Into the Black: Creation’s Salute to Serenity and Firefly 2009 Convention Report

Saturday:

I arrived at the LAX Marriott around Noon, shortly before the convention was supposed to start. In going downstairs to the convention level, I encountered a decently-sized line of maybe 100 or so people. I ran into some folks I knew and cut in line with them. ^_~ This endeavor was fruitless, however, as there wasn’t even a list of press that the ticket folks could check, so they asked us to come back in a little while. This was kind of annoying, but it worked out in the end thankfully.

We were able to get into the main ballroom in time for the convention to start. They started with a Firefly music video tribute using music from the Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack (one of my favorites). One that was done, the convention’s first guests, Yan and Rafael Feldman (Fanty and Mingo) joined us on the stage. While the first few moments of the panel were kind of slow and uncertain — which is typical of the first panel of these conventions, I’ve found — eventually everyone got into a groove, and it turned out to be an hilarious panel.

After talking about what a tasty sushi roll Jewel Staite made (don’t ask), they talked about what they’ve been doing. Rafael has been on Without a Trace, while Yan was on NCIS. They’re also both working on screenplays, both together and with others. They then discussed times wherein they would audition against each other, and how they’ve also been mistaken for each other.

They then discussed some Serenity stuff. For example, to get the British accents they would need for Fanty and Mingo, they played the video game “The Getaway” a lot for that James Stratham sound and accent. During auditions, Joss apparently asked them to do around a dozen accents. Eventually they both broke into awesome Christopher Walken impersonations, which I just adored. They also said it was awesome working on Serenity because the cast and crew really jived with them.

Once their panel was over, it was time for Adam Baldwin. Before he came up, they played another music video that was a tribute to Jayne using a song I believe called “Walk Tall” which was pretty good. When Adam came out, he asked the Creation folks to send him a copy of the video, which I thought was a nice compliment. He then went on to talk about what was going on in his life at the moment. Chuck apparently has gotten an order for their back nine episodes, which he seemed excited about. He then talked about his kids, notably about his son who’s a drummer in a band, and will be playing at a Megadeath/Metallica tribute concert of some type.

He then opened the floor to questions, and the first was who he thought would win in a fight, Jayne or Casey from Chuck. He answered Jayne, which is really the only obvious and correct answer. He also said his performance of Jayne was inspired by actors in old shoot ’em up Westerns like James Coburn and the like. He then went on to talk about Twitter, which he had just joined a few days prior. This was hilarious and adorable because people in the audience were trying to explain to him how to upload pics to Twitpic and the like, on which he looked totally confounded.

He also talked about creating the Casey grunt on Chuck, which a lot of folks seemed to like. I’ve not seen Chuck, so I didn’t get it, but I’m told it’s a good show. He then talked about being a father and not really having favorites amongst your children, but still having favorites. Basically he says he’s upfront with all of his kids, saying things like “You’re my favorite….in this room right now…” Really, really funny stuff. When asked about Jayne’s need to always be touching or eating something, Adam said he did this to compensate for not having a lot of lines, but still being in a scene.

The final panel of the day that I got to see was probably my favorite, as it consisted of writers Jane Espenson and Tim Minear. I missed the first couple of moments, but when I walked in they were discussing writing outlines, and how important they are. Apparently writing a good outline will help you keep from being “mechanistic”. However, there are times when an outline can be ignored when it makes sense. For example, when Tim Minear brought back a character from a previous Angel episode that was seen in an episode that took place fifty years in the past, that wasn’t in the outline. However, since it brought things back in a circle, he used it, and it worked well.

Another thing that’s important is History. It’s hard to have history when a show first begins, so you spend several episodes establishing that history, but once you have that history established, it’s important to stick to it as much as possible, because if you don’t, you’ll annoy the fans, who especially pay attention to such things.

