This is a little different from my usual blog post but I thought that for this weeks post I would write about my experience at this weekends London Film & Comic Con at Kensington Olympia which I am currently sat on the train home from.
Having attended various conventions since 2010, I am by no means a newbie to the organisers, Showmasters conventions so by now I know exactly how things work and what to expect. This year however, was my first time at the UK's largest convention of its kind, London Film & Comic Con (LFCC). I've never really fancied attending before as it is much bigger than the other conventions that I have attended in the past. This year however, LFCC was focussed on the 30th anniversary of one of my favourite films, Back To The Future so like many others I couldn't resist attending this year.
This year was especially different to other years due to the fact that entry tickets and many of the photoshoots were sold out plus it added into the equation the addition of diamond passes for some of the bigger named guests. Not unsurprising when you look at some of the incredible guests that were on this lineup. Unfortunately gold/diamond passes were out of my price range so this blog comes from somebody who did the weekend entirely with a standard ticket. Despite the entry queue snaking almost the entire way around Olympia, Showmasters staff quickly got the crowds inside and although it may have taken me almost an hour to get inside the queue never stopped moving once so it didn't feel like much time at all. Considering the large amounts of attendees I think it was extremely well managed, particularly compared with some experiences I've had at not Showmasters run conventions.
I had photoshoot sessions booked in advance of the day, with the stars of Back To The Future, Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd and from Harry Potter, David Bradley and Michael Gambon. Michael J Fox is someone who I never thought I would get the opportunity to meet so I consider myself extremely lucky to have managed to get a photoshoot ticket to meet him. Of course, many other attendees were there to meet Michael J Fox too and the photoshoot area was by far the busiest I attended all day. It was extremely warm waiting and I seemed to be surrounded by people complaining that it was poorly organised but truthfully I think it wasn't too bad. Yes a better system could probably be thought of now Showmasters are getting extremely high profile guests attending but photo batches were clearly shouted by the staff member and held up on whiteboard so everyone should see. Everyone waiting got what they paid for in the end, the opportunity to get a photo and spend a few seconds speaking to someone they've watched on television for years. My biggest surprise came with Michael J Fox as I found him surprisingly chatty in comparison to Michael Gambon towards the end of the day, whose photo session seemed extremely rushed. A nice addition now is that you get your photo almost instantly after it is taken, much improvement to a few years back when you had to wait hours for your photo to be printed. Credit goes completely to the gentleman who was manning the big guest photoshoot area as I really think he kept all the photoshoots running as smoothly as they possibly could.
My only real gripe about the convention is accessibility and the lack of air con, though this is more a fault of the venue rather than Showmasters themselves. Access to the comic book and young adult book sections as well as a few of the signing areas on levels 2 and 3 was poor. The only way up was by lift or a very small staircase which was very time consuming whichever option you chose to use. Despite me wanting to go and meet some authors, the accessibility really put me off making multiple trips up to those zones.
I need to mention the young adult literacy convention (YALC) which was part of LFCC this year. Featuring signings and talks from popular authors such as Samantha Shannon (author of The Bone Season series), Malory Blackman (author of the Noughts and Crosses series) and author of Take Back The Skies, Lucy Saxon, who even came in cosplay! As someone who is very interested in reading books of the young adult genre it was great that it had its own dedicated section of the convention. I just wish it had easier access so I could've spent more time browsing the book stalls and getting more of my books signed.
All in all I thought LFCC was brilliant and would certainly consider going again in the future. Although I've read quite negative opinions on this year's convention, I found the organisation to be pretty good overall. The guests this year were real one in a lifetime opportunity guests and I am very thankful for Showmasters for giving me the opportunity to meet everyone I did. If you want to attend LFCC I would highly recommend attending one of Showmasters other conversations first to get the feel of how they work with ticketing (particularly if you want autographs) as I think that LFCC may be a little overwhelming if it's your first conversation.