Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. Sundays at Supernatural Conventions are generally considered the BIG Day. They're the day J2 have their panels. This convention was no different. Sunday was full of energy and buzz and eager anticipation. This time, however, I wasn't Gold, so I didn't get the breakfast portion. Instead I ended up in the main ball room waiting for the call to go up for the photo ops. We filed into our seats by photo op---Jensen first, Jared and Jensen next (that's me!), and Jared last. They told us the rules, then. No climbing the boys. No kissing the boys. No asking for hugs from the boys other than the one you get in the photo itself. Pretty much don't make a horse's ass out of yourself with the boys. Otherwise it was pretty much do whatever pose you wanted. With that established all that was left to do was wait.
As the time ticked down, I allowed myself to relax some so the nerves and excitement wouldn't make me a blubbering mess. Finally, it was time and we rode up the escalators (which I will never ever like, contraptions made by Lucifer, I swear) and found ourselves curling around the wall to get into the photo op room. Everything was in place. My carefully chosen outfit was on, my hair was well brushed, washed, and combed, and I had all the extra baubles I don't normally get to wear in place. Oh, and I wore my open toed kick ass boots to not be super short in the shot. Too bad they're painful on the toes, but that's fashion, right? I was more than ready to light this candle.
The outfit you ask? I continued a tradition started at Chicago Con 2012 by wearing my Brian Buckley Band Hysterical Blindness shirt that I had bought in New Jersey 2011. I wanted to represent the band because their music is awesome, and I had promised Brian on Twitter that I would. I also wore some nice fancier jeans with bling on it (there were black angel wings on the back pockets if you’re curious). I just had no idea that this outfit would end up derailing my “squishy hug” plan for the photo op.
I was second in line when we were sitting in the ball room waiting. We had the VIP people get put in the very front of the line so as we filed into the photo op room we got to witness some of their photo ops in progress. One had a small stuffed animal squirrel for Jensen and a small stuffed animal moose for Jared and had them hold them for the shot. It was really a cute moment. Others did fun poses and faces with the boys that were fun. They looked happy---everyone involved---and very relaxed. By extension I felt all my nerves flow out to be replaced by the same happiness.
Finally, it was my turn to step up to take my photo. I had planned, remember, to ask the boys for the standard squishy hug. It might be boring in the end, but I wanted both men hugging me just once. Is that what happened? NOPE. As most of you know, Brian Buckley was introduced to us by Jared Padalecki himself. I was lucky enough to see Brian Buckley perform at the New Jersey convention in 2011 and fell in love with the music myself. So, as I walked up Jared points at my Brian Buckley shirt and says enthusiastically, “I dig it. I dig it.” He then holds his arms up in the gesture of “Come hug me,” so I do.
I hadn't even said as much as hello to Jensen yet. I had planned on breaking from hug, looking over at Jensen and then saying what type of photo I wanted. However, the rules are the rules---even if one of the actors asked for the hug and not you! The camera flashes and I hear Jensen say, “I'm here, too, you know!” I gasp because somehow the speed these photo ops go has caught me totally off guard and I turn, probably with a blush on my face and slip in a quick shoulder hug to Jensen as apology for what the hell happened! Before I know it, I'm ushered away and out into the hall with my head spinning.
I'm wondering just what had happened here. After all, I paid a lot of money to have BOTH of them in the photo and I wanted BOTH to hug me! I've accepted that I am more or less a Jared/Sam girl, but I really prefer to be a Jared and Jensen/Sam and Dean girl. Otherwise I would have just gotten a Jared solo shot! The more I thought about it, I really wanted to go back and redo it. This time with them BOTH hugging me so I'd feel it for days, thanks.
So I muse this aloud to another fan nearby that somehow my photo plan got botched and I don't even know how. They suggest that I ask one of the volunteers if it is at all possible to retake maybe. We both kinda think they'll say no, but it doesn't hurt to ask. I end up finding the volunteer that led us up to the photo op room and explain what happened. She admits that there's not much she can personally do, but to maybe ask Clif. So, I luckily find Clif standing outside the photo op room and start to explain again what happened. I tell him, “I have no idea what Jensen was doing behind me! Does he look awkward to the side in the shot or something?” He smiles and shakes his head and says in that booming voice of his, “Don't worry. I was in the room. You'll love how it turned out. Jensen's making a sad face behind you.”
