Thursday, 1 December 2016

Film & Comic Con Cardiff 2016 - A Detailed Review

Guests met and discussed in this review (with the franchise I most associate them with personally) :-

• Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Donald Sumpter (Maester Luwin from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Oliver Ford Davies (Maester Cressen from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Kae Alexander (Leaf from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Reece Noi (Mossador from “Game Of Thrones”)
• Jimmy Vee (R2-D2 in “Star Wars: Episode VIII” & Various “Doctor Who” Characters)
• Pip Torrens (Rocastle from “Doctor Who”)
• Tiana Benjamin (Angelina Johnson from “Harry Potter”)
• Anna Shaffer (Romilda Vane from “Harry Potter”)
• Georgina Leonidas (Katie Bell from “Harry Potter”)
• Robert Llewellyn (Kryten from “Red Dwarf”)
• Chloe Annett (Kristine Kochanski from “Red Dwarf”)

Two quick notes before we get started...

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With that being said, let’s dive in...

Shangel Note: I wrote this review weeks ago, but was too busy to upload it.

It feels as though every time I write a review recently, I say “this one will be shorter than usual”, and then it ends up being 10+ pages...excluding pictures. Alas, on this occasion, I don’t intend the review to be overly lengthy. Firstly, I didn’t meet as many people as I usually do. Secondly, a lot of the people I did meet were studio photos only, which gives me a lot less to talk about. Plus, I have a uni assignment due in on Thursday morning and “Wales Comic Con” next weekend to prepare for. Nonetheless, I shall give you a decent overview of my time at “Film & Comic Con Cardiff”, while also trying to keep some shred of sanity due to my workload this week.

“Film & Comic Con Cardiff” took place over the weekend of the 29th and 30th of October at the Motorpoint Arena in, you guessed it, Cardiff. While I adore Cardiff as a city and would gladly live there one day, I have something of a love/hate relationship with the venue, having attended a few conventions there in the past. Firstly, the lighting is always awful. Like, the co-worst lighting of any convention I’ve been to awful (the co-winner being “Stars Of Time”). On this occasion, it was once again dire. The lights aren’t sufficient for a venue of this size. Not by a long my opinion. Furthermore, half of the venue had white lights and half of the venue had yellow lights, which meant that the contrast of the pictures was really dodgy as well and hurt my eyes all weekend. The other main reason I dislike the Motorpoint Arena as a convention venue is that the studio photo area is on the first floor, leaving queuing to take place in a tiny corridor that quickly becomes very warm and stuffy. That’s not to say the studio photo crew were bad – they weren’t. In fact, they were really good!

Leading into the positives of the event, I’ll start with the crew. From the photo area to the talk area, to the gentleman hosting the panels, to the crew at the autograph tables, to the crew on the doors, everyone I interacted with was fantastic. All helpful, all positive, all cheery, which isn’t always the case. A long, tiring weekend coupled with the fact that they’re often unpaid volunteers can sometimes – understandably so – leave the crew a little stressed out, but this didn’t seem to be the case at this event. Another positive is that the talk hall is very nice. It’s a long, relatively thin room on the second floor, which means the noise of the event below is absent, leaving a much more intimate feeling.

Unfortunately, the ‘Cardiff Curse’ struck again when it came to the guest list. It feels as though every single edition of “Film & Comic Con Cardiff” gets hit particularly badly with cancellations. Cancellations are a part of every convention and you expect a few people to pull out without fail, but it feels as though every year (or twice a year) almost every headliner systematically pulls out at the last minute. I don’t know if it’s the time of year or just plain bad luck, but out of the 14 people I deemed to be ‘headliners’ at various Cardiff cons, 12 of the ones I wanted to meet have pulled out. It sucks. In the case of this event, Christopher Fairbanks, Faye Marsay, Hannah Waddingham, and Maya Stojan were all people I was looking forward to meeting for the first time (Christopher) or meeting again (the other three). In the case of Maya, I was really disappointed. Granted, I just saw Maya in September, but we got on great and I’d arranged to conduct an interview with her over “Film & Comic Con Cardiff” weekend...frickin’ bad luck! I will freely admit, after Maya’s cancellation, I lost three-quarters of my excitement for the event instantly.

