Sunday, 29 June 2014

All Hell Breaks Loose 5 - Supernatural Convention Report

*writer's note: I wrote this report for a multi-fandom site called capslockit which is run by a couple of pals of mine and is super awesome, so that's why it's a little bit more explainy than I would usually do for purely Supernatural fans. Make sure you check out capslockit, there are some great interviews on there with some Supernatural cast, amongst other fabulous stuff!

Guests: Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard, Richard Speight Jnr., Matt Cohen, Mitch Pileggi, Corin Nemec.

All Hell Breaks Loose is a convention dedicated to the TV show, Supernatural that takes place yearly in Australia at the end of May. The convention is over 1 weekend, but is split across 2 States with the Saturday taking place in Sydney and the Sunday in Melbourne.

I’ve attended the Sydney event each year...except the first year in 2010...which is the only year Jensen, and Jared attended and the only one I couldn’t get to! Of course! Curses! Which is why I now travel over the seas twice a year to attend the U.S. Supernatural conventions because seeing the Js is a MUST!

All Hell Breaks Loose is a pretty casual affair, being as it’s in Aussie and we are notoriously casual. The cast seem to have a great time and are pretty loose on stage…even more so than usual! The day consists of photos with the cast, panels and then autographs.

This year the convention took place over the weekend of May 31/June 1, though technically, it kicked off on the night of May 30 with the Sydney VIP cocktail party and the karaoke (which for some reason is called the “Sing-a-long, which is equal parts cringe-worthy and hilarious!). I had the VIP ticket, so I was having drinks with the cast!

The cocktail party was a seated event (the previous year it had been a mingle) with a maximum on 8 people per table including the guest. If anyone has been to the Creation Supernatural convention cocktail parties, it’s a similar thing…but with less people on the tables and more time with the guests. Where as Creation’s cocktail parties are like speed dating on, well, speed, with only 90 seconds per guest, at AHBL, we get about 15 to 20 minutes with the guest and with such a small group on the table, that’s a good amount of time to chat!

Mitch Pileggi.

I should say, I’ve been doing cons for so long now, that I’ve made a lot of friends and 5 of us out of the 7 on my table at the cocktail party know each other very well. We’ve all done multiple conventions together both in Australia and the U.S. and had met early for some pre-convention drinks and catch-up.

I should also say, we’re all big X-Files fans…

Mitch was the first guest to grace us with his presence. It was the first time any of us had met him. He sat opposite me (got to pick your seat, I find opposite the guest is the best) and we basically all just stared at him, because AGENT SKINNER WAS SITTING AT OUR TABLE! After a short, awkward silence one of us piped up, “I’m sorry we’re silent but we’re all huge X-Files fans so were a little freaked out”. This made Mitch very happy! I think he assumed that everyone there just knew him through Supernatural, but for me, The X-Files was my first big TV love. It turns out Mitch is a funny guy! He looked and me and said, “So you must be excited that David [Duchovny] is on twitter” and I said, “Mitch, to be honest, I was irrationally excited that day!” and Mitch goes, “It is irrational because he’s a dick! Just kidding, he’s a great guy.” Ooooo-kay! He said he doesn’t follow David on twitter because he followed him for 9 years! Mitch had a good sense of humour! He discussed how when he got the call for Supernatural, he said yes without hesitating because he wanted to work with the late director Kim Manners again and a lot of the original crew from The X-Files now worked on Supernatural. He feels blessed he got that chance to catch up with Kim before he passed. He also said that his first episode on Supernatural was one of the favourite jobs he’s had. He elaborated on this in his panel talking about how he really pushed the boundaries with Jensen in the scene where the Yellow Eyed Demon, who was possessing his character, Samuel Campbell, the Winchester brother's maternal grandfather, got real up close and personal with Dean Winchester. Mitch said he got pretty creepy with Jensen, sniffing him and the like and that he was so impressed with how Jensen just told him to go for it, and took it all in his stride.

