Earlier this month, I posted part 1 of my thoughts I’ve had since attending the San Francisco Supernatural convention on Dec 2-4 2016. That post talked mostly about my relationship with Supernatural, fandom, and my creative career. This post will talk more about the convention itself; the events, and my reactions to them, and the photo ops.
In my last entry, I shared a monologue about my obsessive marathoning of Supernatural during one of my YUM shows. If I had video from our last show, I’d be sharing the monologue I did about the Supernatural convention, but unfortunately I can’t do that, so I’ll do my best to translate my enthusiasm in written form.
One of the really great things about the Supernatural conventions is how well they’re organised. They don’t sell more tickets than they have seats, and they tend to get a good number of the cast — of course, the stars, Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) and Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester), along with the long-time series regulars angel Misha Collins (Castiel) and demon Mark Sheppard (Crowley). In addition to these four, San Francisco got eight actors with recurring roles: Kim Rhodes (Sheriff Jodi Mills), Briana Buckmaster (Sheriff Donna Hanscum), Julian Richings (Death), Osric Chau (Kevin Tran), Ruth Connell (Rowena), Richard Speight, Jr (Trickster/Gabriel), Matt Cohen (Young John Winchester), and Rob Benedict (Chuck Shurley/Carver Edlund/God).
Because I didn’t have anyone to watch my kids on the Friday after they finished school, I missed a couple of the panels (Julian Richings and Osric’s solo panel), but I ended up using that as part of the reason I justified getting photo ops with more of the cast than I originally intended. I’d only pre-purchased one with Jensen, and thank goodness I did because it’s the only one that sold out before the convention began.
Speaking of which, I’m going to talk about that first, despite the fact it happened on the Sunday, because it was my favourite part of the convention. So much so that I had described it in detail in that YUM monologue the following weekend.
There are a lot of rules that govern the convention because they run a pretty tight shop and want to make sure as many people as possible can get the most out of it. Time for photo ops are limited, and there are signs that ask you not to hug the actors outside of the photo op itself, because, obviously, if everyone did that, it would take twice as long. Since Jensen was the last photo op I had in the convention (after the 5 I had on the previous day), I’d had plenty of time to think about how I’d like the pose to be, but everything moves so quickly and I was too shy to say anything that I actually ended up with something better than I’d imagined, just by standing where I needed to be for the pose I had in mind. Knowing Jensen is about 10″ taller than I am, I’d thought, it’d be cool to stand in front of him, have his chin on my head, and arms wrapped around my waist. Though I wasn’t able to vocalise that, despite the fact Jensen said a bunch of friendly words to me that I don’t even remember (and more than any of the other cast had, apart from maybe Ruth Connell, who complimented my jacket), Jensen must’ve been through so many of these photo shoots to have the intuition to know what his fans want, and got pretty close to that.
I was excited when he wrapped his arm around my chest, and then even more thrilled when I felt him lean down to rest his chin on my head. It’s rare these days that I get to feel like a teenage girl again, but I have absolutely no regrets. Was it a lot of money? Sure, but I’m not likely to have gotten a better photograph with one of my favourite actors to watch any other way.
The decision making process for the rest of the photo ops I selected took a lot longer (I’d planned to get Jensen’s before the tickets even went on sale, and bought it the day the tickets became available). When I arrived on the Friday, I was debating between getting a picture with Misha as Castiel, and getting a duo of him with Mark Sheppard (which was $10 cheaper and cheaper than getting photos with them individually). I ended up choosing the duo shot, because I like them both and it was the best value. I got that ticket before seeing any of the panels.
Misha and Mark both had solo panels on the Saturday. They seemed to have very different presence in front of the audience, which I loved. Mark walked around a lot more, getting amongst the audience a lot, and even freaking some people out by getting too close in their personal space. My favourite part of Misha’s Q&A was when someone asked him if he’d consider moving into politics because of how this year’s election went, and it was lovely to hear him talk so passionately about how he felt about the results. His sentiments matched mine, when he talked about the importance of not “othering” the people who voted for Trump, and rather listening more carefully and how we can address the issues we care about together, regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum. My other favourite moment was hearing about how Richard Speight, Jr, who’d been directing the show that week, got Misha to crawl through so much mud. Whereas Mark’s comments on Speight directing related to trying to convince us his character was being killed off. And the most amusing part of Misha’s panel was seeing how he reacted any time a baby in the audience made a noise.
The next photo op I bought was a result of Rob Benedict hosting the first day. It was originally meant to be Richard Speight, Jr, who is the usual MC for these events (and he hosted on the Saturday and Sunday), but he was still in Vancouver directing an episode of Supernatural that is still yet to air. Rob Benedict seemed so fun even just with his hosting, and the brief singing with his band Louden Swain, plus I loved his character on the show, and then I thought how much I also enjoyed Richard Speight, Jr’s character, that it just ended up being a no-brainer for me to purchase a duo photo op with the two of them together.
It’s kind of funny that I’m writing about these photo ops in the reverse order that they were taken. So, I’d had three photo ops out of the way by the time I lined up to do the one with Rob & Richard. Still at this point I wasn’t pre-planning what I wanted the photo to look like, so I went in there like I had the others, expecting to just be in regular photo between them both, maybe my arms around both of them like I’d done previously with Kim and Briana. Instead, they both surprised me with a body slam hug and I had no idea what was going on, but that resulted in my second favourite picture from the entire convention (my favourite, of course, being Jensen).
