Sunday, 3 November 2013

Hallowhedon 5 - The Fan Experience




A note before I get started: This review will not contain every word that was said, as I don’t remember everything. Hell, I’ve probably forgotten half of the things that people said or that I said to the guests. However, this will be a good overview of the weekend and should show you what to expect from a weekend convention like Hallowhedon.

Second note: I will not be naming fellow convention goers very often, even the 40+ of you that are from my “Buffy The Vampire Slayer Fan Club” Facebook page. If I name 5 of you and not the rest, they get offended, etc., so I will only be naming the very important people that I spent the most time with.

Third note: “We” means “Myself and Robyn”. I didn’t want to keep writing “Myself and Robyn did this”, “Myself and Robyn did that”, so I just said “we” a lot of the time ;).

Final note: Photo credits to the following wonderful people, who have allowed me to use some of their photos for this recap - Bernie Angel McDonnell, Clare Davidson, Lisa Davidson, and Elspeth Renfrew!



I very spontaneously decided to go to Hallowhedon 5 at the beginning of March. I was on the forums checking to see who was announced for LFCC (London Film & Comic Con), and saw that Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, and Tom Lenk had all been announced for Hallowhedon. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I slightly prefer Angel as a show to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It’s only slightly, but it meant that I couldn’t give up the opportunity to meet Alexis and Amy, as they are two of the main characters. You could argue that Wesley is the second main character of the whole show (behind Angel). I decided to buy a gold ticket, which included six free studio photos, six free autographs, an exclusive gold membership drinks reception with the stars, the front 5 rows at the talks, and a goodie bag upon registering at the event. The line-up for the event was Alexis Denisof (Wesley), Amy Acker (Fred), Tom Lenk (Andrew), K. Todd Freeman (Mr. Trick), Jeff Ricketts (Weatherby from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel (from The Watcher’s Council), and he was also in an episode of Firefly), Sarah Hagan (Amanda, the Potential Slayer), Jane Espenson (Buffy The Vampire Slayer writer (as well as many other shows), and Brad Bell (star and co-creator of ‘Husbands’, alongside Jane Espenson). About six weeks before Hallowhedon, Amy Acker had to pull out due to work commitments.

(The Hilton Hotel entrance)



Myself and Robyn (my wonderful girlfriend) arrived at the Hilton Hotel in Birmingham, England at around 12:15pm on Friday afternoon (the 25th of October). Within seconds of us arriving in the hotel lobby, we were greeted by Martin and Kerry Butters (they co-run the “What Would Buffy Do?” website and Facebook page), who led us over to a table of people whom I’d spoken to on the internet many times (through the Hallowhedon Facebook group), but never actually met. We all talked and got to know each other over the next couple of hours until registration opened at 2pm. Whilst waiting for registration to open, we caught a glimpse of Tom Lenk outside wearing his red backpack (he’d been out shopping, I assume), as he was talking to Kerry Butters. Kerry later told us that Tom was extremely jet-lagged and was also sick. Myself and Robyn also stood next to K. Todd Freeman outside the main entrance as he was smoking a cigarette.

At 2pm we all went to register. The gold membership goodie bag included a Hallowhedon 5 t-shirt (which was “Watcher’s Council” themed and had Giles/Wesley on the front), an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. mug, and various other little bits and pieces. Alexis Denisof was a sponsored guest, so his autographs/studio photos did not count as part of the gold or silver programme packages. They cost £25 each. Any addition autograph or studio photo that I wanted with anyone else (remember, I already had one free autograph and one free studio photo with all of the other guests due to being a gold member) would cost £10 each. Finally, you could buy a group shot for £45, which would be a photo of you with all of the guests together. I decided to buy an Alexis Denisof autograph and a group shot. I had previously bought an Alexis Denisof studio photo when I bought my gold ticket in March. With my wallet feeling £70 lighter, we checked-in to our hotel room. The Hilton had upgraded us  to a deluxe queen-sized room after we allowed our previous room to be given to someone else. Our room number was 5078.

(Yes, that is Robyn in the picture).

After the thrill-ride that was unpacking, we headed back to the lobby ready for the dealer’s room to open up at 5pm. The dealer’s room was located in the “Westminster Suite”, which would also be used for the autograph tables over the weekend, and the gold membership drinks reception that was coming up later on Friday evening. The dealer’s room was a bit disappointing. There were five stalls. One was for various pictures to buy that you could potentially get signed (I bought a Tom Lenk 8”x10”, an Alexis Denisof 8”x10”, an A3-sized Angel season three cast photo, and an A3-sized Angel season five cast photo). There was also a stall for buying protective sleeves for your photos and autographs, a stall designated to hoodies and wristbands, a stall for general merchandise such as pens, coasters, etc., and a stall for various collectable merchandise such as folders, trading cards, and magazines. Don’t get me wrong, the five stalls that were there were pretty great, but it would have been nice to have a wider collection of stalls.

There was nothing left to do by this point but wait for the opening ceremony to begin at 7:30pm. The opening ceremony, the episode commentary, all of the talks, and all of the parties were taking place in the “King’s Suite”. As my surname is “King”, I liked to think that this was my room for the weekend. Due to our gold member status, we managed to get seats in the second row for the opening ceremony. All of the guests were introduced on stage, and Alexis kicked things off for the weekend and what was to come. The opening ceremony was basically what you’d imagine; thirty minutes of Showmasters and the guests telling us what was to come. Then come the fun part...

(The opening ceremony).

At 8pm, the gold ticket holders all headed back to the “Westminster Suite” ready to meet the guests. In essence, it was a big room with eight tables set up in it. One was at the back and had a selection of free red and white wine on, while the other seven had a guest around each of them. In groups of 15(ish), you were to go to a table and the guests would come round to each table in turn. It’s basically a chilled-out, casual chat for 7-8 minutes. Of course, Robyn and myself went straight to Alexis’ table. Like I said before, I don’t remember every word that was said (I know that I’ve missed a lot out or forgotten it), but here are the highlights from the gold drinks reception, in order of when we met them...

Alexis Denisof: Alexis shook everyone’s hand, asked you your name, and maintained great eye contact. He was the headliner of the event, and he made a point of making sure that everyone felt included and appreciated. While you may think that this is the norm and what to be expected at conventions, I’ve been to far too many over the years where the guest would grunt at you, sign your photo, say ‘thanks’, then shoo you away, so it was reassuring from the first instant that Alexis wasn’t going to be like that. He told us how upset that Amy Acker was that she couldn’t make the event. We all discussed Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, and how it was filmed over just 12 days at Joss’ house. Alexis said that filming Much Ado was really hard work due to the limited time frame, but it was a great deal of fun because he was working with a group of friends. Alexis also gave a very politically correct answer to what his favourite episode of Angel was and whether he preferred playing dorky Wesley or badass Wesley. He said that it’s hard to pick out specific moments or episodes because to him it’s about the entire journey, not just a snippet of it, that’s important to him as a fan and as an actor. He mentioned that playing Wesley was one of the highlights of his career because Wesley is such a complex character that goes through so many stages. We all mentioned to him that Wesley has the biggest character development in the Buffyverse.

Jeff Ricketts: Coming to this event, I had no idea what to expect from Jeff. The only roles I’d ever seen him play were villains, and I’d seen very little in the way of interviews with him. Jeff was a delight! The first thing that I noticed was just how charismatic he was. Lots of arm movement, lots of infectious laughter, and lots of smiling. The second thing I noticed was that his voice isn’t as deep as it is in all of the shows that I’ve seen him in. In Buffy, Angel, and Firefly, his character has a deep, almost raspy voice. In reality, Jeff’s voice is a more standard range. Jeff tried to guess where some of us were from using ESP (ESP became a hilarious recurring theme of the weekend in relation to Jeff). I believe that he actually guessed where someone was from correctly in the end! Just the one mind...I was one of the people who he asked, and I replied with “The Cotswolds” (yeah, baby, I live in the same place where the Watcher’s Council retreat happens!). He said that it looked like a nice place, and I quipped “not if you live there, it’s all farms and smells”. Jeff told us a little bit about what he’s up to these days, and mentioned the fact that he lives in Vienne, Austria. Robyn lives in Salzburg, Austria, so I knew it was only a matter of time this weekend before those two started talking German. I was correct.

