My first experience with a Creation Entertainment event was back in 2007 for their first ever salute to Firefly and Serenity. I’d tried to go to a different Firefly con the previous year, and it was cancelled the day it was supposed to start, but Browncoats are the shiniest, and out of the ashes our Backup Bash was born! That was my first experience at an American convention, and was the key reason I ended up on the Browncoat Cruise in 2007, as well. I just wanted to be around those Browncoat people again. The Cruise actually changed my life in many ways, but so – to a lesser but similar degree – did my first Creation event. I was used to the events in Toronto I’d been attending, where many fandoms are all represented at once. But going to a convention where the theme is JUST Firefly/Serenity was so intriguing to me, I couldn’t wait to give it a shot.
I’ve been hooked ever since.
Creation has established themselves as a premiere event organizer, particularly for themed events for properties to which they own the rights. I decided right from the beginning that, for as long as they supported the Firefly/Serenity franchise, I would support them. So I trucked myself to California in 2007, 2008, and 2009 to enjoy what became like my Christmas – time spent with the writers, cast and crew of my favourite series, and – almost more importantly – with faces now familiar to me as fellow Browncoats.
After the first couple of years, Creation started throwing more than one convention in the same hotel at the same time, and patrons could take in elements of both, or all three, as the case may be. One year we got to hang with the cast of Stargate as well as Firefly/Serenity, which was a crazy lot of fun, especially as the lovely Jewel Staite worked as a guest for both franchises! In time, however, the fanbase wasn’t turning up enough to continue holding Firefly/Serenity events, and Creation reluctantly stopped having them.
I was extra sad about this turn of events, because I really enjoyed the format of a Creation con, and the organization was out of this world. The amount of face time attendees get with the guests is more than any other I’ve experienced, and since everything is scheduled according to one theme, you never have to worry about missing out on one panel while running to another. It’s all laid out for you and you just show up at whichever parts of the event you want to experience. No lining up hours in advance to get a seat in the main hall – Creation only sells the number of tickets for which they have seats. Only one panel goes on at a time, and photo op lines are run like a well-oiled machine. I enjoy the chaos of a Fan Expo, of course, but I really missed the more intimate experience a Creation event can give.
So, it was with a happy heart that I found myself loving the show Supernatural. I’d been aware of it, but never started watching it when it first began to air, and after that, it didn’t seem worth it to go back and add it to my already-full TV-watching plate. But last year, a local channel aired the first 4 seasons on weeknights starting from the pilot, and I decided to give it a try at last. I got so addicted so quickly that I had to beg a coworker to start bringing in the rest of the seasons for me on DVD so I could get caught up. Somewhere in there, while still watching on TV each night, I decided that I was finally going to attend the only Creation event held in Toronto – a Salute To Supernatural. I’ve been eyeing their Vampire Diaries events, and would love to attend the Grand Slam some year, but travelling to the US can be hard to do when I keep spending all of my money at local conventions, and none of my Browncoats would necessarily be there to spend the weekend with me, so thus far, I have remained in the city. Hence, my excitement at once again gearing up for another Creation event was pretty high off the bat, and it just kept growing from there.
The guests announced comprised an all-star line-up in their own right. There were “the boys”, of couse (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki), Misha Collins, Jim Beaver, Mark Pellegrino, Matt Cohen, James Patrick Stuart, Ty Olsson, Rob Benedict, lone lady Samantha Smith and the whole weekend was hosted by the hilarious Richard Speight Jr. Rick Worthy was also supposed to appear, but had to cancel at the very last minute. Happily for me, though, they added local superstar Julian Richings to cap it all off perfectly!
I arrived on the Friday early enough to get registered, pick up my wristband for the weekend, and settle into a seat in the main hall. I’d only gotten a weekend pass this time, because it’s all I could afford, and I wanted to spend extra money on photo ops instead of autographs (when I have to choose, I go for the one that involves touching). My friend and companion for the weekend, Dorothy, had just gotten a new camera with a lovely zoom lens attached, so I was able to get some pretty amazing pictures from the very back of the room, which was also awesome! Creation also set up big screens on each side of the stage so that everyone in the room could have a decent view of what was going on, and Richard Speight Jr set the tone early on by wandering through the audience with his microphone!
My first impression when I got there – despite it being a Creation event, it wasn’t my beloved Firefly – was that I didn’t really fit in with the other hardcore fans of the show. Given the hotness level of the male guests, however, the room was pretty much filled entirely with women, so that was…interesting. I might have been a bit spoiled with Browncoats because we’re a different kind of fan…we didn’t get even a full season of our show, and everything we did get we’ve had to work for ever since. Supernatural is airing its 8th season now, and is still going strong, so naturally the fans will have a different sense about them. Less loss and heartache, perhaps. Anyway, shortly after Speight took the stage, I forgot that I was a fish out of water, and settled right in to my old Creation routine of enjoying every moment. They were even doing this cool thing where you could Tweet a photo using “#TORCON” and they would scroll everyone’s photos on the screens at the front between panels throughout the weekend. Thank goodness they weren’t doing that in LA for the Firefly conventions – my phone bill would have been ridiculous!!! But for Toronto it was super-fun, and I hashtagged everything that was even remotely relevant to the event!