Nevertheless, myself and my friend Dom left Gloucestershire at the bizarre time of 10am, ready to head to Cardiff and soak up the remaining convention goodness. Now, leaving for a convention at 10am is a first for me and it completely threw me off. Due to the lack of activities on my schedule, I was able to sleep in (read: get up at 6am and watch “Breaking Bad” again) and drive the one-hour to Cardiff at my own leisure. As I’m sure you just noticed, I drove to the event myself. Both days. Long-time readers will know that I loathe driving to conventions and I usually rope someone else in to do it for me, with the agreement that I’ll cover their entry if they drive. No such luck on this occasion, so I bought a little stand for my phone that sticks to the dashboard of my car, switched on the sat-nav, and headed to the Motorpoint Arena, both excited by what remained on my schedule and also still peeved about the cancellations and the inevitable shit lighting that would await me.

The journey went smoothly, finding parking was easy, and we entered the venue at 11:30am. So far, so good! My itinerary for the day was simple...or certainly simple by my standards – I had one studio photo with Kae Alexander booked, in addition to needing autographs from Jimmy Vee, Pip Torrens, Reece Noi, and Gemma Whelan. Plus, if I found the time, I’d blag pictures with Robert Llewellyn and Chloe Annett at their autograph tables. I also wanted to attend the “Game Of Thrones” talk, while Dom wanted to attend the “Red Dwarf talk”. 5 hours, 2 talks, 1 studio photo, 4 autographs, and 2 picture blags...easy!

When it comes to planning a convention, here’s some general advice. Photo times are fixed. Talk times are fixed. Autographs are not fixed. Therefore, create a plan of your fixed events and then fill in the gaps with the autographs and picture blags. However, if the guest is going to be popular, they’re going to be virtually queuing their attendees. That basically means you get a slip of paper with a number on it and they call you in groups (1-10, 1-20...). You can join the queue any time after your number is called. So, if you want an autograph from a bigger guest, get the virtual queuing tickets first before you do anything else. Also, don’t leave the autographs too late or you run the risk of the guest leaving early. Be smart, be prepared, be willing to adapt if needed. On this occasion, the “Red Dwarf” talk was scheduled for 1pm, with the “Game Of Thrones” talk taking place right after it at 1:45pm. My photo with Kae was scheduled for 4:20pm, leaving a nice two-hour gap between the talks and the photo where I could get my autographs and picture blags accomplished.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I have a confession for you all...I have never seen “Red Dwarf”. Not a single episode. Not even half an episode. It’s the one large franchise to have completely passed me by. I do intend to correct this error in the near future, but as of this moment I’m a “Red Dwarf” virgin (Shangel Note: Since writing this review, I’ve started watching!). However, I love the cast. I worked with Chris Barrie, Hattie Hayridge, Danny John-Jules, and Robert Llewellyn three weeks ago at “Gloucester Comic Con”, which I helped to co-organise. All four of them were delightful. I managed to get pictures with three of the four, but I missed out on Robert as he had to leave early to head straight to filming elsewhere. Hence the need for the picture blag here. Plus, if you’ve met four of the seven opening credited actors from the show, you may as well meet a fifth and blag a picture with Chloe Annett too.

Due to my lack of “Red Dwarf” knowledge, some of the talk was lost on me. However, I knew enough about the show to be able to enjoy it immensely. Chloe was funny and interesting, although she seemed a little shy on the stage. In the case of Robert, you can instantly tell that he’s a tried-and-tested comedian and stage performer, as he didn’t have a moment of awkwardness whatsoever. He was telling stories, talking about his favourite groinal attachment (in the show!), running through the procedure of filming an episode of the show...and he even had the time to plug both his books! Even as a Dwarf virgin, it was a great panel. It was funny, interesting, informative, and you felt as though you got to know the personality of both of the guests, particularly Robert, which is always nice...and works as a great ice-breaker if you intend to get their autograph later in the day as you feel as though you know them a bit and the talk usually leaves you with some comments or questions to ask.

Next up was the “Game Of Thrones” panel with Gemma Whelan, Kae Alexander, and Reece Noi, which lacked the presence and consistency of the “Red Dwarf” panel, but was still enjoyable. The standout was easily Gemma Whelan. As a stand-up comedian who has historically performed a one-woman show of sorts, Gemma appears totally at ease on the stage. She’s very quick-witted, always has a story to tell, and almost acts as a co-host of the panel, prompting answers or comments out of the other guests too. Whether it was talking about her audition scene – where she had to masturbate an invisible penis behind her while sat on a chair – or talking about the challenges that accompany jumping into a boat while running – Gemma lit up the stage. In contrast, Kae and Reece were more reserved, while still being funny and interesting. Reece talked about filming in Croatia, much to the dismay of Gemma, who has never filmed outside of Belfast, while Kae explained that Leaf’s makeup and prosthetics started off taking TWELVE HOURS to complete (her wake-up call was 11:30pm, ready to start filming THE NEXT MORNING), before being refined down to a still awful eight hours. Gemma also talked about filming the scene with Alfie (Theon), where she has to...erm, masturbate him, while they’re riding a horse. Evidently, the horse wouldn’t move, so next time you watch the scene, imagine the visual that just out of shot someone is pulling the horse along with a rope. Hilarious!

