crutches to get into character and how Sam would help her with it. All of which had me internally yelling THAT SOUNDS AWESOME, WHY DIDN'T WE GET THAT ON SCREEN!! (when the size of her part came up, she did the diplomatic thing with "you can't fit everything from the books into the movies", which, fair enough, but I still have some beef with those decisions). She also shared a bunch of anecdotes of behind-the-scenes stuff, including JLaw and Woody Harrelson ruining her and Finnick's passionate reunion kiss with lots of fake smooching and "oh yeah baby!"s, her and Sam fake-beating each other up in between their wedding shots and horrifying the extras, and Jennifer apparently being the biggest dorkiest prankster ever. Also ran: her worst instructions from a director ever ("can we have two tears instead of three?"), her chocolate and coffee obsession (seriously, she is the perfect woman), and a lot of meta about our celebrity obsession vs. The Capitol. Basically she is made of win and I'm so happy I got to meet her and to at least experience how passionately she feels about Annie even if we didn't get to see all of it on screen.

Photo with Dan
After Stef's panel, I wandered around a bit until it was time for my photo op (the official one as opposed to the selfie) with Dan. This was when I found out how these things were supposed to run if they weren't a small intimate group with Stef Dawson - it was very production line, rushing people through, not enough time for even one personal comment. I was pretty glad then that I'd done the autograph with him, no matter how dorky I came across - at least there'd been a chance to express some appreciation for his work. Once again, he was lovely, squealed at my costume and gave me a cuddle, but it was over in 10 seconds flat. At this point, it also looked like he wasn't going to do a Q&A so for all I knew, this was my last personal contact with him. Still, I got a pic of his blinding smile with me in Amy get-up out of it, so that was cool! (Also he feels incredibly firm and he's very tall. I didn't stare creepily at his hands this time, I think? Oh god, I'm useless.)

Summer Glau, supreme class act No. 1
The photo op with Dan had me 15 minutes late for Summer Glau's panel (ngl, by this point I was longingly thinking of Zaboo and his seatsaver scheme in The Guild!), so by the time I got there, it was packed, and Summer was just this tiny speck of glowing light up ahead on the stage, so I mostly experienced her on the helpful giant screens.
It kind of crystallised throughout the weekend that there were two types of guests: one, like Stef and Dan, who seemed incredibly at ease and genuinely delighted at interacting with fans (I don't know how much being Australian has to do with that specific kind of genuine bouncy glee!), and one, like Summer Glau and Matthew Lewis, who made no secret of the fact that being on stage in front of large crowds was still somewhat nerve-wracking for them, and who worked through that by acknowledging it and being incredibly gracious and appreciative but open about how doing this didn't come naturally to them. Much as I was enchanted by Dan and Stef and their whirlwind charm, it was this kind of "gosh, are you seriously here to listen to ME?" bemusement that I personally related to more. Summer in particular seems to have struck a really great balance between natural shyness, dry wit, and genuine love for her fans, that was completely disarming. (On a shallow note, she is also just stunningly, breathtakingly beautiful.)

Throughout the Q&A, she talked a bunch about her roots as a dancer and how she transitioned to acting (aware of her stage fright, her mum put her in an acting workshop and she fell in love with it), how Hollywood tries to label you ("don't tell anyone you're a dancer! we want you to be an ACTRESS!" ...and then her most famous role plus a couple smaller ones were dancers anyway, lol), Joss Whedon (lots of love and gratitude for him as the first person who took a real chance on her), the roles she's played (much talk about how much characters like River and Cameron have meant to her, with a whole awesome sidebar about how much she loves the original Terminator films), and the ones she might still like to play (she loves westerns and period and jokingly said she'd love to be in something like Downton Abbey or an Austen adaptation). When asked about what shows or movies she was a fan of, she mentioned the aforesaid Austen adaptations but also things like the Rocky films and proudly proclaimed herself a massive Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman fan, so if she hadn't already owned my heart, she would have definitely won it then!

