Interview with Director Graham Kolbeins

Director Graham Kolbeins’ Queer Japan (2019) is an intimate documentary which examines the struggles and rich lives of drag queen Vivienne Sato, manga artist Gengoroh Tagame, councilwoman Aya Kamikawa, non-binary performance artist Saeborg and others. Featuring over one hundred interviews conducted over three years in locations across Japan, Queer Japan examines a country with a unique history of queer expression. Previously he was the co-director, with Dorian Wood, of the short film Paisa, and the director of the short documentary The House of Gay Art.

JF Garrard caught up with Graham at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF) to ask him about what inspired this documentary, queer issues in Japan and his next project.

JF Garrard (JFG): Hello, thanks for taking the time to connect with me! The Japan-U.S. Friendship Council named you a recipient of their Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship in 2016, can you explain a little bit about this fellowship and what inspired you to create Queer Japan?

Graham Kolbeins shot by Paul Sepuya
Graham Kolbeins shot by Paul Sepuya

GK: Thanks so much for taking the time to cover Queer Japan! The seeds of this documentary project were planted in 2012, when I first began working with gay manga artists including Queer Japan cast member Gengoroh Tagame. Alongside Anne Ishii and Chip Kidd, I embarked on a project of editing the first English-language publications translating Tagame’s brilliant comics, and producing a compendium of gay manga called Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It. This anthology included translated comics, behind the scenes portraits, and interviews with the nine of the top gay manga artists in Japan. I traveled to Tokyo with Anne to conduct these interviews in person. It was on this trip that my interest in Japanese queer culture expanded beyond the narrow window of gay manga, when I saw just how many brilliant and diverse queer expressions were flourishing in places like Tokyo’s gay neighborhood, Shinjuku Ni-chome.

Over the next few years, Anne Ishii and I continued working with Gengoroh Tagame, Jiraiya, and other gay manga artists through our publishing and fashion brand Massive Goods. Our mission was to help spread gay manga around the world, and we managed to organize international tours for the artists, produce more translations, and collaborate with high profile fashion brands to help introduce their work to new audiences and contexts. Every time I returned to Japan, my appreciation for LGBTQ+ culture in the country grew, and I knew I wanted to help put a spotlight on the broader the community. In 2016, I was granted a Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship from the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, an organization funded by the National Endowment for the Arts in the U.S. and Bunkacho, Japan’s agency for cultural affairs. The JUSFC supports artists working in dialogue between the two countries, and encourages cross-cultural exchange. With that spirit in mind, I embarked on the journey of creating a film that would engage with Japan’s queer community and help spread appreciation and understanding for Japanese queer artists and activists around the world.

JFG: I was impressed by the sheer amount of material covered, from the importance of gender in mainstream society to the work of a deaf LGBT centre to discrimination against Zainichi Koreans (ethnically Korean Japanese citizens), etc. How did you chose what to cover and was it difficult finding a representative to interview?

GK: We tried to approach making Queer Japan as organically as possible, allowing the issues and topics in the film to emerge naturally through interviews with our cast. As an outsider to the community I was portraying, I didn’t want to impose preconceived notions onto the project or force the story into an oversimplified structure– I was more interested in finding out what was most important to our subjects. We started with a handful of people we had established relationships with, including Gengoroh Tagame, dancer Atsushi Matsuda (who I had met on a dance floor in Shinjuku Ni-chome) and legendary drag queen Margaratte, who had starred in a short documentary directed by our Tokyo-based producer, Hiromi Iida. We’d often get recommendations from our cast about who else to interview, and the film evolved in this way, through a combination of introductions from people we knew and reaching out to well-known figures in the community. I found most people we approached to be incredibly open and generous with us, and we ended up covering so many issues that weren’t even on my radar at the beginning of production. I think this approach made our documentary so much better, just listening to our subjects and learning about what they felt was important.

JFG: Department H, a place where once a month, people can attend for free and be whatever they want (dressed as canines, engage in BDSM, perform in rubber, etc) looked wild and spectacular.  How did you find out about this place and did you dress up as anything?