Two great talks in a nice room with a terrific host. Definitely a good start to the day...even though it was 2:15pm by this point. How bizarre. With two hours until the studio photo, it was time to head back down to the ground floor and start meeting some guests! Saturday was busy. Busy to the point where walking down the merchandise aisles was a pain in the ass. Thankfully, by the time we headed back downstairs after the talks, the crowd had started to thin, particularly around the guest area (excluding Gemma Whelan and Robert Llewellyn), which meant that the autograph queues were virtually nonexistent. Before starting to get the autographs, I saw Joe Altin (Pyp from “Game Of Thrones”) checking out the merchandise stands with his adorable daughter, complete with Harry Potter cosplay. I knew that Joe was going to be there and we’d arranged to say “hi” as Joe is a friend of mine. I chatted to Joe for a little bit before it was time to start the autographs!

Gemma Whelan: Even though Gemma was still pretty busy as this point, I decided to get Gemma out of the way first, as it would basically leave the rest of my day queue-free. Good ol’ Gemma. I’ve actually met Gemma a couple of times before this. Once in July of 2015 (autograph) and once in July of 2016 (studio photo only). Gemma remembered me and our previous meetings, which is always a nice little self-esteem boost, particularly when you haven’t really seen them in almost a year and a half (I don’t count photoshoots as they’re so fast and conveyer belt-like)! Of course, we talked about “Game Of Thrones” and how freezing it was to film Balon’s funeral scenes in the November...they actually had to cut the scene and try it again later in the day due to Gemma’s teeth chattering so badly that she couldn’t say her lines. We also talked about her recent back injury while filming the new season of “Game Of Thrones”, although she went into zero specifics as she’s not allowed to give away anything about the upcoming season. They even made a point of saying that before the “Game Of Thrones” talk both days – if you have a question about the new season, don’t ask it, as they can’t answer it. HBO are notoriously strict when it comes to leaks of information of any kind with an upcoming Thrones season. As I’d gotten Gemma’s autograph before, Gemma decided to make this one different and add a quote, her favourite quote of Yara’s from the show (she decided all this by herself without me saying a word, which was nice) – “Anything with a cock is easy to fool”. I laughed. She laughed. Then she determinedly made the ‘c’ at the beginning of ‘cock’ look more ‘c’-like so that there could be no confusion. I thanked her for coming, we took a picture together at the autograph table (she remained sitting down as her back is injured), and we were on our merry way. A little while later, a sign went up behind Gemma saying “no flash photography”. I’m not sure if that was due to our picture or a combination of many people using flashes, but once again this problem can be easily fixed by making the venue the brightness of every other damn venue in the country! I don’t need to use a flash at any other convention. Guest Type = Responder.

(Regular readers, you can skip this section)

“Shangel, what’s a ‘responder’?”

I’m glad you asked. Many years ago, after attending numerous conventions, I devised a system whereby to categorise my experiences with guests and their level of interaction in order to compare the quality of my experiences across conventions and time. I have O.C.D., shut up. The following three types were found :-

·       The Responder: This type of guest is often polite and friendly. If you ask them a question, they’ll happily answer. If you comment on something, they’ll respond or smile gratefully. However, they won’t carry the conversation forward, you have to. These are the most common type of guest, and this is what you expect when meeting someone at a convention. This is a great category to be a part of.

·       The Groucho/Big Guest: There are two aspects to this category. Firstly, you have the groucho. The groucho is there for monetary purposes or is generally just having a bad day, or is a bit of an ass. If you meet enough people, one of them is bound to be an ass! The grouchos aren’t interested in conversations above a few words. They’ll say ‘hi’ (sometimes they don’t bother with that), sign, say ‘bye’ (sometimes), and you’re on your merry way. Of course, in certain situations this is relevant and expected, which brings me to the second part of this category, the big guest. Some guests are going to be insanely popular. Such as Stan Lee at LFCC ‘14, who had an entire building to himself basically. When you get a huge queue like that, the guest can’t take a lot of time with everyone. If they did, many people would go home disappointed at not getting to meet them at all. Therefore, the convention company and the guest want to get through as many people as possible. You cannot have a huge guest and expect to get above a minute with them, which is perfectly fair.