Over drinks Mitch also talked about an episode of Criminal Minds he did, which randomly I’d just seen! The character of a man consumed with guilt who winds up murdering his family, is probably his favourite part ever. It was a very different role to anything he’d done before and he felt a lot of sympathy for the character he was portraying.

During Mitch’s panel the next day, he delved further into The Campbells and what he thought about their story in Supernatural during season 6. Basically, it confused him. He didn’t feel at the time he understood it well enough and feels that he let the part down by not asking enough questions. A fan had told him her theory about the Campbells at the cocktail party the night before, and he said he’d wished he’d had that information at the time of shooting because it would have made everything clearer! Mitch also discussed his role on Sons of Anarchy and talked about what a great bunch of guys the actors on that show are. Sons happens to be my favourite show after Supernatural so I was in my happy place!

I got a photo with Mitch, because seriously, how could I not and I also got a couple of autographs because I wanted him to sign my photo of us together but also, one of Agent Skinner! I have to say I was super impressed with Mitch. He was disarmingly charming and incredibly thoughtful with his answers and how he interacted with you personally. Like all cast members I’ve met from Supernatural, he was just downright lovely!

Mark Sheppard.
First up. This was Mark’s 50th birthday and he chose to spend that special day with his fans. We all sung happy birthday to him. I love Mark with a fiery passion. He’s such a fanboy and simply gets us and gets fandom. Every time I’ve seen one of his panels he impresses the hell out of me. Not just because he’s an incredibly articulate and witty man with a tonne of stories, but because of his genuine affection for fandom and how he perceives us a brave, because we wear out hearts on our sleeve. He has made me cry on more than one occasion!

When he sat at our table I took the chance to ask him about THAT speech his character Crowley gave to the apparently dead Dean, in the Supernatural season 9 finale. What did Crowley mean by it was important, “It’s fundamental” that Dean know that he was not lying to him about all the Mark of Cain stuff. Mark said, “I never said fundamental!” (I love how Mark uses “I” when he talks about his character), I said, “Yeah you did”, he said, “No I didn’t, I remember what I said.” Four of us said simultaneously, “Yeah. You did.” So Mark cracks into the speech and he gets to, “I never lied, Dean. That’s important. That’s…” and I go, “Fundamental!” It was a pretty fun moment! Regarding that speech, Mark said that the first half was Crowley eulogising a lost friend but the second half was very much about him laying ground work because he knew when Dean awoke as a demon, he was going to be powerful and Crowley was covering his ass!
Mark also made us question how Crowley was in the bunker. I said I assumed he walked in like every other supernatural creature seems to these days! He also asked us to think about why Crowley didn’t go when Sam summoned him, and I said I assumed that Crowley was able to decide whether he went or not when summoned, if it didn’t work in his favour, he didn’t go. Mark questioned that, saying that Crowley has got himself into devil’s traps when called upon, and that he even had to go during the massage scene. He said we need to consider how Crowley was actually there. Which made us say, “Are you saying he wasn’t actually there?" to which in typical Sheppard form he just smirked! (Misha had something to say about this!)

Where else do you get this kind of opportunity, to talk one on one with an actor you admire in a show you love about a character point! It was beyond fantastic.

During Mark’s panel the next day, he elaborated a little on the scene where Crowley was being massaged when Dean summoned him. He said that the actress playing the demon massaging him, never stopped massaging him in between takes! So for 2 hours, Mark got an awesome massage while the crew actively glared at him! He also talked about the scene during “Blade Runners” where Crowley had sex with another demon. He and the actress playing that role had to do ADR and drop in the sex noises in postproduction. He said he was horrified as he stood and watched this woman over a 20-minute period, fake making the most realistic noises he’d ever heard. He said it suddenly dawned on his how easy it is for women to do that! He also said, rather proudly, that when the episode went to censorship, the producers were told that Crowley’s sex noises were too big. In fact it was told to them as, Mark Sheppard’s sex is too big. Mark was most proud.

