Category Archives: Con Reports

Farpoint’s ventures to seek out new cons.

Farpoint Convention 2019 Progress Report

WALLACE SHAWN            MAURICE LAMARCHE   ROB PAULSEN

It’s that time of year for news about some of the fun coming up in February 2019! We know many of you start now planning for the con – creating your costume(s), learning a new game to share, studying for a panel or presentation and/or snagging that great something to be autographed by a celebrity guest. In that spirit, we present a sneak preview of #FarpointCon2019 to help you prepare for the fun. You can register online through our website www.FarpointCon.com. The deadline for pre-registration is January 31, 2019. You can book your hotel rooms through the dedicated link found at http://www.farpointcon.com/hotel-information/. The deadline for our hotel room block is January 10, 2019. We encourage you to continue checking our website and/or follow us online at Farpoint Convention on Facebook and @FarpointCon on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news. You can post comments and questions here or on our Farpoint Convention 26 Facebook event page about particular events and/or to look for ride and room shares.

1.       Celebrity Guests:  Current plans are for Wallace Shawn and Maurice LaMarche to arrive on Friday in time for the Cocktail Party and Opening Ceremonies while Rob Paulsen will be arriving very late Friday/early Saturday after an evening performance engagement. Prometheus Radio Theatre is preparing another fun show for our Opening Ceremonies and we all hope Wallace and Maurice will approve the script and participate. We will let you know more as things develop.

All 3 of our celebrity guests will be speaking from our main stage on both Saturday and Sunday. Don’t forget that your weekend, Saturday and Sunday convention membership ticket includes one complementary signature from the celebrity guest of your choice each day! The guest will sign either the convention program book or a photo/item from your personal collection you present to be signed and your convention membership badge will be punched when you redeem your signature. Signed photos and items available at the guest’s signing station and at-the-table selfies must be purchased on-site (cash only). You can redeem your complimentary signature and purchase other items in the same visit to the guest’s signing station.

2.       Authors, Books, Reading & Writing:  Many panels are being prepared for this track covering topics that support professional writers, help new pros break into the field, showcase new work from our author guests and give readers the opportunity to share their love of their favorite books and stories. Our author guests will sign copies of their books from your personal collection at no charge during our Book Fair Friday evening and will have copies of new and other works available for purchase at the same time. Several of our author guests will be premiering new books at Farpoint during the Book Fair; make sure to look for the specially-marked tables identifying the titles that are premiering! Many of our authors are participating in the 2nd annual Short Story contest. Make sure to stop by the voting station to check out this year’s entries and vote for your favorite.

Our free “All Kinds of Writing Workshop” returns to help writers at all levels (including aspiring) in honing their abilities and increasing their knowledge. Veteran writers Howard Weinstein, Bob Greenberger, Dave Galanter, Kelly Meding, Kelli Fitzpatrick & Bob Jones will answer all your questions on the craft and business of writing, focusing on as many puzzle pieces of fiction and non-fiction storytelling as can be squeezed into 2 hours, including characters, plot, structure, humor, tension, theme, and more — so bring your best, most-vexing questions to discuss with our team of pros!

3.       New Media: The New Media program track covers newly emerging technology of all kinds. Presenters in this track include independent filmmakers, publishers, comic artists, podcasters and online content creators. This year’s panels will include “Using Social Media Effectively”, “From Idea to Execution – A Crash Course on Bringing Your Indy Project To Life” and “Storytelling with New Technology”. Several independent films will be shown throughout the weekend, including the Harlan Ellison documentary from 2008 “Dreams With Sharp Teeth”, presented with permission by his estate.

4.       Movies and TV: There will be panels galore looking at the wealth of films and shows of interest to geeks, nerds and science fiction fans! Panel topics for 2019 include “Voltron on Netflix”, “The Future of Superhero Movies”, and “The Star Wars Multiverse”. And that’s just a small sampling as you can expect talks covering Star Trek, The Orville, Outlander, Harry Potter, the Marvel and DC cinematic universes and much more!