Rob Benedict and Richard Speight, Jr were the most active on stage throughout the convention, what with hosting, and the house band Louden Swain, as well as being in a panel with Matt Cohen, and a separate panel at the end of the con for their web series Kings of Con, which I’ve yet to see more than a trailer of, but looks to be a lot of fun with guest appearances from other Supernatural cast members, and they wrote it drawing from their experiences at all the conventions they’ve appeared at. It was interesting learning that they became much closer friends after Rob had a stroke at one of the conventions a few years ago, and that led to the birth of the Saturday night concerts they do with Louden Swain at every convention now.
Because I got myself a copper seating ticket for the duration of the convention, I got to attend the concert and sit in the same seat. I hadn’t heard any Louden Swain songs before I attended the convention, but I knew they had guest appearances with various Supernatural actors, so I wanted to see what that was like. But then when it was announced that the band would sign autographs for free if you bought their merchandise there, I ended up buying some CDs before the concert, based purely on which song titles appealed to me. Many of the actors did come up and sing (Osric Chau, Matt Cohen, Ruth Connell, Kim Rhodes, and Briana Buckmaster), whilst Mark Sheppard played drums for a few songs, and Richard Speight, Jr played bass for a couple of songs. It was cool to watch and listen to, but I’m glad I got to witness Louden Swain play some of their own songs, too. Rob Benedict talking about how he wrote “She Waits” for his mom, about when his dad left when he was a kid, made witnessing him sing it that much more personal and emotional. I was glad that that had been one of the song titles I’d picked on one of the CDs I’d bought.
The only panel I managed to see on the Friday was with Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster, but I was excited to check this one out because they get to play some of the most badass and fun, strong, independent female characters on the show. The first time Briana appeared on the show, I wouldn’t have expected her character to come back, but she was so fun that it was awesome when she did. Kim’s sheriff character has appeared a lot more, and had even more great storylines as her character has grown over the years. I really enjoyed hearing them both talk about their experiences on the show, and also when someone asked them to improvise a scene as if they were playing the other one’s character.
Due to my lack of ability to be at the convention long on the Friday, I hadn’t really thought about getting a photograph with them, but between Friday night and Saturday morning, I thought more about whether or not I’d regret not getting other photo ops. I thought both these women were awesome, but I also wanted to get a photo with Osric Chau, and Ruth Connell. In the end, by Saturday morning, because there was a second duo photo op with the sheriffs, and a second photo op opportunity with Osric (which I’d also missed from the Friday), I ended up buying all three options at once. They were all held one after the other, after the panel with all four of them on Saturday morning, so it was good it also gave me something else to do before the next panel in the afternoon.
Although I was sad to have missed Osric’s solo panel, I was glad I didn’t have to miss him completely when he was part of the panel with the three women who were part of the convention. It was lovely to see them all interact with each other. Ruth’s solo panel was great, too. She gave all of the audience members who asked her questions little gifts as a thank you, and also walked through the audience to find other red-haired people, which I thought was cute. My favourite story from her was when she talked about how she’d been cast on the show — she was living in LA and about to pack things in and head back to the UK when the call went out for the role of Rowena. A friend of hers told her to submit, and she asked her agent about it, but her agent didn’t even submit her because her agent thought they wanted people who were more well known, more experienced. So she submitted herself instead, and ended up landing the role. It just goes to show that sometimes it’s really worth not listening to your naysayers.
One of the last things I attended and have yet to talk about yet was the free karaoke party on the Friday night. I made the effort to drive back out to Burlingame just for that, since I had someone who could babysit for me by then, and I thought it would be fun to see the actors sing karaoke with their fans. I wish I’d bothered to stay just a little bit longer; I left right during the song that was talked about a lot the next day. But I was also worried about falling asleep on the road on the drive home, because it was nearly midnight and I needed to head out again around 9am the next day. Despite this, it was cool seeing most of the cast that was there (Rob Benedict, Matt Cohen, Osric Chau, Kim Rhodes, and Briana Buckmaster) dressed up with a Games of Thrones theme (even though I don’t watch the show), and additionally see Ruth Connell arrive, and it was my only opportunity to see Julian Richings at the convention.
I thought I’d round off this post by talking about the Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki panel, to bring it kind of full circle since I started with my photo with Jensen. I had someone ask me why I didn’t get a photo with Jared, if he was there, and the truth is I’ve never been especially fond of his character, Sam, and certainly not enough to justify the cost of a photo with him (which was three times as expensive as many of the recurring characters, and the same amount as Jensen’s — I’d pay that much for Jensen because he’s my favourite, but not so for Jared). The character has his moments that I like, of course, but I thought I’d get more value out of the other pictures. Having said that, I did enjoy hearing Jared talk during the Q&A, although I really have to wonder about his perspective on things, when he asks Jensen a question like, “How much is it going to cost me to replace Misha’s car if I pull a prank on it?” I mean, yeah, you make a lot of money, but that’s what you want to do with it? That’s not all he does with it, I’m sure, and we also got to hear a bit about why he gives back to the community, and cares about helping those with mental health issues. The most amusing thing about Jared discussing the car prank, in my mind, was the fact Misha had told the story from his perspective in his Q&A the day before.
The most poignant moment in the panel, for me, was when Jensen talked about the anxiety he’d felt on the shoot that week. How he’d frozen in place. It was notable to me because it showed how human he is, how it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working so successfully in the same career, you can still have those moments of pure terror.
All in all, I’m really glad I attended the convention, and I’d love to go back to another one.