Sarah Hagan: Sarah is a total sweetheart. She has the exact same voice that Amanda does, and, I swear, she hasn’t aged a day since Buffy The Vampire Slayer (she’s 29 now)! Sarah told us that she graduated from college this year and now holds a degree in (I believe) fine arts. We talked about ‘Freaks and Geeks’ for a while (Freaks and Geeks is about a High School in the 80s), before someone asked what social group Sarah was in when she attended High School. Sarah said that she was never popular in High School at all. Sarah then talked about some of her upcoming projects such as ‘Breaking Fat’. Just before she left, I asked Sarah if she would be coming to party with us tonight, and she said absolutely!

K. Todd Freeman: K. Todd came to stand right next to me to talk to us. He mentioned that this is his first ever convention! Nobody had ever invited him to one before! He joked that he was a little nervous, and I told him it was because he hadn’t drank enough wine yet...he quickly downed his glass for funsies. He mentioned that he’d been working with the Steppenwolf Theatre company in Chicago since 1992. K. Todd asked Robyn where she was from, and was blown away with the fact that Robyn had travelled all the way from Austria for this event. He told us that originally Mr. Trick was only supposed to be a one-episode character (“Faith, Hope & Trick”), but Joss liked his work so brought him back again. K. Todd knew that he was going to die in “Consequences” because he had other work commitments so had to leave. It’s interesting to think about how much longer Mr. Trick could have been around if K. Todd was free. As he was leaving, he told us all that he was going to be playing Dr. Baxter Stockman in the new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie, so we should check that out.

Brad Bell: Brad arrived at the table and quipped that this was his fifth table, but it wasn’t getting any easier. He asked if anyone had seen ‘Husbands’, and I told him that myself and Robyn had watched Husbands earlier in the week in preparation for him coming to Hallowhedon. He was really pleased about that. Brad explained the basic premise of Husbands for the people that hadn’t seen it, and mentioned that Husbands has a lot of Whedonverse actors that guest star on the show. Joss Whedon plays an agent, Amy Acker is in it, Amber Benson, Emma Caulfield, Nathan Fillion, Dichen Lachman, Felicia Day, Seth Green...seriously, guys, check this show out! I’ll be putting episodes of the show on the ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer Fan Club’ page very soon. Brad mentioned that internet shows are the way forward, and that soon all TV shows will be internet shows. As he was leaving I asked if he was coming to party with us tonight, and he said that he was.

Tom Lenk: The very first thing I noticed about Tom was that he’s shy! When he was onstage all weekend, he was the life of the party! Very funny, very charismatic, very confident...offstage he’s very calm, very quiet, but still very, very funny. He came over to us and started rearranging us so that he had an audience (we were all facing him, rather than all being in a circle). He told us that he was really sick and was on antibiotics, so he wouldn’t be hugging or kissing anyone over the weekend. We asked him about his experiences filming the Pepsi commercials, and he told us that they had zero health and safety. He said that he was bring thrown into walls, he was underwater with electrical cables just behind him, etc. I asked Tom if he was bringing his one-man show back to the UK next year and he said that he probably is. He’s always writing a new one, so he intends to try to bring it back next year. He asked anyone if they’d seen his show in Soho earlier in the year, and someone had. Tom mentioned how much fun it was working in Soho. We asked him if he was still in touch with the other members of The Trio, Danny Strong (Jonathan) and Adam Busch (Warren). He said that he was and that he used to live below Danny Strong, but now Danny Strong has moved into a bigger place because he needs the room to store all the awards he’s been winning for his writing. Tom joked that he’s been telling himself that he should write a screenplay to try to keep up with Danny. Tom also joked that people often tell him now how old he looks because they haven’t seen him in much since Buffy! He said that he loved filming Much Ado About Nothing because it gave people the opportunity to see that he’s aged in the past decade.

Jane Espenson: We got a little more time with Jane than the other guests because Showmasters/Massive Events let the drinks reception run on a little bit longer than it was supposed to. Jane mentioned that she’d emailed Joss Whedon earlier in the day telling him about Hallowhedon, and Joss said that he’d have loved to come, but that he’d just gotten on a plane back to L.A. (from England!). Jane told us that Anya was her favourite character to write for because she was so refreshingly candid. Jane mentioned that Buffy was the hardest character to write for, and that the further away from the centre of the show you went, the easier it was to write for the character. Therefore, Buffy was the hardest, then the rest of the ‘Core Four’, etc. Jane’s favourite episodes that she’d written were “Storyteller” and “Superstar”. Jane mentioned how proud she was of Danny Strong’s writing career now and told us that he used to give her scripts he’d been writing for her to read back in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer days. Jane mentioned her work on sitcoms before she started on Buffy, and said that there is always another joke to tell! We asked her what made her become a writer and she said that she’d loved reading and writing as a child. As an undergraduate in college she tried to write her first script, and submitted three spec episodes to Star Trek: The Next Generation. Jane also mentioned that after Joss scaled back on "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" to concentrate on "Firefly", he would carry around a little chart. The chart was a timeline of how much time he was supposed to be spending on "Buffy The Vampire Slayer". When Jane, Marti, or another writer would approach Joss about Buffy, he would jokingly whip out the chart and start pointing to various lines and complain that he was supposed to be having a reduced schedule on the show.

Overall, the gold drinks reception was one of my favourite parts of the weekend. It worked as a great ice-breaker with all of the guests. A lot of people at our table were nervous, so didn’t say very much to the guests. Myself, Robyn, the Butters’, Natalie Brewell, and a couple of others were leading the way. By the time the 3rd or 4th guest arrived at our table, all of my nerves had disappeared entirely, and I was talking to the guests a great deal. I’ve been to many conventions before, so I rarely get nervous around celebrities by this point. The only one that made me slightly star-struck was Alexis. Everyone else was like talking to people in a bar.

At 9:15pm, it was time to go back to the “King’s Suite” ready for “Wash’s Hawaiian shirt” party night! The suite had been decked out with a dance floor, inflatable palm trees, and some other festivities. In addition to that, there was a bucking-bronco type thing in the corner of the room...only it was a surfboard, not a bull. Later in the night I believe that Sarah Hagan had a go on that! I’m going to skim over some details here and sum them up as *dance*, *dance*, *drink*, *drink*, and get back to the good stuff! I’ve heard from people who’ve been to previous Hallowhedons that the guests rarely come to party with us. Nicholas Brendon did last year, and a few others have, but usually they keep to themselves at night time (which is totally fair). During this party, Sarah Hagan was on the dance floor all night, Brad Bell was at the party, Jeff Ricketts was at the bar, and K. Todd Freeman was at the party! Myself and Robyn talked to Jeff Ricketts at the bar briefly whilst on a drinks run, before we headed back to the party.

During the party, we spent a good 10 minutes or so talking to Brad Bell and his boyfriend Ben. I cannot emphasise enough how much of a nice guy that Brad Bell is. By the time this weekend is all said and done, Brad might be my favourite celebrity that I’ve ever met! He was very friendly, very down to Earth, very gracious, very camp, and very funny. We even got our picture taken with him in the party! Just after that our friend Becca pulled my tie in order to ask me to take a picture of her with Brad. Brad saw the tie-pull and put his hand over his mouth in mock surprise, before quipping “my word that’s an aggressive female”. That tie-pulling will become more important later. After all that excitement, we headed out of the party to go to bed, due to the fact that it was about 2am by this point and I didn’t want to look like total shit for our studio photos on Saturday morning. On the way out of the party, we said goodnight to K. Todd Freeman, and ended up talking to him for about 15-20 minutes. We talked about conventions, about life, about his career, about working with Harry Groener...about everything, really.

My word this has turned into a long review....

After a glorious 2 hours sleep, we woke up at 6:45am on Saturday and headed down to breakfast. The breakfast at the Hilton was included in the room price. It was amazing. It was a help-yourself buffet with cooked breakfast foods, cereals, toast, muffins, bagels, fruits, yogurts, fruit juices, croissants...pretty much anything you could think of! I had a man-sized portion of meat and various other foods. Dudes, the sausages were amazing!....where was I?...I got distracted by food...yes! Hallowhedon!

