Sunday, April 28, 2013

Calgary Expo Adventures

My first "con" experience has me hooked. From the costumed attendees (check out the very cool steampunk couples in the photos) and booths filled with collectibles, to the informative, entertaining, or just plain awe-inspiring panels. Yeah, I've had one hell of a weekend. The 12 hour drive - time well invested.

Not only have I gotten my sci-fi / fantasy fix, as a novelist and screenwriter, I've found numerous panels applicable to honing my craft. And there are still a few to attend today. Stan Lee, the voice of comics, was brilliant - connecting with, and charming, thousands of people in the arena. "I'm a commercial writer. I'm a hack," Lee said. "I don't even like writing." But if you're going to pay the man, his imagination will go into overdrive. "Greed is the mother of invention."

You gotta respect the fact that Lee knows the business and his audience.

Carrie Fisher, actor, novelist, producer, screenwriter, also had nuggets of wisdom amidst her self-depreciating humour. Advice for those wanting into the Hollywood game? "Stay out!" The stories she shared about her time on the set of Star Wars, The Burbs, and other films, as well as her love of "having written" versus enjoying the process of writing itself resonated with the crowd.

I also thoughouly enjoyed a playwriting panel, The Art of Playwright, with Alberta's Dan Gibbins, Ben Blue, and Alberta Playwrights Network president, Trevor Rueger. In particular, I enjoyed their take on the differences between writing for film and writing for the stage, from the facetious, "Car chases don't work on stage", to the wise, "Play to the strengths of your medium". While the panel agreed plays can evoke emotion and laughter - they were cautious when I enquired, "Is there a place for horror on stage?".

Their comments were enlightening. Yes, horror could be done. But it was easy to do it wrong. Too much gore, or shoddy effects pull the audience out of the moment. Thrills are best achieved by "making whatever the monster is....seen as little as possible". On the stage it's the unknown, the feeling of dread, and physiological horror that will have the audience enthralled.

Good to know. Thanks Calgary Expo...and I do hope to see you again next year!

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