Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fireworks - Green, Pt I

"There's no regret more painful than the regret of things that never were."
-  The Book of Disquiet, Fernando Pessoa

One of the hardest parts of adulthood is deciding what takes priority.  What are the once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing events and experiences?  How do we invest our time and money in those and not waste it on the other stuff?  And what about when two life-changing experiences compete?  These are the hardest decisions of my life.

And one of them presented itself earlier this year.  I wrestled with this for months.  Many of you watched me hop from one side of the fence to the other.  There were days when I thought "I totally have to do this.  There is no way I could miss this opportunity."  And then days when I thought, "Samara, that PTO and column for your budget would be better spent ______ or ______ or ______."  And it's true - there are some downright unbelievably cool opportunities around the corner to be saving for.  Still, I visited their registration page a dozen times (no joke).  I was almost hoping to come to it one day and find it sold out - then I'd have an "Oh, well - I tried" excuse...but really just because then someone else would have made the decision for me :P

But then, 2 weeks before LeakyCon in Portland, when I had finally resigned myself to missing it, they opened up the "Day Pass" option.  And I finally jumped on this "best of both worlds" scenario.

Just as a brief intro, LeakyCon started as a Harry-Potter-centric convention, but has opened itself to embrace a lot of different fandoms, including-but-not-limited-to: Doctor Who, The Hunger Games, Nerdfighters, Glee, and most recently, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  Being that Hank Green & a large portion of the cast & crew would be there... I knew I had to go.  And I'm so glad I did.  One week ago I was considering panels on "Greek Myth in Harry Potter" or "Naming in the Hunger Games" or (one of my favorites) "Fandom as Ekklesia."  I spent the day among other cosplayers, watching quidditch matches, singing along to Beauty & the Beast songs with a few hundred other people as they played over the loud speaker.  I adjusted to being called "Darcy" for the day.  I attend my first Wizard Rock concert (ha!).  And best of all, listened to and met some creatives I've been following for over a year.

So here's a rundown of my spectacularly nerdy day :)

[Get your Darcy on!!]
So, cosplay-wise, I went with Jane!Darcy - cutesy dress, (red!) milkmaid braids, bow-tie, and newsie-cap.  So. much. fun!

First part of the day was the most nerve-wracking: a lottery drawing for the LBD autograph session that afternoon.  The deal was, you join this humongous line, file into the exhibition hall, sort yourself into the session you want (Starkid, HP Actors, LBD, you get my drift), and then draw from a bag.  You draw a red ticket - you're in.  White ticket - you're out.  [But, if you draw a white one, you can go back to the beginning of the sorted line rather than the humongo line.] 

So first time through..... fingers crossed.  Kinda jittery actually.  I don't hide my fangirl well [some of you are thinking... no really?].  Snake through the line.  Make small talk with the other (ok, yah, pretty much all) girls in that line.  Get to the bag........pull a white ticket.  Drat!
Back to the end with a few others.  Repeat snaking process.  I overhear people in the line "Yah, I've never watched these, but..."  Traitors!  JK.  Kind of.  Draw again...white again. 
"Once more unto the breach..." ok, not that bad.  But here I was wishing and hoping.  More small talk with the same two girls as the last time. Noting my costume, I have some people offering me a red ticket if they get one, "I'm just here for my friend."  I must look desperate.  Well, darn it... I am desperate.  I watch as those ones who offered their ticket one-by-one draw white tickets.  The girls in front of me pull red.  Cheers!  I reach in for my third draw.  I feel around.  "This is it," I think.  "There aren't enough tickets for me to draw a fourth time."  My fingers fix on one.  I pull it out...........

Whew!  I'm going to meet them.  I'll get they're signatures.  I'll get to thank them in person.