·       The Conversationalist: This is easily my favourite type of guest. They’ll answer your questions with a smile, ask you questions in return, and are happy to chat for an extended period of time (extended = above 2-3 minutes), regardless of where the conversation leads or how long you’ve been talking. Obviously, there has to be some cut-off point if there is a queue behind you, but you leave the experience feeling euphoric and like you gained a lot more than just the autograph you queued for.

Feel free to let me know your experiences with guests in the comments below or on social media!

Reece Noi: From one side of the guest section alcove to the other, it was time to head from the Iron Islands to Meereen to meet Mossador himself, Mr. Reece Noi, who was sporting some seriously chunky silverware on his fingers. Unlike most people he’d met that day, I primarily knew Reece from “Waterloo Road”, as he portrayed a villainous little shit, Earl Kelly, during the time period where I used to watch the show. We talked about “Waterloo Road” and how Reece has to find something good or redeemable in every role he accepts, as he finds it too challenging to play a character that he thinks is purely evil. Historically, he’s turned down a part or two for this very reason. We then transitioned to talking about “Game Of Thrones”, and how it was a shame to see him go so soon. When Reece was asked to return for season five, he was disappointed to see how few lines he had in the first few episodes...but at least he’d get to film a fun decapitation scene!...Then he realised that the person being decapitated was him! Oops. As I said to Reece, if you’re going to go out, go out like that. Croatia, beautiful set, hundreds of extras, and a memorable moment. Reece encouraged me to go to Croatia, whether it was as part of a “Game Of Thrones” guided tour or just by myself to explore, as it’s one of the most stunning places he’s ever visited. I thanked Reece, we took a picture together, and it was time to move on to the next guest! Guest type = Responder.

Pip Torrens: With Jimmy upstairs in his “Doctor Who” talk with Ian McNeice, I moseyed on over to Pip, who I primarily knew from Doctor Who’s epic two-parter, “Human Nature” and “The Family Of Blood”...I’m curious as to why Pip wasn’t in the “Doctor Who” talk, actually. I digress. Myself and Pip talked about “Doctor Who” and Pip made reference to the fact that he wished he had hindsight when recording the episodes, as he didn’t fully appreciate how special they are and how different they are to the regular episodes of “Doctor Who”. He also mentioned that David Tennant was a delight to work with and he never saw David without a smile on his face or being enthusiastically energetic. I mentioned that this must have been tough on David, considering he was in the middle of his mammoth “Doctor Who” run and his hours must have been insane. Pip agreed and said that with large franchise shows like Who, you tend to find the leading man is always positive and tries to make the atmosphere as exciting as possible as he/she knows that their example will have a trickle-down effect through the rest of the cast and crew. We then talked about the secrecy of filming “Star Wars”, and I mentioned that some of the Marvel television recurring cast are only able to get their scripts from one computer and can only print it via one printer. Pip talked about the annoyance of hover-drones and how when he was filming “War Horse”, Steven Spielberg used to keep a jeep circling the set at all times, kicking up just the right amount of smoke to keep the hover-drones from being able to get what they needed. It’s smart, but it’s also sad that we live in a world where people try to take pictures of upcoming television shows or films and spoil it for themselves or other people, just like with the recent “Game Of Thrones” season seven pictures that have been emerging. Not cool, guys. Not cool. Pip was a fantastic guest! He was really talkative, really interesting, and it turned out to be my favourite (and best) conversation of the weekend. Got a picture with him too! All for the small price of £10. Awesome experience! Guest Type = Conversationalist.

With Robert’s queue still going strong and Jimmy still upstairs, I asked Chloe’s crew member (Chloe was busy talking to attendees) if it was okay to get a picture with Chloe, as her queue was empty by this point and I could potentially use the picture for the review. He said it was fine, Chloe was also fine with it, so I nabbed a picture with her for free. Awesome! I must admit, you’ve gotta give the devils their due here, Showmasters don’t allow guests to charge for pictures at the autograph table whatsoever, which is sadly becoming fairly uncommon in the U.K. over the past year or so. Many U.K. conventions have started to adopt the American-style charging for ‘selfies’, which can be quite the financial strain if you’re meeting multiple people in a day.