GK: Great question! I did dress up for our shoot at Department H, wearing an outfit I had picked up at a surprisingly fashionable construction worker clothing store called Mannenya. I was wearing a bright pink jumpsuit with work boots and felt like I had reached a new level of self-actualiztion. Department H is so amazingly inclusive– it’s a space that allows you to present as outlandishly as you can imagine without facing judgement or feeling out of place. I went to the party for the first time the week I beagn shooting Queer Japan, with producer Hiromi Iida. Hiromi was very familiar with the party, having previously directed a documentary there with the party’s long time host, drag queen Margarette. I instantly felt at home on that first visit, and it quickly became one of the central locations of our film.

JFG:  Manga and anime have exploded from Japan to the rest of the world. However, when one visits Japan, they may be surprised that not all Japanese people are fans of manga or anime. Similarly, although Queer Japan illustrates different members of the LGBTQ community in safe spaces, it is still taboo to come out as gender plays into social systems as stated by politician Aya Kamikawa. Aya mentions that since she is transgender but her family registry had recorded her as male, she couldn’t sign a rental agreement, use her health insurance card for doctors or use her pension book to become a salaried employee. Can you expand a bit more about the consequences of coming out for some of your subjects and how they dealt with these challenges? Are these struggles unique to Japan?

GK: In many parts of Japan, there are no legal protections offered to LGBTQ+ citizens to prevent discrimination in the workplace, in the housing market, and in schools. As a result, a lot of queer people in Japan have been forced to remain closeted in certain environments for their own protection. Things are slowly improving, as individual corporations begin to institute non-discrimination policies for their LGBTQ+ employees, and more cities and municipalities offer same-sex partnership certificates. These certificates aren’t on the same solid legal standing as marriage, but they do put pressure on companies and medical services to respect same-sex partnerships at a regional level. These struggles are not unique to Japan, as there are unfortunately many countries in the world that do little to offer legal protections to LGBTQ+ citizens. Even in the United States, where gay marriage is legal, we lack a national non-discrimination law. In many American states, you can get married and fired for being gay on the same day.

One of the unique challenges that Japanese LGBTQ+ people face is the existence of the koseki (family registry), a sort of public genealogy document with legal standing. The family registry is not designed to accommodate same-sex marriages, and even among heterosexual married couples it causes unique problems: a married couple must have the same last name, so married women can’t legally keep their maiden names. For transgender people, the family registry is cited as one of the reasons for the harsh restrictions on legal recognition of transgender identity. If you have children under 20 years old listed on your family registry, or if you’re currently married, you are barred from having your gender marker legally recognized. And beyond that, if you haven’t medically transitioned– meaning you haven’t had your reproductive organs removed– your gender cannot be recognized under the current law. (Also unfortunately, this is not a situation unique to Japan– some U.S. states require medical transition as well). As Aya Kamikawa states in the film, this medical requirement for legal transition has been cited as a human rights violation. Earlier in 2019, a court case challenged the constitutionality of this so-called “sterilization” rule, but Japan’s highest court refused to strike down the requirement. The fight for equal rights continues.

JFG: Coming from an American culture in which queer culture is becoming more mainstream every day (recognizing there are still struggles), did you find any striking differences or similarities with queer culture in Japan?

GK: It’s hard to make sweeping comparisons, because both America and Japan are heterogeneous environments. Queer culture may differ as much or more between Los Angeles and Little Rock, Arkansas than it differs between L.A. and Tokyo. But in general, it seemed like queer identity was a bit more compartmentalized in Japan– even a revered gay artist or a outspoken trans rights activist might feel a need to hide or downplay their queerness around family, out of a sense of respect and familial obligation. It was interesting to see how people could live these full, rich queer lives at pride parades or parties and then fly under the radar in other parts of their lives. As activist Tomato Hatakeno told me, there’s a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude common in Japan when it comes to gender and sexuality.