What seemed to be the most important advice, though, was to learn from examples. Watch a lot of TV, analyze the shows you love, reverse engineer their outlines and try to emulate what you like about those shows in your own writing. Also, make sure you believe in what you’re writing. Apparently a lot of people thing they’re above a specific show or genre, so when they write for those genre’s, they write junk because they believe the shows or genre’s they’re writing for are junk.

They also told a lot of stories that I honestly don’t want to repeat because they involve a lot of swearing. Suffice it to say the two of them were just hilarious to listen to, and I could listen to them all day. This was, by far, my favorite panel of the day, and I hope they come out again to give us more insight into the writing process.

Sunday

The convention began with Jewel Staite (Kaylee). She first said that the big dress in Firefly was her favorite outfit, for the first day at least. It eventually became a pain in the ass, so she was glad she didn’t have to wear it too long. She also doesn’t remember being lifted up by Adam Baldwin in the episode where they played spaceball, but she thinks it was her stunt double. She also said she was Summer’s stunt double in Serenity, which was hilarious.

She also talked about her new house that’s similar to houses in New Orleans. Her husband has been making furniture in the house, but we might actually get to see him later in the day. When asked who’s the biggest foul mouth on the cast, her or Morena, Jewel said Morena has the worst mouth, since she looks so classy and says the F word all the time. Morena, apparently, also has a sick sense of humor. On the Firefly set, she joked a lot, as did Nathan. I don’t wanna repeat exactly what she said, but it was damned funny.

She also talked about her life as a childhood actress, and about not really noticing she missed stuff as a child. Thankfully she had a great and supportive mom. She then said she was surprised as to Book’s and Wash’s death, but was even gladder when Kaylee didn’t die. She also discussed how Kaylee got more sarcastic as the show went on, and she thinks this is through the writers getting to know her better as the show went on. She also did an amazing impersonation of Adam Baldwin breathing oddly during the filming of Serenity that was absolutely hilarious. Her stories about meeting people at parties and on sets were also hilarious.

Overall, Jewel was hilarious as always. There was some fun talk about Firefly/Serenity behind-the-scenes stuff with pranks and such, as well as stuff about working about Stargate and what not. Overall, this was a really fun panel.

After hanging out with friends in the dealer room for a bit, I attended a panel regarding the upcoming fan film, “Browncoats: Redemption”. Usually I’m not a fan of fan-based fiction, whether written or filmed, but this actually looked pretty dang good. The trailer was impressive, and you can tell there’s a lot of love and passion in this project, so I was actually more entertained and compelled to check out this project tha
n I thought I would be going into it. The movie is due out next year, takes place three months after the events in Serenity, and has an entire new crew and ship. This is now something I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for.

After another music video, which was pretty good, Mark Sheppard (Badger) joined us on stage. He first discussed the shows he’s been on recently, such as White Collar, Leverage and, my favorite, Supernatural. He then went into some detail about his man-on-man kiss in a recent episode of Supernatural, as well as how much fun it was to act with the two main actors, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. He also said that Crowley will be back on Supernatural, which is very exciting news to fans like me. ^_^

He also talked about being fortunate to work on shows he’s a fan of, like Battlestar Galactica, as well as how a lot of shows have writers that are fans of his from other shows, such as Ben Edlund on Supernatural, who also worked on Firefly. He also talked about being the guy everyone, such as Ron Moore, calls to fix their computers. This segued into about working on Battlestar Galactica, wherein he got to the set right after Starbuck was “killed” in the episode “Malestrom,” so the set was something of a dour place. Apparently Edward James Olmos also had no idea who he was, but gave him DVD’s of the show to watch. He also said everyone on the set was great, very nice and loving, just like Firefly.

He was then asked about The X-Files, which he was on sixteen years ago. It was a very odd phenomenon, apparently, as to how it got bigger through repeats. He was also surprised by the fan reaction upon going through the first fan convention back then. He then talked about his time on the show, being on fire, his stuntman and how his stuntman wouldn’t work on Battlestar Galactica so he wouldn’t know the ending, and so on. He also said that, because he was working with fire, his experience on the The X-Files was one of the scariest he’s ever had.

