Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Supanova Perth 2014 Review - Day 1

This weekend Supanova hit Perth with force and convention goers came out in droves despite the bad weather. There was plenty of cosplay, plenty to spend your money on and plenty of fun. Your Fruitless Pursuits Perth crew were there to check it out and report some of the highlights!

Follow me under the cut for a re-cap of Day 1 including Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica, Hornblower, Law and Order UK), John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Torchwood, Arrow) and Katie Cassidy (Supernatural, Arrow).

Saturday morning was lovely looking considering how bleak and rainy it eventually got and there were tonnes of people already lined up when I arrived a little after 9am for the days excitement. This year, Supanova has moved from the Claremont Showgrounds to the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and I have to say, it made a big difference. If you made it to the convention early there were actually admission lines to make sure people had been scanned and their wristbands were on before lining up for entry. Anyone who has been stuck outside for hours to get in in the past knows why this seems like a huge deal! We were then shown to gate 6 where we could pre-buy autograph and photograph tokens and hop straight into a line for an autograph etc. instead of waiting in the big general admission line which is a big bonus for those of us with long wait times ahead.


I collected a few tokens and headed straight into John Barrowman’s autograph line while I was fresh and ready to wait. I have been waiting a very long time to see John Barrowman in the flesh and as I was standing there with many excited people buzzing around me I started to get very excited myself. John wasn’t due to start signing until 11.05am but came out early to start his line before his first photo session of the day. For those of us stuck waiting he had provided a large bucket of candy to thank us for our patience and generally be a nice bloke.

Meeting John for an autograph was a bit of a blur. He was very kind and very approachable and generally made everyone feel appreciated for his or her support.

I slipped quickly into Jamie Bamber’s line after, hoping to catch him before his panel and get my autographs out of the way. Jamie was a complete sweetheart and gave every single one of the people who came up for an autograph some genuine attention and conversation. He very quickly asked me how my day was going and wanted to know what I did and what I was interested in. We talked a little about his latest show The Smoke and about how much fun that was to film as well as working with real firemen. I got the sense that you could go out for a beer with him and talk all day long about anything.

I actually really enjoyed Jamie’s panel even though I have heard people say it was a little too serious. I felt like all of the questions were really good and he gave some very interesting answers. He talked about his time on Hornblower with such fondness and also shared some stories about what a unique experience it was to film out at sea. It seems there were a lot of benefits to the authenticity but some drawbacks in terms of costs and toll on cast and crew.

He spoke about the plan that Ronald Moore enacted for Battlestar Galactica’s ultimate story and offered new perspective. I’ve read a lot about what the ‘plan’ may or may not have been and I have certainly heard stories at conventions or online from other actors involved in the show. Jamie mentioned that although Ronald would have liked the final season’s story to be in two seasons, when the studio could not commit, he decided to finish it in one. This is interesting because I have always felt like Battlestar should have been a five-season show. He also noted that while they were filming the writer’s strike in Vancouver happened and they didn’t know if they were coming back which lead to the mid-season finale that would have served as an appropriate season finale if they did not return. Thinking about Battlestar ending on that episode certainly changes a lot of things. He also commented on the controversy surrounding the ending of the series and said that he actually thought it was the perfect ending from his perspective.

It turns out that Jamie is a linguist which I was very interested to hear and loves the nuances between different accents, languages and slangs. He spoke a little about that and about his own work with accents in shows over the years. Surprisingly, he commented that his accent in Law and Order UK is not his own as his accent it too posh for the character. I think being able to distinguish those nuances and add those layers to something like acting would be incredibly rewarding and it’s certainly interesting to hear about.

Jamie also talked about his prosthetic work, Australia and told stories from the set of Battlestar and Hornblower in particular including how they trained for various scenes and what the cast and crew got up to in their downtime. I love that James Callus’ children were best friends with Jamie’s and that there was a lot of bonding and family building going on.

Following Jamie’s panel I had a photo op with him during which he was incredibly lovely and happy to see me. He made a real effort to remember people’s names or what they had talked to him about before and have a familiar and happy chat to them. I’m so sad that more people didn’t go and see him and that we all actually had such limited time with him because he was excellent.

After Jamie’s photo we headed onto the showroom floor to attempt navigating the crowds and checking out the stalls. I have to say, this year I was completely taken with Artists Alley (so to speak). The wealth of local and national (as well as international) talent was amazing. There were so many awesome prints, original artworks and prosthetic creations intermingled with scrap metal works of beauty, steampunk jewellery and fandom scarves, hair bows and other things. I tried to restrict myself as much as possible but it wasn’t easy. Picked up some great hair bows for myself and for gifts ranging from the Avengers and Frozen through to Star Wars and Adventure Time.

There was a fantastic little stall with art screen printed onto old book pages and I wanted to buy everything. I ended up with an A4 Anna and Elsa from Frozen which I am incredibly happy with.

I also organised commissions from a wonderful lady doing watercolour drawings and from Lauren Marshall from TheMarshallArts. More on those in the Day 2 post which is when I received them!

Checked out one of my favourites; Bruce Loves You and Ellie is a Monster and picked up some new posters even though I was tempted by everything as usual.

