My Experience at SLCC FanX–Part 3
This is my third and final installment about my time spent at Salt Lake City FanXperience. You can read Part 1, an overview of the event, and Part 2, about fan and expert panels also here on WatchPlayRead.
Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience was chock full of celebrity and special guests! Truly, it was an impressive line-up for a debut event. I’m pretty sure that everyone in attendance was a little star stuck! From the ballroom to the smaller rooms, the spotlight panels were some of my favorite memories from FanX. I will never able to capture the charisma and genuine enjoyment of fan events the likes of Nathan Fillion or Edward James Olmos impart from the stage. I’ll include a few highlight moments from spotlight panels and hope that you are able to see your favorite first-hand at con in the future.
Edward James Olmos
Olmos has a long and incredibly significant film and television career. He is discerning about the roles he chooses and it shows in a career of great integrity full of excellent performances. After Olmos wrapped up a very funny Miami Vice story about some conflict with Don Johnson and whether an office door on set is closed or open, the audience focused questions on Battlestar Galactica. Olmos stated that BSG was the best television he’s been involved in. Not only as an actor, but as a fan of the show, he appreciated the depth of relationships on the show like Lee and Dualla and also Tigh and Ellen. When asked about which BSG scene was most meaningful, he mentioned the scene where he is informed of Starbuck’s demise that is now renown by his destruction of the model ship. Also, he said his final scenes with Roslyn were among the most powerful.
Olmos also addressed an audience question about the current status of Latinos in Hollywood. He stated flat out that representation is getting worse. Even with the strong rate of growth of Latinos across the United States, most of the population knows very little about Latinos because the culture and art forms are not growing in exposure. A few big name Latino actors who have changed their names for their acting career were mentioned, like Martin Sheen, and how that denial of heritage keeps the Latino actors in the “ghetto” of Hollywood opportunities. He also commented that BSG did not care and a Latino save humanity! (This got a big cheer.) Another example of marginalization was Argo, winner of Best Picture at the 85th Academy Awards, and the depiction of the main character Tony Mendez. Olmos pointed out that Mendez is a Latino hero and the movie truly downplayed any mention of Mendez being Latino or addressing how that Mendez was known have played down his Latino side in real life. Instead of addressing the complex ideas, the movie ignored it all. Olmos said that one day he would corner Ben Affleck about this.
Olmos closed the panel by leading us all in a rousing chorus of “So Say We All!” I never get tired of that.
If you ever find yourself at a convention or event with Nathan Fillion, you must sit in on his spotlight. He is truly entertaining. The man can spin a yarn and play to a huge room like no one else. He really is a sight to see! Fillion handled any question thrown at him from his “whiny role” in Saving Private Ryan to his experience playing D&D and why it so long for anything to happen. He answered inquiries on working with Joss Whedon and doing Shakespeare. He told us all how proud he was when Tom Hiddleston complimented him on his portrayal of Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing. And so much more!
Here is Nathan’s bucket list of things he wants to do on screen:
- Land a plane
- Play his own double
- Crack a safe
- Hit a detonator
- Use a dynamite plunger
- Light dynamite from a cigarette or cigar
- Drop a match into gasoline
- Walk away from an explosion
- Diffuse a bomb (check!)
My favorite Nathan moment stemmed from a question about a picture on the internet of Nathan and Doctor Who’s Matt Smith. Just how much does Nathan know about Doctor Who? Turns out, not much. Yet, he revealed to us all that Matt Smith is great with animals. (What? I must find out what that it all about!)
Horror writer, director, producer, and enthusiast, Mick Garris gave his audience a very thoughtful look at his career and upcoming projects. I had known of Garris’ horror projects, but knew nothing of his life or how he became the horror icon he is today. Garris spoke about his early work in publicity, freelance writing, and hosting a movie program on Z Channel in Los Angeles. Garris told the audience about how his work on Z channel created the opportunity to meet Hollywood heavies like Steven Spielberg, who gave Garris his writing start on Amazing Stories. The conversation with moderator, Sean Smithson, ranges from Masters of Horror series to Riding the Bullet to The Shining to future dream projects.
I left the Mick Garris spotlight with a much greater appreciation for Garris and his career. His best advice for all of the film buffs and filmmakers in the room was to make sure that you are going out and living life because it is life that develops you as an artist in ways that solely studying film cannot. Not to mention that Garris presents himself as a very thoughtful and affable guy, one that I would love to find myself next to at a hotel bar. Garris mentioned a desire to create a YouTube channel collecting his old and new interviews. (That would be amazing!) For now, you can find his Post-Mortem interviews on FearNet.com.
Comic artist Neal Adams’ spotlight was subtitled “Secrets of the Silver Age” and Adams definitely has enough industry stories that could fill volumes based on his career. He spoke of his efforts at DC to expand the pool of artists when management said no more artists. He often hid prospective artists in his office and introduced them to editors and creators far from the view of management. These are classic artists we all know like Howard Chaykin and Bernie Wrightson. Adams also spoke of creating the partnership of Green Lantern and Green Arrow and how he and Denny O’Neil took an opportunity to make socially conscious comics focused on current events and societal issues. (Their work is some of my favorite in all of comics.) He also discussed the development of John Stewart as Green Lantern. Truly, these stories about characters we hold so dearly are as fascinating as they are entertaining.
Unfortunately, this panel was marred by an interaction between Adams and fan towards the end. Two people in audience left the room after Adams directed an expletive toward one young man when he raised his hand in the middle of Adams answering another audience question. Because I was taking notes I did not catch the full incident. I sincerely hope that this was truly a misunderstanding on Adams’ part. I don’t think that swearing at people in the audience is appropriate no matter what their behavior. And, in this instance I was baffled as to what warranted such a reaction from Adams.
This event was an expression of fan admiration and also special guests showing appreciation for the fans that support them. If this was the debut of FanX, I can’t wait to see what is in store for future events. If you are short of ideas, I’d love to see a Highlander reunion!