Hm, what else... some moron said, "So you've played a robot and a madwoman - how do you approach characters that make no sense?" and she just did this little quirky eyebrow lift at him and said, "Sorry, which one of my characters did you think made no sense?" She then graciously went into her process about how to relate to characters but the classy dress-down was awesome. Someone else asked about how life had changed for her since she'd become a mum which... err, I didn't even know that, oops. She shared a few cute anecdotes about how this was her little girl's first visit to Australia and she got to hold a koala and was just over the moon. When asked what smaller/less popular role she'd had that she wished people paid more attention to, she rambled adorably about a cheesy Christmas flick called Help for the Holidays in which she plays a Christmas elf. So yeah, check that out for the hols! There were also a few lovely anecdotes about Sean Maher, whom she obviously still adores hugely, and she told us how she'd ruined his "Simon gets shot" scene in Serenity because she was so in the moment that she kept sobbing really loudly and couldn't stop and Joss had to take her aside and ask her to dial it down. Aw man.

For the last question, someone asked what past and/or cancelled show she would bring back on the air if she could. It was incredibly obvious. She did the eyebrow quirk again and said, "I think I know what I'm supposed to say!" and then grinned and was like, "Well, it's obvious, isn't it - Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman!" SNAP. She earned that standing ovation.

Blood on Your Hands: Smart hot writer chicks, woohoooo!
After Summer's panel, I wallowed a bit more in the general convention crazyness. By this point it was about halfway through the con, and I was starting to figure out what I liked to do and that just wandering through massive crowds of people (even if half of them were doing fabulous cosplay things) and staring at massive amounts of sensory-overload activities for hours and hours was a bit much to handle. By contrast, I LOVED the panels and Q&As and could have done those all day long, so I started to make actual plans about which panels I wanted to go to and how I would happily indulge in some general crowd insanity in between, but in much smaller doses than the first day. It worked out pretty well.

So after ogling some seriously awesome steampunk stuff and debating how many loans I could take out to buy everything ever, I attended another panel, this one a writers' line-up including Sarah J. Maas, Trudi Canavan, Melanie Casey and C.S. Pacat. IT WAS AWESOME. I had heard of Sarah J. Maas before but have not read any of her books yet. Well, after this weekend that is definitely going to change, because she had so many smart, cool things to say and literally every pop culture reference she ever made hit all of my buttons (all the Buffy references! Gone With the Wind! The Last Unicorn!), so I now can't wait to get my hands on her writing. Same goes for C. S. Pacat - everything the two of them had to say about female characters, meaningful deaths, emotional resonance, story arcs, anti-heroes and, well, seriously EVERYTHING, had me cheering and wanting to read their books. But the entire line-up was great - the panel topic was about killing off characters, and all four of them were incredibly insightful and generous about sharing their process and influences. I don't have the patience or photographic memory to go into it in greater detail, but it was basically an hour made of awesomesauce listening to smart women talk about smart writing. Win win.

Cosplay madness
One of the convention halls was reserved just for the cosplayers to present themselves on stage if they so wished and chat about their costumes. This went on all afternoon, I believe, and I dropped by for an hour or so to ogle various costumes. Some were along more basic lines like my own, others were jaw-droppingly intricate - there was one girl in a Maleficent costume with realistic horns worked into her hair and with giant floor-length unfolding wings with literally thousands of hand-stitched feathers. It was incredible. (As a side note, some of the more fabulous cosplay moments all weekend were whenever I witnessed people in identical or compatible costumes running into each other, like when an Elsa met an Anna, Luke and Leia ran into Han, several Superwomen were comparing details, or four Eleventh Doctors converged in a corner, babbling and waving sonic screwdrivers at each other. So much win!)

Screening: The Subjects
I finished off the evening with a screening at one of the convention theatres: The Subjects, which was pretty bizarre but well acted and with some really neat ideas. (Amusingly one of the actors is Jenny from season2 of Please Like Me playing a geeky maths genius!) It was good fun and a nice wind-down.

While enjoying a nice evening sprawling on the riverbank, I belatedly realised that I hadn't eaten in 2 days and hadn't noticed. Oops. Seriously, I subsisted on coffee and Dan Feuerriegel smiles. So I embarked on some FOOD PLOT and a long walk up the river, accompanied by street musicians, smiley laughing people in summer wear, and wafting clouds of fragrance from all the flower-wreathed trellises and tiered gardens. Have I mentioned summery Brisbane at night is magical?

