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Screening Report: Phoenix Comicon June 7, 2010

Posted by William J. Meyer in Jack's Festivals & Screenings.

Over Memorial Day Weekend I attended the 2010 Phoenix Comicon and Film Festival. The House That Jack Built closed out the festival’s screenings on Saturday night. It was a fun weekend full of steam-punk, anime, crime fighting, and a multitude of slave Leias. I saw some fun flicks and briefly met LeVar Burton. I also finally met Jen B., the most helpful film fest organizer I’ve ever encountered! She had been so supportive and helpful in the weeks leading up to the fest, I was very glad that I had a chance to thank her in person.

I thought the architecture surrounding the convention center was pretty sweet (as seen above), and the light rail system quite fun to ride (I appreciated the lack of advertising inside the cars).

I went to the con with Art Helterbran Jr, a director friend who also had a film showing at the fest – the sci-fi western The Badge. I co-wrote, edited, and did the vfx for his film.

There was all manner of cosplay during the con, most of which I only recognized as being “from an anime I’ve never heard of.” But here and there were some familiar icons of my youth, including some proton-pack wielding folks with a display table full of marshmallows and Twinkies. The Arizona Ghostbusters are ready to keep your charity event safe from both ectoplasm and psychokinetic energy! There was also a pretty slick Iron Man complete with repulsor blasts. However, as he had a difficult time walking, I’m not sure how he would fare in ground combat versus Fing Fang Foom.

On our way to lunch one day we found KITT parked outside the convention center, just in case Goliath or KARR showed up and wanted to tussle.

The highlight of the entire weekend was the Star Trek: The Next Generation panel featuring Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher), LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge) and Jonathan Frakes (William Riker). The good-natured banter between the three of them was hilarious. It was almost like a Star Trek roast. My favorite moment was definitely LeVar Burton leading the crowd in a quick rendition of the Reading Rainbow theme. I saw him the next day at his autograph table and told him I was caught-off guard by the ballroom crowd singing even that tiny snippet – it really triggered something from my youth. That theme song is actually quite empowering. “I can go anywhere! I can be anything! Take a look, it’s in a book!” LeVar said I wasn’t the first person that day to tell him the song had elicited an emotional response. He also said, and with a twinkle in his eye, that I should be on the lookout for Reading Rainbow Two Point Oh!

Another great event was the science consulting panel for sci-fi film and television. Guests included Kevin Grazier (Battlestar Galactica), John Scalzi (Stargate: Universe), Seth Shostak (The Day the Earth Stood Still), and Eureka co-creator Jaime Paglia. They were informative and optimistic about the role of science in science fiction. What I didn’t expect was to be laughing so hard, or so often. In particular, Seth Shostak had me in stitches. You should really hear his breakdown of the Star Wars Mos Eisley cantina scene, as well as his anecdote about being gob-smacked when meeting Jennifer Connelly on the set of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Between the panels and wandering through the exhibition hall (there were a ton of awesome silver age Marvel comics), I managed to catch a few films. My favorites were Zombies & Cigarettes, Street Angel, and The Window.

Chris, Art, and I went to the screening of The House That Jack Built on Saturday night. I got a kick out of hearing an audience member behind me whisper when he figured out the plot twist. But this was quickly mitigated after the screening when another filmgoer told me that Jack was “kinda tedious once you figure it out.” Props for honesty, stranger.

-William, Director



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