At the same time, Japanese queer culture and nightlife feels a little more advanced than in the U.S. in some respects. The sheer number of bars and event spaces in Japan’s queer neighborhoods allows for more specialization and can deepen the sense of identity one feels in these spaces. For instance, we cover a monthly FTM (trans masculine) party called Grammy Tokyo in the film, and the existence of this party and other bars and spaces catering specifically to trans masculine individuals felt pretty groundbreaking to me. Even in a city as big as Los Angeles, while there are some inclusive queer spaces, there are few that cater directly to the trans masculine community. That’s just one example, but I think there’s something unique about how specific you can get when you have 300+ bars in a neighborhood like Shinjuku Ni-chome, many of which are so small they can only fit 10 customers, instead of a standard American gayborhood that might have 10 bars that can fit 300 customers each.

JFG: In making a documentary in a foreign country, what was the most difficult process of film making? How did you overcome this?

GK: There were both language barriers and cultural barriers to making a film like this as a foreigner in Japan. I began production as a beginner Japanese speaker, and now I’m more intermediate, but most of the time I didn’t feel confident conducting interviews myself. So I was very lucky to have the support of producer Hiromi Iida, and co-producer Anne Ishii during the shooting of Queer Japan. I prepared interview questions, and they would conduct interviews in Japanese while I filmed. Working with a Japanese producer like Hiromi was also essential to navigating some of the formalities and cultural expectations of working in Japan that I was not familiar with. It was important that we approached these individuals and communities with as much respect as possible, and Hiromi managed to navigate that beautifully in all of our interactions.

JFG: What advice do you have to novice documentary film-makers?

GK: Collaborate! Film-making is a collaborative medium, and your work will benefit the more you involve other artists with a diversity of viewpoints in your process. Bring your subjects in to the process too! These days, we’re all filmmakers and photographers, telling our life story daily on social media with the cameras we carry around in our pockets. So the relationship between storyteller and subject has rapidly shifted, and your work can benefit from embracing that new egalitarianism.

JFG: What will your next project be about?

GK: I’m developing a variety of new projects, but after spending 4 years working on this documentary, I’m eager to try my hand at narrative filmmaking. I’m working on my first feature screenplay, a queer love story set against the backdrop of the renewable energy industry and the American southwest.

JFG: Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and knowledge with us!

GK: Thank you JF, and Ricepaper, for taking the time to feature this film and help us put a spotlight on the LGBTQ+ community in Japan!

***

Details for VQFF’s showing of Queer Japan can be found here: https://queerfilmfestival.ca/film/queer-japan/. For summary of VQFF film-maker interviews, see this Ricepaper Magazine post.

 

 

Lessons Learned From My First Short Film

The Reel Asian Film Festival announced a See Yourself Here short film contest, asking people to send in one minute videos posted over Instagram. Since I have a horrible habit of wanting to do more than I am capable of, I thought I would give it a shot!

My film “Great Grandma & Me” can be watched in the link below. Please “like” to vote for me for this competition!

Lessons learned from this endeavor:

  1. Stabilizing the camera is important. Duh! Well, it was really hard to capture my son who was running around but someone told me they have a weighted tripod stick which you can carry while running around and it should help. So better equipment for next time…
  2. Extra footage, always. Certain shots were useless because they were too shaky or the light wasn’t right when it was made. Having lots of footage means you can toss stuff out and keep the good stuff.
  3. Light, light, light. I shot during the day with window curtains open so there was lots of natural light. The Samsung S9+ phone I used to shoot with was pretty good and had special features to “light up” the shot even in a dark room. It has a rear 12MP camera which isn’t industrial grade, but until I do more film stuff, it will do the job for now.
  4. Use good video editing software. For this film I used FilmoraGo on my phone. There is a Filmora desktop version, but the only time I had was travelling between places so I needed a mobile solution to fit in work for this project. Editing was a breeze. The software isn’t perfect, but much faster than using Windows Movie Maker. Quik by GoPro is a good option too, but the themes they had for videos were not what I wanted. I have a new mac now, will try iMovie next.
  5. Check licences on music. I chose Happy Ukulele by Scott Holmes, which I found on the Free Music Archive. This song can only be used for specific scenarios and Scott indicates you have to email him to ask for permission. He was kind enough to grant it, but do check before using music to make any videos!
  6. Be patient with “the talent.” This refers to my grandmother who was saying I was stupid the whole time and my son who refused to follow directions most of the time. They have to be in a good mood, so I had to pamper them a bit before I got some good shots. It’s too easy to become frustrated and give up, so lots of patience is needed. Chocolate as bribes helped a lot in my case…