5.       Youth and Children: We are looking forward to some wonderful activities geared toward our younger fan audience, many of which can be enjoyed by fans of all ages. Our regular Friday night pajama party is returning where younger fans can enjoy snacks, stories, crafts and a movie if that is more to their interest than our Cocktail Party and Opening Ceremonies. There will be hands on make and take activities on Saturday and Sunday for our youngest fans. Teens interested in writing are encouraged to talk with some of our pro author guests during the “All Kinds of Writing Workshop” on Saturday morning, and those interested in art careers can attend one of the several hands-on classes being offered by Art Way Alliance throughout the weekend. Our Game Room is open into the wee hours of Saturday and Sunday morning and offers games and crafts for all ages, interests and abilities. Our friends from the Wizarding Alliance of Non-Lethal Duelists (W.A.N.D.S.) return again with their latest beta test for the Wizard Dueling LARP suitable for any fan able to hold a wand. And, of course, our Masquerade Costume Contest will be held Saturday night in the ballroom, open to all ages, costume categories and maker abilities. There will also be several panels of interest to fans of all ages in our Movies/TV and Costuming/Cosplay tracks and we encourage our young fans to join in and share their knowledge and points of view.

6.       Science:  The 2019 Science track offers looks at Mars exploration and astronomy, including “SpaceX and NASA — better together for getting to Mars” and “DART: NASA’s First Mission to Test Planetary Defense via Asteroid Deflection”. Our science track features speakers from NASA and scientists from several of our local universities who generously share the latest knowledge from their fields of expertise.

7.       Costuming and Cosplay: We are very excited to announce that this track is expanding for 2019 in response to the requests from attendees and the enthusiasm of the fan community for costuming and cosplay. Topics in this track reflect the wide array of interests in the community of costumers and cosplayers: “Cosplay For A Cause”, “Kids and Cosplay”, and “Crafty Costuming” are only a few of the talks and activities coming in February. A very exciting new addition to this track is the NEW Stuffed Animal Cosplay Contest! Everyone is encouraged to bring their favorite costumed friend from home and show them off during the contest. This is an all ages event and we’d love to see how fans of all ages include their “pets” in their fan interests.

8.       Live Events: And we’re saving one of the best and biggest announcements for our last paragraph. Farpoint 2019 will be staging our first ever ESCAPE ROOM activity as part of our Live Events track! “Escape From Mars” is a puzzle-based Escape Room suitable for teams of 2-8 people of all ages. Take your best shot at getting back home after being stranded on the Red Planet!

There will be several opportunities to flex, dance and move as part of Farpoint 2019’s Live Events! There will be a workshop called “Let’s Dance” where you can learn some of the dances from the musical episodes of several fan-favorite series. Keith RA DeCandido will be presenting a Self-Defense Workshop teaching teens and adults how to protect themselves in uncertain situations. And our friends from Maryland Kunst des Fechtens return with hands-on classes in European style swordfighting.

We welcome returning guests The Boogie Knights, Luna-C and The Chromatics who will be performing live on our main stage during the weekend. There will also be a new game show called “Cash Con” based on the popular “Cash Cab”. Come show your knowledge and win some prizes!

9.       Charity Auction: We will once again be raising money for our official charities, the Julien Fleming Memorial Fund (www.jfmf.org) and Art Way Alliance (www.artwayalliance.org). Short live auctions are scheduled for Friday evening during the Opening Ceremonies and Saturday evening at the Masquerade costume contest halftime, with a silent auction taking place all weekend at the charity auction display in the Art Show. Previews of items available for auction will be posted online in the weeks leading up to the convention. Our charity partners send their thanks and appreciation for your continued support.

All of this fun and much more (200+ hours worth!) awaits you at Farpoint 2019. We hope to see you there! You can register online through our website www.FarpointCon.com. We encourage you to continue checking our website and/or follow us online at Farpoint Convention on Facebook and @FarpointCon on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news and to view our schedule when it is released 2 weeks before the convention. Thank you as always for your continued support of your local fan-run conventions!

