Fan Days IV Recap
On October 8th and 9th the Irving Convention Center in Irving Texas hosted the 4th iteration of Fan Days. Fan Days this year was a mostly Star Wars focused convention featuring special celebrity guests, fan groups, Q&A panels, and numerous vendors. Fans from around the country, and even from other countries, gathered together for two days to celebrate their love for the Star Wars franchise. As with most conventions, there was not enough time to do absolutely everything, but here are my memories of what I did get to see and do.
I was sad to see there wasn’t much of a representation from Star Wars authors at Fan Days. Luckily, they did have two of the best. Aaron Allston, who has written books in the X-wing, New Jedi Order, Legacy of the Force, and Fate of the Jedi series, and Tim Zahn, who has written numerous Star Wars books and is considered by some as the “godfather of the modern Expanded Universe.” I was excited to hear from both of these authors and attended the two panels that they were on together. The first of these panels was called “Ask the Authors” and was exactly that. In a small but crowded room, fans got to get up and ask their questions and get them answered by the two authors. You can actually watch the entire panel over at YouTube thanks to our friends at TheForce.net. Here are some of the highlights.
Allston said that much of the direction of the story in Fate of the Jedi is dictated by Lucasfilm and Del Rey and not just the authors.
Tim Zahn doesn’t like the idea of time travel or “flow walking” in Star Wars. He really really doesn’t like it.
Aaron Allston’s favorite Star Wars film is Empire Strikes Back. “…it has the best character development.”
Tim Zahn on the subject of rebooting the Star Wars Expanded Universe – “A reboot would be very messy.” “There would be immense pressure from the fan community not to do a reboot.”
Awhile back, Allston pitched the ideal of a novel about the events of the Original Trilogy from the perspective of Darth Vader. Zahn thinks he should repitch the idea to Del Rey and the crowd heartily agreed.
When asked what he would have done differently with the Prequels, Zahn said he would have done Jar Jar differently. “The most irritating thing about Jar Jar is that he doesn’t grow.” Zahn also said the Yoda/Dooku battle in Attack of the Clones would have been better if it wasn’t as acrobatic. Have Yoda stand still and show his mastery.
Zahn – “Now that certain of my characters have been offed, there is less incentive to write in that era”
The other panel they did together was called “What Not to Put in a Story.” This panel was less Star Wars focused, and more advice to aspiring writers. Still a great panel, it was very enjoyable to listen to the two authors critique modern movies and books. Two things I learned from this panel were they don’t like Clive Cussler’s writing too much, and Zahn is a big fan of Doctor Who. Star Wars literature did eventually come up…
Zahn – “Maybe before they kill Han, Luke, and Leia they should destroy the Falcon and see what kind of fan reaction they get”
Allston said that at the beginning of The Clone Wars animated series there was not much communication between that team and the books department. He said now communication is much better. They actually had to change some things in the Fate of the Jedi series because of some things that were coming up in The Clone Wars show.
Allston was in talks with Del Rey to possibly continue the Republic Commando series. He ended up doing the Wraith Squadron book instead.
Hughes the Force
One of the big events at Fan Days was a screening of the fan made film Hughes the Force, written and directed by J.C. Reifenberg. The film is basically a mash up of Star Wars and John Hughes films, specifically borrowing from the plot of Weird Science. At the end of day one of the convention, they invited everyone up to an auditorium to watch the short film followed by a Q&A with the crew of the film. I have to admit that I haven’t seen too many John Hughes films, so some of the humor may have been lost on me, but the film was very well made and funny. Tons of Star Wars references and even cameos by some of The Clone Wars voice actors. I definitely recommend checking this film out. I even had a chance to talk to J.C. Reifenberg and the producer of the film Ruark Dreher while on the convention floor. They are both extremely nice, talented guys and I look forward to seeing what they can come up with in the future.
If you were looking for that hard to find Star Wars toy, a unique Star Wars t-shirt, or are hoping to meet a Star Wars artist or celebrity, the convention floor at Fan Days was the place to be. The floor was arranged so the celebrities were on the edge of the floor (Billy Dee had his own room) and the artists and vendors had booths organized in the center. Very easy to navigate and find what you were looking for. There were more artists and celebrities than I will mention here, but some of the names that stuck out to me were Ashley Eckstein, Stephen Stanton, Tom Kane, Tom Hodges, Spencer Brinkerhoff, Denise Vasquez, Randy Martinez and Matt Busch. Some were easy to get to and others had long lines, but all of the celebrities and artists were very friendly and more than willing to spend a few minutes talking to the fans that came up to them.
This year I wanted to see what it would be like to be a volunteer at a convention so I signed up to work a shift on the second day. There are many possible jobs you can get, anything from watching a door to sitting with a celebrity, and I was ready to do whatever they asked. Luckily for me, I got the job of sitting with one of the guests and helping them as they talked to fans and signed autographs. The guest that I got to sit with was Jon Berg, who did a lot of visual effects work on the Original Trilogy. I had not heard of him before but after talking to him for a few minutes I quickly realized how important he was to the Star Wars saga. He had done design work on some of the most iconic things in the movies including Imperial Walkers, Ithorians (he laughed when people asked him to sign “Hammerhead”), Duros, the holo-chess set, and a lot more. The conversations I had with him were amazing. It was like an interactive behind the scenes session. He was one of the nicest people I have met and very down to earth. He even offered to get me coffee at one point which is what I was supposed to be doing for him. This was only his second convention and I hope he goes to many more. If you ever get a chance to talk to him I highly recommend it.
This was my first time to Fan Days, and I was very impressed. It was well organized, well run and spacious. I never had the feeling that it was over crowded like some of the bigger conventions I have been to. A smaller convention like this allows you to relax and take everything in. The best thing about these conventions is getting together with your friends and other like-minded fans, and Fan Days was full of them. I am not sure when the next Star Wars Fan Days will be (my guess is 2013 since there is a Star Wars Celebration in 2012) but you should go. Hopefully I will see you at Celebration 6 before then.