Making this short film was a lot of fun and I hope people enjoy it!

Reel Asian 2017 Articles

The Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival is heading into town and I’ve been dispatched by Ricepaper Magazine to cover it. A few pieces were also done for Looseleaf Magazine, a Project40 Collective publication based in Toronto. Since festivals want press coverage before the festival is open to the public, I’ve been busy writing and watching the films as of late. When my husband asked what it meant that I was dispatched to cover this, I told him that it meant he had to babysit more!

I’ll continuously be updating this page as more work gets published, the Reel Asian Film Festival runs November 9-18, 2017 and a lot of the films get only one showing, so grab tickets while you can! For inspiring film makers there are lots of seminars on how to hone your craft or handle taxes, but you have to reserve your spot ahead of time.

For parents with krakens, there are Wee Asian events on weekends with free animation films and crafts for children. It’s at the TIFF building which means lots of space and large bathrooms for diaper changes.

Events

Reel Festival Overview of events

Press conference coverage for The Posterist (Hong Kong, 2017) 

Wee Asian Diary Entry 

Film Reviews

Summary post of all film reviews

Stand Up Man (Canada, 2017)

Bad Genius ฉลาดเกมส์โกง (Thailand, 2017)

Dear Etranger 幼な子われらに生まれ (Japan, 2017)

A Whale of a Tale おクジラさま〜ふたつの正義の物語 (Japan 2017) 

The Posterist (Hong Kong, 2017) 

Interviews

Summary post of all interviews

Simu Liu, Kim’s Convenience Actor

Aram Collier, Director of Stand Up Man

Nattawut Poonpiriya, Director of Bad Genius

Yukiko Mishima, Director of Dear Etranger

Kristine Estorninos, Reel Asian Head of Programming

Looseleaf Magazine article

Film review: Jesus is Dead (Philippines, 2016)

 

Ad Astra Schedule

Ad Astra (a fantasy, science fiction literary convention) will be held in Richmond Hill April 4-6, 2014.

As a guest panelist, I will be appearing on the following panels. Here are the dates, times, room numbers and panel topic:

Saturday, April 5
Oakridges 11:30am-12:00pm – Author reading
Whitchurch 12:00-12:30pm – Author signing
Markham B 1:00-2:00pm – The LEGO Movie: Everything is Awesome
Markham A 3:00-4:00 pm Advantages and Disadvantages in the Self-Publishing Game

Sunday, April 6, 2014
Markham A 1:00-2:00 pm Creating Authentic Settings in Urban Fantasy

Sheepishly, I admit my print book isn’t ready but my e-book should be done in time by the time Ad Astra hits. I’ll have postcards from my Kickstarter campaign to sign and give away to remind people to pick up the e-book or print book at a later date.

As one of the new authors on a list of 50 authors, I’m not even sure if anyone will show up for my book reading or signing! But I have cookies for those who do! We’ll pig out and chat!

Looking forward to geeking out about the LEGO movie, talking about self-publishing and creating new worlds in fantasy!

Fun medals for Hobbit fans

A few days ago I saw the second Hobbit movie and made it through the whole thing without peeing. As a small person with a tiny bladder, this was a huge deal for me! My husband with his iron bladder said in amusement in the end that I deserved a medal.