He also told a great story about what Jensen did in that final scene of the finale. It was the last scene for both of them for the season. After that, they were done and heading home for hiatus. He said jokingly, he thought maybe Jensen had been drinking! Mark was full into Crowley’s speech, as he said “Chewing up the scenery.” The crew were all engrossed as he went through the scene. It was absolutely silent. Mark got the First Blade out of his jacket pocket and moved towards Jensen, who was playing dead. Mark puts the Blade in Dean’s hand and closes Dean’s fingers around it. Just as he was moving Dean’s hand to press against Dean’s chest, Jensen suddenly sat up and screamed at Mark! Mark said he shat his pants he got such fright! I do so hope that’s on the gag reel! Mark said Jensen is a lot of fun.

Mark’s panel was full of saucy teasing (about torture and us meeting him in room 602) and laughter. He’s a wonderful storyteller and loves to have fun with us. Of course he finished with a speech about how important we all are to him in his life and how thankful he was for us because it was because of us that he was made a series regular for Supernatural season 10. And of course, I cried!

Misha Collins.
Misha came to our table and said, “What was Sheppard talking about?” so we told him and he said, “He’s f***ing with you.” Oh Misha, never change. For a lot of the conversation with Misha, we discussed GISHWHES. He was excited because when he got back to the States he was going to be meeting William Shatner for the first time! He’s as baffled as the rest of us by Mr Shatner’s attraction to Misha and the Supernatural fandom and why he wants to be involved with GISHWHES, but Misha is most obviously thrilled. We got the chance to chastise him for everything he does being at a shocking time for Australia, like the special TSA shorts screening he did at the Supernatural Washington DC Con, for which most of us at the table got up at 2am to watch! He made a note to himself…like literally, typed it into his phone…to make the GISHWHES start time as horrible as possible for Australia. Serves us right. Not like we don’t all know him.

I got to ask if he’d had a chance to talk to the writers at all about where they were going with his character, Castiel next season. He hadn’t and he said he had no f***ing idea what would be happening with Cas.

The next day, Richard Speight Jnr. brought Misha into the auditorium early for his panel, which was the last panel of the day. Richard was auctioning a t-shirt for children’s charities that he’d drawn on, and felt a bit of Misha DNA would push up the price. So he went and got Misha and didn’t tell him why, until he was on stage, when he told Misha to put the t-shirt down his pants! Misha borked at this at first (why I don’t know, I’ve seen him do worse), but eventually acquiesced putting the t-shirt down the front of his pants and masterly pulling it back out the back of his pants! Now that’s DNA (and a bit gross!)

During Misha’s panel, he wore a flower crown throughout the pretty much the whole thing. A girl gave it to him about 10 minutes into the panel and he wore it without flinching. Typically, Misha said very little during his panel. He’s an expert at not answering questions and at teasing people who try to ask questions! I wish I could remember more but I was laughing too hard! Misha’s such a wonderfully weirdo and one of my favourite human beings. He did come down into the crowd to do a selfie with us, which I JUST got in to!

Richard Speight Jnr.
Another one of my favourite human beings!

Three of us at my table had been to Supernatural Vegas convention in March and all had done Richard’s meet and greet. Richard knows each of us by name. So he sat down and said, “Really? Ladies?”