There was a very very very long line for John Barrowman’s panel that we hitched ourselves to as it was moving into the auditorium and we were in the standing room only section. The place was jam-packed and people were squeezing in anywhere they could to get a glimpse of the man.

I once heard someone say that John Barrowman is the answer to our energy problems; by himself he could power a town and if we could replicate him perhaps the world. This certainly seems to be the case when you see the man perform in person. He didn’t seem jetlagged or remotely tired or sick of smiling for cameras and talking to strangers. He seemed completely at home, genuine and comfortable and how can you watch someone like that and not feel relaxed and comfortable yourself? Well, perhaps the constant innuendo was perplexing for some, but most people seemed to embrace it and let go.

John talked a lot about his music and his time on Doctor Who, which is what a lot of people wanted to hear about. Interestingly though, a lot of people wanted to know a lot about Arrow, the new show that he is signed to. I haven’t seen Arrow yet myself, I have been putting it off based on some poor reviews by people I know. I think after this convention I am convinced to give it a try and see how I like it.

One lucky young man was called onstage to sing some of The Phantom of the Opera with John after asking a question requesting the song. John did a great job of singing on demand, but when the young man sang himself he set the crowd wild! He was awesome! And John was hysterically ‘put-out’ by him. What a special memory for that guy.

One person told John how great and important it was that John was such a role model for those people who were discovering their sexuality. This was really interesting and touching to watch as it means so much to so many people that someone can be in the spot light and confident about who they are and what that means. It’s something that John said he was very proud of and that he loved hearing about.

It is really wonderful how engaged John’s husband Scott is with the convention circuit and with the fans. He participates off stage when John is talking and I saw so many people call out to him and talk to him during the day and many people also got their photo ops with both John and Scott. Therefore, there was a lot of Scott banter in the panel including the revelation that they had packed up a slab of 80 packets of Tim-Tams to ship back to the UK. The doorman at their hotel thought it was some kind of art installation.

Prior to wanting to be an actor, John said the only other thing he thought he wanted to be was a jet pilot and then he realised he was gay and it was the men in uniform he was attracted to. In answering a 12 year old’s question he shared this and went on to offer a piece of great advice. If you have a dream or dreams and you work hard then sometimes those dreams will come true. Maybe not all of them but some of them. And as long as you are working towards a dream your life will be good and fulfilling, even if you never achieve that dream.

There wasn’t an un-excited voice in the room after his panel as everyone hurried outside and excitedly discussed what an excellent entertainer and genuine human being John Barrowman is.

The last panel I attended on Day 1 was Katie Cassidy’s and again I was intrigued by how many hard-core Arrow fans there are. Katie was lovely and gracious and had had a little too much Red Bull which was making for an interesting Q&A. She described what she likes about playing Laurel Lance on Arrow and her shift to being a ‘good girl’ for a change. She said that acting wise, based on what Laurel has been going through; she has been the most challenging character to play. She also showed off her new arm muscles as she has been training for season three and potentially a new facet of her role.

There were only a few questions about her time as Ruby on Supernatural and it was really nice to see that there were fans of her portrayal of that character in the room. She said she would have loved to have come back as that character but wasn’t asked. She said Jared and Jensen (the leads on Supernatural) were always playing practical jokes and putting her off. She also said that when she read for the role she added a lot of the sassiness that went on to be a major part of the character.

Interestingly, when she auditioned for the role of Laurel Lance she thought she hadn’t gotten the role when she had absolutely smashed it. It turned out that was the only show or role she wanted to go for and worked really hard at it so was crushed when she thought she’d lost out. The gentleman who walked out of her audition hadn’t done so because he hated it, it was because he’d seen enough and wanted her cast!

Katie also told a story about how awkward it is to do sex scenes and how she was really nervous for one she did on Arrow and her co-star Steve was pretending he was really calm about it. He ended of dropping her off the side of the bed and flipping over.

The final event of the day was a photo op with John Barrowman and the line was like something from a nightmare. We were in woven lines, crammed together with aching backs and too many bags. I was impressed with how many people had brought books to read and food into the lines, not to mention tablets and docs on their smart phones. The line moved incredibly slowly and there were so many people it’s amazing that an altercation didn’t break out or the whole thing didn’t run dramatically overtime. The volunteers certainly did a great job of that with very limited space.

The photo itself turned out a treat. John is very physical and seemed to be gabbing everyone into a huge bear hug, which made for really nice photographs. Those who were dressed as the Doctor had the added bonus of Doctor-Companion photos which looked amazing. He had a big smile and handshake for everyone, which was incredible given how many photos he had taken and how many people he had hugged in that day. I have a lot of respect for people who are that enthusiastic about their jobs and their lives.

All up, Day 1 of Supanova Perth 2014 totally delivered on the glorious John Barrowman, the lovely Jamie Bamber and the bubbly-fun Katie Cassidy. It was also better organised than previously and hopefully will only improve.

Day 2 coming soon…

Don't forget to check out the Fruitless Pursuits photo gallery from the event!

1 comment:

  1. I've never had the chance to go to Supernova but I'm definitely intending to with the kids some time in the near future. I bet the kids would love draggign their costumes out from storage to go!