Fan Film, Fan Films

Gray Areas: New York Comic Con Top Picks

Gray Area BoilerplateLast year saw the debut of the New York Comic Con, and it was the biggest thing to hit NYC since King Kong punched a few picture windows in the side of the Empire State Building. The city that never sleeps hadn’t had a proper, full-on con in years, and it was greeted with great enthusiasm–in fact, too much enthusiam.

The first full day of the con–the Saturday–had 4,000 tickets presold, but 20,000 people showed up to buy ducats onsite. That meant thousands of people were turned away, including folks who’d pre-bought tickets and had turned up late to get them. Fire marshalls shut down access to the show floor for a few hours, and once they opened it back up, the lines to get onto the floor were over an hour at some points. Once you finally got inside, the only way to get down the tiny aisles was to literally go with the flow and let the crowd take you where it wanted to go. If you were a VIP, it didn’t matter–you weren’t allowed on the floor when things were shut down; reportedly Frank Miller got turned away and was unable to make a signing session, as was the esteemed Patrick McDonnell–creator of the newspaper comic Mutts (very popular in the FCT household). In short, it was about as hellish an event as you could ask for.

Naturally, we at FCT had a kick-ass time and have been looking forward to this weekend’s return of the show all year.

Show organizers have moved the show floor to the main section of the Jacob Javits Convention Center and the aisle will be much bigger this time out, so the disasters of last year will hopefully be ancient history. I’ll be wandering around, probably handing out flyers and definitely being a nusiance to anyone who’ll listen, so if you spot me, don’t run the other way–say Hi.

However, I’ll definitely be spending lots of time down in the dungeons where they hold the panels, ’cause that’s where the real action is. Getting a few comics signed? Always fun, to be sure, but there’s a few fan-film centric events going on, plus some other things that just look like they’re gonna be a blast. With that in mind, here’s our picks for the best fan film-related events going this weekend:

Most of the day is relegated to the trade and press, with the show not opening to the public until 4PM (so no skipping school, kiddies). Frankly, as a member of said press, Friday’s my favorite day–you can walk the show floor without feeling like you’re swimming upstream, and actually have a conversation without screaming over the racket. The industry panels are pretty cool, too. Nonetheless, since most folks won’t be able to get in until 4PM, I’m not mentioning trade-only picks.

4 PM NYCC Comics School: Comics, Concepts, & Copyright. Location – 1E04
If you’re a fan filmmaker, here’s a great panel (one guy equals a panel, apparently) talking about issues related to how legal your little production is. There’ll surely be a Q&A session, so it’s a great chance to ask a bit about what you can and can’t get away with when playing with someone else’s characters.

5 PM Star Wars: Men Behind the Masks. Location – 1E14
Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Ray Park (Darth Maul) and Daniel Logan (Boba Fett) talk shop. Park was actually in an amateur Star Wars film a few years ago–and no, I don’t mean The Phantom Menace. [Ed. Note: Park didn't show for the panel, so I couldn't ask him about it; however, a cursory web crawl revealed no indications that he actually appeared in a fan film, so consider that to be BS until proven otherwise.]

6:30 PM Masters of Horror. Location – Special Events Hall
Originally, this was going to be held earlier in the day in a small room, going head-to-head with Stephen King’s keynote speech in the Special Events Hall. Someone must have gotten a clue (or complained, more likely), because now it’s later and in a better location. Why’s it such a big deal? Two words: John Freakin’ Landis–the director of Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Coming To America, An American Werewolf In London, Michael Jackson’s Thriller and plenty of other great stuff. Need more convincing? Another word: Meatloaf–as in Rocky Horror, Roadie, Bats Out Of Hell I, II and III and more. Whatever they show has to be better than the recent pile of crap VH1 TV movie about Mr. Loaf’s career. Other people are on the panel, too. If you’re an aspiring director, you could do a lot worse than to sit in and bask in the presence of these guys

8 PM Re-Creating a Comic Book Character on Film. Location – 1E04
This one features the charming Valerie Perez, known in fan film circles as the star/producer of Tomb Raider: Tears of the Dragon; not only does she look the part of Lara Croft, in real life, she’s an IT specialist, so she’s smarter than you, too. Perez is now premiering a new short, Trapped In The Flames, based on a comic book character I’ve never heard of, Paula Peril.

8 PM Ryan Vs. Dorkman II. Location – Special Events Hall.
Note: This is tentatively scheduled but not on the NYCC website at this time.
It’s one of the most anticipated fan films of the year, and it’ll get its New York debut a week before it hits online. Here’s your big chance to see it on the big screen with your fellow fan film enthusiasts…if the respective R and D get it done in time to mail to the Con.

10:30 AM The History of Comic Book Movies. Location – 1E04
Comic historians will be looking at different superhero flicks through the years; will fan films come up? Find out.

There’s plenty of other cool stuff going on at the convention–these are just the events that have a whiff of fan film to them. Catch you at the con!

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