Next I go that "Fandom as Ekklesia" discussion.  It was fascinating.  A big theme of the convention, actually, was, "Okay, we're a unified group.  We identify with such-and-such fandom.  We have a community.  Now, what can we do with that?"  And there are some great groups!  Nerdfighters aim to "decrease world-suck" and so offer micro-loans to people in developing nations through Kiva [$400k last year alone].  The Harry Potter Alliance announces "We are Book 8" and encourages members of the fandom to apply the principals of the book to make our world better.  I was able to donate a bit last month to Myeloma UK as a fandom fundraiser/birthday present for Benedict Cumberbatch  [there's still 2 weeks, if you're interested].  Point is - Fandoms can obviously mobilize along common interests and beliefs.  But can we do more than pledge money?  Can we become a vibrant community that lives the message of the narratives we love and identify with?  

[Oh wait...isn't that what being a Christian is supposed to be about?  .............  That's a different blog post].  The reverand who led this discussion had some great observations and she made me view fandom as something more than just a hashtag or facebook page.  Really, really great.

But I digress.  

Next up:  Lizzie Bennet Diaries Writers' Panel.  This was one of the main reasons I came! 

[Jay Bushman - writer & transmedia director
Rachel Kiley - writer of Lydia arc and videos
Margaret Dunlap - writer and co-producer
Bernie Su - head writer, co-producer, director, hat wearer :]

Yes, that's a Mrs. Bennet hat in front of me :)  So, the writer's showed us a bonus feature from the upcoming DVD.  It was awesome.  Then they shared each of their timeline of involvement with the show.  Hank Green, executive producer, had come up with the idea, talked to Bernie about it during their 2nd ever conversation, Bernie contacted a few female writers (including Rachel and Margaret).  Meanwhile Jay had been trying to get a transmedia version of Pride and Prejudice out there for years.  He was told there was no audience for that (ha ha ha ha!).  They all met up and then the magic started! 

They fielded some great questions, including one from me :D  I just asked about how they approached the adaptation so that they weren't just using the story, but causing people to read, re-read, or at least re-examine that story.  Hank rephrased it as "marketing the story."  Jay took that question and answered by saying that a good adaptation will find that 1 piece of the story that has been taken for granted or just completely overlooked and frame their whole re-working around that part of it.  For this team, their chosen aspect was the girl's relationships as part of Lizzie becoming a modern woman.  Darcy is, obviously, a huge part of that.  But where the series stood out were with Lydia or Charlotte and Lizzie's reactions to them.  I took a lot of other great notes, but there are the hilights :)

Then we all headed over to the main hall where LBD took center stage:
[my attempts...iPhone just washed them all out :/ ]

[an actual camera's rendition :]
This was a wonderful panel as each talked about how LBD has changed their careers - MK choked up talking about what it meant to have a fan base that cares about what they're doing.  They also shared about what's up next for them - some exciting stuff!  And they fielded a few fun questions as well.

[via Ashley Clements' instagram... I'm out there somewhere.]

After lunch was the autograph signing.  While waiting in line for that [by the way, that's what you actually do at conventions - you may meet someone famous or hear them speak, but what you do at conventions is wait in lines], I met a new, good friend, Alexis:

[Alexis as the 10th Doctor]

[Alexis and I after the Wrock Concert that night]

I also met a girl named Sami who made these little plushies for the whole cast and Hank Green - so cute!  Later, the cast took all these pictures with their little fandolls.  It was so cool!  And, she's on Etsy - so if you ever find yourself in need of a fandoll, check her out.

[Cast of LBD, Sami, and the Fandolls]
She also had her friend Shayne draw this for the cast to sign.  Ah!  Love how creative fandoms are!!


Ok... are you ready for some cute pictures of the cast?  Yah, I thought so.  But guess what?  That's Part II.  Stay tuned!!


  1. Oh Samara! So so fun! Well done capturing key moments and thoughts throughout the trip. Can't wait to hear more.
    I'm not sure why, but "fandom" still strikes a cautious nerve in me. I think community is wonderful and can cause so much good, but I hope our generation doesn't get so stuck in the wonders of fiction that they can't get out or move on. Truth should lead to action - and stories have such a way of weaving in truth that is palpable. But I can see so many who seem to stop at the story or shut out others based on what they do or do not love.
    These are just a few musings of mine :)
    I'm SO glad you went to experience you can tell us about it!!

  2. Love love LOVE reading about this! Thank you for the post ;)