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A Year in #ConLife, Part 2

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 covered venue selection. Now that we have our venue, the Delta Hotel by Marriott in Hunt Valley, MD (formerly the Hunt Valley Inn) it is time for guest selection. Farpoint is very lucky to have a wonderful group of supportive industry professionals – science fiction and comic writers, scientists and performers – who attend as guests on a regular basis. It is important, however, that we never assume that any of these in demand pros are coming. They are among our first outgoing invitations for the next year, informing them of the dates and venue with our hope that they will be able to join us again.

Along with our beloved “regulars” we begin looking at potential celebrity guests. Selecting a celebrity guest is quite complicated. It starts with looking at the budget. The appearance fee for a celebrity guest is paid in one of two ways: the convention pays the entire fee upfront allowing the guest to provide signatures and photo ops at no charge or the convention guarantees the guest will make an agreed upon amount from attendees paying for the guest’s signature and/or photo op. In the latter case, the convention agrees to pay the guest the difference if the sales do not reach the guaranteed amount. As such, it is important for the convention to understand their level of attendance and the potential for each guest to make their minimum sales guarantee and then ensure the convention has sufficient funds to cover any guarantee shortfalls in a worst case scenario. The convention will also be paying for the celebrity’s airfare, hotel and meals during the weekend, and possibly the same for an assistant sent along by the booking agent. Another potential expense is the cost of the photos the guest will be signing. Who pays for the photos is an item to be settled when negotiating the guest’s appearance agreement. Travel costs are part of the upfront expenses a convention needs to cover, along with supplies, equipment rentals, printing of programs, schedules and signs, and deposits to the venue. A convention must make sure that they have sufficient funds to pay for all of these costs.

Once we determine the amount of money we have available to pay the expenses for celebrity guests, we look at the input we have received from our attendees on who they would like to see and consider which TV shows, movies, comics and books people are interested in. This gives us a list of names for potential guests. We contact agents we know work with the potentials on our list to find out the appearance requirements for each. Our agent friends also provide suggestions on potential guests with their requirements.

The fee requirements data allows us to focus on potential guests who match the best with Farpoint. We then select guests to make offers to and submit the offers through the agent. Our normal process is to submit to one guest at a time as we do not want to over commit our available funds. Whether the guest accepts our offer is completely out of our control. That decision comes down to the guest’s anticipated availability for a convention appearance in February and their personal desire to do an appearance. Some celebrities also do not wish to book an appearance more than 3-4 months out to limit the possibility of their having to cancel because of a change in their work schedule. When all of the factors come together, we are able to sign an agreement and announce the guest’s appearance. We will be announcing our first #FarpointCon2018 guests at Balticon 51, being held on Memorial Day weekend (May 26-29, 2017) at the Renaissance Hotel Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD.

Our table at Balticon 51 is the latest in our series of publicity displays at conventions throughout the year. Normally, Farpoint will do a table trade with other conventions where they provide us a table to set up our display at to meet people and we provide them the same at the next Farpoint. In a few instances, we will purchase a table in the convention’s dealer area as the organization does not offer table trades yet their event is in a geographic area and/or date range we wish to hit. We use our appearances at other conventions to hand out our latest Farpoint flier and introduce attendees to another opportunity for them to gather with fellow fans.

Between Part 1 of our #ConLife series and Part 2 (this entry), Farpoint has attended CreatorCon in Silver Spring, MD, FurTheMore in Tysons Corner, VA, and the Anne Arundel Public Library Comic Con in Odenton, MD. We highly recommend all 3 of these events as places fans can meet and have fun together. CreatorCon (http://www.creatorconfestival.com/) focuses on original art and technology to encourage fans to create on their own and to network with other creators. FurTheMore (http://www.furthemore.org/) initially began as an event focusing exclusively on the Furry community but over the years has expanded to cover costuming, cosplay, and pop culture, and welcomes furries and non-furries alike for a weekend of workshops, discussions and fun. The Anne Arundel Public Library Comic Con (http://www.aacpl.net/comic-con) is a free event spotlighting comics, literature and superheroes. Many public library systems are offering these fun one day community events and we encourage everyone to attend their local library event as it occurs.

Coming up on our publicity tour is:

AwesomeCon  June 16-18, 2017 in Washington DC,
ShoreLeave July 7-9, 2017 in Hunt Valley MD
StarQuest  in Frederick MD.
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 talk about more experiences from our publicity tour and 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.