Stuff I Did On Sunday:

Sunday was the last day of the convention, and by then I had not only figured out what I liked to do (panels panels panels!) but also finally what the perfect convention wear in heaps of milling crowds in the middle of a stiflingly hot summer city was: a tiny flimsy lycra dress with a Zelda print that I'd bought at one of the stalls the day before. It was geeky, airy and comfortable and I love it madly!

Where is coffee??! Should I stalk Dan?
Started the day with some grim confusion when I realised that all the coffee shops were closed that morning. Because Brisbanites don't get coffee on Sunday morning?? Beer gardens and steak houses were open, no problem! BUT NOT COFFEE. WTF. My tweeting about this crime against mankind and my person coincided with Dan F. tweeting a pic of himself with a cup of coffee and an invitation to come see him on his last day of Supanova. Amusingly, the background of the selfie was the very same (prominent) building I was just passing in my hunt for coffee, so I spent about 10 minutes furtively looking around for ridiculously broad-shouldered men in pink t-shirts so I could 1) pounce him 2) steal his coffee, before I decided I wasn't going to be that fan. Whew, creepiness averted! :p Anyway, I did finally find coffee and thus managed to make it to the centre without having to murder anyone.

Photo with Summer Glau
My first order of the day was a photo op with Summer, and I knew by now how that was going to go: queue, dump your stuff, stand next to actor for 2 seconds while smiling into camera, say thanks, go away, pick up your stuff, leave. It being Summer, the queue was pretty enormous, too. So I spent my time queueing in an agony of indecision, because I really really wanted to at least say one thing to Summer to let her know how awesome she is (River Tam still being probably my favourite TV character of all time), but I was super-aware of time constraints and how I didn't want to be rude and/or delay things. In the end I decided that this was my one chance and 10 seconds would not ruin everything for everyone else, so after we'd done the photo, I (very VERY quickly!) told Summer that I'd already thought she was brilliant but that the fact that she was a Doctor Quinn fan (lololol) had just boosted her awesomeness so much because I used to love that show too and if they ever rebooted it, she should definitely be in it. Okay, it was 10 seconds and the photographer was frowning at me, but it was SO WORTH IT, because her face (her sureally beautiful, perfect face!) just LIT UP and she just stammered "oh my god, YES! Wasn't it the best show ever? Thank you so much!" and it totally made my morning. YAY :D

Another writers' panel
I then decided to further cultivate my burgeoning girlcrush on Sarah J. Maas by attenting another panel she was lined up for. This one was called "Creating Kick Ass Characters" and included Sarah J. Maas, Lynette Noni, Melanie Casey and Kimberley Clark. It was basically a continuation of the previous day's awesomeness, this time with a focus on how to build strong characters (mostly female ones because all these writers rocked). Sarah J. Maas continued to win my heart with lengthy discourses about how her favourite "kickass" female characters are not necessarily the ones that are physically awesome but ones like Hermione Granger and Willow Rosenberg. She also delighted me by telling us she'd named her MC after the harpy in The Last Unicorn. (DAMN!) Everyone also had amusing stories to share about how they name characters, how sometimes characters run away with them, how sometimes they don't let them (depending on how planning-based their writing is - there was a really great mix of processes in there), and what their best sources for research are. It was, once again, fabulous.

Michael Rosenbaum is still insane and hilarious
Michael Rosenbaum had a panel directly after the writer ladies, and after experiencing him on opening night, there was no way I was going to miss it. My connection to the Smallville fandom is pretty unique (for me) in that I never could get into the show itself (it was so clichéd and simplistic!) but I loved the fanfic that came out of it and I spent a while back then reading a lot of really great Clex stuff. (Not even just back then - some of it I still come back to every once in a while). The characters, when written well, are really compelling, and I'm a sucker for a good friends-to-enemies-to-lovers (or a different order thereof) dynamic. Bottom line, I have some passing familiarity with Michael's work as Lex Luthor, even if I didn't watch regularly.
His Q&A was like nobody else's, and I mean that in the best way. He did NOT sit up on stage and meekly answer questions. He grabbed his mic and bounced all over the audience, sometimes literally sitting on people's laps (he spent about five minutes sitting in the chair right in front of me just gabbing away with the people next to him). He demanded that everyone who had a question also present him with a song prompt from the 70s or 80s that he would then perform. Loudly. Enthusiastically. Often surprisingly on key. He's a born entertainer and has the energy of about fifteen other people. I've... actually forgotten most of the questions he was asked, possibly because I was too mesmerised by his howling dervish performance and his bordering-on-indecent recounting of how he took his first shower after his head was shaved for Lex and how sexy the water felt on his bald head and how he wondered if he should shave everything else as well. Yeah. He did have some absolutely lovely things to say about how close he grew with Tom Welling and how they were basically two giggling prankster schoolboys on set. I may have to revisit some of that fic.

