I have just returned from Celebration Europe (30 years of Star Wars), where we finally had all the Jabba puppeteers in one place at one time. Not that many people care. In the USA and 'mainland Europe' people who design costumes, or special effects, or operate creatures seem to interest people far more than in the UK. The Brits love of 'celebrity' means they like ‘actors’ (even if the person stood around with a rubber mask, or helmet on their head, in the corner of a scene). [HERESY WARNING] I mean, I like Jeremy Bulloch, he’s a charming man, but what does Boba Fett do, exactly? Ahem. Here in the UK a puppeteer seems about as interesting as a carpenter or electrician or scene painter. And anyway, most people think Jabba got done with computer graphics, not blood, sweat and slime. I found it a rather Ricky Gervais experience of non-fame.
Still, I enjoyed the company of fans, and witnessed relatively little geekdom. I mean, just because I personally wouldn’t queue for two hours for a ticket, an hour and a half to get in the door, half an hour to buy coupons, and four hours to get to Mark Hamill for the honour of paying £85 for his signature on a rather flimsy picture doesn’t mean I can judge people who do. I don’t like soap operas (or real opera, come to that) or horror movies, or theme parks - but they remain hugely popular, and as my hobby is conjuring, I can’t really talk about geeks!
The people we did meet proved really nice, and as I hadn’t expected to make much money (most people who want my sig have got it by now) I simply enjoyed a little reflected glory sitting with Dave Barclay, because of us having worked together. As he still works in films, and lives in LA, he has remained harder for Brit fans to meet (and get an autograph from).
I didn’t feel impressed by the organisation of the event. My name is spelled wrongly on the website (not THAT uncommon with my surname), and similarly on the poster and programme they gave us. Dave Barclay also had his name wrong (Barklay), as did Christine Hewett, and Jeremy (Bullock?), etc. We had been prevented from selling our own pix, but none at all had been provided for Simon Williamson (or Simon Williams, as the programme calls him!) The pix they had made seemed very flimsy (like a page from a magazine) which made it quite embarrassing to ask for £3 (just for the pic) - thank goodness people mostly brought their own stuff to have signed. Fans have got used to Official Pix on good paper, great colour balance, and a hologram, etc. And these should come as part of the price of the autograph, not as well as! We don’t have control of these issues, but we may well get the blame (or accused of greed) on the fan forums. They had also set us puppeteers up in the 3 coupon price range (£15!) but we immediately told them we wanted to drop to 2, and scribbled out the price they had posted. I mean, come on guys!
So yes, several reasons to feel aggrieved. The “wide range of food” in the Green Room? When I got there, a bowl of crisps and some dodgy looking meat sandwiches. When I said I was a veggie I ended up with ‘cheese and Marmite’ sandwiches (I have never eaten that combination before!). Sigh. And the coffee was the usual Brit offering, lukewarm and watery. I had to go buy double expressos from a proper coffee stall (Thanks fellas!)
On the night before we started I rented a (cheaper) hotel room just so I could get to work for 9 a.m. without dragging myself across country at the crack of dawn. I met up with some people in the bar, and had a good evening, and even managed to put a couple of the Welsh guys on my guest list (hope you had a good day, Stuart and Andrew!)
I can’t list all the people I met (you know who you are) but I really enjoyed meeting up with Martin again (we had started a conversation at a Cardiff convention, but got separated – we just spoke this morning - having got separated again, yesterday - as he tracked me down at the library (day job) – and hello to Julie!), and seeing Sîon and Della out of the blue, and chilling out with Cutulph and Joanna at the Fox bar, and enjoying John C’s 60th birthday, and meeting Simon and Janie in the lift, and on and on and so on…
At least we got a photo of the four of us ‘Jabba crew’ standing in front of the life-size Jabba display!