I’ve been too busy to post con reports this year for the most part, but I’m trying to change that – at least for one con! Vancon, as it was called for almost a decade and will still always be called in my head, is a special con. It takes place in mecca for Supernatural fans, where the show is filmed, and that means that lots of other Vancouver-based Supernatural alums and crew members often come by to say hi to the fans. It’s also the place where some of the best days of my life have taken place, and where many of my SPNFamily friends come to congregate, so that makes it a special con for me. This year was no exception.
I didn’t have any extra time to take in location filming or revisit some of my favorite Vancouver restaurants and sights, and I’m still grieving that the con is no longer at the beautiful Sheraton Wall Centre, but the Westin Bayshore is also quite nice. It’s also way above my budget at the non-con rate, and thanks to my aforementioned busy, I neglected to book it early enough to get that. So my friend Alicia and I spent the first two nights up the hill at the Coast, a European flavored hotel with an international bunch of patrons and a portable AC machine that served as possibly the best white noise I’ve ever experienced. I totally wanted to bring the giant thing with me! I then cashed in every single Starwood point I’ve ever accumulated to move over to the Westin, which rewarded us with an amazing view of this amazing city. I love you, Vancouver!
I mean, look at it! That’s the view from my window once I finally got to the Westin Bayshore.
I had a lovely seafood dinner out on the water on Friday night and a few good meals at the hotel restaurant too – I wasn’t in the vendor room, so I had a lot more time to hang out and have some good conversation. I was also very honored to sign copies of Family Don’t End With Blood for lots of people who had read it and been inspired by it, which totally made my weekend. If you came up to me and asked for my ‘autograph’, I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the book and that I got to meet you. And I hope you all told the actors what a fantastic job they did writing their chapters!
I had very little internet reception on Friday and especially Saturday, so I tried to make up for the lack of tweets by taking pictures. Thus this is Part One of my Vancon post, since wordpress was a wee bit upset with how many photos I was trying to cram into a single post. Part Two (SNS continued and Sunday) up shortly!
There were lots of SPN alums on hand for karaoke and during the con, most of which I forgot to take photos of, but I had to have a picture of the lovely Kuma, star of television commercials, and his owners Kevin and Jill Parks. Kevin has been with Supernatural as a First Assistant Director ever since I can remember, and is instrumental in making the show the high quality tv that it is. In fact, he’s joking referred to as “Parkasapedia” for his encyclopedic knowledge of SPN canon! Kuma has appeared on the show too, as well as in that Flonase commercial you see all the time.
Adam Williams, who supervises all that amazing VFX wizardry on Supernatural, was also on hand – along with the always awesome Lucy. Together, Adam and Lucy wrote a chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood about how the show changed their lives completely – by bringing them together! Talk about life changing.
Friday kicked off with Alaina Huffman (filling in for the busy-filming-Supernatural Kim Rhodes) and Gil McKinney.
Gil: I have those shorts.
Alaina: Wear them to karaoke tonight…
Gil talked about his first time doing Gishwhes, during which he found himself in the middle of a New York City street shirtless slathering himself in butter. As you do.
Someone suggested Alaina as a love interest for Wonder Woman and she was on board immediately.
And for some reason Gil told a hysterical story about going sky diving – tandem sky diving, with a big guy named Vinny strapped to his back.
Gil: That’s not the rip cord, Vinny….but go ahead, keep pulling…
Then we had a Jason Manns “quoncert”, during which he and Rob and the band attempted to sing the Supernatural parody version of ‘Shake It Off’ to no avail, but it was really amusing watching them try.
Hillywood Show, where are you when we need you?
We also got some great Station Breaks music, and a reminder that the live Louden Swain cd is now on sale – so I ran right out and bought it in the vendor room.
Next up we had Mary Winchester herself, Samantha Smith, looking way more stylish than Mary usually does. Samantha has a running joke about being clumsy (“my husband says I am…”) and has some amusing anecdotes from set to prove it. The fight scene she and Lizzie Bee had with Jared and Jensen early on was, as Sam put it, “a hot mess.” Including poor Jensen getting hit in the face!
She also laid to rest any doubts that she wouldn’t be back this season.