So what the heck, I’m still jet lagged anyways and don’t feel like unpacking; why not make medals to share with everyone who survived the movies without peeing?!

Medals can be downloaded for fun here: https://jfgarrard.com/medals/

Feel free to share this ridiculous joy and take pride in the fact that you are a champion!

Q & A with Simon Horrocks, Third Contact Director

Happy New Year everyone!

The year 2014 is the year of the horse which means that many people will be working hard and creating new projects this year.  No exception to this is Simon Horrocks, who is not only a director; he is also a cameraman, composer, cinematographer, editor and screenwriter.  He may also be a makeup artist and gourmet chef, but I didn’t see that in the imbd credits of his new film.

We met on twitter on December 31, 2013, as he was busy spreading word his Indiegogo campaign to bring his film, “Third Contact” to CanadaThird Contact received its World Premiere at the Internationale Hofer Filmtage on 25 October, 2012 in Hof and was a successful Kickstarter campaign with 435 backers for a London BFI IMAX event.

3C screenshot 1

Hi Simon, thanks for taking the time to do this quick Q & A with me.  I watched the trailer for your Indiegogo campaign and was quite intrigued as I used to work in a mental hospital and love dark films.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to create this movie after years as a professional composer?  You did some work on short films; did they serve as a catalyst for you to start working on your own film project?

I was a professional composer, writing music for TV shows such as Oprah and NBC sport, BBC daytime shows, plus the occasional Playstation game. My main passion was filmmaking. I’d wanted to be a director since before I knew what it meant. So I’d also been writing a lot, selling and optioning a few screenplays, but none of them made it into production.

I’d also been involved in a few shorts. When I fell on hard times as a composer, I had to get a ‘day job’ for the first time in 20 years, working in a cinema. But this gave me the opportunity to decide I was ready to write and direct my first feature film.

Often bad things that happen to us can be used as an opportunity to change ourselves. I took that opportunity.

In regards to your Third Contact, can you tell us a bit about the plot and themes?  

The film is about a psychotherapist who has lost faith in the world, but when disaster strikes, he uses it as an opportunity to rejuvenate himself and embarks on an obsessive investigation into the mysterious deaths of two patients.

Although the film is part scifi, exploring philosophical implications of ideas in quantum physics, its also a love story and a story about madness, depression, obsession, regret, loss. So I believe we can all connect with these themes.

The interesting things is, although it might be considered an ‘arthouse’ film, I’ve found people who don’t normally watch those kind of films get something from Third Contact that they weren’t expecting.

How was this story inspired?  Did it take long to write?

It was inspired from what one critic described as a ‘goldmine of ideas’. I had already worked on a script back in 2006-7 using the idea of quantum suicide. So I approached the subject again, but in a different way. I wrote the first draft in about a month or so, then had my filmmaker friend, Verity (who I met working at the cinema), read the script and give me notes.

I wanted Verity to help because she is a very unique and talented filmmaker, who I knew would be sympathetic to the work. I knew she wouldn’t impose any screenwriting rules, she would just assess it as a story. So after about 3 drafts and 6-7 month, I was ready to make the film.

When did you first learn about the idea of quantum suicide and why is this so intriguing?

I read an article about it around 2005, while I was looking into various quantum mechanics ideas. It had such a striking name, I had to find out more. The idea of subjective-immortality was very interesting, and I thought about this idea for a long time. It certainly changed the way I saw the universe and life in general.

I think a lot of current ‘scifi’ stories are basically future tech stories, which are old stories dressed up in fancy new clothes. Star wars and the current Star Trek films, for example, are basic action films with laser guns and spaceships.

I like my stories, and particularly scifi, to be thought-provoking. And subjective-immortality is certainly that. I could probably make films for the rest of my life on that one subject and never fully explore it.

How many people or countries have seen this film and are you happy with their reaction? 

While we were running the kickstarter, we realised we were now selling the film to the entire planet, as this was the way crowdfundng via the internet works. So we realised we couldn’t just focus on a UK premiere as the main attraction, it had to be a global premiere.

