I just got home from a long day's filming at Dragonmeet, the annual convention in Kensington, London. I'd originally planned to stay up there the weekend, but a nasty bug persuaded me to get home tonight and find my own bed!
Great day. I think it's my favourite convention - it's small, personable, and friendly (although when I say small, it's not teeny tiny - I managed to completely fail to see Rob Heinsoo even from a distance all day!)
We got loads of great interviews. We started by working our way through the artists area and talking to each of them about the issues inherent in working for 'exposure', and followed it up by asking a couple of publishers and art directors the same thing. We should have a nice little featurette on that soon.
Other great interviews included (but are not limited to) Simon Rogers of Pelgrane Press and Dominic McDowall-Thomas of Cubicle 7 (both as warm and charming as ever), a quickie with Robin D Laws just as the convention closed, an epic hour-long interview with Lone Wolf
creator Joe Dever (who was an absolute pleasure, and very open), plus a range of British creators.
We also got a range of short little vignettes - best GM tips, worst GM tips, best product of 2013, "nazi, shark, or nazi shark?", and more, some of which merely bemused our patient and understanding victims and others of which elicited giggles and merriment.
As usual, these things end far too soon - but given how poorly I was feeling today, that may have been for the best!
Incidentally, a couple of our victi... interviewees have Kickstarters which end in the next few days. Please take a second to check these out before it's too late:
- Black Box Games' Lords of War Kickstarter ends on Saturday, December 14th. This is for the Templars vs. Undead expansion to their card game and is just under its funding goal.
- Cubicle 7's Cthulhu Britannica: London Call of Cthulhu RPG boxed set is an utterly gorgeous-looking deluxe set which ends on Thursday, December 12th. They're funded now, and the stretch goals make this deal even better (plus some of it is Kickstarter exclusive).
Each time we cover a convention, I think we get a little bit better at it. The interviewing gets better, our equipment gets better, just little things like scheduling, arranging the environment, all this stuff improves each time. The downside is that we can never cover even half of what we want to. At Dragonmeet, for example, we had to make the decision not to cover any of the panels or the gaming rooms, and even then - limiting it to just the trade hall - we missed some great folks. Gen Con was similar - obviously we had to cover the ENnies, but there was about 95% of Gen Con we never even saw. I think that's what we have to work on next - how to get better coverage of more stuff, even if it's just a little bit of lots of things.
One thing we have learned over the last few conventions we covered - folks don't like to watch interviews where publishers just tell them about the stuff they have to sell. That's why this year we had a little suite of 10 "silly" questions so we could mix in some entertainment with the infodump. That's a tough challenge, but it's one we'll continue working on. I'm glad everyone we spoke to played along well with those questions, and that they elicited some laughs. Trust me, that was very toned down form some of the ideas we had (and Darren Badfinger Morrissey bought a goblin mask and fake claws for one particular approach that we didn't use... yet). It's a balance between dry information (even when it's about awesome products) and silly entertainment. Expect more of that in the future.
I also hope that my interview style is approachable - I try to keep it relaxed, friendly, and conversational, and hopefully fun for the interviewees. I'm glad that folks are less nervous about appearing than they were just a year ago!
The other thing we're trying is making sure we have a "topic" each time. In June it was sexism. Yesterday it was artists working for exposure. That means we can make a little featurette about something we feel is important each time.
Next up is probably UKGE in June. Honestly, I could do this every weekend; I get a real buzz out of what we do at conventions. UKGE is a bit more of a challenge because the hotel is quite hot on moving you on if you're filming in a public area other than the actual convention halls, and those halls don't have a cool little balcony like Dragonmeet has. So it's a much more difficult environment to cover well (I mean, we *can* cover it - it's easy to wander round and point cameras at people with microphones - but we're trying to up the game here and make really professional stuff).
Anyhow. Dragonmeet was awesome. Can't wait for next year. I think next year we need to get in at the same time as the traders - we lost nearly two hours setting up, and didn't start filming in earnest until midday. We also need to figure out a better way to transport our gear, as those walks up and down Kensington High Street with heavy equipment weren't ideal. But that's all just easily solved logistics, I'm sure.
Woohoo! Videos coming soon. Dragonmeet next year, UKGE in June!
Thanks to Cat Tobin (for organizing stuff, and who said some really kind things about our Season of Sexism earlier in the year and how that influenced Dragonmeet's harassment policy this year), Simon Rogers, Robin D. Laws, Dominic McDowall, Jon Hodgson, Sarah Newton, Joe Dever, Black Box Games, Angus Abranson (who managed to avoid the camera all day, but sent a couple of great interviews our way), all the artists who participated in our art featurette, and everyone else who we interviewed. It was a blast, and it's always a pleasure meeting you all!
I also want to thank Simon Rogers and others for some *really* lovely things they said about EN World. It's so nice when someone takes a moment to say something nice about what you do. I think many people are in a situation where they don't get compliments often because everybody assumes everybody else is giving you them, and they want to be the one who doesn't; the result being that nobody ever says anything nice, and all you hear is negative stuff. So thanks, guys - that makes a difference, even if you don't know it! Though I did get pushed down some stairs by Ken Hite...