London Film & Comic Con took place over the weekend and the event organised by Showmasters was bigger than it's ever been. Here's a day by day account of the event.
In anticipation of the thousands of fans and geeks that were set for a weekend of autograph hunting, photoshoots and purchasing of memorabilia the organisers decided this year's event should be spread over four floors at the Olympia in London. Previous events had taken place at Earl's Court but sadly that venue is now closed and awaiting to be demolished.
We (I was accompanied by my wife Rachel) arrived on the Friday and my first realisation was how much more there was and how getting used to the four floor layout was going to be essential. It was confusing at first but a few reconnaissance missions on each floor and memorising the map (taking a photo of it helped) got me ready for the Saturday and Sunday when my photoshoots would be kicking off.
Because Friday is a lot quieter we took the opportunity to blitz the trading stalls. I have never seen so many fandom collectibles at an event before. The ground floor and first floor were just covered in stalls selling various items but mostly Back to the Future since that was the main theme this year. Exclusive vinyl figures from the movie were made available this year along with a FREE limited edition print to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future. I had to have one.
At five o'clock we headed into a press conference where the Back to the Future cast were to appear on stage. Unknown to me I was reserved a spot to ask the cast a question! Once informed of this my heart started pumping. I held it together though and asked Michael J. Fox what it was like working with two directing greats, Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg. My question was the last one of the conference and you can watch it here:
What an honour that was and I want to thank Showmasters for giving me the opportunity. What a first day!
Saturday was always going to be busier and predictably hotter too. Armed with plenty of water, emergency sweets, (diabetic) a mini fan and some deodorant I was ready for the day ahead. The queue outside was relentless. I couldn't see the end. My friend was in that queue, he arrived at 8:15. His first photoshoot of the day was at 10:10. At 10 o'clock he was still in the queue. He went for broke and went to the entrance and asked a member of staff if he could be allowed in to catch the shoot. He was rushed in and he caught his first photoshoot with no incident. One up for the organisers.
My first photoshoot was Richard Dean Anderson at photo area C. When I arrived there were two queues either end of the booth and spreading across trading stalls. A little messy and I felt sorry for
After the photoshoot we headed to floor one where a large autograph area had been set up. We had two hours to kill before a second photoshoot. This time with the lovely Nicole de Boer from Deep Space Nine. The crowds were getting bigger and getting between floors became a challenge. There were lifts but the best option were the stairs if you could manage them. They seemed to be quiet but the ordeal was actually getting to them and at times became quite funny.
Having arrived at the autograph area we immediately noticed that the crowd had thinned out...slightly. The guest line up for this year's event was really impressive with a number of guests from Back to the Future, Alien and Star Wars to speak of a few. I managed to grab an interview with Donald Fullilove who played Goldie Wilson in Back to the Future.
Once done we headed up to floor three where we were confronted with the most amazing thing so far at the event...air conditioning. It was bliss with a large area to walk through and places to sit down too. Most definitely my favourite floor. To be fair this floor was more in-closed and low ceilings so the air con was always going to manage better.
Photoshoot F was our destination and it was labelled. We flew through this one in a matter of minutes. Nicole de Boer was every bit as lovely and cuddly as I imagined. That was is it for photoshoots. We purposely didn't overbook this time. We wanted a more manageable and relaxed event. (Check out my top five tips for enjoying a Showmasters event)
After scouting around the autograph area on this floor and getting a virtual ticket for Hayley Atwell (we were in the 600's!) we headed back down to floor one and to the superstage. Zach Galligan and Frances Lee McCain were due to give a Gremlins talk on stage. The talk was incredible and entertaining. Once again I managed to get a question in. My question was on the rumoured Gremlins remake. I managed to record some of the talk but got asked to put the camera away. Anyway I still got 20 minutes of the talk and you can watch it below:
The superstage was also air conditioned and more importantly there were toilets at the back that no one seemed to have spotted. An awesome find.
Floor two was our next destination. This floor was the quietest. There were artists, a gaming zone and a large area dedicated to YALC, the young adult literature convention. This part seemed quite popular. After walking around we decided that was our day done. But first we headed down to floor one and got our free Back to the Future poster and made a donation to the charity Up To 88.
We had been on our feet all day so a cold pint across the road from the event was very much welcomed. The small park next to our beer garden seemed to attract dozens of cosplayers, particularly Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. Along with the pub being full of geeks it made the whole place buzz with a fantastic atmosphere.
Sunday started off wet. My friend decided to get to the event earlier today so arrives at 7:30. There was still a queue but he was a lot closer to the entrance this time. He was in at 9:20. I've been to many Showmasters events and there's no getting away from it, they are really popular and extremely busy. Getting to them hours before they open the doors is always good preparation.
Our first appointment was a photoshoot with Christopher Lloyd next to the Delorean car. We were batch three. Once again there were two queues either side of the photo area. This was a big one and the crowd was massive. A member of staff told me he wasn't sure if they would get to batch three. So rather than hang around for an hour we decided that we would come back for the second shoot in a couple of hours time. We took some more time to look at the endless stalls and ended up spending more money and getting a few more autographs. I had an interesting chat with Robert Watts the producer of Star Wars. He told me something about George Lucas that I promised I wouldn't reveal (sorry.)
The food and drink were predictably priced high inside so we headed over to the Tesco Express just across the road and some welcomed fresh air before heading back in for our second attempt at our Christopher Lloyd photoshoot.
The staff called the remaining gold pass holders along with batch A and batch B ticket holders. There were a lot less so it wasn't long before batch C was called. That was us. The staff here were brilliant and had the whole thing under control. The crew member with a huge beard was outstanding.
Once done we headed back up to the autograph area where we tried to get Hayley Atwells autograph having failed yesterday. They were rushing the signings as she was scheduled to be somewhere in ten minutes so we were told no personalised photos and no chatting. It was done in less than five seconds and still cost us £20. I was disappointed with this and if I knew I could have had a better experience later I would have waited. I felt disappointed with the way that was handled.
Our final port of call were two talks. The Star Trek Voyager talk with Garrett Wang and Tim Russ was first. Wang was the stand out performance and his impressions of George Takei and William
Shatner were incredibly funny. Earlier I got his autograph and he wrote an essay for me. The final talk we had scheduled was the upcoming Back to the Future documentary called Back In Time. The documentary looks impressive and one to keep on your radars.
That was it! London Film & Comic Con 2015 was over for us. My feet were protesting (and my bank balance.) Was it good? Yes. Very much so. The guest line up was one of Showmasters strongest. The staff were good as always. I loved the weekend. I was frustrated at first but once I got used to the layout I really had a great time. More air conditioning would have been nice but I wouldn't be surprised if it was on maximum. The silent auction should be re-branded. It's not a silent auction. What's the point of registering and bidding if you just have an auction at the end? It was still good fun and I came away with a couple of items. The venue and it's confusing layout were the biggest gripe of those in attendance along with the large crowd and at times stifling heat. Most I talked to questioned why the photoshoots were so spread out over the various floors. I asked a few fans what they would have liked to have seen to improve the event. Most said they would have liked all the photo areas on one floor, autographs on another with two floors just dedicated to stalls. Would it work? Maybe but don't forget the stalls need passing trade but judging by how some had queues in front of them it may have been a better option.
London Film & Comic Con is bigger than ever. Great Scott! Where do Showmasters go from here?
Check out our floor walk videos of each floor here
Here's a short video showing part of the queue on the Sunday:
The Bearded Trio - The Site For Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and John Williams
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CLICK HERE FOR FACTS ON STEVEN SPIELBERG
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CLICK HERE FOR FACTS ON JOHN WILLIAMS