We decided to broadcast the film live over the internet, simultaneously with the film showing in the BFI IMAX, and hold the Q&A taking questions from the audience in the theatre and the online audience via a twitter feed we projected up onto the big screen.

The premiere was seen in 22 different countries by almost 1000 people, including the 300 or so in the theatre.

The reaction was amazing. Better than we ever dreamed of. So many people not only expressed their love for the film but returned days later to say the film had stayed with them.

Filmmaking is very expensive, how did you fund this movie and did you ever think about making it commercial via film festivals or selling the script?  Is script querying similar to novel querying, taking many years to find an agent?

Filmmaking doesn’t have to be expensive. The budget for Third Contact was £4000, which included the cost of buying the camera and the mic. Anyone can pick up a camera and make a feature film. But it will require a huge amount of effort, dedication and people putting their time in for the love of the project.

Someone came up to me after the IMAX premiere and told me I should make the film more commercial, if I wanted a career. I said – we just hired the biggest, most prestigious cinema in the UK and made a profit, outselling all the other shows on the night combined (we are talking films made for $100m +) – the film is commercial. He had to agree.

You have to remember, nobody knows anything. How many publishers turned down Harry Potter? Presumably, because they thought it wasn’t commercial. The idea that Harry Potter isn’t commercial is an absurdity to us now, but for how long did Rowling have to listen to that?

I don’t know anything about getting a novel published, but I did have a screenwriting agent in LA for about a year. From that experience, I realised I didn’t want to be anybody’s writer. I wanted to develop my own vision, and that could only happen outside the industry. The industry are too scared to take risks on anything. If they’re too scared to take a risk on Harry Potter, you know they are really incredibly conservative.

Either that, or its an elitist club, where everyone is doing each other favours. Which means that if you don’t have the right friends, or are not very good at making the right friends, you have no career.

Film festivals work exactly the same way; the major ones do, anyway. Its all about who you know and if you send your film in blindly with the submission fee, you are essentially paying for your own rejection letter. How many of the films which are programmed do you think paid the submission fee?

So, if you don’t have the right friends, be prepared to fight to get noticed. Give it everything, if you really believe in what you are doing. Ignore the naysayers.

What are the steps from script to actually finishing a film?  Did it take a long time?

It took roughly 3 years from writing the first word to finishing the final edit. The steps are long, partly because I was teaching myself how to do things as I went. I’d never shot a film before, so I had to learn how to use a camera. I’d never edited a film before, so I had to learn. Which means re-doing things again and again, to get it right.

We re-wrote the music score 3 or 4 times to get it right. This is very time-consuming.

Do you have any advice for budding film makers?  Would you recommend they try crowd funding?

You don’t need money to make a film. You do need money to promote a film and get it seen. Having said that, crowdfunding is there, and if you show you are committed, people will back you. Filmmaking is about your audience.

If you don’t have an audience, there’s no point making a film. Crowdfunding is a way to engage your audience and involve them in what you are doing. Its a fantastic opportunity to develop your filmmaking voice with your fans, who will be cheering on your risk-taking rather than throwing a wet towel over it, like the industry will.

Will your next film project be a dark story or something lighter? 

I don’t set out to make something dark. I write stories I’m inspired by and passionate about. I personally don’t enjoy ‘happy ending’ films, or films which try to force a positive message on you, because I think it’s a lie. Nothing ends neatly and ‘happily ever after’. Life is messy, complex, bittersweet.

The ‘heroes journey’ template which Hollywood, and supposedly ‘commercial’ cinema, follows slavishly is incredibly patronising to it’s audience. Its saying you are too stupid to deal with any complex reflection of reality, so its going to be simplified for you.

I personally believe its possible to reflect reality and entertain people without patronising them. Why do Shakespeare’s plays still hold up 400 years later? Why do Dickens’ stories still draw big audiences? Because they are gripping stories which reflect the complexity of life.