Like most of the cast at AHBL Richard had just come from the Rome convention, Jus In Belo. And he did so, via LA. Why on earth! So he was in the air for 28 hours. That’s in the air! Not including transfers! He did 4 flights! We all just stared at him with our jaws hanging! He was travelling with Matt Cohen and Matt’s wife Mandy. Matt had something to say about his later!
I got a chance to ask Richard about his character, the Archangel Gabriel, making a reappearance in season 9 after being killed off in season 5. Did he see Gabriel as being real or a construct of the angel Metatron for whom Gabriel appeared to be working and how did that inform how he played Gabriel’s return. Richard said he played Gabriel as real. He’d had 2 meetings with the writer of that particular episode, Robbie Thompson, and Robbie had definitely wanted Gabriel to be portrayed as real. He put in two actions to reinforce this. One was Gabriel’s apparent control over his environment with the finger clicking and the other was his trademark eyebrow waggle. So as far as Richard’s concerned, Gabriel is alive. He doesn’t know why or how or if that means there’s room for him to return again, but he’s alive and out there somewhere. Yippee!

He asked us if we were surprised when he popped up on screen, as he had no credit in the opening titles, and we all said, well yes and no. Richard had been photographed in Vancouver with the crew. At that time, he was actually shadowing an episode director as he did his prep, but Supernatural fans have been tricked by cast members creating fake scenarios before, so we weren’t sure if Richard was actually shadowing the director of if he was using that as a cover in case he was spotted in Vancouver. In actual fact, he was shadowing the director. I asked if that meant he was going to get a chance to direct an episode and he said, who knows, maybe in season 11(!!), but he was just taking the opportunity to learn because the crew on Supernatural are all his friends.

I adore Richard; he’s a real Southern gentleman, a sassy gentleman, but a gentleman all the same.
Richard did his panel with Matt Cohen. Matt and Richard have become great friends and travel the world doing the Supernatural convention circuit together. They host the karaoke, both in Australia and at the Creation run conventions in North America, where they have turned karaoke into an event not to miss!

Matt Cohen.
When Matt sat at our table, he had a specific question he wanted to ask us; what did with think of the Supernatural spinoff pilot “Bloodlines” which was not picked up. He’d been asking fans ever since the pilot aired and wanted to know what we thought. FYI, I work in TV, so I came at that pilot from a slightly different angle than a lot of the fans and I looked at it in the big picture of not only the Supernatural Universe and how it did or didn’t affect that, but also from a Network branding and demographic attraction approach! So I gave Matt my opinion on it and he listened silently and then said he’d not heard my view from any other fan and was pretty interested in how I saw what it was and why they went that direction. He then asked us what we thought would make a good spinoff, ensuring that we understood he wasn’t asking for anything about his character, Young John Winchester. We all agreed that the show could do a great spinoff around the Men of Letters origins, which would add to the mythology of the current show, without cannibalising its story or cast. It was a fabulous conversation! Also, Matt is stupid pretty. It has to be said. 

And as I mentioned, he did talk about that 28 hour flying business and was not at all impressed with how Richard organised their flights from Italy to Australia! He won’t be letting him do it again!

The next day, during Matt and Richard’s panel, Matt told another fantastic story about flying which took place during the previous year’s visit to Australia. Richard, Rob Benedict (who attended the convention in 2013), and Misha were on the flight and not many others. Matt decided to sit next to Rob, because Richard is terrified of flying and Rob is pretty calm. Matt isn’t a keen flyer either, so he was hoping that Rob’s calm would rub off on him. Unfortunately, the flight hit an air pocket and dropped a substantial amount. Calm Rob freaked out! Matt freaked out and then freaked out that Rob was freaking out who was not supposed to be freaking out! Meanwhile Richard, who was supposed to freak out slept through the whole thing, and Misha, who was in the bathroom at the time, came back to his seat covered in his own pee, as hitting an air pocket whilst your midstream does that! It was way funnier than it sounds. Matt and Richard set the chairs up on stage like they were on a plane and Matt acted the whole thing out while Richard pretended to sleep!

Matt is also fascinated by how Australian’s say tumblr, as in tumblahhhh (see photo). I will never hear tumblr any other way.