Sam: Mary is alive! Some girls do survive on this show…
Mary apparently has a lot of opportunity to demonstrate just how kickass she is, since as Samantha put it, “The AU isn’t a safe place.”
Can I just say that I love that everyone is calling it by its fanfic name??
Samantha had lots of nice things to say about her fellow cast members, complimenting Richard Speight on his excellent directing and Jensen Ackles on his acting in that emotional scene between Dean and Mary.
Sam: Jensen drove that entire scene. He really had to bring it.
Briana Buckmaster and Emily Swallow were on next, and somehow ended up creating a potential Broadway show called ‘The Darkness and Tigers’. I’d totally go. Also I was kinda in love with Briana’s “Wild Feminist” tee shirt and Emily’s awesome glasses.
Asked who they would want to portray on Supernatural other than their characters, Briana said she’d be the Trickster.
Briana: Rich was great, obviously I’d be better.
Emily: I would play Chuck/God, and tell Dean, hey you should go out with my sister…
Good thinking, Emily.
They both talked about how much they appreciate the ongoing text thread that the women of SPN have going, where they offer each other advice, or sometimes toss around song suggestions for Saturday Night Special. I’m always struck by the parallel between what this show has done for the cast and for the fans – both have found lifelong friends who we rely on for support. SPNFamily, in other words.
Richard Speight Jr. gave one of those opening talks that made me feel like I was at a rally of the very best kind, talking seriously about the power of this fandom and why it’s special.
Richard: We don’t care about race, sexual orientation, what you love, who you ship, how you love. What makes us different is what makes us cool. There’s no breakdown between celebrity and fan. We’re all equal.
And that’s why this is the Best. Fandom. In. The. World.
The applause was thunderous.
Saturday was particularly frustrating though, because I had virtually no service on my phone so could barely live tweet at all. I missed half the panels attempting to get my phone to actually tweet something, repeatedly having to shut it off and restart to get any data reception at all. That despite buying an international plan just so I could cover this con. ARGH. My apologies to everyone who was wondering why there were so few Fangasm tweets. There were actually tons more, they just never saw the light of day!
One of the most fun panels was a fab foursome – Briana Buckmaster, Alaina Huffman, Ruth Connell and Gil McKinney.
Btw, clearly I need to rip holes in the knees of all my jeans.
Gil was asked how he’d like Henry to come back.
Ruth: Who’s Henry?
Which somehow ended up with “And Dean and I drive into the sunset….not in a weird way….well, maybe…” Gil turned to a smirking Ruth.
Gil: You like that, don’t you?
Someone asked Briana how she got so proficient with cracking a whip (from karaoke).
Briana: Practice, baby.
Alaina: That’s why Gil can’t sit down.
Everyone agreed that squishy hugs with the boys are the best. This started out as Ruth and Gil acting out a Jensen hug. But it got a little more interesting.
Briana: My husband’s like, get it girl!
(Shout out to Jose, who is awesome)
They all posed in height order, then someone looked more closely and rearranged things.
The R2M panel was next – Richard, Rob and Matt never fail to make me laugh my head off, and this panel was no exception. There was the Jim Michaels story, which had everybody laughing.
There was the ‘most awkward scene’ question.
Rob: When I had to hit Jared with a plunger. He’s a big guy. And I’m 5’7”. Umm… 5’6 ½”
Richard said it was the first Casa Erotica scene, when the actress he was working with had to actually be topless. He ended up on top of her, and even when they called cut she was like hey, can you just stay there (until they could bring her robe). He was like so, small talk, not so much…
Also a bunch of crew and even production people suddenly had to be on set that day. Hmmm.
Matt said his most awkward moment was when he was supposed to be smiting Anna as Michael, but he had to put his hand on Julie McNiven’s chest and then she had to start shaking all over. Which was, needless to say, awkward.
Julie replied to my tweet of that story: Your touch will always make me shake, Matt.
They all talked about Kings of Con too, including being grateful for fans’ support of a season 2. They assured us that there will definitely be a Season 2, the show just needs to find a new home now that Comic Con HQ isn’t doing that sort of original programming anymore. Come on, Netflix!
There was a running joke in Mark Sheppard’s panel that never lost its amusement.
Mark: “I’m sorry” really means “f—k you” in Canadian.
Fan: I’m sorry.