Back to Third Contact, can you give us a final pitch on how awesome it would be for the audience if they contribute to your campaign?  What are the goodies they receive?

We find ourselves in a position with Third Contact where audiences love the film, but the industry are refusing to take a risk with it. So we have developed a new way of showing this film in cinemas.

We are using our own ‘cinema on demand’ method, using the IndieGoGo.com platform. If you would like to see this film in one of the cinemas listed, you need to make it happen. If we don’t get enough seat reservations, by the events deadline, the show will not go ahead.

For the shows in Canada, you can pledge for a seat for $10. There are other options as well, such as a signed poster of a CD of the original score, or the official Third Contact t-shirt. You can add these for a little extra contribution, which will help us reach the target, so we can then go ahead and hire the cinemas.

If we don’t reach the target, IndieGoGo will refund you. But we hope it won’t come to that. By reserving your seat, you are helping independent cinema to develop its own voice, away from the risk-free industry.

If this works for us, other indie filmmakers will be able to follow us, so you will be reinvigorating cinema and encouraging filmmakers to come up with fresh ideas, by getting involved and supporting us.

Have a great New Year and may 2014 be the best year yet for Third Contact!  Please have a look at his link to his Indigogo campaigns happening all over the place for this film and hopefully it will be showing in a local theatre new you.  The links below are for his campaigns if you want to see something thought provoking!

January 30 – Cube Cinema, Bristol

February 12 – The Cinema Museum, London

February 18 – Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford

February 22 – Central Kino in Berlin

February 24 – Rio Theatre, Vancouver, Canada

February 26 – Mayfair Theatre, Ottawa, Canada

February 28 – Carlton Cinema, Toronto, Canada

March 6 – Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle

March 7 – Late Show at The Sheffield Showroom

March 12 – The Forum, Norwich

Third Contact Poster (small)

Some neat stuff at Fan Expo!

There were a lot of big name guests at Fan Expo in Toronto this year, ranging from George Takei to Zachary Quinto. I wanted to see if I was taller than George Takei, but apparently he is still taller than me. He told me he was 5’7″ and thought it was amusing I was on my tip toes to even talk to him as I couldn’t reach the table! Meeting him and Shaun Yuen (in Walking Dead with super flawless skin) really made the Expo for me as I was excited to meet Asian celebrities! Shaun commented that I should think positive and not negative in general; I wonder if being cynical is a Toronto/NY thing as the people from LA are all super cheery!  Must be the sun…

Overall, the convention took up two buildings at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North and South. The distance between them involved a short walk and about 5 escalators! I ended up only going to the dealer’s room twice, both on business, but I had a chance to visit a friend who had a booth at artist alley. Things in artist alley all looked great and professional. The dealer’s room had a huge lego display of hobbit houses, which was super neat! There was also a giant Yoda, Superman and Ninja Turtles Mural. In the North building someone brought in the Bat Mobile from the Tim Burton movie (apparently I’m the only person who can’t tell the difference). There were some cute costumes of course and lots of Dr. Who cosplay!

It sounds odd, but I usually like doing volunteer work at conventions instead of being a regular attendee. I like contributing and doing some work as I am a person who can’t relax! And it’s also a chance to see some behind the scenes stuff too! Every year I forget where I put my pictures, so I will post some here instead of losing them!

People wise, I got the chance to interact with a few and I have to say I am now a huge fan of the Ashmore brothers (Shawn & Aaron). They are super nice and will no doubt do very well in the future. Shawn is in the Following and will be Ice Man in the new X-men movie coming out July 2014. Aaron is in Warehouse 13, a show I have to start watching. Nichelle Nichols (Uhura, Star Trek) is a super classy lady; Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy, Star Trek) is super tall and sexy; Dean Cain (Superman, Smallville) likes to hug people and unfortunately I only got a blurry snap of Zachary Quinto, but I heard that he is a super nice guy.

Pics below for your enjoyment!

zach ss

dr who girls ss

hobbit house s

Ninja Turtles ss

Yoda ss

Batmobile ss