Matthew Lewis, supreme class act No. 2
I had a photo op lined up with Matthew Lewis later in the afternoon, but it was at this point that I found out Dan Feuerriegel was going to do a Q&A after all and they were going to overlap. There was no way in the world I was going to miss even part of Dan's panel, so sadly I had to throw over the photo op with Matthew. (The tokens were non-refundable, so I kept mine - one day when I'm famous and casually having lunch with Matthew Lewis over some potential casting of his in some award-winning novel of mine, I will bring it out and tell him he owes me a photo).
Anyway, nothing was stopping me from attending Matthew's Q&A, which was held in the hugest of the huge panel theatres and was absolutely bursting at the seams. It's like Neville Longbottom is popular or something!
Matthew was absolutely lovely, but unfortunately this was one of the sessions that had some shitty questions, like some idiot chick asking him if he's read any HP fanfic (NOOOOOOO! CON RULE NO. 1, DON'T ASK THE ACTORS ABOUT FANFIC!!!), and someone else asking him how he's dealt with growing from such an ugly kid into a hottie. (Uhmmmm...) He handled all the questions with much class and wry humour, but I felt a bit bad for him. Like Summer, it was clear that this was just not the most comfortable setting for him. He's super-funny and charming and genuinely humble though, and was such a pleasure to listen to. He shared a few amusing anecdotes about how Rupert Grint will spend an entire day ruining a take because he cannot contain his giggles, and how Trevor the toad was a complete nuisance who spent all his time either trying to jump into Matthew's face or peeing all over him. There was much fond talk about his castmates and how they still get together whenever they can. Someone asked what his patronus would be and he made this hilariously thoughtful face and then said, "A sloth? Something that doesn't move very much." Then later on, someone else asked what he thought he'd be now if he wasn't an actor and he was like, "Homeless? You do remember the sloth thing, yeah?" and then went on to explain how if you've started acting at age five and it's all you know how to do, there isn't really anything else he can imagine being. When asked about whether he'd get involved in another huge franchise like HP, he said "probably not" because he's enjoying not knowing what will happen next for a change. There was heaps more, but I'm having trouble remembering. Basically he was just a treat to listen to.

Dan Feuerriegel's Mindbogglingly Intimate Q&A, Absolute Con Winner
I had an hour between the end of Matthew's Q&A and the start of Dan's, so I basically just took a break, caught up online (on the not-at-all sinister LexCorp wifi!) and tried to plot where I might sit to increase my chances of getting picked for a question. It was pretty clear by then that all the big-name guests' panels were pretty packed and your chances of getting a question in were pretty slim. So picture my surprise when I went to join the queue for Dan's panel theatre (not the largest, but certainly one of the bigger ones) and found about five other people waiting. We immediately bonded in outrage over some of the dumb dumb questions Matthew and Summer had got asked, so I felt in good company. But then the doors opened and we were still only about 20 people, including con volunteers who sat in! It was unbelievable. I mean, he was scheduled very last minute, and by this point it was close to the end of the con, so a lot of people had probably already left or were about to. Still: TWENTY PEOPLE. AND DAN. YES.