Autographs and Photos FAQ

Autographs and Photos – A Frequently Asked Question
Fans discovering Farpoint Convention for the first time often ask about our way of providing autographs and photos with celebrity guests, because many of them discover us through our appearances at local comic cons where autographs and photos are handled differently.
Our convention attendees do not need additional tickets for autographs/photos at Farpoint. Our roots are in the original Star Trek fandom and we honor these roots by staying “old school” with fans’ interactions with our guests. All of our celebrity guests are available at their signing stations throughout Saturday and Sunday at the convention for you to meet and get autographs and photos. Each attendee receives one signature Saturday and one Sunday from the celebrity of their choice on an item from their personal collection or the program book at no additional charge. Our guests will, of course, have additional items available for sale at their station. You can choose the time when you want to stop by to meet Sam around your enjoyment of the 200+ hours of panel discussions, activities and games we plan throughout the weekend.
We do not offer professional photo opportunities. As a small convention of between 800 and 1000 attendees we do not offer professional photographers the volume of “throughput” they desire at a convention. Our guests will normally take photos with the fan’s camera at their table. It is up to the guest whether they will charge a fee for the at the table photo. Most guests will charge $0 to $20 at the most.
We provide our guests with escorts and assistants as needed throughout the weekend from our team to assist them and our attendees. This level of trust from our guests is a reflection on both our wonderful community of friendly fans and our 24 years of experience running Farpoint Convention. We are very proud of Farpoint Convention’s reputation as a place where fans and guests can interact in a relaxed, safe and fun atmosphere.
One of the other advantages of being a smaller convention is that our celebrity guests are able and willing to do additional activities with us. For example, both Sam Witwer and Enver Gjokai will be attending our Opening Ceremonies on Friday night (unless there are travel issues). They may also be participating in our traditional radio play performance by Prometheus Radio Theatre, which will be a one-time opportunity for you to see them in action live. Sam and Enver are planning to judge our Masquerade competition on Saturday evening. It is also not surprising for attendees to run into our guests at the bar or karaoke party during the weekend. All of our guests tend to mix and mingle with us throughout the weekend, allowing everyone to visit and chat at their leisure.
Additional autograph opportunities are available with our author and scientist guests. If you like to get all your books signed and pick up copies of your favorite author’s new book at one time, make plans to attend our Book Fair on Friday evening after the Opening Ceremonies. Our author and scientist guests are available at other times throughout the weekend for meeting fans and signing your copies of their books or your program book. They will sign your personal copy at no charge and are always glad to share information on their latest projects.
Convention attendees can purchase tickets now at http://www.farpointcon.com/register/ and book their hotel room at http://www.farpointcon.com/hotel-information/.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone this February!

Farpoint 24

Farpoint 24 will be held on February 17-19, 2017 (President’s Day weekend)! Our convention is returning to the Radisson Hotel North Baltimore in Timonium, MD. The Radisson has extended the $121 per night before taxes room rate, which they lowered for us in 2016, for our 2017 convention too!

This loyalty to us and our attendees is one of the reasons we decided to return to the Radisson for 2017. As promised, we received proposals from multiple hotels after our 2016 Radisson contract was completed. The Hunt Valley Inn and Hilton BWI Airport Hotel sent us 2017 proposals along with the Radisson. The Hilton pricing would have caused us to pass on a large ticket price increase to our fans, which was not acceptable. The Hunt Valley Inn bid was also higher, though closer in price to the Radisson, but they could not give us our preferred President’s Day weekend dates.

The Radisson did not raise room rate prices from the 2016 rate. The increase to us for meeting space is small enough that we do not have to raise convention ticket prices or table prices for the FIFTH year in a row, which is coupled with lower service charges than both the Hunt Valley Inn and the Hilton. Everyone attending the Open Committee Meeting at the end of the convention last month agreed that the hotel’s services were markedly improved over 2015. Many of the remaining issues we have with the Radisson will be addressed by the conference floor remodel that is commencing in April 2016. All of this, coupled with the Radisson being able to give us our preferred President’s Day weekend dates, led us to the conclusion that the Radisson will again offer us the best option in hotel size and pricing for 2017.

We look forward to your joining us again at Farpoint 24!

 

Museum of Science Fiction’s Escape Velocity!

Farpoint Convention is proud to announce our teaming with the Museum of Science Fiction in Washington DC as a participant in the inaugural Escape Velocity, scheduled for July 1-3, 2016 at the Gaylord Resort and Conference Center, National Harbor in Maryland.

Escape Velocity is a micro world’s fair to promote science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) education within the context of science fiction using the fun of comic cons and fascination of science and engineering festivals. It’s mission is to re-invigorate the interest of our young people in STEAM by producing and presenting the most compelling, exciting, educational, and entertaining science festival in the United States using science fiction as the primary engine.

Farpoint will be participating in programming at Escape Velocity and has been invited to exhibit in the vendor’s hall for the weekend. As a special bonus to Farpoint 2016 attendees, a special “Farpoint at Escape Velocity” level has been set up as a Escape Velocity Kickstarter reward at the $60 level. For donating at this level, you will receive 1 standard 3 day ticket to Escape Velocity, a commemorative pin, a special edition MoSF/Star Trek 50th tee and an Escape Velocity Launch Crew wristband that gets you early access to some areas of the event, first option to purchase VIP add-ons, a 10% discount on Escape Velocity merchandise and other perks. AND the wristband privileges are good for future years too!

The Escape Velocity Kickstarter can be found here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1372925676/escape-velocity

Scroll down the rewards list until you see “Farpoint at Escape Velocity” at the $60 level.

We hope we’ll see you there!