Saturday morning was when all of the studio photos were being done for gold and silver pass holders. Gold members were groups A-D (G01-G30 were group “A”, G31-G60 were group “B”, etc.), and silver members were groups E-H. You could have your photo taken after your group was called if you wish, but not before your group was called. The same goes for the autograph queues, only they are called in a random order (e.g. “A”, “F”, K”, “B”, etc.).

Here is a breakdown of the photo schedule...
·       9am – Tom Lenk (Photo Area A)
·       9:30am – K. Todd Freeman (Photo Area B)
·       10am – Sarah Hagan (Photo Area A)
·       10:30am – Jeff Ricketts (Photo Area B)
·       11am – Jane Espenson (Photo Area A)
·       11:30am – Brad Bell (Photo Area B)
·       12noon – Alexis Denisof (Photo Area A)
·       12:30pm – Group Shot (Photo Area A)

It appears as though they put the guests that they deemed would have the biggest queues in photo area A. For those of you unfamiliar with the system, it’s very simple. You stand in a queue, and then get your photo taken with one of the guests. You get very little time to talk to them during the photo shoot (that’s what the autograph table is for). If you wish to do a pose, you can do so, but have one ready for when you get there! Don’t ask for stupid or inappropriate poses, because even if the guest says ‘yes’, it’s just tacky and rude.

(Myself with Alexis Denisof) 

(The group shot) 

(Myself with Tom Lenk)

Highlights, news, and notes from the studio photo sessions...

·       As a general rule, the guest says “hi”, you say “hi”, you mention a specific pose if you have one in mind, and the photo is taken.
·       The lighting in photo area B was pretty terrible. It was too bright, and it made some people look really pale and pasty (I’m pale and pasty anyone, so I guess it’s Team Pale for the win!). It doesn’t affect me too much as I always buy the .jpegs versions for £5, so I can just lower the lighting effects a little myself, but some other people were disappointed with it.
·       K. Todd Freeman joked with me in the photo shoot that he was nursing a hangover from the festivities of the night before.
·       Sarah Hagan started her photo shoot by yelling “Come on, girls!” and dancing (the first 10 people in her queue were female).
·       Jeff Ricketts had a mini-discussion with Robyn in German when she had her photo taken.
·       When I stood next to Jane Espenson for the photo, she said “You’re so cute! Thank you so much for coming!” (like I needed to be thanked...Thank you, Jane!), and said “I love that colour on you!” to Robyn.
·       After my photo with Brad he said “See you tonight!”...I’m assuming he meant for the party, as I’d asked him if he was coming to the party the previous night. He also told Robyn that he loved her necklace. What a friendly young man.
·       Alexis had a massive grin on his face for the entire photo shoot. My cheeks would have been killing me after the first 10 people, so props to Alexis for that.
·       Alexis’ agent told us that were queuing to be appropriate in the photos with Alexis. Alexis is very respectful of Alyson, so he doesn’t want any photos where there is ass-grabbing or any stupidity like that. Apparently at a previous convention someone grabbed Alexis ass and it really surprised him! He’s such a respectful family man, and I admire him so much for that.
·       Alexis’ agent also mentioned that the “Supernatural boys” she manages (I’m assuming Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, but I could be wrong) weren’t so respectful and would pretty much do any pose, much to the chagrin of their wives (in a jokey way).
·       Brad winked at me when I was queuing for the group shot.
·       Alexis told me that he loved my purple tie just before the group shot was taken.
·       Jane stroked my arm after the group shot.
·       One of the Showmasters’ staff, Too Tall, was really funny during his group shot. Sarah yelled “he’s too tall!”, then Alexis tried hiding behind him for the photo. After that Alexis rested his head on Too Tall’s upper arm. It was all so very amusing. Too Tall was joining in with all the fun.

After all of the photos were taken, I decided to purchase another Alexis Denisof photo and Brad Bell photo for the Sunday photo session (with the standard ticket holders and everyone who didn’t get it done on the Saturday). In my first Alexis photo, I’m slightly smiling. I hate my smile in such high resolution because I think it looks stupid. The first photo with Alexis came out great, but I wanted a second photo where I smiled more, just in case it came out okay. I bought a second Brad Bell picture because he was such a great guy. We then went to the lounge and grabbed some snack foods (fries and potato wedges) before heading to Alexis’ talk at 2pm.

Again, due to our gold membership status, we were in the first few rows for the talk. I know I’ve forgotten probably half of what was said, but here are the highlights...
        
·       Alexis mentioned that being in England made it hard for him to stick to an accent, so he might flit between American and English over the weekend.
·       He told a story about his role of The Other in The Avengers film. He told us that he was in a costume where he couldn’t see anything or hear anything, and he couldn’t go to the toilet. He joked that every now and then someone would shove a straw through his mouth hole and he’d think “I guess I’m supposed to drink now...” He said that Tom Hiddleston was lovely to him during filming, but joked that he’s not even sure if Tom realised that a real person was in the suit.
·       In addition to the story above, Alexis told us that he had to wear special prosthetic teeth for his role of The Other. He said that it was really hard to talk properly with the fake teeth in, so he spent weeks and weeks at home with the teeth in learning how to talk properly. After about 6 weeks, he could talk quite comfortably with the teeth. However, ultimately Joss decided to dub his voice in for the film, and Alexis said “I didn’t even have to wear the fucking teeth!”, it was so funny!
·       Alexis talked about Much Ado About Nothing, and mentioned again that it took 12 days to film (which our group knew about due to the gold membership drinks reception). He also mentioned that Nathan Fillion was only available for filming during the two weekends (four days total) because he was shooting ‘Castle’ during the weekdays, so it was hard to get Nathan’s scenes done on time. Also, Joss was busy with other projects at the same time, so he flitted in and out of the filming of Much Ado.
·       Alexis said that a group of them used to do Shakespeare readings at Joss’ house in the early 21st century (during Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel), and most of the people that are in Much Ado used to come to Joss’ house for those Shakespeare readings.
·       Alexis was a massive Star Wars fan growing up and he can vividly remember watching “A New Hope” in the cinema when he was 11 years old.
·       Alexis said that he loves both dorky Wesley and badass Wesley, but “Spin The Bottle” was really fun because he’d been dark for so long that he found himself missing carefree Wesley who used to fall over a lot. At the exact same time that Alexis was thinking this, Joss handed him the script for “Spin The Bottle”.
·       Someone asked Alexis if he could tell us what Alyson, himself, and his children were dressing up as for Halloween (as they always have amazing costumes) this year. Alexis said that he’d ask Alyson later in the day. He also told us that his eldest daughter, Satyana, had chosen her own costume for the first time this year (she’s four), and that it’s amazing.
·       He then went into a story about the Paparazzi. Apparently Alyson and Alexis used to have very little Paparazzi following them until after Alyson became pregnant for the first time. Alexis said that he’s not a fan of the Paparazzi at all, primarily because of his children. He doesn’t want the Paparazzi to negatively affect his children’s lives, as they didn’t sign up to become famous. He also mentioned that Alyson is fantastic with the Paparazzi, whereas he isn’t so good. Alyson has to remind him a lot that people who see the Paparazzi photo don’t know the circumstances in which the photo was taken, so they always need to be careful.
·       Someone in the audience asked Alexis to tell us a funny audition story. Alexis mentioned that we should ask Tom the same question for his talk later because he has loads of them. Alexis didn’t tell a specific story, but mentioned that kissing in an audition is a weird experience because you’re not actually kissing anyone! You say the line, and then kiss the air, whilst a camera and the casting director are staring at you. He said it’s a very unusual situation. Alexis also acted out all of this, which had us in hysterics.
·       Someone in the audience asked a question with a very northern English accent. This encouraged Alexis to start talking in a northern English accent himself. It was very good, but I was crying with laughter at it.
·       To close out his talk, he said he had a video for us. He got his phone out, put the microphone to it, and pressed play. It was Amy Acker saying hello to us all and apologising for the fact she had to cancel. She said she’d love to come another year, and that she’d be thinking of us all having fun whilst she was stuck at work. The video must have gone on for 3 minutes. Alexis kept making comments about how Amy wouldn’t stop talking!
·     


(Alexis during his talk) 


(Alexis showing us the video Amy Acker had recorded for us)

Alexis’ talk was thoroughly enjoyable. He was much more entertaining and insightful than most of the other talks like this that I’ve experienced at previous conventions. We stayed in our seats after Alexis’ talk because it was only 15 minutes until the “Band Candy” commentary started at 3:00pm with Jane Espenson (writer of the episode) and K. Todd Freeman (who stars in the episode). Jane and K. Todd sat in the audience with us, with microphones, and shared their thoughts and trivia. Here are the highlights from the “Band Candy” commentary...
        
