Thoughts and ramblings of an ageing, music loving, Sci-Fi geek…

Going Rogue – a Prophecy fulfilled

As you may or may not know there are many conventions throughout the year themed around a wide variety of current and past TV shows and run by a number of different organisers. I’ve been attending events for a long time but one of the few UK conventions I’ve not done is one run by Rogue Events.

There are a number of reasons for this. For one, they don’t run events based around shows I watch and for another I’ve heard many stories about how badly they are run which has put me off. But then they go and announce an event called Prophecy based around the TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer and it’s offshoot, Angel. On top of this they announce Alyson Hannigan as one of the guests. A very rare appearance and with a couple of other guests I hadn’t met I was persuaded to buy a ticket. So how did it go?

I know you shouldn’t buy an event ticket for just one guest and yes she cancelled and as replacements were added it all felt a bit underwhelming and I wasn’t looking forward to it so much. But the final lineup was actually very good even if I didn’t need to meet all of them. We had Marc Blucas at his first ever convention, Stephanie Romanov, Anthony Stewart Head who is always great fun, J. August Richards, Mark Lutz, Tom Lenk, Adam Busch and Brody Hutzler.

So off I headed to the Birmingham N.E.C where the event was being held at the Hilton hotel, and a very nice hotel it was too. After checking in it was time to find out where the event was actually being held and where things would be happening. This was actually quite easy as lots of obvious attendees were hanging around and I soon bumped into a few friends and we managed to figure out where registration was, which was handled very smoothly, where to buy extra autographs and photoshoots and which rooms the various activities would be in.

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Registration pack

I just bought photo ops with Marc Blucas, Stephanie Romanov and Tom Lenk plus the big group shot with all the guests.

I quickly found out that at Rogue events everything can be bought as an extra. Tickets for the Friday evening meet and greet could be bought while at other events this is usually exclusive to higher priced ticket holders, plus you could buy “lounges” which I gather are smaller Q&A type sessions with a maximum of 30 people and even front row seats in the main hall, normally the preserve of people who have paid for the more expensive ticket packages.

But with a limited budget due to other events coming up I decided not to go for any of these extras this time and as as the lounges ran at the same time as the talks and photo shoots, I could have ended up missing some other things I wanted to do, so not for me this time but I was very happy with my choices.

After registration I was surprised to discover there was no opening ceremony. I’m used to some kind of short welcome thing where the guests say a quick hello and introduce themselves so as I was not doing the meet and greet, it was off to find food with one of my friends and wait for the first party later that evening which I admittedly I didn’t spend much time at.

Saturday I decided to do the photoshoots and skip the panels (Q&A sessions) which I could see on Sunday as they were the same combination of guests and I expected that many of the questions asked would probably be the same.

At other events I’m used to queuing by ticket type or just queuing in one big line for photos but here you are given a group number and are called by those groups. This actually worked very well most of the time with a screen in the main hall showing which groups could go in and twitter updates too (the free hotel wifi helping where a phone signal wasn’t so good).

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Marc Blucas

As it turned out I was still able to get a really good seat in the main hall between my photo shoots and saw Marc Blucas, Adam and Tom and then some of Stephanie and J. August’s sessions. All very good and a bonus.
The photo sessions worked much the same as others I’m used to though it would have been nice to have someone managing the bag drop area properly as that got a bit of a mess at times and the person on the door to the room wasn’t always checking which group you were in and just letting anyone in which probably didn’t help the people inside trying to organise the queues. But overall it was quite well organised, guests great and really interactive and the quality of the pictures really good and printed instantly. Instant printing is becoming much more common these days thankfully so if there is a problem you can see it straight away and ask for a reshoot and saves queuing time later in the day to collect your photos.

After the photos it was lunch before the autograph session started. I headed with friends over to the nearby airport to have a very nice lunch and chat before seeing on twitter that groups were being called for autographs. So we headed back, gathered our things for signing and headed to the autograph room. Once inside, I first had to buy some prints for two of the guests to sign as they were announced late and I had nothing of my own to bring. These were nice black & white photos taken at the event but cost £5 each. No pictures from the shows the actors appeared in were available which is what I normally prefer but not much I could do.

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                  Anthony Head

The guest were all in a row along one side of the room with signs above showing their name. This was actually a small problem as these signs were written by hand, with a thin pen and very hard to read, especially in the slightly dim room. Using a big black marker pen at the very least would have helped considerably to know which queue you were joining.

In your registration pack you get a set of tickets which you hand over for your inclusive free autograph, however with no name on these tickets there was no way of knowing who you’d used them with. Also Marc Blucas and Anthony Head were sponsored guests and you had to pay for their autographs separately. I’ve met Tony a few times and for less so could skip him and I didn’t need anything further from Adam who I have also met more than once before so I made my way round the very warm room meeting the others, having a brief chat with each and getting my things signed. The queues moved slowly as the guests took their time with everyone but I wasn’t concerned as there was another autograph session on Sunday so a chance to pick up any I missed then but I actually got round everyone and just had to wait for the final thing of the day which was the group photo with all the guests.

This started about an hour late due to some of the guests staying behind to finish signing for everyone who was still in their queue, full credit to them for that and it was good to spend the waiting time chatting to the other people queuing. I was surprised that not too many people had bought the photo op, maybe because of the price but this also meant there was no rush and the guests were having a laugh doing funny poses if people wanted them and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Very happy with my photo which you can see at the bottom of the page.

With the full intention of heading down to the bar and party later that evening I headed back to my room and fell asleep in front of the football on TV. Clearly more tired than I thought I decided to skip the party as I wanted to get up early and queue for a good seat in the main hall for the panels on Sunday. Seems I missed a few fun things judging by what I was later told but mission “get a good seat” was successful. They were offering to sell front row seats for £15 for the day but I declined and still got a nice central seat in the fourth row which resulted in some pretty good photos even if I say so myself.

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Stephanie Romanov and J. August Richards

I sat there all morning through all the panels which were great fun and entertaining, except for one girl who kept getting up to ask every guest what type of plant or flower they would be. I hate people like that. It’s not clever, it’s not funny and what do you learn? nothing. You’ve got limited time with them, ask something interesting about their work or themselves even. Marc Blucas even gatecrashed the Adam and Tom panel to ask a question which was really funny.

And that was almost that. Spent some time chatting to friends who were getting ready to leave as there wasn’t much worth staying for with just a further autograph session that afternoon followed by a short panel with all the guests. I hadn’t planned to go back to the autographs but as I didn’t meet Adam the day before I still had an inclusive autograph ticket I hadn’t used. Giving this some thought I decided to get another autograph from Stephanie as she’s a rare guest and was really nice to chat to so why not. It did mean buying another 10×8 to get signed but a good decision I feel.

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Adam Busch and Tom Lenk

After this it was back into the main hall for a Once More With Feeling sing-a-long. Always a fun episode to watch although there wasn’t a huge amount of loud singing, more the quiet, mumbling to yourself kind. Good fun though before the final panel which was short but also very funny.

Overall it turned into a fun event in a good location. A few issues, mostly with stewards not checking passes to make sure you were in the right group but nothing that caused any problems but I also think this was helped greatly by having smaller numbers of both guests and attendees than some of the other Rogue events I’d heard about. This stopped it getting too stressful and I heard a number of people commenting positively on this and a second Prophecy event was announced at the end which will be limited to just 500 people, so probably a similar size. If there are guests I’m interested in and the timing works, I’ll definitely consider it.

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My group photo with all guests

As ever, more photos can be viewed on my picasa page

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