Last weekend Anne-Marie and I got the chance to attend the Texas Frightmare Weekend (TXFW) up in Dallas. It’s an annual convention dedicated to horror and sci-fi and really lets fans dig into their favorite monster movies by meeting the actors, directors, and special effects stars that make the stuff they love.
We helped sponsor the Frightmare Weekend and Dead Panic was chosen as the Official Game of Texas Frightmare Weekend. It was pretty neat to see our game represented in the official program and it was a pretty good fit for this crowd if we do say so!
For a while now, when we go to a convention it’s been as Vendors or Exhibitors, to introduce attendees to Fireside Games from behind the booth. TXFW was different. We were going on the down low. Anne-Marie and I just went to the show as regular attendees to see the sights and we learned a lot.
We were only able to attend the show on Saturday, so after we picked up our badges, we realized we were going to have to plan our day pretty carefully. There were several panels and seminars we wanted to attend and I really wanted to get some autographs. Texas Frightmare Weekend does an amazing job of bringing in some big names in the horror business. For example, George Romero and Tom Savini (Night of the Living Dead), Linda Blair (The Exorcist), Chandler Riggs and Scott Wilson from The Walking Dead, Tobin Bell (SAW), Michael Biehn (Terminator, Aliens), the list goes on. Seriously, it was kind of overwhelming.
We took in the crowd and great costumes, then perused the vendor hall with its t-shirts, DVD’s, and artwork before it was time for the first panel. 30 Years of the Terminator. Being a huge sci-fi fan, this panel was the highlight of the show for me. The guests on stage were nothing short of amazing. Seeing the stars of the franchise in person is one thing, but hearing their behind-the-scenes stories and obvious fondness for the movies was more fun than I would have imagined. That panel could have gone on for 2 more hours and I would have loved it, but these stars were gracious enough with their time.
Shown here in their blurry glory from Left to Right are: Peter Kent (stunt double for Arnold), Jenette Goldstein (Jenelle in T2 and Vasquez from Aliens), Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Earl Boen, Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3), and Robert Patrick from T2.
The next session we made it too was a “how to” demonstration on special effects makeup given by Jenna Morin. She’s worked on various movie and TV shows and gave a great overview of the products and techniques used to make all sorts of nasty wounds look real. Some of the simplest tricks worked so good it was really impressive.
After that we tried to attend a panel with some of the actors who played the Space Marines in Aliens, but something happened and it was either moved or cancelled so it ended up not happening. There was much sadness.
We decided it was about time to look into getting autographs since we had several people we were excited to meet. This was where we ran into trouble. Having not attended a lot of conventions we quickly realized we’d made a big mistake.
It turns out that at least at TXFW the autograph process starts with waiting in a line to buy a ticket to see a particular guest. Then you wait in another line until your ticket number is called and then you get to meet that celebrity. After waiting in the first line we discovered that all the guest tickets for Saturday had already been sold out.
This meant we weren’t going to be able to see most of our most anticipated stars. I did get a chance to meet Tom Savini, the original makeup and special-effects master for Night of the Living Dead, Creepshow, Friday the 13th, and so many more classic films. He was even kind enough to sign a copy of Dead Panic for us!
We ended the day on a bittersweet note knowing that we wouldn’t be able to meet everyone we’d hoped to, but having had a great time nonetheless. We could also relate to what it must be like for everyone who attends a convention and having “walked a mile” in your shoes we appreciate the challenges you face. Such as:
Too many cool things to see and do leads to the inevitable cry of “I want to see this panel, but this event is happening at the same time, which do I choose?!”
If a lot of people like the same stuff you do, you’re going to spend a lot of time waiting to get to that stuff. That can make it hard to plan where you’ll be when.
Food, What’s That?
Again, the problem of too many awesome things to do means that time spent sitting down and eating is time you’re not meeting a celebrity, learning something new, or getting some exclusive swag somewhere else.
Learning the Ropes
Every convention works a little differently, and figuring out how things get done is a bit of a moving target. If we’d done our homework better we could have seen the trouble with the tickets coming and gotten in the right lines earlier.
Suffice to say, it’s given us a look at what con-goers have to juggle in order to successfully attend a show. More than that though, it’s given us a whole new appreciation for the fans that come to our booth and spend precious time (sometimes a lot of it!) hanging out with us, playing games, and just being great people. We know that your time at a convention is limited and we love that you spend some of it with us!
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