September 4, 2009

FAN EXPO COVERAGE: Final Thoughts



This year's Rue Morge Festival of Fear at the Hobbystar Fan Expo was a real treat. I not only got to meet some of my favorite zombie creators (i.e. Max Brooks) but I also got to connect with new authors and local artists in the horror 'biz. The great thing about the Fan Expo and the Festival of Fear is that most of the independent artists, actors, and filmmakers working their booths are just as interesting if not more interesting than the big-name celebrities who headline the show. There is a wealth of creative horror talent in Canada and the independent guys are certainly more approachable and enthusiastic about their work. Sure, it was a blast getting to see Bruce Campbell live, but I had just as much fun shooting the zombie shit with Rob Sacchetto and debating why he thinks Frankenstein's monster counts as a zombie.


There were some major organizational and staff problems at this year's Expo that I can't ignore, however. For one, the Fan Expo staff and volunteers were generally unhelpful when it came to getting information about what line to stand in. They seemed to have been instructed not to answer any questions and instead to direct people into lines (regardless of whether the attendees needed to be in those lines). Also, if this year's attendance (especially on Saturday) is any indication, the Fan Expo has outgrown the South Building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Even for able-bodied folks, it was a chore to move around. The people I knew in wheelchairs had a terribly stressful time maneuvering through the convention floor.

There also needs to be a better method for exiting and entering the building if attendance is going to be this high. To exit the building, attendees have only one set of escalators on each floor by which they can exit. When the filled-to-capacity Bruce Campbell panel finished late Saturday afternoon and the swarm of people leaving the panel made it up that escalator, they found some kind of Star Wars Jedi light saber fight class taking up the whole floor and blocking access to the next set of escalators. Hundreds of people could not pass until security came and reduced the size of the floor show. This was probably the most extreme example of bottle necking that nevertheless occurred in smaller congested ways on all three days of the event. It is either time for Hobbystar to set up the show in both buildings or find a new and larger venue.

That being said, the people at Applause Communications were incredibly helpful in setting me up with my press pass and fielding my questions. I also want to thank Horror in the Hammer and Peter Bridges and his crew for assisting me at this year's Festival of Fear to produce some very special video content that is coming soon!

For the way the Fan Expo allows fans of horror, sci-fi, anime, and gaming to mingle seamlessly, it is a unique show you can't afford to miss. I just hope that future events will be better planned and organized to relieve the stressful crowd congestion that occurred throughout the weekend.