So the upshot of that was that we all got to sit in the VIP area in the very front, about 2 metres away from a very sunnily beaming Dan, and rather than a formal Q&A, we basically just got to casually chat with him for an hour. YES. There was a host, but by then we all basically knew the drill and it all just became very relaxed and chilled and friendly - no one asked a single stupid question, Dan didn't seem to mind in the slightest that there weren't more people, and everytime you asked a question, he would just mostly exclusively talk to you while answering it, grinning and gesturing and all. And because that isn't quite mindboggling enough, about halfway through he decided that 2 metres was still too far away, so he toed off his jandals, ambled down off the stage, and spent the rest of the hour on the floor with us, wandering back and forth all barefoot and smiley, and talking to us at arm's length. I am honestly kind of surprised that we didn't all forget how to think of any questions at all, but on the other hand, I was/am incredibly pleased with our small bunch who asked smart/funny questions, made him laugh and totally rocked this completely unexpected treat of an intimate gathering. I felt incredibly awkward about the autograph setting, but this felt so natural: just a small bunch of people and one dude talking about stuff he'd done that we loved and that he enjoyed talking about. It was in every way awesome.

Right, details! It's all blurring together but I'll try! I think someone started off with some generic question about the training on Spartacus, so he spent a while talking about gladiator boot camp and how incredibly demanding it all was. He confirmed that Agron's been his most intense role to date and that he doesn't think he'll ever be as fit again (uhm, having seen those shoulders and felt those arms, I call bullshit, lol). He then spent a while talking about life in LA and how different it is from Australia; doing the audition runs and trying for every single thing under the sun no matter whether you think you want it or not. OH GOD, SO. He auditioned for 50 Shades of Grey and one day got a text that he was on the short list! LOL OH GOD. He quickly went on to say that's as far as it went and he didn't think that short list was actually very short, but he was clearly very amused by it all. He said if he'd got it ("it" being the male lead, obvs), he'd have done it, but when asked admitted he had not read the books (whew) or seen the film and had no idea how he'd have played it.

After that, we went on to Spartacus and more familiar ground. I wanted to know whether he'd ever expected Agron to survive as long as he did and at what point he found out he was going to live, so he went into season 1 for a bit and talked about that time when Steven & Co. weren't sure whether to kill off Agron or Duro (eeeeeek). Then he went into how as they filmed season 3, Steven started talking about how he really wanted one character from the house of Batiatus to make it all the way to the end, but for a long time he wasn't sure whether that was maybe going to be Naevia, but then it became clear that when Crixus went, she'd have to go with him, so it became Agron in the end and then there was Steven's whole thing about wanting one couple to make it out, so it became Agron and Nasir. He said he found out he was going to live about midway through shooting season 3.

Then there was other Sparty stuff - someone asked about injuries, and he told us he got semi-seriously injured three times: (damn, I forgot the first one, possibly foot-related? or shoulder?), anyway, once he tore his quad (ow) and once he got kicked in the face during one of the snowbound shoots, actually blacked out for a few seconds, and woke up with that massive black eye that's on screen during/after the crucifixion (OW). When asked about stunt work, he said they did their own whenever they could, and the only thing he consistently had a stunt double for was things like getting slammed into walls, because he's medically not allowed to do that because of his pacemaker. I asked about the crucifixion shoot, and he said it was actually awesome good fun because Todd is a total prankster and they were just arsing off in between takes and playing around with the giant spikes. LOL BOYS.

At some point we veered away from Sparty for a while and talked about his bit part in Agents of Shield (more appearances coming, apparently) and his first ever acting work, which was... a KFC ad? Trololol. Also Hollywood apparently keeps telling him to muscle down and lose weight. Stupid Hollywood. Someone asked what kind of roles he'd like to play in the future and he said something completely different, like a disillusioned cop or Heath Ledger's Joker or something dark and grim like Brad Pitt's role in Seven (I'd watch that!).