Jimmy Vee: After a little merchandise perusing, Jimmy was back at his table. I was really excited to meet Jimmy as he’s someone that has eluded me historically and I’ve wanted to meet for years. Either he was announced for conventions I wasn’t going to or he had to pull out of the ones I was. Finally, our paths crossed! Jimmy has done it all. From playing a goblin in “Harry Potter” to taking over from Kenny Baker inside the R2-D2 droid in “Star Wars: Episode VIII”, to various “Doctor Who” creatures (including Slitheen, Moxx of Balhoon, and Bannakaffalatta), Jimmy has been systematically appearing in basically every huge franchise that records in the U.K. One thing I love about Jimmy is that he’s always happy and messing around, and having a good time. He doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder because he’s largely a ‘monster’ actor, just like Spencer Wilding. They both know their role and they excel at those roles. After talking for a while about “Doctor Who”, Jimmy told me that the most challenging of all the creatures he’s portrayed was the Slitheen because he had to stay inside the suit for 12 hours at a time and the suit weighed 3 stone. The prospect of carrying around 3 stone for 12 hours is daunting enough for me and I’m twice Jimmy’s size, so I can only imagine what a nightmare that must have been for him! I must say, after waiting to meet Jimmy for a few years now, he didn’t disappoint. He was friendly, hilarious, talkative, and seemed to appreciate everyone who crossed his table. He was also offering table pictures too and coming around to the peasant side of the table to have them taken, which is always an appreciated addition to the experience. What a guy! Guest Type = Conversationalist.

By this point, it was 4pm. With 15 minutes left until I needed to head upstairs to the studio photo, I joined the back of Robert’s finally-dwindling queue to get the picture. Robert remembered me from “Gloucester Comic Con” and was happy to take a picture with me. We talked a little about “Gloucester Comic Con” and why he had to dash off so quickly after the “Red Dwarf” group photo. I thanked him immensely for being so gracious, and it was once again time to head back to the first floor. The picture with Kae went very well. It came out great, it started on time, and Kae remembered me from our meeting in July, so I had time for one last little self-esteem boost before myself and Dom headed back home to Gloucestershire.

Day one, check!

Day two, commence!

If Saturday was particularly quiet by my standards, Sunday was a doddle. Just needed to get an autograph from Oliver Ford Davies, attend two talks (“Game Of Thrones” and “Harry Potter”), and have four studio pictures taken (Oliver, Georgina Leonidas, Anna Shaffer, and Tiana Benjamin). The only downside is that there was lots of time to kill between those activities. There would be a 90-minute gap between the talks, and a further 60-minute gap between the final talk and my last three studio photos. Ugh. Lots of waiting around! Due to this waiting around, I ended up buying a Longclaw replica (Jon Snow’s sword in “Game Of Thrones”) and got a very good deal on it! It’s beautiful and now sits proudly in my house. I blame the fact that nobody was there to keep me in check. For the first time in my convention attending history, I went solo. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. I was a lonely, bored little duckling.

Oliver Ford Davies: As I largely attended the Sunday of the event for Oliver, I’m pleased to report that he was worth the drive! What a gentleman! Oliver was enthusiastic, polite, and a wonderful storyteller. He talked about filming the idol-burning scene on the beach in Belfast as the sun was rising (freezing, yet beautiful), he talked about the director wanting him to be just at the water’s edge and having the water lap over his sandals (it took multiple attempts), which left his feet dripping wet and ice-cold by the end of the morning, he talked about heading to set with a gentleman named ‘Stephen’, who was just starting his first day of a five-year contract...that man turned out to be Stephen Dillane (Stannis), and he talked about what it was like filming with Carice Van Houten (Melisandre)  and seeing his friend Liam Cunningham (Davos) again. Originally, Maester Cressen was to have a large beard, but this was changed to those hideous mutton-chops at the last minute as it would have been a nightmare trying to get the dried blood out of the beard for subsequent takes after Maester Cressen had first started to bleed from the mouth. All very fascinating to a “Game Of Thrones” obsessive like myself, I can assure you. As I had nobody with me and I had a studio photo with Oliver later in the day, I didn’t bother asking for a picture with him at the autograph table. All in all, a wonderful experience...and only £10! Guest Type = Responder.

Right after I finished up with Oliver, it was time to head to the first floor to get my studio photo with Oliver. It was Oliver-fest 2016! The photo session went smoothly and started on time, once again. Oliver was so fascinated by the instant printing process that after the photos were taken, he came to have a look at how it all worked, and examined my picture with him. I don’t know why, but I love that he was that interested.

