Gods, Masters and Minions – Hallowhedon 6
Hallowhedon is an annual weekend convention run by Massive Events based around the theme of shows created by Joss Whedon. Primarily this covers Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly/Serenity and Dollhouse and unless you’ve missed the heavy clue in the title it happens on or close to Halloween.
Hallowhedon 3 was the first themed weekend convention I attended and even though I didn’t really know anyone else at the time I enjoyed it. I also went to HW4 which was rather disappointing as guests cancelled and there were only three although they still made it a good event. I missed HW5 where they really pulled out the stops and after the disappointment of the previous year everyone hoped that it meant the organisers were really trying to build it up.
Based on that, everyone had been hoping for another really good lineup with early announcements to get tickets sold and attendance up but nothing happened for months and it was only around August when the full lineup was announced and even that changed again when Danny Strong (Jonathan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) cancelled shortly before the event due to work commitments. Unfortunately this happens, after all actors primary income is from their work and this will always take priority.
So this time the final lineup consisted of Clare Kramer (The God Glory in Buffy), Troy Blendell (Jinx, one of Glory’s minions), Mark Metcalf (The Master in Buffy) and Andy Umberger (D’Hoffryn in Buffy).
I hadn’t met any of these before and while none are “main cast” characters, they had significant roles and I hoped they would be interesting and engaging to listen to and so they proved.
This event was at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Heathrow, London and I do like to stay in the same hotel the convention is in. You could save a bit of money going elsewhere but it’s a very nice hotel, the convention rate isn’t all that bad (£70 per night including breakfast for a single room) and most importantly the breakfast is usually very good.
The Friday night is really just about turning up, getting your registration pack which contains the free photos some people use to get signed, buy any extra autograph or photograph tickets you need (some ticket levels include photos, some don’t), attending the opening ceremony and then the first night party. For the more expensive Gold and VIP ticket holders there’s also a “meet and greet” with the guests where a few people are at a number of tables and the guests rotate around the room having a quick chat with everyone. It’s a nice and fairly informal way of interacting with the guests but not something I’ve considered worth the extra money to be honest.
Saturday is really when things happen. All organisers arrange the schedule differently and here the morning is taken up with autograph and photoshoots sessions. Depending on the number of guests it can start at 9am but due to there only being four in this case it started at 10am which some people appreciated, depending on how they fared at the Friday night party.
I decided to skip the first photoshoot, which I could then do Sunday morning and concentrate on getting autographs. As it turned out, given that the guest list hadn’t attracted large numbers I probably could have done it all without any problem on Saturday and had an extra lie-in on Sunday. Ah well. Depending on how quickly or slowly the queues move it can be a rush to get between everything if you try and do too much so it can be worth spacing things out a bit.
What it did mean was that there was time for a brief chat with each guest and they were all really nice to meet, especially as I was just getting my poster signed rather than the usual 10×8 photos and it’s got Sarah Michelle Gellar on it. This always leads to a conversation about whether the signature is genuine. I haven’t met her unfortunately and got the poster with that plus three other signatures already on it. Those I’m sure are genuine when comparing to others I’ve got and the story behind how the person I bought it from got the poster is very believable.
Most of the actors I’ve met that have seen it and know her think it looks genuine which is nice to know but I’ve added to it myself and it’s starting to look rather good. I now have most of the main cast on it and some of the more interesting minor characters.
Clare also commented that she knew Seth Green very well and it was a pity she couldn’t take it back with her and get him to sign it. Wish I’d asked her how much she’d want in order to do that.
After a lunch break, the afternoon is taken up with Q&A sessions, a quiz which all the guests joined in, a live commentary of an episode of Buffy and an auction. The Q&A sessions were very enjoyable and while you can never tell if a guest is going to be talkative or interesting, all of these really got into it giving good, informative and/or funny answers. I can’t recall everything that was said but one story that did keep coming up (as it were) was about Mark not being able to undo his trousers with all the makeup on and the long fingers he had as “The Master”. He required the help of a wardrobe person to go to the bathroom which of course got everyone laughing.
The quiz was very funny with the guests having to play Pictionary and act out scenes from the show for people to guess the episode and so on. No photos or recording was allowed for this as it’s just a bit of fun for those in attendance but it’s good when they throw themselves into things like that and even funnier if they get questions about their own characters wrong.
To make up for the loss of one of the guests, and possibly partly due to a certain number of complaints raised about the late announcements and that they weren’t main cast etc, some extras were added to the ticket packages. These included a free group photo, free Amber Benson pre-signed autograph and the Gold/VIP ticket holders got an extra “meet and greet” on the Saturday evening.
The evening was a Halloween themed party with some amazing costumes on display, not from me I should add, and I was so caught up chatting to friends I didn’t even take any photos. The event crew had set up a kind of haunted house/scary maze thing in the room which I’m told was very well done and even the guests went through it. Not being a fan of things like that I declined. Yes, I’m a lightweight when it comes to scary stuff. Almost as scary I did venture on to the dance floor but just as the evening came to an, early, end. The parties at events run by other organisers tend to run much later.
I have to say the party didn’t seem overly well attended with people drifting in an out and by the time it finished, there weren’t too many left. But it was great to hang out with friends, chat, laugh at some of the dancing and even bump into a couple of the guests who sometimes come and mix with us ordinary folk.
One of my friends even persuaded Troy Blendell to sign up to Twitter which he did during the closing ceremony on Sunday evening. You can follow him @TroyBlendell and make him feel less like a “scabby minion”, as my friend put it. Say I sent you as I need the publicity for the blog 🙂
Sunday I felt rough. Hadn’t drunk that much but regretted not having got that photoshoot on Saturday. I had to check out of the hotel anyway so got everything in the car, got the photo done and promptly found a comfy chair to doze in while waiting for my friends so we could go to lunch as the fabulous Pheasant Inn down the road.
Really enjoyed a bit of time away from the hotel, chatting about stuff, eating huge quantities of food before the afternoon session started which was more Q&A’s though with a different combination of guests and another commentary which to be fair wasn’t as good as the first and the episode chosen was a bit depressing. Then all the guests came back, answered some good general questions and there was a brief closing address, can’t really call it a ceremony, and that was that for another year.
I felt before this event that it was not doing very well. Almost like they weren’t putting the effort in that it deserved. There’s a huge range of actors to draw from in the Whedonverse and it just felt like it was all a bit lazy and last minute. Although last year they put on a really good one, the ones before had been enjoyable but poorly attended and this turned out to be similar.
I was actually surprised to find out there will be one next year, especially as it’s the same weekend as another event being run by the sister company Showmasters and they use a lot of the same crew but they’ve promised to have a number of guests announced by Christmas. We will see. I’m not going to hold my breath or commit myself until nearer the time and see what really happens.
To be fair the guests were good fun and really nice to meet but it was friends that really made this event and having started doing these on my own I’m so happy and thankful to be able to say that now. To prevent any embarrassment, I’m mentioning no names.
As usual please see my Picasa page for my other photos from the Q&A sessions.
Update: For another really great review, covering the Q&As, Meet and Greets and Guest Encounters in much more detail please check it out on Shangel’s Reviews site. He is also doing an amazing job of reviewing every episode of Buffy and Angel in incredible detail. Well worth checking out if you’re a fan.