 

A Year in #ConLife, Part 4

It’s program planning time! Sharon, your friendly neighborhood con chair, here saying hello. Fall signals the start of our highly capable programming team shifting into high gear. If you’re following us on social media (and if you’re not, go to Farpoint Convention on Facebook and/or @FarpointCon on Twitter) you have seen the announcement that the list of panels will be sent out soon for you to select programs you’d like to participate in. To add yourself to the distribution of the panel list, email us at Programs@FarpointCon.com

We solicit and receive panel ideas from guests and attendees, more than we (unfortunately) have room for. What do we do with your submissions? Once the submission period has ended, our programming team evaluates each idea and assigns them to one of our programming tracks. The assignment can be complicated because ideas will often cross tracks. For example, a talk on writing content for online outlets in the Authors track would also interest guests and attendees in our New Media track which covers online creativity. All programs we identify with potential to cross tracks are identified as such in our database and opened to guests and program participants who express interest in both tracks to encourage a diversity of speakers on the panel.

Another criterion we look for from your submissions is idea duplication. Each year, we receive great submissions from multiple people on a particular subject. Rather than accept one of the idea variations and reject all the others, our programming team will take all of the submissions on the topic and look for a way to combine them into a single program. The people submitting the original ideas will be notified of the combined topic and asked if they are still interested in participating. In most instances they are, allowing us to accept multiple submissions for the topic and again have a diversity of ideas and voices for the program.

We also look at past programs to see if a similar topic has been staged recently. This does not necessarily mean your idea will be rejected, however. If the topic is popular, repeating it in the following year can be a good thing but we also want to avoid duplicating the same ideas from one year to the next too often.

Once the program ideas are assigned to a track and evaluated, the programming team compiles a final list of the programs and panels we want to present at the convention. You will be notified by the team if your idea is accepted or not. Everyone who submitted program ideas will receive a copy of the final program list. Programs are listed as being “open” or “closed” and you will be asked to submit your choice of “open” program topics you wish to participate on as a speaker/panelist. A “closed” program is one staged by a specific guest(s) with the topic related to their area of expertise. An examples of a “closed” program is a in our Science track led by the scientists and engineers sharing their expertise in the field.

Our programming chairs will take everyone’s requests for panel speaking spots, assign speakers to panel(s) and place the programs on the convention schedule. We use a custom program planning database for this task. The database tracks assignments of rooms, times, topics, equipment and speakers and gives an error message when someone or something is double-booked at the same time or place. Assigning programs to specific room and time slots requires balancing the convention’s overall schedule requirements with each individual’s request for speaking slots. We also work hard to ensure that two different programs on the same topic are not occurring simultaneously on the schedule. For example, we would not want an Authors track talk on writing for the Star Trek universe opposite a Movies/TV track panel on Star Trek so that Trek fans have the opportunity to attend both programs.

The programming team will produce 2-4 draft schedules during the November to early January time frame and evaluate each version for mistakes and issues. The schedule version resulting from the programming team review is evaluated by the entire committee in mid-January. Committee feedback is incorporated and the final draft schedule is again reviewed by everyone. Once approved, the schedule goes to the printer, our website and social media for publication. The programming team will send each guest and program participant a personalized program schedule.

Farpoint Convention is proud that our program schedule is finalized and ready for publication each year at least 2 weeks prior to the convention, allowing you to better plan your convention experience. You may also notice that we have almost zero “on the fly” schedule changes during the convention. The rigorous schedule review process by our dedicated programming team and committee ensures that our schedule is firm and ready to go when we open our doors on Friday. We thank our loyal guests and attendees for submitting their wonderful ideas and being willing to participate in programs at the convention. We would not have our #EmbarrassmentOfRiches without YOU!

A Year in #ConLife, Part 3

Sharon, your friendly neighborhood convention co-chair here, with the next part in our blog series talking about our year in #ConLife as we get ready for #FarpointCon2018!

Our last entry talked guest selection. We have since announced guests Matt Frewer, Nana Visitor, Timothy Zahn, Nora McLellan, Glenn Greenberg, and more that you can see on the Guest page on our website. Don’t forget that your 3-day, Saturday and Sunday convention tickets include 1 complimentary signature from your choice of our celebrity guests each day, giving our 3-day attendees 2 complimentary signatures in total. Our author guests will have copies of their books for sale and will also sign your personal copies if you bring them to the convention.