·       Jane said that Buffy’s stunt-double, Sophia Crawford, had bigger boobs than Sarah Michelle Gellar, so the writers used to joke that Buffy’s superpower was that her boobs grew when she was threatened, due to Buffy’s boobs looking bigger in fight scenes.
·       This was the first Buffy episode that Jane wrote. When she first pitched the idea to Joss, it was for a coffee shop that opened up in Sunnydale, where the coffee turns the adults into teenagers because she couldn’t think of anything more terrifying that parents acting like teenagers. Joss liked the concept, but hated the coffee shop. Jane then changed it to steaks because it would be a clever pun on stake. Joss liked it even less. Finally, Jane remember the marching band from her High School, so pitched the idea of chocolate bars. Joss loved it.
·       Jane says that she thinks that she put too many jokes in this episode. She said that there should have been less jokey dialogue, but she came from a background of sitcoms and this was her first Buffy episode.
·       Jane was worried that part of the dialogue in her script wouldn’t sound English. Joss joked that it’ll sound English when Giles says it in an English accent.
·       Jane recently bumped into Kristine Sutherland (Joyce), and Kristine hasn’t aged a day since dying on Buffy. Kristine lives the high-life in Italy these days.
·       Buffy throwing the dodgeball into Giles’ face was hilarious because they kept having to do it over and over again. Jane went to look at the daily’s for the scene, and it was just hundreds of pictures of Anthony getting hit in the face with a ball.
·       K. Todd Freeman’s mother loved his role as Mr. Trick because it was the first time she got to see him dress smart. He’d always played drug addicts, or farm workers, etc. Beforehand, so he was also scruffy-looking.
·       K. Todd Freeman mentioned that he recently did a play with Harry Groener, which was the first time they’d worked together since Buffy. K. Todd has a lot of respect for Harry.
·       Hilarious fact: In “Band Candy”, Giles says “It’ll be tight, but I think we can fit in all your responsibilities”. Originally the line was “It’ll be tight, but I think we can fit it all in”. Jane’s friend asked if it was a sexual joke, which it wasn’t, so Jane had to adjust the line.
·       The actress who plays the teacher who lets them all leave class is actually dubbed. They decided that her voice didn’t fit, so they changed it, but nobody told the actress about the change. Oops.
·       No music is playing in the scene where Giles and Joyce are listening to Cream’s “The Tales Of Brave Ulysses”, in Giles’ house. All of the head-bobbing and reactions from Anthony were completely improvised to no music.
·       Ripper says that he doesn’t want to stay in, he wants to go out and “tear things up”. Jane likes to think that’s how Giles earned the nickname of ‘Ripper’ back in the day; because he liked to say ‘tear things up’ a lot (causing mayhem).
·       K. Todd Freeman loved snapping the neck of the worker at the chocolate factory because it made him feel powerful, which never happens in real life because he’s such a wuss.
·       It’s interesting to note that Ripper fights like a street fighter. Lots of headbutting and close-quarter fighting.
·       The car crash scene came uncomfortable close to where Jane and the crew were sat. The cars travelled much further than they were anticipating.
·       Jane also accidentally left her car in the line of the shot, and couldn’t find her car keys, so her car was very nearly in the way of the car crash scene.
·       Jane also likes the idea that Ripper calls Buffy “my Slayer”. She thinks that Giles has always felt that way, but Ripper openly expresses it.
·       When Buffy and Giles are chasing Ethan through all of the boxes of chocolate, it’s the same 50 boxes used over and over again. They don’t even bother rearranging the boxes, they just run in from different angles. Jane was saying “there are the boxes”, “there are the same boxes again”, “and again”, “and again”. Everyone was laughing hard at that.
·       Anthony Head calling the hospital worker a “dozy cow” wasn’t in the script. Anthony added it himself. Jane was worried that Joss wouldn’t like the change, but he ended up loving it.
·       The babies in the hospital are real babies. The vampires walking in was slowed down to half-speed because it looked more intimidating. They weren’t allowed to make the babies cry for the scene, so they had to wait for hours until the babies started crying naturally. The crew kept joking about making them cry, like “can’t we just pinch them or something?”
·       The Mayor was the first character that the writers allowed to have a cell phone.
·       In the sewer scene, it is a combination of real babies and dolls. They weren’t allowed to put blood on real babies for the ritual, so the blood was either put on the dolls or only fake put on the heads of the real babies.
·       In the final scene where Giles and Buffy are walking outside, Giles was supposed to be embarrassed (due to sleeping with Joyce) and looking down at his lapel for the whole scene. In the end he does a bit, but not for the whole thing.

After the commentary was over, Jane and K. Todd sat on the stage for 5 minutes answering questions. Overall, the episode commentary was fantastic. I’ve always found that the best commentaries have a mixture of humour and interesting facts, and this commentary certainly delivered on both fronts.



By this point, myself and Robyn were both a little exhausted, so we went to the bedroom for an hour to chill out, rather than stay for the Sarah Hagan/Jeff Ricketts talk. We knew that if we stayed, we’d really struggle the rest of the day, so we decided to take a little break (most people take breaks over the weekend).

We headed back to the “King’s Suite” at 5:15pm, ready for Tom Lenk and K. Todd Freeman’s talk. These two seemed like an odd pairing, as they were never in the show together, but they bounced off of each other very well. Here are the highlights from the Tom Lenk/K. Todd Freeman talk...

·       K. Todd Freeman is primarily a theatre actor. This lead to Tom asking K. Todd about various plays, and commenting on shows that he’d recently seen. Tom said that Waiting for Godot was boring as Hell when he saw it recently. He said it in a very funny way.
·       Tom told us all that acting was just saying words and pulling faces, and that it was very easy (he was joking). He said “there, I’ve just saved you all thousands of dollars in acting classes”.
·       Tom was the M.V.P. of talks over the weekend. He just shines in the talks. He’s so funny.
·       Tom talked about the numerous commercials that he’s done, and he said that commercials are where your soul goes to die. K. Todd joked that there’s a reason why he’s avoided doing commercials.
·       There were some very...odd...questions in the talk. Someone didn’t ask a question, but just wanted to tell Tom that they refer to Tucker as Andrew’s brother, not the other way around like they do on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I don’t think Tom knew what to say to that. He looked puzzled whilst we all giggled.
·       Another odd question was when someone asked Tom if he thought that Spike would have gone through with destroying the Boba Fett figure. Again, Tom looked puzzled. Like we all did. K. Todd was chuckling at the fact that Tom had to try and answer this question. Tom said that he didn’t think Spike, nor James, would have cared about snapping the figure. I swear, it was the funniest thing...
·       The great thing about these talks is that they’re always completely unique. You never know what people are going to ask, so no two talks are ever the same. You could go to 10 different talks with the same person, and every one is different to the last.
·       K. Todd mentioned that the glorious shirt that he was wearing at Wash’s Hawaiian shirt party was his father’s shirt. It was so vintage that it had come around again and was fashionable.
·       K. Todd’s favourite episode to film was “Homecoming”.
·       Tom’s favourite episode to film was “Storyteller”. The way Tom says “vampyrs” was completely add-libbed.
·       Tom Lenk and K. Todd Freeman said that they don’t create backstories for their characters. K. Todd said that he didn’t imagine a backstory for Mr. Trick because he knew his time on the show was limited. Tom said he never creates a backstory for his characters because he doesn’t have the time. It’s an interesting contract to Alexis Denisof, who told us during his talk on Sunday that he created a vast backstory for Wesley. It wasn’t canon, but he just liked to imagine what Wesley’s life was like before arriving in Sunnydale.
·       Tom mentioned again that he’s still in frequent contact with Danny Strong and Adam Busch.
·       Tom is a big Star Wars fan, but not to the extent that Andrew is.
·       Tom talked about a production of War Horse that he recently watched and said that the voice-over man sounded really obnoxious. Tom then kept yelling “War Horse” for a minute or so.  So damn funny.
·       Tom said that if there’s ever a Harry Potter marathon on, he must stay until the very end.
·       Tom’s favourite scene in a Buffy episode that he was in was the slow-motion breakfast scene in “Storyteller”.
·       Tom asked if anyone had actually left the hotel all weekend (nobody had). Tom said to go out and explore a little! There’s a lake right outside the hotel, etc.
·       K. Todd talked about auditioning for a role early on in his career where he bought lots of props and a big black afro wig. He went into the audition thinking he was going to blow them away with his comedy. Nobody laughed at all at the props. Then he put the wig on. Nobody laughed again. He said that it was so embarrassing that he laughed his head off all the way to the car...and he didn’t get the job, surprisingly.
      
