It’s Christmas in July in San Diego. That’s because one of the biggest pop culture celebrations in the country is going on: the San Diego Comic Con, nerd heaven, and the film industry’s bucktoothed mistress.
The Con began as a regular comic book convention, but since the industry discovered it was one of the best gatherings for repeat consumers (ie: FANS), they pretty much took over, for better or for worse, and turned the con into a Disneyland of advertisements. The streets are walled with posters and filled with promoters handing out chotchkies made in China, emblazoned with stuff-to-watch-for, and there’s even an entire cafe devoted to the SyFy Channel where imagination is on the menu (I’m serious. Imagination is listed in the food menu).
For years now it’s been much more than nerd Mecca, it’s a real industry networking event. All the big people in film and TV come down here to be on panels and promote. interestingly, from the stars in the famous Hall H to a the more accessible costume designers or Production Design panel, this is the place where the celebs are especially happy to meet their fans. Sometimes they really don’t get why they’re here, they hole up in their hotel rooms, terrified of the unwashed masses and confused by their own supporters. But others, the betters, are out and about having the most fun they could have on the job. And that’s how they meet you.
Every year I attend comic-con I get into weird and fascinating situations with some really big players, running into them at bars and hotels and trotting alongside, party hopping, squeezing onto guest lists, passing out business cards like a fiend, but mostly just bookmarking great memories.
PAs ARE considered professional industry at comic-con, which means that if you have a decent imdb credit list or have done at least one recognizable production, you can get their free industry badge which allows you entry onto all four days. The more years you visit, the more people you get to know, the more faces you recognize every year, soon every street corner is another connection to something amazing. By now, the con is more of a reunion of industry friends for me.
The wonder of comic-con as a networking event, rather than others like Sundance, Cannes, AFM or others, is the fun of it all. A lot of successful people come here and drop their guard, more content to talk to their fans and have a beer at an open event, crowding into hotel rooms after last call. There’s no need for suits, ties, even heels, wear your costume and flaunt how much you nerdgasm over someone’s work; they will appreciate it more than you know. If you’re smooth, their contacts will follow you into LA and permanently into your life.
To me, SDCC is the clearest signal of work and play in synergy. It’s a not to be missed event for anyone in production who still has the heart of a child. In the no-nonsense, sometimes stifling attitude of regular work life, the looseness and fun of SDCC is a welcome relief.
God bless the con!