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Lost in Thought- by shannon730

Dragon*Con 2005: Sunday, Part Two - Convention Politics

Continued from here.

After the Farscape panel, I, being ambulatory, decided to go window shop in the dealer’s room. Not that they had windows, but you get the idea. While there, I was cornered by searose, who invited me to dinner at a local Chinese buffet later in the evening. I accepted and then went back to my room to take a bit of a nap.

Later that evening, I was sitting outside at the designated rendezvous point when I spied Raster. Somehow, we got to talking about the organization of the convention itself, which, believe it or not, is a matter of some interpersonal controversy behind the scenes. As it turns out, the directors of the individual programming tracks are extremely competitive. AMTV is in an uproar currently because the convention powers that be decided this year to change the eligibility criteria for the Classic Sci Fi track – a change that may effectively move Babylon 5 and Quantum Leap to Classic in 2006. This makes sense to me on the face of it, as both shows have been off the air for awhile. But according to Raster, the AMTV staff is reluctant to hand over all of the resources and contacts they’ve collected over the years for both shows to a staff they don’t know because that staff may end up getting the credit for work that AMTV did. In other words, there are a few egos in play.

Well. Over the weekend, I’d managed to make a few observations. For one, the Writer’s Track was at capacity plus for both panels I attended, and the track director was openly asking us to spy on other tracks and scope out bigger rooms. Meanwhile, the Buffy track was playing to a largely empty room, and a lot of the track content was dedicated to games and socializing rather than discussion. And AMTV, as the convention catch-all, was straining to fit in content for dozens of shows, each with its rabid fans, which resulted in a stunning lack of BSG: 2003 content. (Of course, I hadn’t watched any episodes beyond the mini before then, but I did have eyes – I knew it was hugely popular.) So I told Raster that if I were queen of Dragon*Con, I’d shuffle things around a bit. The Buffy track seems to be running out of things to talk about, which is to be expected, as Buffy and Angel are off the air and their fandom has been around for some time. (The same thing is happening to Babylon 5, which is why I’m so keen on risking controversy.) So why not move Serenity to the Buffy track and make that a general Joss track? Similarly, Stargate: SG1 and Stargate: Atlantis eat up giant swaths of AMTV time – so much that I believe these shows can sustain their own track. Moving these two current phenomenons out to JOSS and a new track – let’s call it GATE – respectively would free up AMTV to cover all the other shows.

Over Chinese, Raster told me that these were reasonable suggestions, but he was still skeptical about the convention’s long-term viability. One problem, he said, was that multiple tracks often competed for the same celebrity guest. For example, AMTV (or Classic if certain changes come to pass) and TREK both have legitimate claims to Scott Bakula should he ever appear at D*C. This becomes a problem because it is the celebrity guests who really bring the prestige, and every track wants a shot at that prestige. Beyond the competition, I could also see that many track directors were saddled with more duties than they could realistically handle, with guest relations being one duty among many. I personally blame this state of affairs for the whole Joss Whedon is-he-or-isn’t-he confusion, which I feel could’ve been cleared up with some phone calls if somebody had had the time to make them.

My solution was this: find a fan with some PR background and install him or her as the Guest Relations Director. Said GRD would, with his or her staff, be solely responsible for the booking and watering of celebrity guests. Within this organizational framework, each track director would have to go through the GRD to book a guest on a panel. This wouldn’t kill the competition completely, but at least the tracks wouldn’t be fighting over who gets the credit for booking the guests – and the guests have the benefit of interacting with someone who has the time to focus on their interests and concerns.

But hey, what do I know?


The booking solution you came up for celebrities is logical. But therein lies your mistake.

Where DragonCon decisions are concerned, logic very rarely enters into it. For instance, for a con that large logically you would think that the con suite would have a HUGE budget. Not so. For the last two years we have operated on around $6000 a year. Four days; over 20,000 people on six grand.

And where egos and such are involved logic flies even further out the window.

But the idea for making a general Joss track could be viable. You'd have to email Pat Henry (the chair) and lay out the reasons for it. Of course then he'd probably just pick someone to head the track who knows NOTHING about it....like the Tribe track the first year. Thankfully that person dropped out before the con and someone who knows more about it took over.

I think the criteria for Classic SF is stupid; I also think the emphasis on broadcast classic SF is also stupid. But I'm just a volunteer - not a director. (I did apply for the track head for classic SF; they turned me down.)
You'd have to email Pat Henry (the chair) and lay out the reasons for it. Of course then he'd probably just pick someone to head the track who knows NOTHING about it....

I can't imagine why the chair would choose to do something like that when we already have the current director of the Buffy track and a number of AMTV staff folks, all of whom are qualified. But there I go trying to apply logic to D*C again. *g*
Sounds like you had some good ideas. Better look out or they will start putting you in charge ;)

There's nothing more fickle than angry fans, especially those who hate to see theirs fade to obscurity. That's mostly why I don't go anymore unless there's more than a couple actors/authors I really want to see, as most of my fandoms have faded. :(
Better look out or they will start putting you in charge ;)

Well, vampry is probably right - I'm probably too logical to be put in charge. But my ideas are there anyway. *shrug*

But hey, what do I know?

Evidently more than the people RUNNING the thing.

A query, as I have never been to a D*C: AMTV?
AMTV is the catch-all track for all recent and current broadcast American sci-fi/fantasy/genre shows that don't have their own track. The criteria is ridiculously broad, truth be told. I really feel sorry for Aaron (the director) sometimes. He has too many fanbases to please.
Your sugestions would help more than hurt in that case, I think. I'm AMAZED "GATE" isn't it's own track already.