Corin Nemec.
Corin was the last guest to our table at the cocktail party and stayed to chat long after the event was called to a close and he was told he could leave. It was great to see Corin, who played the Winchester brother's cousin, Christian Campbell. He was supposed to have attended last year but had a horrific accident and nearly lost not only his leg, but also his life. I had seen Corin at the Supernatural convention in Dallas in September 2013 and he was walking with a cane and quite a bad limp. When I saw him again in Vegas in March of this year, the cane and the limp were gone, though there were still traces of the injury in his walk. Come Sydney in May, he seemed even better. To see his progress as he healed has been amazing. Corin is a sunny guy. Happy, friendly, smiley. 

He’d spent the day doing a mural in Bondi – he’s a street artist and had been commissioned to do a piece while in town. We basically talked about his art. He showed us a photo of the piece he’d done that day. We talked about other murals he’d done around the world. We randomly chatted about Corey Feldman, who it turns out Corin knows – both being teen stars of the same era. My friend Shelley and I had met Corey at a convention last October and Corin told us was a great guy he is. He also said Corey had parties at his house where he showed his own movies on a big screen! So also a bit of a character it seems. We basically just shot the breeze with Corin, we talked about Australia and food, I discussed Venice Beach, L.A. with him, as it turns out it was a favourite spot of both of ours. Eventually and long after everyone else had gone – except Mark Sheppard who stayed around for most of the evening – Corin excused himself because he was shattered from jetlag. He’s such an interesting and nice guy.

During his panel the next day, Corin told a hilarious story about a Star Trek convention he went to. He was booked for the convention and he wasn’t sure why as he’d never been on Star Trek, he was on Stargate! But he went along anyway. It was his first.

When he was making his way back to his room after a day of panels and whatnot, he ran into a very drunk, very large Klingon who wanted to play wrestle him. There was nothing at all Corin could do about it. The guy was twice his size and basically attacked him! He ended up on the ground with this drunk Klingon on top of him mashing his face into hotel carpet – which seemed to disturb Corin more than the wrestling bit, because hotel carpet…ewww! He said, people were walking past and just kind of glancing at them like it was the most normal thing to see a giant Klingon wrestling a skinny guy from Stargate! He finally got free and raced off to the lifts to escape! He decided to write off going back to his room. He said he made his way downstairs, trying to find somewhere to chill and hangout and he came across a bunch of Klingons in a hot tub, drinking blood wine and being serenaded by the original Flash Gordon, Sam Jones! This was Corin’s introduction to conventions and fandom. I’m glad he decided to give it another shot!

The karaoke on the Friday night was a little smaller than usual, but Rich and Matt held the fort and made it a lot of fun. Mark hung around for a while – he got birthday cupcakes given to him! Corin and Mitch hung around for a bit too, later we found out Mitch’s room was directly above the karaoke room, so even though he went to bed, he still heard the whole thing!

The next day, prior to the panels, I had photos with all the cast members…I wasn’t going to, but in the end I couldn’t resist! I also got an “angel sandwich” with Rich and Misha…because it’s Rich and Misha! They squeezed the bejebus out of me as usual.

Last part of the day was autographs, where I discovered Misha also knows my name! I have met him about 10 times I guess, and he did come to my work once to do a morning TV show and I surprised him in the studio for which I got a hug and a kiss…so maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

As usual, every guest was warm and gracious and a lot of fun…as were all the fans.
And then it was finished, and we all went back to real life...which is nowhere near as fun as convention life!

I attend a lot of conventions, three Supernatural ones per year as well as a few multi-fandom cons, and one of the best things is getting to hangout with all the friends you’ve made at various conventions and getting to meet and make new friends.

That was All Hell Breaks Loose for another year. No date has been announced for next year as of yet, but when it does, you know I will be there!

For more from All Hell Breaks Loose 5 - listen to me and Jules from the Supernatural Wiki, who attended the Melbourne day, chatting about all the shennanigans in the Women of Letters Podcast - click here to listen and download.

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! They all sound like great people, so funny and down-to-earth. I am so jealous that you get to go to so many conventions.