Once upon a time, there was a dream - called EYECON! And lo, I went, and the multitudes were tumultuous and stayed up way too late - but damn, did I have FUN! So, here we go, buckle up.
FRIDAY April 4th 2008, Orlando, FL
I woke up after two days without seeing the intarwebz to the shocking news that Jared would not be able to make it on Saturday as planned. Actually, the first thing I saw was online references to "the news about Jared," and I kid you not, my heart about stopped. I was actually relieved to learn he’d just had to reschedule due to shooting demands on the SPN set, but a lot of people are upset, as they’ve put down some serious cash for various considerations contingent on Jared’s appearances here.
I was VERY disappointed. I know intellectually my odds of personal contact other than autographs or photo ops are nil, but the fan girl in me had wistfully hoped to steal a few precious seconds with him at the Platinum Party or something I do know the mad schedule he must be keeping to go from the set to the LA con, back to the set, then here and back to the set again with seemingly no break, so I’m grateful he didn’t just cancel. It’s a real shame, but an unavoidable circumstance, and one can only hope Kenny et al will make it right for those people.
But on to happy things! I arrived in Florida Wednesday afternoon and spent a lovely couple days with my dear friend, Christy, and her family near Tampa. It was a treat to have a "native guide", as we avoided the crowds and just did fun stuff like visiting to Tarpon Springs, "Sponge Capital of the World", which is tiny, quaint, touristy, and very, very Greek. Saw a demonstration of sponge diving as done circa 1940’s, with the heavy dive suit and iron helmet, and roamed the shops and narrow streets. That afternoon we went out to the beach at Fred Howard park, where we just hung out, watched the kids play, soaked up the sun and went beach combing. Greek food for dinner that night, and I was a happy cowboy hobbit. Absolutely the nicest way to ease into a holiday so far from home. :-)
Friday morning - time for the fun to begin! Christy packed me into the car and off we went, only having to go back for the driving direction. ;-) After an inexplicable traffic jam not 8 miles from the convention center, she let me off at the Florida Hotel, a towering edifice in the middle of a foreign country, for me, and I was on my own. Honestly? I thought seriously about panicking when I found myself checked in and standing in the cathedral-esque lobby entirely alone and knowing nobody. Someone began texting me and I wasn’t even sure who! Turned out to be Nora, to whom I promised my extra copy of the SPN Ghosts & Ghoulies book. Thank God for that brief contact, and by the time I got up to register for the con, I’d found my taxi partner, hmrpotterfan (Hanako), and her cute and bubbly friend, Lisa.
After that, it becomes a blur to me. I was signed in, chatted up, dazed and confused, but ready for the fun to begin! I went to the just-opened vendor’s room with hmrpotterfan to peruse the treasures - restrained myself but just barely and bought two SPN key chains, one Dean and one Sam. That somehow went a long way to easing my crowd-jitters. I also finally spotted Kenny, the founder of the feast - a wiry little guy with the energy levels of ten normal people, who greeted me with a hug. I ran into Voni later on at the cocktail party, a gorgeous, willowy lady with the smile of a small sun.
My pals Silli/Hearseeno and Kim arrived @ 6:30, just about the time things really began gearing into organized chaos, with the Meet & Greet and screening of Ten Inch Hero both running late and people milling about hither and yon. Yet somehow it muddled into happening, and Silli and I found our seats.
First came the stars, just a quick introduction of the crazed fans to our objects of adoration - sans Jared, of course, though I’m not sure he was scheduled to be in that early, anyhow. Chad, Sandy, Samantha, Gabe all were greeted to a hurricane of cheers, but we seemed to reserve our special hysteria for Jim Beaver. He greeted the sheer decibel level of screams with a look of amazement, then brought the house down with the classically wry Bobby-comment: "Hello, ya idjits." If we didn’t love that man already … lol! "You’re going to embarrass me, aren’t you", he said, to which I called back, "Of course we are!" and he replied with a grin, "Do your best!"
Then it was on to Ten Inch Hero. The producer and director got up to introduce the piece, breaking the ice with, "I prepared a few lines … and now that I’ve snorted them…" LOL! There were some problems it seemed with the sound up too loud, but I found myself falling into the story and forgot to notice it. I personally found TIH to be adorable, quirky, moving, unexpected, silly, sobering, warm and witty and yes, it trod into a bit of indy-film darkness but in a way that felt indelibly real and just plain worked. The story is very character-driven with strongly developed characters, all of whom grown and change in interesting ways by the end of the film.
Afterwards, the producer and director got up for their Q&A, and the passion they have for their film was clearly evident in their enthusiasm to tell all. The only thing they asked was that please, fans who may have recorded any of the movie would delete that recording. They really, really do not want any clips released other than through their control, and they’re relying on our honor to oblige them. I noticed several people immediately going to their cameras, then.
So, some details of the Q&A. Yes, the nude wedding scene was actually shot nude. The two actors wore only a nude colored thong (for the woman ) and a sock thingie for the man. The two horses were not trained Hollywood steeds but rather what they could afford, and evidently had no affinity for just standing quietly together, lol. Jensen’s character, Priestly’s shirts were almost characters in themselves, each designed for the script by the props dept. The guys said it was perfectly okay for us fans to make our own replicas of Priestly’s shirts and put TIH on it as advertising, just … again on our honor, please don’t SELL those shirts for profit.