Another talk, another great experience. All of the guests seemed oddly relaxed during the talks. Even the ‘Convention Virgins’ (his words) like K. Todd Freeman. The interesting thing about these conventions is that from 6pm-9pm, there’s actually nothing scheduled. Myself and Robyn used this time to grab some food and interact with all the other convention goers. It’s a great time of the day to make friends ready for the party that starts at 9pm. Speaking of the party, Saturday’s party theme was “Halloween”...

Saturday’s party was much like Friday’s party, only the bucking bronco thingy with the surfboard was not a massive spider that you had to try and stay on. In addition to that there was now a ring toss with skulls where you could win prizes. Just outside of the party suite, there was a little alcove where the Showmasters staff were offering Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pictures for £5. You would have your photo taken behind a green screen, and they’d add the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. logo behind you on a computer. Being the nerd that I am, I had this done immediately with Robyn, and our friend Becca.


 Upon entering the party, we were greeted by K. Todd Freeman, who told the group of people that he was talking to “here are my friends!”, which was awesome and made me all tingly with happiness...in a manly way. We talked to K. Todd for about 15 minutes before we started dancing with him and a group of other people. As the night progressed, we also talked to Jeff Ricketts for a good 15 minutes as well. We talked about his role on Angel as the Spider Demon (season four’s “Sacrifice”), we talked about what it was like working with Alexis Denisof in that episode (he’s a complete professional and an incredible actor), and we talked about Austria. Even though I’ve been dating Robyn for close to a year now, I’ve still yet to go to Austria. Jeff was talking to us about where I should go, what I should do, and what the Austrian culture is like. He reassured me that a lot of Austrians speak English, so there was no need to worry about language barriers. He mentioned that his wife was Austrian (hence why he lives there). I told him what a pleasant surprise he was, because I had no idea what to expect of him. I explained that I’ve only ever seen him in villain roles, so my knowledge of him away from acting was limited. He laughed and said “did you think I was going to be a dick?” I, of course, said no. It was just like talking to a friend in a bar! He was an absolute pleasure to talk to!

As we finished talking to Jeff, Jane Espenson caught my eye. Jane came into the party wearing an Indian-looking headband. Becca bought her a strawberry daiquiri, and we exchanged pleasantries. About 5 minutes after this we saw Jane in the party room stood by herself watching the party unfold. I seized the opportunity and spent the next 10 minutes or so talking to her and picking her brain. The first thing I said to her was “thank you so much for bringing Brad Bell with you to this convention”. Jane seemed genuinely pleased at that. We then talked about ‘Husbands’. I told her how wonderful it was to see a show on the internet that was openly gay, but not in a way which exploits it for ratings. Jane had the exact same thoughts as I did and thanked me for my kind words about Husbands (all of which were true). Jane told us that she didn’t start doing conventions until she started working on Husbands. We thanked Jane for her time and left her to mingle with other people.

A little while after this, we noticed a crowd gathering on the dance floor. We managed to get right to the front before realising that Alexis had arrived at the party. Before Hallowhedon started, Alexis said on Twitter that if the event sold out, he would do the ‘Wesley Dance’. During his talk earlier in the day on Saturday, he said that he’d come do the Wesley dance for us. He delivered. He did the Wesley dance before starting a Conga line that went around the entire suite. He also patted me on the shoulder and thanked me for coming. Alexis probably stayed at the party for about 30 minutes, but it was so nice of him to come down with us at all! Like I said earlier, historically speaking the guests don’t really party with us. For the Halloween party, EVERY SINGLE GUEST except Tom Lenk (who was sick) came to party with us. Alexis did for half an hour, Jane did for half an hour, Brad Bell did for a couple of hours, Jeff Ricketts did for a couple of hours, K. Todd Freeman did all night, and Sarah Hagan was on the dance floor all night. What more could you ask for?!

(Alexis leading a Conga line) 


(Alexis doing part of the 'Wesley Dance')

By this point in time it was about 2am again. We left the party suite and were talking to a group of people in the hallway. K. Todd Freeman walked past and started talking to us (he was a little tipsy). He nicknamed Robyn “Lovely Luna”, because he said that she reminded him of Luna from Harry Potter. He then posed for a group photo with us, and told us that he’s not supposed to pose for camera photos with us. Apparently if people want photos they’re supposed to buy the studio photos, but K. Todd took a group photo with us anyway (plus Brad took a photo with us on Friday night). He told us all that he would be leaving just before the closing ceremony on Sunday night because he had to get back to the U.S.A. for a theatre performance. He told us that he’d see us in the morning, and that he’d be majorly hungover. I’ve also got to mention that Brad Bell’s oriental-pirate-type Halloween costume was fantastic. I also got to mention that I was a little drunk by this point myself! I even smoked 4 cigarettes (I don’t normally smoke)! With the Red Bull coursing through my veins and my head spinning, we went up to bed. I didn’t sleep at all. Don’t drink loads of energy drinks and then try to sleep, kiddies. It doesn’t work.

(Myself and Robyn in the Hilton Hotel bar).

Bear with me, we’re getting through this review slowly....

Sunday!

You know the drill by this point...get up, breakfast, blah, blah blah...BUT WAIT! WHAT IS THIS?! ALEXIS DENISOF WALKED OUT OF A ROOM JUST DOWN THE HALL FROM US ON OUR WAY TO BREAKFAST?! It would appear that Alexis didn’t stay in the executive area of the hotel with the other six guests. He stayed with us. I can’t tell you how much I respect him for that. He’s just so...normal! He stays with us, he hates being in the spotlight, he gushes about his family...he’s the perfect role model for men to aspire to be.

With our excitement levels high, I bought an additional Alexis autograph, Tom Lenk autograph, Brad Bell autograph, and Jane Espenson autograph, before heading to the autograph area.

The autograph queues (except Alexis) weren’t that bad at all. Jeff Ricketts was running way behind schedule because he was taking so much time with all the fans. We decided to get all our autographs done in one day because it just seemed easier than trying to run from studio photo session to autograph, to studio photo session, to autograph. It would have been exhausting and stressful.

Here is a breakdown of the autograph highlights....
     