With guest selection underway, our programming team is beginning to look at ideas for panel discussions and events. If you have any ideas for our program team, please email them at Programs@FarpointCon.com. The events you are traditionally used to seeing at Farpoint will be returning: Art Show, Charity Auction, Masquerade, Gaming, Vic’s Place karaoke, Book Fair, Dinner and A Movie and the Ten Forward dance party.

If you are a dealer/vendor or know one, our #FarpointCon2018 Dealers Room is projecting to sell out by the end of September! That’s very exciting but it makes it important for any dealers out there considering joining us to send in their application as soon as possible. A copy of the application can be downloaded from the Dealers page on our website.

And we’ve been “on the road” at other conventions in the area! Since our last entry, we had tables or booths at Balticon 51 , AwesomeCon, BlerdCon , Shore Leave and StarQuest .  We had a lot of fun at each of these events and got the chance to meet new friends that we hope will join us at #FarpointCon2018.

One of the things we do at each publicity event is invite people to follow us on one of our social media channels (Farpoint Convention on Facebook and @FarpointCon on Twitter). New members from that weekend are put into a drawing to win two 3-day convention tickets. Even if you already follow us on social media, encourage your friends to join us during one of the weekends below even if they’re not at the event. They would still be a new member from that weekend and could win the 2 tickets and bring you along! Here’s where we’ll be for the rest of the summer. If you are attending any of these events, please stop by the Farpoint Convention display to say hello.

Our next #ConLife blog will continue to follow our programming team as they begin to build the schedule for #FarpointCon2018. Thank you for supporting Farpoint Convention and please share our online presence with your friends.

A Year in #ConLife, Part 1

We often get asked what happens between conventions, as we close out the previous year and plan for the next. You can follow along with us courtesy of our blog as we get ready for #FarpointCon2018, our 25th anniversary.

The first 2 months after the convention see quite a bit of activity. First there is the “mandatory” one week of “do not mention the convention to me in any way shape or form”. After, we make certain all final bills are paid, borrowed equipment and supplies are returned to their owners and hold a post-con meeting to review things that went right and things that can be improved upon for the next year. The first major decision for the next convention is the date and venue. We contact multiple local venues requesting cost proposals for our established date of President’s Day weekend and the weekends surrounding.

Evaluating the proposals requires several steps. First is establishing the initial budget for the next convention. Being an established event gives us a leg up on budgeting; we have good historical data on our attendance numbers and regular expenses and as such can establish upfront the affordable range for our venue costs. The second step is taking the proposed costs submitted by each venue and calculating out the expected total cost for using that venue. This means we can’t just take their numbers at face value. We take the venue’s space rental fee, hotel room rates and catering menus to develop an estimate of what our final bill would be at the venue, making sure to properly apply applicable taxes and service charges. Each venue is also evaluated on multiple other factors including whether they can give us our traditional President’s Day weekend, whether the venue can provide sufficient tables, chairs and staging, ease of access and parking, and if the venue has sufficient space and sleeping rooms for us. All of these factors combined point us to the specific venue for our event.

As previously announced, our 25th anniversary convention will be at the Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley, MD on February 9-11, 2018. You may notice this is not President’s Day weekend. After evaluating the 6 proposals we received for #FarpointCon2018, HVI made the best overall offer; the only big “hit” on their offer was the fact that we couldn’t have President’s Day weekend but the weekend before. After deliberation, our group consensus was that HVI was the best choice despite not being on President’s Day. In every other factor, HVI beat out every other venue by a substantial margin and will give us and our attendees the best value.

With our date and venue chosen our next steps will be to begin identifying celebrity guests and set up our #FarpointCon2018 “publicity tour” – the other events and conventions we will participate in to advertise our convention. Our next #ConLife report will look at choosing celebrity guests and report on life from the road.

 

Farpoint 2017 Progress Update

Farpoint 2017 Autograph Information

Here is the information on obtaining guest autographs for your reference as you prepare to join us at Farpoint 2017! Email us at contact@FarpointCon.com if you have any additional questions.

Celebrity Autographs – Sam Witwer, Enver Gjokaj, Nicholas Meyer

Weekend, Saturday and Sunday attendees will receive ONE signature at no additional charge from the celebrity of their choice on an item they bring to be signed from their personal collection OR the convention program book. Weekend attendees can get one signature on Saturday and one on Sunday for a total of two no charge signatures for the weekend. Saturday and Sunday attendees will receive one signature on the day they attend the convention.

