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10 Ways To Not Suck at Being A Convention Attendee

fantasm-still(still from the documentary FANTASM)

Horror convention season is underway and many of us are already looking forward to our weekends of panels, celebrities, and debauchery.  This weekend I will be attending the Cinema Wasteland Movie & Memorabilia Expo in Strongsville, OH (Come say hello!) to see the DAY OF THE DEAD reunion.  For most horror fans, conventions are unlike anything else we could experience.  We are able to spend a weekend immersed in all of the things that make us happy, surrounded by like minded individuals.  The friends we make at conventions become our families, and even if we only see each other once a year, it’s the best weekend of our lives.  Unfortunately, as conventions have changed, so have the attendees.  Going to your first convention or your 50th?  Here’s a handy guide of “10 Ways To Not Suck at Being A Convention Attendee.”

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10) BE NICE TO THE HOTEL STAFF
I’ve worked at a hotel during a convention, and while you may be looking forward to the weekend like a toddler on Christmas morning, the hotel staff is walking the green mile the entire week leading up to the con. Tip your bartenders, be kind to your housekeepers, don’t blow up the bathrooms, don’t destroy property, and be respectful of the locale.  I get it, you want to have fun and hang loose, but if you write “HAIL SATAN” in shit on the side of a bathroom wall, the hotel is going to boot the convention out next year and you’ll ruin the fun for everyone.  If a convention has to pay a higher overhead or repair damages left behind from a previous con, guess who pays for it? You guessed it, your admission fees. You wouldn’t want people walking into your house and breaking all of your stuff and insulting your family, so don’t do it to the hotel staff.

09) REMEMBER YOUR WEEKEND
We’ve become a culture of instant gratification.  I’m not trying to be Buzz Killington from the land of Harshin’ Mellows, but I will never understand the people who get blackout drunk or so hopped on drugs that they can’t even remember the convention.  Granted, I’m not here to judge, but if you’re going to spend all the money to go to the convention, maybe try to remember it?

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08) KEEP YOUR SCRIPT AWAY FROM CELEBRITIES
No. I get it. I’m sure your TICKS meets POSSESSION with the humor of EVIL DEAD 2 movie kickstarter would be something the folks at Killer POV might like and I’m sure AJ Bowen would be perfect as your leading male, but a convention table is not the time or the place to be hawking your own shit.  The celebrities at the convention are already working. Half the time, it’s a legal liability for them to even read your script.  You’re not going to do yourself any favors by soliciting a celebrity at a table.

07) SET YOURSELF A BUDGET
Between the food, movies, autographs, pictures, and memorabilia, conventions can get really pricey.  A lot like gambling, it can also get pretty addictive.  Wait, they have SCANNERS on every format from Japan? SIGN ME UP. If you set yourself a budget, it’ll help prevent you from spending your child’s college fund on a life size replica of Max Headroom.

twins(Icons’ own Jerry Smith with The Soska Sisters and Tristan Risk)

06) DON’T BE A CREEP/PERV
(Note: Jerry Smith is not a creep or a perv, but I didn’t want to pull a random Google image off of someone at a convention.) Look, appearances are a major factor in the successes of many of our horror icons.  Hell, nudity is almost a prerequisite for the scream queens we worship so heavily.  However, walking up to an actress at a convention, no matter what their profession, and telling them about how you used to jerk it to them is totally unacceptable. It’s creepy, it’s gross, and you’re a fucking weirdo if you do it. Ladies can be just as creepy. Staring at a guest from across the table and breathing heavily or touching an actor/actress when you don’t have permission, is not acceptable. It may be the truth, but just don’t do it.

05) ATTEND PANELS
While wandering around aimlessly and looking at vendors can be really fun, panels are the best parts of conventions.  You get to hear straight from the mouths of the people involved with your favorite films discuss them, or listen to professionals tackle interesting topics to help further the genre.  Panels can be entertaining, enlightening, and educational.  It’s like having the chance to listen to a once in a lifetime college lecture by the people who perfected the subject.

04) BRING WATER
Seriously. Bring water. You’re gonna get dehydrated from all the walking and drinking and eating.

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03) SHOWER. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHOWER!!!
If I had to choose between being trapped in a glass case with a shit sandwich dipped in hobo vomit sitting on top of a pile of hot, wet garbage or be trapped in a room at a horror convention on a Sunday morning…I’ll take the shit sandwich.  Horror conventions get really, really ripe after a day or so of partying and celebrating, and it shows. No one wants to be the smelly kid in class and if you really want to impress your horror icon, allowing them to breathe in your presence is a good start.

02) SUPPORT INDEPENDENT CINEMA
Many independent film makers can’t always afford to distribute their films, end up on Netflix, or find their way into the “bigger” fests.  Horror conventions are usually chock full of independent (and original) horror films that you might not have the chance to see otherwise.  In some instances, these independent films aren’t even screening, but may have a vendor booth.  I try to set aside money to “blind buy” two independent films at every convention.  Support local artists, support independent artists, and you may find yourself a new favorite filmmaker.

01) HAVE FUN!
Seriously. Conventions are the best time of the year.

  • a.j. bowen

    This made me laugh out loud bc 5 scripts were pitched to me while at Horrorhound. Most of them came while I was trying to catch up on family stuff outside the hotel. I appreciate the moxy but yeah if I’m going to make a horror film I already know the people I’d do that with. That being said, everybody was really kind.

    • SMITH

      I love how I’m the designated creeper in this.