·       We queued for Jane Espenson first as her queue was empty (it was 8:50am, and the autographs started at 9am). When we spoke to Jane, she told Brad that I was the one she’d been talking about to him who had thanked her for bringing Brad. Brad seemed genuinely touched. I’d read on Twitter than Jane Espenson had left her bra on the plane, so I jokingly asked her how she managed that! Jane said she removed it to sleep comfortably on the plane, and then forgot it when she woke up. Brad laughed with us and said that one time when they were travelling by train, Jane left her pants on the train. Jane corrected him that he meant ‘trousers’, but Brad argued that it sounds funnier if he says ‘pants’ because that means ‘underwear’ in England. Even though Robyn only had one autograph voucher (I had two), Jane ended up signing both anyway! Robyn asked Jane if she recommended getting the 8”x10” signed or the studio photo of them both, but Jane said “I’ll just sign both”. Fantastic woman! Jane said that the hardest thing about writing for the Buffyverse was trying to balance the drama and the humour together, as it was an important part of Joss’ writing style.
·       We then hopped queue to Brad Bell. We talked about the party the night before, told him he looked amazing in his costume, and I gave him a Shangel Investigations business card for Jane and himself for the ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer Fan Club’ page. Brad put both business cards in his wallet, but told me that he is primarily a Twitter person. Over the weekend, Jane and Brad were running a writers workshop. There were 3 workshops, with 20 people in each. You could sign up for the workshop, and then the winners were picked at random. We told Brad that we’d both put our names down for the workshop and he told us that he really hoped we get in. We thanked him for the weekend (in case we didn’t get the chance again (we did. A lot)), and told him that he was one of the most charismatic celebrities that we’d ever met. He told us that we were the most charismatic couple at the convention, and we went on our way.
·       Sarah Hagan. We asked Sarah how she was finding the convention. She said that she loved every minute of it, but was absolutely exhausted from all the dancing and partying. We exchanged pleasantries a little more, and I gave her a Shangel Investigations business card as well.
·       K. Todd Freeman. K. Todd welcomed us like old friends. We asked him how he was feeling, and he said incredibly hungover, but he was really enjoying his first convention experience. We reiterated that he would miss the closing ceremony due to having to fly out just before it.
·       Tom Lenk. We asked Tom if he was feeling better (he was starting to feel much better). We told him that we intended to get into the guest encounter later in the day, and he told us that the one on Saturday was good, but it needed some music to help relax the atmosphere. A “Guest Encounter” is where you bid to win a 45 minute conversation with a guest. The top 10 bids win, and you all pay the 10th winning bid price.
·       Alexis Denisof. Alexis greeted us happily and told us that he’d bumped into us on the way to breakfast (great memory on that gentleman!). I asked him about his upcoming role on ‘Grimm’, and he said that the character he is playing has the poshest accent of any character that he’s ever played! INCLUDING WESLEY! I thanked him for coming down to party with us the night before, and he said that he was happy to. He said that’s the first Conga he has ever led in his life.
·       Jeff Ricketts. Jeff signed my autograph “You’re a very lucky man” and chuckled. He said that he can appreciate my weakness for Austrian women. Robyn joked that she was pretty lucky too, and Jeff agreed (woohoo!).

 After that it was time for Robyn to get her second studio photo with Jane Espenson, and for me to have my second studio photos with Brad Bell and Alexis Denisof. When it was my turn to have my photo taken with Brad, I told him that I had a specific pose in mind...I reminded him of the tie-pulling from Friday night, and asked if he could be pulling me off by my tie, all seductively, while I look confused and intrigued...so that’s what we did! He was such a great sport and everyone in the queue behind me was laughing loudly at the pose (including Brad’s boyfriend, Ben, who was sat down in the photo area). I then had my second Alexis photo, he said that it was great to see me again, and I told him that I hoped to get into his guest encounter later in the day.

(Myself and Brad Bell, doing the tie-pulling pose)

By this point in the day it was 12noon. We checked the results of the second writer’s workshop...AND I GOT IN! I GOT IN! Robyn, however, did not. I offered her my place if she wanted it because I didn’t want her to miss out, but she told me to go ahead. The writer’s workshop was one of my favourite parts of the weekend. Here are the highlights...
    
·       Jane and Brad entered the room, and the first thing that Brad did was notice me in there, smile, and mouth “you got in!”.
·       The writer’s workshop was basically tips and tricks for how to get started in writing, specifically for TV show. As I’m sure you’re aware, I do a lot of writing, so I knew that the information from two incredibly talented people would be invaluable.
·       Brad said that script writers are basically professional fan fiction writers.
·       Jane said to write lots of dummy scripts for established TV shows and archive them. You can use them to apply for jobs.
·       Both Brad and Jane made a point of telling us just how important dialogue is. Far too few writers in Hollywood take the time to try understand dialogue. They told us to sound realistic. For example, people say “Going to the shops, want anything?”, not “I am going to the shops, do you want anything from them?”. If you think about it, all of Joss’ shows have truncated dialogue like that, so it makes a lot of sense.
·       They mentioned that they are soon going to be giving a 12-hour writing talk in Germany, so they were both taking notes themselves on what worked and what didn’t.
·       If something doesn’t work in your script, get rid of it. Regardless of how important you find it, if it really isn’t working, eliminate it.
·       As much fun as it is to concentrate on the best parts of your script, you should spend the time concentrating on the weakest part. Keep working on the weakest part until it is the best part, then work on the next weakest part.
·       Don’t go for the lazy joke! Far too many writers these days used the same old jokes over and over again. Be creative!
·       Brad mentioned that Cheeks (his character from Husbands) is an over-the-top version of himself. He told a story about how people all have committee meetings in their own head. Such as, “I should go to the gym today. It’s good for my health, I’ll feel sexier...”, but then the other voice says “But you’ve been feeling really sick lately, perhaps you should rest instead...”. He used these two voices in order to create Cheeks and Brady, the two main characters from Husbands.
·       Even though Jane gets writers credits for Warehouse 13, she only actually wrote one draft of one episode of the show.
·       Use the software “Final Draft” in order to write your scripts. It has all the templates already built in so you don’t have to worry about additional complications such as margins and fonts.
·       Figure out the mindset and function of all of your characters in an episode. For example, on Buffy, Jane knew that Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, etc., would all need to be in the episode, so she had to figure out what mental state they were in and what part they were going to play in that particular episode.
·       Jane joked that a great thing to do is steal great ideas from other TV shows, but add your own twist to them.
·       A lot of getting into the industry is about who you know. Get a job as a writer’s assistant or something of equivalent! Ultimately, though, there is no correct way to break-in to writing. Just keep writing and keep sending scripts to the appropriate places.
·       One of the “Once Upon A Time” writers managed to become a writer for the show by pretending to be a singing telegram, and breaking into the writer’s room.
·       Make sure everything is spell-checked and perfect before sending it off! If they find one spelling mistake, they’ll consider you amateur.
·       Brad watched Buffy The Vampire Slayer episodes, paused the episode after each ad-break (when the screen goes black for adverts), wrote down what that act told us, then re-created the act to get the same message across, but in a different way.
·       Brad writes and acts for Husbands, but he prefers writing. His career started with recording videos in his bedroom. Jane found them and contacted him.
·       Finally, Brad told us to think about what we say to people and to ourselves. Saying “I’m an aspiring writer” already puts the idea in your head (and everyone else’s heads) that you’re not a writer yet. You should be putting positive affirmations in your head. Say “I am a writer” or “I’m a successful person”, as it will help tell yourself that you already are.

The writer’s workshop was fantastic! I learnt so many tricks and tips that I hadn’t really thought about before. I ended up taking more away from the workshop than just writing tips, though. I’ve already started putting those positive affirmations in place in other areas of my life. It was a wonderful experience to be a part of. After the workshop finished, I thanked Brad and Jane. Brad said that he was happy that we got in (he thought that Robyn was in there with me...more on that later), and he hugged me, then Robyn. By this point in the day it was 1:45pm, which means it was time to find out the results of the guest encounters that started at 2pm. Myself and Robyn had gotten in to Alexis’ guest encounter for the very reasonable price of £35. I’d consider that a bargain, actually!

As mentioned above, a guest encounter is a group of you sat around a table with a guest for 45 minutes. It’s like the gold member drinks reception, only you get 45 minutes, and you’re sat down. The guest encounter with Alexis was another one of my favourite moments of the weekend. I’m sure you get the gist of this by now, but here are the highlights...