I wasn’t getting any autographs, so my programming ended early each day (autographs are done at the end, after the Q&A’s are over, and people are called by rows according to where they are seated), and since I wasn’t staying in the hotel, I would head home to feed my kitties and hang out with them for a bit each night. I did, however, manage to get a photo op done each day, which led to two awesome discoveries. Apparently, when Creation travels with their events to other cities, they take along many of the same crew. I’m not sure why I thought it might be different people doing things at conventions in places other than California, but I was very happy to see my two favourite staff at my first photo op – Chris the Photographer and Val the line-wrangler/security gal! (And is the guy who looks like John Cleese still there ever? I didn’t see him this time). I’d asked Dorothy to split a photo op with me for Julian Richings that first day, because he’s awesome and I wanted a quick moment to say hello to him. I was well and giddily into Creation event mode by then, too, so it all worked out pretty perfectly. AND he hugged me, which was even more awesome!
Anyway, as I said, Richard Speight Jr got everyone all warmed up, and then brought the lovely Samantha Smith to the stage. He hung around to keep the Q&A lively and entertaining, which was cool – I like when more than one cast member can be on stage together because they can just play off of one another and the whole thing is crazy fun to watch. Creation is awesome at setting up panels like that, and – even when they happen more spontaneously (I’m looking at you, Nathan Fillion) – Creation is excellent at just bringing out another chair and going with the flow!
Julian was up next for his stage time, and he was hilarious, as well. For stepping in at the last minute, he sure seemed to be having a great time! James Patrick Stuart entertained to end my portion of the day (there was a killer karaoke bash that night with many of the guests also in attendance, but I needed to get home), and suddenly my first day was done, and I couldn’t even remember that whole fish-out-of-water thing I’d been feeling!
Things got progressively busier and more crowded as the weekend moved along – Jim Beaver received a standing ovation the moment he stepped on stage on the Saturday (and again on the Sunday), Matt Cohen, Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr gave the most hilariously ridiculous panel I’ve ever seen, and Mark Pellegrino and Misha Collins made a perfect devil/angel pair.
The crowd had reached maximum proportions by Sunday morning, however, as that was THE day. The boys were there, Jensen and Jared, and the amount of lady prep going on prior to the photo ops in the morning was unlike anything I’ve ever been that close to. Here’s where Creation’s experience and skill comes into play, as well. They gave numbered tickets for those photo ops, and had everyone go sit in the main hall until their numbers were called. No one was allowed down in the photo op area unless they had a ticket number that fell within the accepted range at any given time. Also, they only sold a certain number of tickets, so that the photo ops wouldn’t run all day long, and could instead fit within a reasonable amount of time at the start of the day. As a result, the line moved quickly and efficiently, and it still didn’t feel rushed at all, which is an amazing thing. Chris the Photographer always checks to make sure no one blinked during the photo before he lets you leave, so you can always be pretty sure that your photo op is going to look amazing when you pick it up.
I actually wasn’t nervous going in to see J&J for the first time. I’ve accepted that they are both handsome (though is it just me, or is Jensen, like, beyond regular human kind of hot?), but since I’m gay, I figured it would just be a quick pose-smile and out. I was, however, wearing my “I love posse” shirt, which I bought online shortly after seeing that episode, and Jared glanced at it as we introduced ourselves. I shrugged and said, “I love posse”, which made him laugh, and therefore caught Jensen’s attention, too. It was a quick moment, but a golden one nonetheless. Plus, Jared is stupid-tall, which I like, and really, who doesn’t love dimples? So my first brush with the Supernatural gods was done, and we still had their whole panel (with Dorothy’s zoom lens) to go!
On the way back upstairs, I snagged a quick moment to chat with Val, just ’cause she’s my favourite. :)
I found the boys’ panel to be really fun, too, and the questions better were much better than usual. The boys work together really well by now, and can crack one another up even while giving reasonably intelligent answers to the questions they’re being asked. Both have easy smiles and stories to tell from behind the scenes of the show, as well as from their own lives. Thankfully, I don’t think any personal lines were crossed in the Q&A, either. I’ve been there to see some pretty inappropriate questions being asked in other panels, and I think the most personal this one got was to ask what their kids were dressing as for Halloween. Jared had a particularly entertaining answer for this one which got so funny at one point that Jensen got up with him to re-enact the story for us! They really do seem to be great guys, and very professional even when they are goofing around. I think Jim Beaver was the one who mentioned how he’d been spoiled for other sets because everyone on the Supernatural set can keep it light while still getting the job done, and that kind of balance is pretty rare. In ANY industry, really.
We are only a couple of episodes into Season 8 now, and already things have been turned on their heads (the trenchcoat!!!!), so I am eager to see how things play out from here. In addition, I was so happy to be back at a Creation event that I just may sign up again to attend next year. Jensen, Jared and Misha are already confirmed, and with nearly a year to go, who knows what might happen!
Now, if only I could coax them into bringing their Vampire Diaries event to Toronto, as well… :)