Sunday, November 21, 2010

“How one photo cost $160 and was it worth it?” or “Speedball at Creation Entertainment’s Salute to Firefly, Buffy/Angel & Dollhouse”

Eliza Dushku during her Q&A

This is the fourth year of Creation’s Salute to Firefly and they opened it up to all of Joss Whedon’s creations this year and from now on. Which is okay with me – I’m a fan of everything this convention salutes. It’s my third year attending (I missed it last year). It’s also the first year I didn’t submit a tribute video (you can see my Firefly and Serenity Tributes (both winning videos) on youtube if you search for ‘speedball32’). I wanted to include clips from Dollhouse Season 2 which didn’t come out for sale until after the video’s deadline. Still, there’s next year.

So who was there? Eliza Dushku (Buffy/Angel, Dollhouse), Nicholas Brendon (Buffy), Miracle Laurie (Dollhouse), Camden Toy and Doug Jones (two of the Gentlemen from Buffy episode Hush), Ron Glass (Firefly/Serenity), Sean Maher (Firefly/Serenity), Morena Baccarin (Firefly/Serenity), Jane Espenson (Firefly, Buffy), Drew Greenberg (Buffy, Firefly), and Andrew Chambless (Dollhouse).

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still my favorite TV series and Eliza Dushku’s “Faith” is still one of my favorite characters (the episode of Angel “Five by Five” is my favorite Faith appearance). Nicholas Brendon’s “Xander” was in every episode but one. The show had four core characters and Xander was one of them. Miracle Laurie was a nice last minute surprise, her character “Mellie’s” story was a great ride with a tragic ending. Ron Glass, Sean Maher, and Morena Baccarin were a third of Serenity’s crew in the Firefly series and Serenity film. There was even an appearance by Eliza Dushku’s boyfriend, Rick Fox (who only a week before had been eliminated from Dancing With The Stars) who sat in the audience and was close by during her photo sessions.

“Browncoats: Redemption” was shown on the big screen at the convention and got a nice reaction from those who watched it. The movie literally kicked off the convention as it was the first thing people were able to see. It was followed by a Q&A by a few of the cast and crew who told amazing stories about the production of the film and how much love went into it (it was obvious to me in the review I wrote of the film back in September that a lot of love went into it). It was easily one of the best moments of the convention and a lot more fun to see with an audience.

The guests were great on their Q&A’s. They were all really entertaining. Creation boasts non-rushed autograph sessions and each autograph session moved nicely and I had time to have a little small talk with each guest which is always fun. Photo sessions are non-rushed also. The events (Q&A’s, photo and autograph sessions) are always well scheduled so you can do everything you want to do.

I attend Comic Con in San Diego every year and, in comparison, I look more forward to going to the Creation convention. At Comic Con, everything you want to do is a fight – huge lines, ultra-small windows of opportunity to get a line ticket or even get in line, nothing is guaranteed (just because you’re in an autograph line doesn’t mean it can’t be disbanded for some reason and just because you have an autograph ticket doesn’t mean the line hasn’t been capped already and you can’t get in anymore). But a lot of the cool stuff at Comic Con is free if you don’t mind the amount of work involved. Creation conventions are ‘pay-to-play’ conventions where everything costs money but everything is guaranteed. You buy a ticket for an autograph or a photo, the celebrity will not leave until everyone’s items are signed or their pictures are taken.

This year I went Preferred instead of Gold (I’ve only done Gold once). The difference is the cool dessert parties and things that the gold members get to do where the celebrities go from table to table for a meet and greet with the fans. Next year, I’m going Gold because I had a great time (as usual) and after a year off I forgot about all the fun I had with my Gold ticket that second year. And I’m going to buy a VIP badge so I can get backstage and have even more contact with the celebrities I’m there to see.

So what’s the story with the photo? It’s a cautionary tale about a guy (me) who bought a bunch of autograph tickets and one $70 ticket for an Eliza Dushku & Nicholas Brendon photo op. I got the ticket because I counted them at the counter and put them in the plastic badge holder around my neck. I went outside for a few minutes and took the tickets back out and looked at them, excited about getting my autographs and photo ops. But my photo op ticket was gone. I checked my pockets, the folder I was carrying, and the badge holder a bunch of times but the ticket was gone. I checked back a few times with the ticket and registration desks but no one had turned the ticket in. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get my picture taken with two of the stars from my favorite TV show so I plunked down another $70 for another ticket.

While I was in line for the photo op, they announced that Miracle Laurie from Dollhouse would be a surprise third member for the photo op. I was thrilled because there was one star from Buffy, one from Dollhouse, and one from both shows. When it was my turn they greeted me warmly, we all shook hands, and Nicholas and I had a little banter going back and forth. The photo was taken, they told me to take care, and I left with a big goofy grin. It was a great time.

The next day I went to collect the photo (it was the last photo op of the day so the photos weren’t printed before the convention closed that day) and I paid an extra $10 to have them give me a jpeg of the photo on a CD. If you’re counting, so far I paid $140 for two tickets and $10 for a grand total of $150. A few days after the convention, I loaded the CD and discovered it was the wrong photo. So I had to shell out another $10 to order the jpeg online.

It was an expensive but valuable lesson. DON’T LOSE YOUR TICKETS. Oh yeah, and make sure your picture is on the CD before you walk away. Otherwise you can end up paying twice. I hope whoever found that ticket had as good a time as I did. It was completely worth every penny.

Nicholas, Miracle, Speedball, and Eliza - woohoo!!