·       Alexis sat down and instantly made everyone feel welcome. He said that the table was a bit long, and joked that even though the people at the back were far away, they were well-lit.
·       Alexis has never watched his death scene in “Not Fade Away” all the way through. He’s also watched almost no Angel episode all the way through before. He has a few reasons for this...1) He knows that he’ll find things about his performance that he wants to change, but he won’t be able to change it. 2) He enjoys the process of acting and feels like watching something is a different experience to acting something. If he watches it, it’ll change his views on the experiences that he had in acting it.
·       He had to audition for the role of The Other in The Avengers! It was quite a while before Joss knew that Alexis had the part.
·       I asked him if Alyson permitted him to tell us the Halloween costumes. She didn’t. The fun in a Halloween costume is showing people it, and Alyson didn’t want the surprise ruined. With social media, if Alexis told us, everyone would know by the time Halloween rolled around.
·       Alexis enjoyed the physical comedy in Much Ado About Nothing. I joked that it was because he hadn’t fallen over enough since the early years of being Wesley.
·       Alexis told a story about how he is in charge of lunch for the kids. Alyson used to be, but Alexis was covering the shift, so to speak. Alexis cut Satyana’s sandwiches into squares and sent her off to school. Later on that night Alyson asked Satyana if she enjoyed her lunch, and Satyana raved to Alyson about how excellent the square sandwiches were (because they were square). Alyson told Alexis off because she’d spent months creating these intricately shaped sandwiches (such as tractor shaped, etc.), and Satyana was more happy about the square sandwiches that Alexis had thrown together lazily, than the creative shapes that Alyson does!
·       I adore how much he talks about his family! In a society where celebrity marriages and marriages in general last a few months, Alexis and Alyson have not only made it work, but they are so damn cute together! They seem like the perfect family. Completely down to Earth and real.
·       When they were filming Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, Alexis and Alyson bought a house together just so that they could see each other. The demanding schedules of the shows, along with the fact that they primarily filmed at night (vampire shows), meant that they saw very little of each other until they lived together.
·       It’s clear to see that family is more important to Alexis than his career at this point. He doesn’t like travelling away to work because he misses his wife and children too much.
·       Alexis took Wesley’s death as a compliment because Joss only kills characters that matter to the story.
·       He talked about what it was like filming “A Hole In The World”, and that for a section of it Joss shut the set so that it was just Alexis, Amy, and Joss there to film it. I told him that after the hilarity of “Smile Time”, we knew something bad was coming in “A Hole In The World”. Alexis laughed.
·       Alexis talked a little about costumes that his family wears. An example would be Alexis dressed up as C-3PO.
·       Alexis feels like that in some ways it took 5 actors to play Wesley because he was such a deep, multi-layered character who went through so much. We all told him that it was a testament to his acting that he was able to play all of these roles so convincingly.
·       My friend Christa told Alexis that to us Angel fans, Much Ado About Nothing was almost like Wesley and Fred’s happy ending.

Words cannot describe how lucky I feel in having the opportunity to sit down and talk with Alexis for 45 minutes. Not only is he a damn fine actor, but he’s a damn fine human being. He’s a role model and someone to aspire to be like for all fathers, husbands, actors, and humans in the world...so that’s pretty much everyone!

Page 18...Good Lord...I’ll try to keep the rest of this brief...

At 3pm it was “Game Show” time on the stage. Two people were plucked out of the audience for this game show. It was Jane Espenson, Tom Lenk, and one of the audience members (Immy) vs. Jeff Ricketts, Sarah Hagan, and the other audience member (David). They had to answer questions about Joss Whedon shows, take part in Pictionary (Tom Lenk is a great artist, and David’s drawing of Serenity looked like a cock and balls), and then they had to act out scenes from Joss Whedon shows. The entire hour flew by and it was absolutely hilarious! At one point Jeff Ricketts complained that the other team (Team ‘We Are As Gods’) had Jane Espenson, a writer, on it. Someone from the audience yelled “You have ESP!”. At another point, they were asked the question of what it says on Buffy’s tombstone. Buffy’s tombstone was part of the banners that made up the staging area, so everyone ran off stage to look. Tom Lenk won, and yelled into the microphone in a voice that was not humanly possible to talk that fast. Jane Espenson acted out Agent Coulson’s death as well. Tom ended up finishing off Sarah’s Pictionary drawing, which was Dark Willow. In a matter of seconds Tom added a tiny waist, massive boobs, and arms to the picture.







Nearly at the end now, guys, I promise! :P.

As the game show ended, we discovered that Robyn had gotten into the last writer’s workshop! I have no idea how we both ended up getting in at various times, but I’m so glad that we did! Robyn went off to get a drink before going into the workshop, and Brad Bell came up to me. He said to me, “Robyn didn’t get into the last workshop, did she?”, “No, she didn’t.”, “But I said how happy I was that you both got in! I thought she was in there with you! I feel like an idiot now!”...I waited a few seconds before saying...”Don’t worry, she got into this one!”. Here is why I love Brad Bell...He was genuinely upset about his mistake, and he was genuinely happy that Robyn (and myself) got into the workshop. There’s nothing fake about Brad Bell at all. Robyn arrived back by this point and we spent a few minutes talking to Brad and Ben. Once Jane arrived, I pulled her into a hug and thanked her for coming to Hallowhedon (just in case I didn’t get the chance to thank her again). Whilst Robyn went into the writer’s workshop, I went to Alexis’ second talk on the stage (the first one was the one on Saturday). I swear, I spent half my weekend happily listening to Alexis talk!

Here are the highlights from Alexis’ second talk that I haven’t already mentioned previously....

·       Alexis said that he really likes applause and praise (he was joking). He said that he gets his children to applaud him at home...he quickly followed up that he was joking, and to not put that on Twitter.
·       He reiterated that he doesn’t choose favourite episodes, but said that “Hush”, “Once More With Feeling”, and “The Body” were amazing Buffy episodes. He said that the kissing scene between Willow and Tara in “The Body” was great...everyone started laughing...Alexis quickly realised that he just happened to mention the scene where his wife kisses another woman! He also said that any scene with Willow in is great.
     

After Alexis’ talk finished, I headed back to towards the “Henley Suite” to meet Robyn (that was where the writer’s workshops and Alexis’ guest encounter was held). Myself and Robyn bumped into K. Todd Freeman as he was leaving, and thanked him for an amazing weekend. He thanked us for being such great fans.

At 5pm it was time for the closing ceremony, and to bring this magical weekend to a close. The closing ceremony was the six remaining guests sat on stage answering questions and joking around. It was the funniest talk of the whole weekend! Here are some of the highlights...


·       Someone asked them all what their least favourite job ever was. Tom Lenk talked about how he used to sweep cat and dog hair for a vets. Tom is allergic to cats. Tom also mentioned that when he worked there his rabbit got sick. One of the vets gave him a prescription to help cure the rabbit. It turns out, it was the wrong prescription. Tom’s rabbit died...and the vet ended up firing him soon after! Tom said this all in a very funny way.
·       Jane talked about a terrible show she worked for earlier in her career (I forget the name of the show). Tom Lenk mentioned that he worked on the pilot episode of that show...and, you guessed it, got fired from it. He gets fired a lot.
·       Someone asked what fruit they would be, and Brad said that he’s already a little fruit. I swear, I nearly died of laughter during this talk.
·       Jane’s proudest moment was choosing to be happy. I can relate to that all too well. For those of you that have read my re-watch reviews, you know that both of my closest friends died when I was 17/18 years old, and that I’ve had a lot of problems with depression and attempted suicide. After trying to kill myself two years ago, I made a choice to try to be happy again. It worked. I completely agree with Jane that happiness is ultimately a choice.
·       Alexis mentioned that a recent proud moment for him was that after roughly the 25th signature of the day, he was very excited with how his signature was turning out. He was getting the “F” at the end of his name just right! However, his primary proud moment is fatherhood.
·       Alexis very rarely sings. Once he sang karaoke to Alyson in a Chinese restaurant, in front of 5 people. Alexis said that the pained smile on her face made him realise that it wasn’t having the desired romantic effect.
·       Tom talked about a commercial audition where he was repeatedly slapped in the face (not the usual TV slap in the face, where they don’t actually connect with the slap). Then the roles were reversed, and he was slapped in the face repeatedly again...he did not get the job! By this point tears were streaming down my face.
·       Brad wants to be a judge on Dancing With The Stars because he wants to be a bitch to people. When everyone was asked what Buffy or Angel character they’d most like to be, Brad said Glory because he’s a bitch and has great fashion sense.
·       Everyone else wanted to be Andrew, except Jeff Ricketts who said that he wanted to be Faith!
·       Brad Bell did an impression of Drew Barrymore that was so accurate it was terrifying.
·       Tom Lenk has banned ballads from being sang at karaoke...then Jane mentioned that she once heard Tom sing The Little Mermaid’s “A Part Of Your World” karaoke before, and Brad yelled “BALLAD!”.
·       Tom was nervous that a Red Wedding situation was going to happen because of all of them on stage together, having fun (that’s a Game Of Thrones reference).
·       Tom and Jane talked about how they used to read message boards when Buffy was on the air. A lot of teenage girls were writing explicit messages (and bitchy messages) about Andrew and Tom Lenk. Tom mentioned one of the comments, which said how the girl in question wanted to put her hand down her panties with a pocket on the front. All the other guests were confused, and everyone was laughing. Tom then turned it into a song, and started singing “put your hand on my panties with a pocket on the front”.
·       Brad made a joke about his worst job ever. Brad used to do some modelling (true), and he joked about how in one session he had to hold props and be bent into all kinds of positions...at least I hope he was joking!








