Over the summer I attended, for the first time, the crazy awesomeness that is SDCC. I was excited and overwhelmed to be at the largest geek fest of the year, and it was quite an experience.
There were a lot of people.
There were tons of amazing panels.
And there was incredible exclusive merchandise.
And throughout the incredible 3 full days I spent at the convention center, here are some of the things I learned…
- Do Your Research
Now, I love research (a you may recall, I have a Neuroscience degree). And I did a LOT of research before attending the con. I researched the schedule and which panels I wanted to attend and where they were. I researched some of the exclusive merchandise that would only be available at SDCC before they showed up for 4X the price on Ebay. I researched where to get some cool swag, which parties you could get into without being on a list, and where there would be cool events outside of the convention center.
I took all of this research and wrote out an ideal, if-I-could-be-in-3-places-at-once type of schedule for myself. That way, depending on what time I had or what other folks in my group wanted to do, I could simply look at my schedule (which I kept with my badge) and see a variety of things I was truly interested in seeing at any given moment. Some of the girls I was with made fun of my research/paper schedule, but I got a TON out of my time at SDCC as a result. And hey- I’m proud of my nerdisms.
- Visit Artist’s Alley
The showroom floor is a crazy and intimidating place.
Every major and minor franchise, video game company, and comic book artist has a booth where they are selling merchandise, original art, or even offering experiences, like the Walking Dead experience. But the area I found myself spending the most time in was Artist’s Alley.
Artist’s Alley is an area on one side of the floor that is completely taken over by small, independent artists. They sit side by side with their paintings, comic books, sketches, etc. They sell their original stuff, have conversations with aspiring artists, and sign their work.
Not too far from Artist’s Alley are a bunch of booths with things like incredible costume pieces, amazing jewelry, and other unique offerings. The beauty and creativity in this area is astounding, and I walked away with some pretty awesome artwork.
- Dressing Up Is Fun
I have never participated in cosplay (costume play), and I don’t have any desire to start. I did, however, have a blast doing some casual cosplay- putting together outfits that suggest a character, without going all out or assuming that personality for the day. And it was really fun!
The entire energy at Comic-Con celebrates various fictional worlds, and some people have incredibly elaborate costumes and spend entire days getting their picture taken with passersby. Some celebrities even join in on the fun by wearing a mask to walk anonymously around the showroom floor.
It is really a gigantic, fun celebration – who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
4) Balance Being a Professional with Being a Fan
I attended SDCC as both a professional in the entertainment industry and as a true fan. One entire day of the con was spent assisting on various panels (where I got to hear some INCREDIBLE folks speak, like Con Man executive producer PJ Haarsma, the co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival Dan Mirvish, and Miracle Laurie from Dollhouse!) As a result, I had a Professional Badge, which allowed me to get into the exclusive Pro Lounge (free coffee & tea, a quiet place to sit, and outlets to recharge if needed). On days when I wasn’t working, I attended panels about writing that were conducted like classes, panels about getting a literary rep and being staffed on a show, panels about women in TV & Film production, and more. These were panels where I felt like a professional. I learned a ton, I took diligent notes, and followed up with those folks thanking them for sharing their time and expertise.
Also, as an actress/choreographer/writer/producer and general content creator, there was a lot of networking to be had. I met SO many creative individuals, most of whom live in L.A., and it was great to have conversations with them about their creative journeys.
But let’s be honest- I was also there as a fan.
I attended a few panels where I was just in awe at being in the same place as some of the incredible artists. I peeked into the Sherlock panel. I attended the Once Upon a Time panel where I witnessed this gem:
Jennifer Morrison attempting to do an Irish Accent, with coaching from Colin O’Donoghue.
And I attended a panel that included David Anders (iZombie), Yvette Nicole Brown (The Odd Couple), Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs), Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Eliza Taylor (The 100),Ming-Na Wen (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), where I was privy to this adorable story from Maisie:
While these panels were less informational, they were incredibly inspiring. These are folks that are working and thriving in the industry, and to listen to them tell stories about antics on set or crazy interactions with fans reminds me that they are just people. They are just people that have had the good fortune of landing dream jobs, and that could be me one day soon. Over and over again, I heard that there were two common traits in the folks that were working at that level: they worked hard, and they were nice. And that is a very inspiring thought.
Overall, I had an incredible first Comic-Con experience. I cannot wait to go back next year, and perhaps even speak on a panel about my experiences in the entertainment industry.
If you’re interested in attending Comic Con with a professional badge, applications are open until the end of October! Gets yours in now to enjoy the con next July.
For info on how I got my Comic-Con pass and the awesome Leah Cevoli whom I assisted during the Con, click HERE!
This article originally appeared on www.sarahjeagen.com