Next, it was time to head up one more floor for the “Game Of Thrones” talk with Gemma Whelan (again), Kae Alexander (again), Donald Sumpter (I love him), and, you guessed it, Oliver! This panel was terrific and was an improvement over the panel the previous day. I don’t know if it was because of the extra person or because the two elder statesmen are such good storytellers, but the panel had a lovely flow to it. I don’t know if Donald Sumpter has a stand-up comedy background or if he’s just naturally hilarious, but he had me in stitches basically throughout the entire panel. Furthermore, he’s half-deaf, so he couldn’t understand half of what was being said when someone spoke into the microphones. Donald mentioned that the exterior of Winterfell during the first season was a nightmare because whenever it rained a little (“and how likely is that in Belfast?”), the entire yard would become a river of icy water and mud. When the King and his escort first come to Winterfell, Donald and Ron (Rodrik Cassel) had to get on their knees...into the freezing mud and water....repeatedly. By the 10th take, they had to use each other to help each other get up again! In the end, you can barely see them in the scene. Donald said that now he rejects parts based on stuff like this. Horse-riding? Nope. Running across a field? Certainly not. Oliver agreed to this too. Donald and Oliver had a chuckle when Kae reiterated that the Leaf prosthetics and makeup took 12 hours because they wouldn’t dream of doing something like that anymore – “The part calls for prosthetics? Nope!” It was clear that Donald and Oliver were old friends (they worked together on stage 30 years ago and on radio 15 years ago), as they had great chemistry. To be honest, all four of them did! Gemma, Donald, Oliver, and Kae bounced off of each other perfectly. Donald also mentioned that he doesn’t like working with props now and likes to keep his body ridged and his arms by his sides at all times...hilarious man! Great panel, very funny, everyone did a good job.

*I killed an hour and a half by sitting on the balcony playing on my phone*

2:30pm was the Harry Potter panel with Tiana Benjamin (Angelina Johnson), Anna Shaffer (Romilda Vane), and Georgina Leonidas (Katie Bell). Like its predecessor, this panel was also hilarious and informative. Tiana talked about being intimidated when she first met Alan Rickman, Anna and Georgina both talked about their first day on set, and all three of them seemed appreciative at being a part of such a huge franchise show. Anna and Georgina in particular came across as huge fans of the Harry Potter franchise in general, with Georgina talking about crying at Snape’s death. I love that they are huge fans too like us! It makes you instantly connect to them and makes you even happier that they got the parts. One of the more awkward (and ridiculously funny) parts of the panel was when someone asked what it was like working with more experienced and well-established actors, “as nobody knows who you are”. Let me reiterate, I don’t think the gentleman meant it how it came across whatsoever. I think the wording just came out a little funny because he was talking publically to actors from a franchise he loves. Either way, the whole room burst into shocked laughter, with Tiana saying, “don’t drop it like that!”...I was in stitches. It was an awesome panel. Tiana was unintentionally hilarious, Anna was adorable, and Georgina was a sweetheart. I must admit, I didn’t know much about any of them outside of their Potter work, but I left the day becoming huge fans of all three of them. Very impressive. Oh! Also! Anna Shaffer got starstruck when she met Giancarlo Esposito from “Breaking Bad”, while Georgina mentioned that Helena Bonham Carter was particularly wonderful and made a point of finding out everyone’s names and calling Georgina by her name all the time...even when they saw each other again years later. Tremendous.

*I killed another hour on the balcony*

Finally, after what felt like a very long weekend, I was on the home stretch. Just three studio photos remaining before I could collect my Longclaw replica, go to Yo! Sushi, and go home. Mercifully, all three started on time and the process was enjoyable and painless. All three were right after each other and there were perhaps eight or nine of us that did all three on a loop. Easy, easy, easy! All three of the actresses were wonderfully polite and energetic too, which helped me smile for the pictures, particularly as I was bone-tired. Instant-printing, you are a God-send.

I drove home, attached my Longclaw replica to the wall, and died quietly for the rest of the night.

Would I return to “Film & Comic Con Cardiff”? It’s hard to say. I probably would, but I’d leave it until the last minute in case the guests cancel, and I’d go for studio photos with everyone I wanted to meet as the main hall lighting quality is atrocious. Other than the lighting issue, the cancellations, and the small studio photo queuing corridor, a good time was had. Was it the best convention I’ve been to? No. Was it the best convention I’ve been to this year? Nope. Was it the best convention I’ve been to this autumn? Afraid not. However, the crew and the guests I met made up for that.

I’ll catch you all next week for my review of “Wales Comic Con 2016 Part II”, which promises to be a big and spectacular show (Shangel Note: It was)!


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