They lauded Jensen’s professionalism on set, and spoke of how there wardrobe budget became strained by one designer’s penchant for shoes, and they cut off the clothes buying but Jensen found the kilt in a thrift store and wanted it for Priestly. It was $75 … but they relented and it ended up working awesomely. Jensen picked the story-day for Priestly to wear the kilt, and it was pure coincidence that the first scene led into the later scene of Priestly on the same story-day going to the convenience store to buy tampons for the girls … while wearing that kilt! Just a happy accident how that worked out.
The script they said remained largely as written, only a few changed/omissions. The first homeless guy on the screen was truly homeless. They told of finding three homeless guys where they were filming and trying to keep tabs on them until they picked one for that day of shooting. They broke the SAG rules for using only card-carrying members as actors, but they wanted that realism, not a cleaned-up Hollywood version of a homeless man. It worked.
They also told of Jensen’s enthusiasm for the role of Priestly way back in the beginning in early casting, and how he kept tabs even after landing Supernatural, wanting the part, wanting something not so pretty and with a little more bite. Jensen came back to them even after taking off with SPN to audition, rather than going the usual route of being an "offer only" actor. Plus they gave credit to the three female leads, how phenomenal and what troopers they were throughout. Again and again, their mantra was "Keep it Real".
Finally, they answered a question posed that I had wondered about, which was that Priestly’s transformation/clean-up at the end of the movie was not necessarily intended as permanent. Just it was a wedding and part of showing how the characters had all evolved, but nothing says the body piercings and wacky T-shirts didn’t return, per his usual "shock-jock" demeanor.
I really, REALLY enjoyed this movie. I could not predict where any of it was going, there were lots of great laughs, lots of subtlety when called for and overt cheese when it applied. It made me laugh, it made me cringe, it made me frightened at one point for Daneel’s character, because the "real" in this film clearly did not allow for a miraculous rescue from a situation into which the character’s promiscuity had led her. As a woman, I found the scene viscerally frightening, very real, and realistically played, in harsh real lighting that sugarcoated nothing.
As for Jensen … I adore this man’s acting more than ever. I could see bits of Dean which are probably bits of Jensen, but he gave Priestly his own brand of cocky weirdness and artless crassness blended with a curious sense of innocence. He says more with the tilt of a brow or roll of eyes than many actors can depict with one page monologues, and the director said they encouraged that from all the cast, spoke of "acting without the ball" and encouraging non-scripted, non-verbal accents to the story by the actors.
In closing, I would see this film in theaters in a heartbeat, and I would buy it in DVD without pause. I found it to be a story I would enjoy and fall for even if I had no idea who Jensen Ackles was. They were genuinely appreciative of our comments and support, and having seen this, I feel a sense of propriety towards this film, and I truly hope they will get a distributor and do well.
The TIH Q&A also ran late, staff having to nudge the guys more than once to wrap it up - just one more story, one more anecdote, lol! But that done, it was another scramble to get ready for the Cocktail Party, originally scheduled for 10pm but bumped back to 10:30. The line for TIH autographs got longish, so Silli and I went back to the room, she to rest and do some stuff, whilst Kimbo and I refreshed to go back downstairs. When we got back, the line was almost through and just our luck, the credit card machine went kablooey. But I got my poster for cash, complimented the guys, and trotted off once more.
Cocktail party …. They said "intimate" but I didn’t know they meant elbow-to-asshole, lol! Itty bitty conference room, which first impression I got was of a crammed-together line towards the bar. I wasn’t a bit sure how this was gonna work, but when I looked around and saw Samantha Farris *right there* and Jim Beaver *right over there* … I thought it worked oddly well. There was just no way to avoid being near SOMEbody!
So, impressions. Here goes.
Samantha Farris - OMG, I have such a girl crush on that woman! She is fun, blunt, fearless and outspoken, no strangers within the sound of her voice. She takes time for everyone, knows how to manage her audience, and takes time to include new arrivals as they shyly sidle near. LOL, Sam doesn’t just talk to people, she holds court.
Jim Beaver - again, he knows how to manage his audience. The man is simply lovable, such an ordinary, regular guy. He’s funny and real, like a funky uncle who thinks you’re more than a little nuts, but he loves you anyhow. He seemed perennially amazed at the whole con chaos and how people magnetized to him, but he welcomed all, and gave as good as he got. You definitely see where Bobby comes from, but now I want to see some eps of Deadwood, too. Jim was really cute when two Irish girls showed up and he fell into a very good Irish accent for them.
Chad … lol, bless him, he was totally in Ash mode. Drunk, goofy, having a blast and probably won’t remember a soul he talked to. I didn’t spend much time with him - partly because he didn’t seem able to focus on any one person, lol, but clearly he was loving the party fun, just very cute and silly.
Gabe - omg, I want to take this boy home with me. He was adorably sincere and cute, just cute as a bug in person, very animated and expressive and engaging. I caught up with him later in the evening, and got to explain the meaning of the term "slash" fan fiction to him. Gabe said he was at his mom’s house when a friend called him to the computer to see a Andy/Ash fic, saying "you gotta see this." He’d never seen slash before, and Gabe told how his face just went "OMG!" and his mom saw it and wanted to read the story. LOL, he described practically snatching the laptop back from his mom so she wouldn’t see! Anyhow, he’d never heard the entomology of the term, and I told him the "Andy-slash-Ash" thing. His face got so wide-eyed and cute with the revelation, and he said, "I did *not* know that". I then shook his hand and thanked him for Andy, and also told him how Andy is beloved to the fandom, upon which he shook my hand a second time. Such a sweet guy. :-)
Kimbo finally went on up to the room, but I stayed until the last dog was hung and Gabe and Jim took their leave. Samantha was last to go, and even then she had to stop out in the hall to tell just one more story, lol!
And … that’s that! Stand by for Part II.