He also gave the most unexpected answer to why he’s not a big fan of the Beatles music.
Mark: You can’t f—k to it.
Mark, as he almost always does, also talked more seriously about what the Supernatural fandom means to him, and how of all the gifts he’s been given, it’s been the support fans have given to the causes he champions that has meant the most. It’s also what we wrote about in his chapter of Family Don’t End With Blood, which is a beautiful testament to fandom and Supernatural.
Misha Collins always manages to both amuse me and make me emotional at some point during his panels – this one had alot of the former. For example, the story he told about figuring out that he could encourage people to do his blackberry picking for him, only to be left with the considerable problem of trying to decide what to do with all those blackberries! (I had a taste of some of his fruit leather later, and it was actually quite tasty despite looking like, well, leather.)
He had to search his google history in response to a fan’s question, which I give him alot of credit for attempting live onstage.
Misha: I don’t search Jared’s abs… that often…
Nobody’s asking about my google search history, right? *shifty eyes*
He also told a hysterical story about West and Misha’s talking hand puppet, who also happens to be a masseuse. I swear, Misha gets into the most unanticipated situations with his imaginative kids, both of whom seem to be just as sensitive and brilliant as he is. Which makes them challenging to parent sometimes, I’m sure!
He jumped down into the audience to demonstrate the hand puppet, much to my seat neighbor Vanesha’s glare of DON’T YOU DARE and Krista’s good natured OH FINE WHATEVER.
Also, sitting next to the aforementioned fellow fans meant repeated bouts of giggling that I absolutely could not contain. Fangirl problems.
I really loved what Misha had to say about fans, in answer to a question about what characteristics he’d noticed in fandom. Misha encouraged everyone to embrace the strange, to not be afraid to be outside the mainstream. He also said that characteristic is sometimes recognizable by things like hair color, calling out my friend Alicia and her awesome purple hair.
Misha even touched on his complicated name history. Dmitri was his mom’s ex, so that’s what she named him. But she thought the nickname for Dmitri was Misha, so she always called him that. Turns out it’s not, but oh well.
Misha’s panel ended with his “forever hug with God” aka Rob Benedict, which made for some seriously adorable pictures.
I’m still upset that I wasn’t able to do very much tweeting at all – I spent a good part of the panel restarting my phone trying to unfreeze it and make it tweet again, mostly to no avail. Which means I missed more of the panel than I wanted to. Boo.
I will always miss Mark at the Saturday Night Special, but the Vancon version was very special indeed. Matt Cohen did an awesome rendition of Seven Nation Army – it always makes me warm inside to see how he owns the stage now, remembering how reticent he was to sing at the SNS initially.
Gil McKinney sang his original song ‘How Was I To Know’ from his new EP, the song he wrote for his dad who passed away last year. Having also lost my dad last year, I was immensely affected by this beautiful and emotional tribute, so much so that I found it hard to see through my camera lens to take photos. Thank you, Gil, for that gorgeous song. It will always have special meaning for me too.
I’ve seen Ruth Connell perform ‘Bang Bang’ several times, and I have to say her performance is more magnificent each time. She too owns the stage as she sings, and if you haven’t seen Chris Schmelke’s striking photo series of Ruth onstage, here it is. Striking, right? Two brilliant people doin’ their thing.
Briana Buckmaster sang Lady Gaga’s ‘A Million Reasons’ and you could have heard a pin drop in the ballroom. I think Briana can probably sing just about anything and make it sound amazing, and this was no exception.
We got some Station Breaks with Jason Manns, Rob Benedict and Billy Moran – and if you haven’t caught them live, you really should – and as a real treat, Richard Speight Jr. sang something new for us and really got a chance to rock out.
Emily Swallow sang a duet with Rob, and Rob sang Fare Thee Well solo, and an emotional version of She Waits (I mean, when is it not emotional?) accompanied by a ballroom full of swaying lit candles.
The thing is, it’s not just the way they sing that makes them all such rockstars. It’s the emotion they put into everything they sing – I don’t know if it’s because they’re also actors, or just people who feel things deeply and allow themselves to be emotionally vulnerable, but so many of them reduce me to tears during the SNS. It’s an entirely emotional experience, not just a musical one.
Be right back with Part 2 of Vancon and the rest of the Saturday Night Special!