Costs for additional signatures/items from the guest’s table are as follows:

Sam Witwer

$40 – signed photo purchase from the table/additional items to be signed from personal collection

$30 – at the table picture with Sam

$60 – signed photo and at the table picture combination

Enver Gjokaj

$40 – signed photo purchase from the table/additional items to be signed from personal collection

$30 – at the table picture with Enver

$60 – signed photo and at the table picture combination

Nicholas Meyer

Items from attendee’s personal collection will be signed at no charge.

At the table photos with Nicholas will be at no charge.

Signed books, videos and items for sale at the table will be at the prices set by the guest.

 

Authors, Performers, Scientists and Other Guests

Our author, performer, scientist and other guests will sign items from attendee’s personal collection or the convention program book at no charge. Guests may also have books, videos and items for sale at prices they set. They will take photos with the attendee at no charge.

Our celebrity guests for 2017 will be Sam Witwer from the Star Wars universe, Once Upon A Time and Being Human; Academy Award-nominated director Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek Discovery, Star Trek II, Star Trek IV and Star Trek VI, Seven-Per-Cent Solution and Time After Time); and Enver Gjokaj from Marvel’s Agent Carter and Dollhouse. All 3 will be arriving in time to attend our Friday evening Opening Ceremony and we hope to see you there too! The Opening Ceremony starts with a Cocktail Hour at 7:00 pm, with cash bar and food buffet available if you wish to eat and drink with us. Food buffet tickets can be added on to your ticket for $25; the buffet is all you can eat.

Other new additions to our guest list include authors Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris, Michael Ventrella, artist Heidi Hooper and geek comedian/musician Mikey Mason. Unfortunately authors Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Mike McPhail and Mary Fan and musician Insane Ian have had to cancel their appearances at Farpoint Convention 2017 due to schedule conflicts.

You can purchase your tickets for Farpoint in advance at www.FarpointCon.com/register from now until January 31, 2017. Ticket prices will be higher at the door. You can also print out the registration form online at www.FarpointCon.com/flier and mail it in with your payment.

Our hotel room block at the Radisson Hotel North Baltimore is selling quickly as well. Book your room online at https://www.radisson.com/timonium-hotel-md-21093/usatmmd using code FARPOI, or call the hotel directly at 410-252-7373. Thank you in advance for booking your room under our block. The more rooms we sell, the more our hotel likes us and gives us excellent pricing for our use of the meeting rooms. We’ve been able to keep our ticket price the same for the last SIX YEARS because of your loyalty to us and our hotel.

Our 2017 charities are the Julien Fleming Memorial Fund (www.jfmf.org) and Art Way Alliance (www.artwayalliance.org). We will be having two live auctions (Friday and Saturday evening) and a silent auction from Friday through Sunday morning to benefit our charities. Art Way Alliance, which provides instruction in drawing and animation techniques to young fans, will be participating in programs throughout the weekend as well.

We’re excited to announce a new showcase for this year: Fandom Central! Located in Dulaney Valley 1, Fandom Central is where you will find the displays and information tables for our fandom partners – other local conventions, fan clubs, charities and independent film production companies. Please make sure to visit Fandom Central and thank our friends for their support.

Congratulations to John Norton, winner of the 2017 Volker/McChesney Award for Service to Fandom. John was nominated in recognition of his hands on support of our continuing charity activities. You may recognize John as “that guy” who aced you out of that prime collectible during one of our live auctions. He has participated in the Washington/Baltimore convention scene for many years and can always be counted on to lend a helping hand or a smile whenever needed.

Schedule development is well underway! If you are interested in participating on any panels, please send us an email at Programs@FarpointCon.com to request a copy of the list of proposed panels for the convention. We are also bringing back several of our most popular live events, including the Wizard Dueling League and Cosmic Game Show. A new live event is the Button Down Pinback Party, which is an all age event looking at the history of using buttons in advertising and political campaigns and providing all participants the chance to create their own button during the party. More information on all our panels, shows and activities will be forthcoming as plans continue to develop. Make sure you follow us on Facebook (Farpoint Convention) and Twitter (@FarpointCon) and check our website www.FarpointCon.com to keep up with the latest news. The convention schedule is scheduled to be finalized February 2, 2017 and will be published online at that time.

