Sunday, February 14, 2010
I spent my weekend at Farpoint Convention in Timonium, MD, just north of Baltimore. Farpoint started life as a Star trek convention, though over the years (I think this was the 17th annual) has morphed into a more generalized sci-fi gathering. Now, I'm not much of a Star Trek fan, though I did watch "The Next Generation", and there was one reason, and one reason only, that I went to this convention: Felicia Day. Felicia, star of "Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog"; star of her own web-series "The Guild; new media maven; 1.75 million followers on twitter. And the ultimate on "Greg's Favorite Redheads" list (sorry Alyson and Alison). I love her work on the web, and I love the fact that her success in developing, producing, and promoting her web-series is largely self-made. Felicia has had somewhat steady work in Hollywood appearing in TV series, including a recurring role in the 7th (and final) season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, she mainly has bounced around outside the margins of what could be called "mainstream" success. A hardcore video gamer, Felicia has admitted that she once had a World of Warcraft addiction that even caused her to miss an audition or two. It is the world of MMORPGs that form the basis of "The Guild". The first season of "The Guild" was produced on something less than a shoestring budget, with fans sending Paypal donations to allow for the final episodes of the season to be produced. But that was enough to get the attention of Joss Whedon (again), who cast her as Penny in "Dr. Horrible", and was also enough for Seasons 2 and 3 of "The Guild" to gather sponsorship support from Microsoft. If you are not familiar with Felicia's work, visit her website, and check out her acting reel.
Farpoint Con went on my calendar as soon as Felicia announced on her blog that she would be one of the scheduled guests. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew that I wanted to get an autograph, and hopefully a picture. A month before the convention, the organizers announced that as part of an annual charity fund-raiser they would auction off lunch with Felicia, so that became part of my agenda as well. In preparation I made some 8"x10" prints of some professional photos from Felicia's Flickr page for her to sign. I was fortunate that on Saturday, as I was wandering the convention floor, I happened to glance down at a table and saw a small handwritten sign that said "Felicia Day 11 - 1:00". I looked at my watch, which said 10:53. "Well, heck," I said, "I'll just stand right here". At about 11:05, I looked toward the elevators and saw her walking across the floor with a handler from the convention. My first thought was "Crap, what am I going to say?" And I actually got nervous. She was absolutely charming, unpretentious, and a joy to talk with. Oh, and REALLY thin. She apologized for being late, and then took several minutes to set up her pictures and Guild DVDs, which were for sale. Then the handler had to scurry off in search of some sharpies. I did not mind in the least, as it gave me a total of about 5 minutes to talk with her. She signed one photo that I brought, as well as one I purchased, and a Season 2 Guild dvd that I also purchased. After I stepped away, I took out my camera to take a picture of her signing for the next person. She turned toward me and smiled, then said "Wait! Do you want me to take a picture with you?" Well, duh! So that is the second piture above.
I attended a panel discussion of later in the day, and asked her a question about how she assembled the cast for the first season of "The Guild", since at the time she had a script, but no money, and so could not afford to use union actors. Her answer was fairly long, as were all of her answers - she is very chatty, and an engaging speaker. After the panel I killed time until the charity auction that evening. Lunch with Felicia (scheduled for Sunday) was the last item on the auction block. Up to that point, the auction had raised about $2000 selling a variety of autographed memorabilia, and the auctioneer told the audience that he recognized that it was a bad economy, so no one should be disappointed if we didn't match last year's total of $3000. Bidding for lunch with Felicia started at $300. I bid $325. And the bids started rising quickly between me and I think 2 other guys. When I bid $750 I could hear surprised reactions throughout the crowd. When I bid $1000, Felicia looked at me and her jaw dropped. The autioneer said "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have just matched last year's total". But before the words were out of his mouth, I heard a voice behind me saying "$1100". I immediately countered with $1200, but also knew that was all the higher I could go. And the voices behind me quickly moved on to $1400, then $1500 - and kept going. When the bidding crossed $3000, I thought that Felicia started to look a little uneasy - and she interjected with "Remember guys, this is ONLY for lunch!" After the dust settled, lunch with Felicia Day sold for $5000, with all proceeds going to benefit a disabled veterans charity.
I went back on Sunday to attend the morning autograph session, and had her sign the other two photos I had printed. She was very pleased with my selection of the pics from her Flickr page, and mentioned that she was considering using one of them as a new headshot, and asked what I thought. I told her that two of her current headshots on display were pretty similar, and perhaps she could consider replacing one of them with the newer photo - that her eyes in the new photo were spectacular. I also said to her that I had thought I would have had a decent chance of winning the auction with a $1200 bid, but in the end wouldn't have even been able to get in the same restaurant with that bid! She said the auction was just crazy, and she had worried if the people bidding were really going to have enough money for their bids (apparently they did). Then she took another pic with me (the first pic above).
After that, I drove back home, still not sure about the whole con scene, but more than pleased that I got to meet one of my favorite actresses. I'll post the autographed pics in the next couple of days - but I have to replace my scanner first.