After the closing ceremony was finished, myself and Robyn found Brad and Jane again to say goodbye. Soon after the closing ceremony Brad, Jane, Alexis, and Tom all left the hotel. A lot of the fans also left the hotel after the closing ceremony.

The 200 or so of us that remained sat down in the “King’s Suite” to watch “Once More With Feeling”. I have never experienced anything like it! Hanging out with 200 friends, everyone singing at the top of their voices...I was in nerd Heaven. It was truly a fantastic moment. Before the sing-along started, Martin and Kerry told me about how last year they yelled “NO!” as Dawn sang “Does anybody even notice? Does anybody even care?”, so this year all three of us did the same thing. Everybody in the suite laughed. After “Once More With Feeling” finished, we turned around to see that Jeff Ricketts and Sarah Hagan were still at the hotel. Jeff Ricketts had a special surprise lined up for those of us that remained. We were treated to a 16-minute project that Jeff had just recorded in Austria (in the United Nations building), called “Earthmoving”. It was absolutely hilarious. Check it out, guys! There will be links to “Earthmoving” and “Husbands” at the bottom of this review.

After watching “Earthmoving”, myself and Robyn went to talk to Jeff about it. He talked about the filming of “Earthmoving”, and explained that there is more to come for it. Some of the project is in German, so Robyn and Jeff started talking about the German/Austrian accents in “Earthmoving”. Soon after this, we went to bed.

Monday morning, we woke up to the fire alarm going off in the hotel. Everyone gathered outside...including Jeff Ricketts! Sarah had left by this point, but Jeff was still around. He ended up leaving at around 1pm, just before myself and Robyn did. We thanked him for coming to the event, and he said that we should come to watch him perform in Austria!

To sum up the entire weekend, it was phenomenal. With an event of this size, you’re not limited in what you do. If you want to come for the autographs and studio photos, you can. If you want to come for the talks, you can. If you want to come to hang out with your friends and get drunk, you can. If you want to take the time to talk to all of the guests a lot, you can. Myself and Robyn chose the last option. We didn’t drink much, and we spent most of our weekend talking to the celebrities. Due to this, Brad Bell now follows me on Twitter, I’ve spoken to Jane Espenson since the event, and Jeff Ricketts and Sarah Hagan are now my friends on other social networking applications. Staying in touch with four out of seven isn’t bad at all ;-). I would strongly recommend that you come to Hallowhedon 6, which is back in London. I know I’ll be there! Danny Strong has already been announced for the event.

Going back to London is probably for the best, as I know that a lot of people had problems with the Hilton Hotel. My friend Natalie caught a cleaner stealing her money; there were a lot of leaky bathrooms, and a lot of rude guests (that weren’t related to Hallowhedon). Someone from a drunken wedding party fell onto my friend and badly damaged her ankle (she’s laid up until Christmas!). Another one of my friends, who is disabled, was left to fend for herself (with her boyfriend) after the fire alarm went off!

One final note is that it’s very easy to tell at conventions which guests are there for money, and which guests are there to meet and give back to the fans. I’ve met a lot of celebrities at previous conventions where you could just tell that they were only there for a pay check. Luckily, all seven guests at Hallowhedon were there for the fans. Each and every one of them was a joy to interact with over a three day period.

Hallowhedon 5 was one of the best weekends of my life. Thank you to everyone who I met over the weekend, and who helped make the event so enjoyable!

Total money spent (including gold ticket, travel, hotel, etc.) = £900(ish).

If you have managed to make it to the end of this 21-page review (A4!), you deserve a cookie. Thank you so much for reading, thank you so much for liking the Facebook page (facebook.com/BTVSFC), and thank you so much for supporting the blog.

To quote Buffy The Vampire Slayer....“Questions? Comments?”

- Shangel

 

       FINAL SCORE: 10/10


P.S. Here are the links to ‘Husbands’ and ‘Earthmoving’, as promised! Support Jeff, Brad, and Jane by watching these videos and helping to spread the word!

Earthmoving – http://vimeo.com/36268593





Finally, check out Jeff Ricketts’ official Facebook page, which I now co-run with him – www.facebook.com/JeffRickettsOfficial

17 comments:

  1. I wanted to be the first commentator! ;) I absolutely love this! :D What an fantastic experience this was! Here's to the start of an awesome writing career! ^_^ <3 Watch out Hollywood! ;)

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    1. Thank you, Robyn! <3. Hallowhedon 5 was truly amazing! :D.

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  2. Sounds like you had an amazing weekend!! And I am truly honoured to have met you and the delectable Robyn!
    Xx

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    1. The honour was all ours, Natalie! Hallowhedon 5 was a fantastic weekend! :D

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  3. Thank you so much for this review,Ireally enjoyed reading it!! :)

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    1. Thank you, Felurian! I'm glad you enjoyed it! ^_^

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  4. yes! managed to get through all of it...We think you captured the spirit of convention-going pretty well.. didn't leave anything out either (literally LOL)

    In athmosphere, we (quietly) prefer HW4 over HW5 but it has nothing to do with massive events or the guests, rather the venue, which was a lot better at HW4! (we think they agree, seeing as HW6 will be back at the Radisson). The guests were amazing! Sarah Hagan's adventures on the spider & surf board were awesome, Brad Bell's pirate costume, the people that were there all added to a great weekend with friends and memories to last a lifetime!

    hugs
    twinzz

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    1. Hi Twinzz!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read the review! :D. I've heard the same thing from a lot of people (that the hotel was a let-down)...at least it's back in London for Hallowhedon 6!

      Hope I will see you both then!

      - Shangel

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  5. Oh waw, I'm so jealous :) I could have read another 10 pages :) Never been to a convention, and being a total Whedonverse nerd, I really must think about next year... Thank you so much for your wonderful review!!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Carrie! I'm so glad you loved the review! Another 10 pages...good Lord...I was expecting people to find this review too long :P.

      If you're a total Whedonverse nerd, you might want to subscribe to this blog. Starting tomorrow, I will be reviewing every Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel episode (Firefly, Dollhouse, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will follow) ;).

      Thank you again!

      - Shangel

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  6. I really enjoyed reading this review! I am not a con-goer, for lots of reasons, but I do enjoy reading about them, and watching panels on YouTube, etc. I've just "liked" your Buffy page on FB. Take care, and stay happy! -Jocelyn (Joss!)

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    1. Awwww, thank you so much for the comment, Jocelyn (great name, by the way!). I really appreciate you taking the time to read the blog entry and like the Facebook page!

      If you're a big fan of Buffy and Angel, I'm reviewing each episode on this blog, starting tomorrow ;-)

      Take care, and thanks again!

      - Shangel

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  7. Thank you for writing this amazing report! Brought back some lovely memories from the weekend. The writer's workshop was really great. I think I was in the same workshop with you. Didn't say anything there but just concentrated to listen :)

    Will have to see if I can afford HW6 next year.
    -Pia-

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    1. Thank you for the comment, -Pia-

      Oh, wow! So you know just how amazing the writer's workshop was first-hand :D.

      I will almost definitely be attending HW6. It is line-up dependant of course, but I want to go to see my friends as much as the celebrities.

      - Shangel

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  8. Not surprising Alexis enjoys watching Aly with Amber - SMG once said Freddie 's favorite scene in _Cruel Intentions_ is her with Selma in the park....

    D'C'A'

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    1. Haha, that's awesome! Thank you for taking the time to read the recap and comment! I appreciate it!

      - Shangel

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  9. Thanks for sharing! Living thru you my friend! :)

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