Back to Spartacus, someone asked whether there'd ever been a moment where he read a script and was like "I can't believe this is happening!" and he said, yep, when he read the bit about Tiberius raping Caesar (there was much emphatic nodding at that, lol!). There was some talk about the explicitness and violence on the show, so I then asked about the language and how addictive it is and whether he'd ever caught himself using it in real life (ok, full disclosure, I mostly asked that so I could say "Jupiter's cock" to him as an example :p It was all worth it because it made him laugh!). He said he's definitely said "Gratitude" and "apologies" a lot, but not so much the cussing, since as an Aussie, he already cusses a lot anyway. He mentioned the Jupiter's cock drinking game, at which point I felt compelled for some insane reason to tell him that [info]lilithilien and I had done that for our latest rewatch but also drank for heaps of other stuff like "the mines! Ashur ruins things!", "orgy/goats", etc etc. He laughed and said we must've got so drunk. (YEP!) He did say he'd often catch himself taking on Agron mannerisms and poses, especially standing there broad-legged and glowering - at which point our lovely darling host asked for a demonstration so the host did a (somewhat poor/hilarious) Spartacus pose while Dan stood next to him all Agron-style. It was pretty awesome :D He also talked some about how much fun he'd had with playing angry/broken Agron as of season 2 and just being super-pissy a lot of the time.

Someone then wanted to know whether he'd taken any props/mementos from the set - he said he really wanted the shield but apparently it got auctioned off for like $12,000! He took some vambraces and Agron's necklace (that he then lost, oh noes!) but generally didn't keep much because they were pretty swift with the destroying or selling of the props. Apparently in his downtime he likes to go for retail therapy and buy things like ridiculously expensive leather jackets that he then also loses. lol. He got asked about the costumes and said he hated whichever one it was that involved continuous straps/chainmail from the jockstrap thing (I need a rewatch, for science) because it involved fully undressing every time he went to the toilet, so he'd have to tell the wardrobe mistress he needed to go number two and she would then pass on the news to the whole team that Agron was out for 10 minutes because he needed to go number two! Awkward.

Someone wanted to know what character he'd like to cosplay and he said the shark from Jaws (heeeh) and then later someone else wanted to know what sigil he'd choose for Agron and he ended up picking a shark as well. (HEEEEH). He was also asked who his favourite villain and his favourite hero on Spartacus were. He said his favourite villain is Ashur (and waxed fanboyish over Nick's performance for a bit, which was lovely) and his favourite hero is.... *hm, thoughtful grimace, sudden grin* AGRON! Fair enough :D Then there was some talk about his final day on set, which was the death shoot with Liam and how emotional it was. Waaah. At some point earlier he was also asked whether it was strange to build rapport with characters who had previously been played by different actors (Naevia and Spartacus) and he talked about how sure, it was a different dynamic but it all worked out great. He went briefly into what a rough time Liam had initially because some fans were just shitty and kept comparing him to Andy, which :(((((( So he went on a bit about how awesomely devoted Liam was to the role and how he just basically never stopped working out EVER. We all made cheering Liam noises because HONESTLY.

I... think that was mostly it? I mean, I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but you can't strictly blame me. He was ONE ARM'S LENGTH AWAY FROM ME. SMILING. AND BAREFOOT. It's a wonder my brain didn't just melt entirely. The host wrapped up and Dan thanked us very sincerely for making it such an awesome panel for him and then he SMILED some more and threw us all kisses and basically they can now cancel all cons forever because nothing this awesome will ever happen again.

So that was that. I floated out of the convention centre with my feet not even touching the ground, and then Brisbane decided to treat me with a phenomenal summer thunderstorm and everything was lights and lightning against bright purple nightly clouds and warm warm gushing rain and glittering river and city lights and everything was honestly so perfect it was surreal. I somehow made it through the night and an entire day of tedious travel and now I've been back home for almost a week and voila!

On a personal note, this was my first "proper" con - the GOOL event was a very different beast, since it was much smaller and I was 1) one of the organisers and 2) friends with the actors, so things didn't seem quite so overwhelming. I was still a nervous wreck for that, but at least I had a purpose for it? Attending a large convention like Supanova as "just" a fan was a very different experience and my social anxiety took full advantage of the opportunity to come out and run riot. Don't get me wrong, it was so much fun and I am very glad I went, but it's not something I'd do on my own again. It does get overwhelming and it's not ideal if - like me - you're not the kind of person who immediately makes friends. Up until Sunday, it was honestly kind of a mixed bag - yes, awesome things happened, but also I felt out of place and weird by myself - but Sunday definitely without question tipped it over into "awesome experience." I'm not sure what this means in terms of my desire to go to Spartacon next year - we'll see. For now, I'm very happy I stepped out of my comfort zone to do this. INSANITY SPARKLECAKES!



February 2018



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