Next he talked about his experiences on Battlestar Galactica, such as the scene of forty minutes, in the courtroom between Gaeta’s testimony and Apollo’s speech, that was all done in one take, and everyone, cast and crew alike, came out to see it. He gushed quite a bit about working on that show, and what an amazing experience it was. He also talked about loving the mechanics of television, and loves writing, direction and producing, but he’d also love to do a movie. He’s also grateful for all the television he’s been doing this year, which is a lot, admittedly.

He had great words to say about Eddie James Olmos and Nathan Fillion, who he termed as “leaders.” If they say “we’re going over here,” he’ll always follow them because he knows there will be fun when he gets to wherever they’re going. Overall, Mark Sheppard was excellent, very comfortable with the audience, giving them jibes, interacting with them very naturally. This was a very fun, relaxed and natural panel, and probably one of my favorites of the con.

After getting a quick dinner, I went to the final panel of the con, Alan Tudyk’s Q&A. After playing a music video, they brought out two chairs for Alan…not sure why. He began to talk about how Nathan wouldn’t be here, so he brought a bowl of Nathan’s seven-layer dip in his place and put it in the second chair, which was hilarious, especially when Alan says the dip would field his questions. Apparently the dip will be auctioned off, along as the person signed a form saying Nathan, Alan or Creation couldn’t be held responsible for anything “post ingestion.” He also gave away “pieces of crap” he found while moving to people who asked questions. He also gave us trivia questions for some of the better pieces of swag as well, which were actually kind of difficult.

Moving onto questions, apparently he began with stage acting and finds it the easiest and most comfortable with him. In response to finding out Wash was going to die, he told Joss he wanted to do a prequel as well. He then talked about his time on A Knight’s Tale, and what a great experience it was. Apparently they were brought out early to rehearse for a day, then drink together for two weeks, which really brought the cast together.

He then said it was very difficult to play Alpha in Dollhouse, and there was no real way to prepare for it. When asked if he was gonna come back to V, he wasn’t sure if he’d be back after being killed repeatedly. He thinks if the show goes on long enough, they’ll run out of ideas, so they could bring him back if needed. He then talked about his reaction to the fandom, and his surprise at going to conventions for the first time. He really wasn’t aware of it until Nathan took him to his first convention in England many years ago.

Then Nathan Fillion called Alan’s cell phone. He asked Alan about his dish of bean dip, wondering where it was. Alan then said he didn’t know what happened to it. It was both cute and hilarious, but sadly not long enough. He then talked about his role on CSI wherein he played a pedophile. After doing a scene with a 10 year old kid and taking off his shirt, once the director yelled “cut” the kid started going “bow chicka bow wow.” Freaking hilarious. He also talked about thinking Wash should die, because he would be “the best character to kill.” Mostly because no one would expect it.

He also talked about working at an improve festival in Edmonton, dying on many of his shows and so on. Overall, this was a fantastic panel. Alan was friendly, comfortable, and talkative, and he totally had command of the room. He doesn’t come to a lot of cons, sadly, but it’s great when he does so we can see how funny he truly is in real life.

Alan then auctioned off Nathan’s bean dip, and it was hilarious. The increments he’d use for the dollar amounts were totally random, like $84.12 if I remember correctly, and the bidding was brisk. Eventually the bean dip with chips, provided by Alan, went for a total of $375. Quite an impressive amount.

Overall, this convention was a lot of fun. I got to see a lot of my old friends, saw some great panels and overall had a very good time. There’s talk that this will be Creation’s last Serenity/Firefly convention, and that next year it’ll be more of a Whedonverse convention, so we’ll have to see if there’s another one of these next year, but I hope there is, because this one was great.

Facebook Comments

Post Author: System Administrator

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.