We look forward to seeing you in February at Farpoint Convention 24!

Con Report: Farpoint 2015

Thank you to all of our members and guests who helped make Farpoint 2015 a wonderful convention. We welcomed 659 people through the door, holding our own as far as attendance, which is good.

Colin Ferguson, Tim Russ and Timothy Zahn all had nothing but superlatives when leaving. They enjoyed meeting all of you as much as you enjoyed meeting them, and they hope to be invited back for a future event. Tim Russ, especially, was wonderful in his guest starring role with Prometheus Radio Theatre on Friday night. If you missed “The Maltese Vulcan” it will be podcast by Prometheus Radio Theatre sometime soon. You can subscribe to the PRT podcast on their website, http://prometheusradiotheatre.com/

We received many compliments this year from members on the excellent and varied panel topics staged this year. This needs to be turned back around to the guests and members who both suggested topics but also participated on the panels. The contributions of our guests and members is priceless; we couldn’t do it without you all.

Photos from our official photographer have been added to our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FarpointCon). Please enjoy looking at them and feel free to share your own photos with us. There were some wonderful costumes on display this year, especially, that deserve a second or third look via photograph.

On to the not-so-good: our hotel sales manager and the general manager were both very embarrassed at receiving our reports on the poor quality of service we experienced this weekend. They both extend their apologies to us and to you all. Our discussions with them are ongoing, but we can tell you at this time that they have proposed ideas to apologize to all of you and show their appreciation should we decide to return in 2016. Farpoint will also be discussing our hotel experiences with the organizing committee of ChessieCon, which is held in the same hotel in November. Sharing information with them and monitoring their experience with the hotel this fall will show us if the promised improvements are in place.

Farpoint 2015 was a great show! Thank you again to our members and guests, and a special thank you to the Farpoint Committee, Staff and Helpers. Their dedication makes the convention happen every year.

Con Report: Mego Meet 2014

As the changing of Spring to Summer comes closer upon us, main convention season starts to arise. The very small convention that starts to kick this season of cons off is Mego Meet. At its Tenth Year, this convention or “meet” that focuses on cherishing the popular line of Mego Action figures release in the 1970s has had a great boost in attendance. This is Farpoint’s Report on Mego Meet 2014.

Even though Farpoint does not get a table(Since only dealer’s tables are available), Farpoint Representatives Christian(myself), Steven, Ethan, and Renee Wilson attend it every year since its creation. Held in Wheeling West Virginia, it is held at the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum. Museum? Yes, that’s right! Even though Mego Meet goes on downstairs on the ground floor, there are two floors of Toys and Trains in a Museum at no extra charge to the Membership. Speaking also of memberships, this event is for only ONE DAY. 9 AM to 5 PM. While that sounds short there are still dealers and panels(Which only get ONE ROOM) to attend, as well as concessions and the upstairs museum. The earlier-mentioned panels are quite a narrow range, but that’s OK since it is a very narrow-genre-centric convention. Panels include the one and only Dr. Mego as well as auctions and other Create-Your-Own-Toy events. With a lot of history behind the multiple lines of action figures, there is much to talk about and audience participation is very much wanted and accepted. Dr. Mego usually shows new production models and other indev projects.

I mentioned earlier that this is the con’s tenth year. This means there are many longish-standing traditions to be had, like every year there is a new custom Mego that is available for purchase and a FREE KEYCHAIN!!! I know that’s not big, but I like to make it a big deal. Also I mentioned that there were dealers too. There are a lot of dealers. There pretty much the main attraction as the items on sale can range from custom Doctor Who Megos to a 1978 Star Wars Death Star Playset. The dealers are an ever-growing “race” of Mego “Meeters” because they now take up three rooms. In the way of guests, the convention doesn’t have a huge following or a big budget so not too many guests are really in their demographic. However, the earlier-mentioned Dr. Mego comes as well as comic book author and artist Art Baltazar comes with his large collection of custom Megos.

Well, that’s it! Make sure to check out Mego Meet at their website and be sure to check back for more reports on other conventions coming soon!