STAR TREK’S 50th ANNIVERSARY

The founding of Farpoint Convention 23 years ago can be traced directly to the original Star Trek conventions in New York in the 1970s. Members of our committee were taken to those conventions as children and wanted to bring the fun and fellowship they found at the New York conventions home to our area. Star Trek conventions started as a place for fans to gather and share their love for Star Trek and science fiction. These conventions kept Star Trek alive and were a special and safe place for fans to gather as a community in the years before “geek culture” became accepted as it has in recent years. Encouraging and promoting the community of fandom is Farpoint’s purpose.


2016 is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the show that started everything for us. We are celebrating this golden anniversary with activities throughout the weekend. Star Trek legend David Gerrold will be talking to fans throughout the weekend with Q&A sessions, signings, and panels. We will celebrate the art of the Fanzine on Saturday evening at 11:00 in our ballroom with readings from classic Star Trek zines by the original authors! Zines have a special place in Star Trek’s legacy, as they were the sole source of new Star Trek stories in the long time between the end of the original series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Our program book cover is a special Star Trek 50th triptych in collaboration with our sister conventions Balticon and ShoreLeave. We will also be hosting a Starfleet meeting on Saturday at 9 am and Star Trek themed panels throughout the weekend. It’s time to wear your Trek uniform proudly, and no red shirts will be harmed during the weekend’s “Away Mission”.

PROGRAM TRACK NEWS

Our 2016 Science track features talks on an array of topics. Con-goers can attend talks covering the latest news from Mars exploration, Solar Studies, Math and Forensics, and Robotics. We are especially excited to include talks focusing on Star Trek’s 50th anniversary: “Astronomical Images in Star Trek”, “Trek Tech”, and “The Real Worlds of Star Trek”.

We will be celebrating the 5th anniversary of “Browncoats: Redemption”, the first film from our guests at Big Damn Films. Join us as we show the film again and talk with the producers about their groundbreaking work, which has raised thousands of dollars for charity in showings around the country since its initial release.

Activities in our Children & Youth track are marked with a special symbol on the schedule. These events are open to all ages but are geared in content toward our younger members. Events in this track include our Friday pajama party, Saturday’s Magic Workshop, “Fandango” Puppet Workshop and Monster Tea Party, and Sunday’s “Kitchen Science Workshop”. There are games and activities in our Hal’s Place Gaming Oasis for children and teens. The Atrium workshops on Saturday and Sunday are open to children, teens and adults: Muggle Dueling League, Maryland Kunst des Fechens European-style sword fighting demonstration, and a Self-Defense workshop

Farpoint is proud to host meetings for our local Starfleet and Royal Manticorian Navy chapters. These meetings are open to current and potential members, and both groups will have tables in our atrium where you can learn more about each group and talk to current members.

We play hard, learn hard and PARTY hard at Farpoint! Our Friday evening cocktail party is in the Greenspring ballroom at 7:00 pm and leads into our Opening Ceremony at 8:00 pm. The cocktail party is open to all and features a cash bar for drinks and a hot food bar for which a wristband must be purchased at our registration table. You don’t have to purchase any food or drink to attend the cocktail party, where you can mix and mingle with fans and many of our convention guests in a casual atmosphere. The Friday party continues with Vic’s Place Karaoke featuring The Pack Ratz in our Atrium. Saturday’s party starts in the Atrium after the Masquerade when Ten-Forward opens its doors for music and dancing until the wee hours.
Our Masquerade director and team have once again put together a wonderful track for costumers to learn new techniques and improve their competitive presentations. Topics include “Workmanship Nuts and Bolts”, “Masquerade Presentation Clinic” and “Steampunk Costume Help”. Our annual Masquerade competition will take place on Saturday evening at 8:00 pm in the Greenspring Ballroom. You can register to compete at the Masquerade table in the Atrium on Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Masquerade staff will be at the table to answer questions and help you fill out your show entry form.

For a complete schedule, please click here. ** Please note: This schedule is subject to change, so pick up the final schedule at the convention!

 

LAST DAYS TO PREREGISTER

Convention pre-registration closes TOMORROW. Prices will be higher at the door. Register online at (LINK) to get the lowest prices which are listed below.

  • Weekend pre-registration (includes one Sean Maher signature SAT & SUN): $80
  • Child 6-12 pre-registration (includes one Sean Maher signature SAT & SUN): $25
  • Children 5 and under: Free with paying adult
  • Friday pre-registration: $15
  • Saturday pre-registration (includes one Sean Maher signature SAT): $55
  • Saturday after 7 pm pre-registration: $15
  • Sunday pre-registration (includes one Sean Maher signature SUN): $40
  • Cocktail Party Food Bar Ticket pre-registration: $25

Our 2016 at the door prices are listed below. Both pre-registered and at the door members may purchase Cocktail Party Food Bar tickets at the door

  • Weekend (includes one Sean Maher signature SAT & SUN): $85
  • Child 6-12 (includes one Sean Maher signature SAT & SUN): $25

Children 5 and under: Free with paying adult

  • Friday:  $20
  • Saturday (includes one Sean Maher signature SAT):  $60
  • Saturday after 7 pm:  $20
  • Sunday (includes one Sean Maher signature SUN):  $45
  • Cocktail Party Food Bar Ticket: $25