I was relieved to hear that it wasn't as disastrous as I had feared. I also wanted to see just how it would turn out. After all, it wasn't planned by any means. I wanted to see just how organic this shot turned out and looked forward to picking it up later that night when it would be ready. It sounded like it'd be a great photo from what Clif said. When I finally could pick it up, I found mine easily. Jensen's face was exactly as Clif had described it and I laughed in delight at how the photo turned out. His pose and expression makes the photo gold. It wasn't what I went in for at all, but it was better than anything I could have imagined. It's a great shot and it comes with a great memory! (Look at their faces in it and tell me what you think of them. I see happy all over my face.)
Rachel Miner opened the exciting Sunday panel portion. Richard, after being embarrassed by Sebastian's display the day before, decided against giving her a porn name for Porncouver---but Rachel wouldn't sit by for that. She declared that her name would be Peeper Duke Ellington. I had seen Rachel in Chicago 2012 and was impressed by her stage presence. That was no different this time. As we got into the question section, Rachel spent much of her time discussing Meg and her progression on the show. I found it a captivating and thought-provoking discussion.
I liked that she viewed Meg as being so old that her world view would be different than most---that Meg would be easily bored by events around her and that she would have to find ways to amuse herself. Rachel said that she had no idea what Meg meant to the fandom before taking the role, but that she did look at what Nikki had brought to the character prior to taking it over. She also touched upon Castiel and Meg's dynamic and how she viewed it as intellectual with two supernatural beings connecting during their transformations. Rachel also stated that she was happy with how Meg ended up, but would be open to bringing the character back if it should make sense.
What I loved most about Rachel's panel, however, was that she talked about being a big reader and seeing her get excited about chatting about books with those asking questions. We certainly attend these conventions because we love a TV show, but so many of us are also big readers and hearing that members of the cast/crew are also into that is a great way to further the exchange of ideas. Of course she was the second to do so in Vancouver---Felicia Day being the other with her book club.
Both times I've seen Rachel she's been entertaining, gracious, and highly intelligent. Her character may have only appeared in a few episodes spread out over the seasons, but I could sense as she sat on stage that she respected how important Meg was to us in fandom---and to the history of the show itself. Rachel connected with her and it showed in her performances. Hearing her talk about her time on the show and with Meg it's easy to see that she enjoyed the role immensely. Rachel mentioned that she loved Meg's dialogue best---something not really seen much for a female character since the days of film noir. While Meg may have been a baddie, I think partly why we loved Rachel's incarnation of her is in part due to the heart she gave the character in her portrayal.
Towards the end of Rachel's panel it was pointed out to me that the question line for Jared and Jensen was forming. I had intended to wait until her panel was over---because I thought lining up for them during it would be rude---and ended up pretty far back in it. Of course I started to regret my footwear choice by this time. After all my shoes were pinching the crap out of my toes to the point of making it unbearable. But grin and bear it I would---all in the hopes that I would be able to ask a question. I had written it down months ago, refining it and turning it over in my brain. I wanted to ask a particular question about craft. But being so deep in the line meant my chances were fairly slim. I wasn't going to give up, though.
The boys came out on stage to great cheers. They each took their respective chairs and glanced around the small hall---Jared even asked for the lights to be turned up so he could see our faces. With the question lines so long, however, they quickly started taking them. The first was about Dean's penchant for crying so often throughout the series---and really how can such a tough guy be so weepy? Jensen glanced out over the crowd towards the various producers and writers in the room and tossed the question their way. He said that he was really a victim of his own talent, though. He had one scene where he had the so-called “one perfect tear” and now they kind of expect it on command. In real life, Jensen said his crying would be more snotty and blubbery and gross---which got the room laughing. This portion of the panel really became a big “Crying Game” gag.
We've heard that they work long hours day in and day out to make our little show that could, and someone asked how they find inspiration. Jared said that he finds inspiration all around. He cited the near-miss mass shooting in Georgia. That someone could talk that man down from committing such a hateful act inspired him---and he said that many stories like that do everyday. It made me think about how inspiration can come from anywhere, be it watching a show, reading a book, listening to music, or just hearing about something in the world news that reminds you about the good. Sometimes it can be hard to find, but it's there!
That kind of opened the door to another question: how do they muster the emotions to perform in some of the more emotionally driven scenes? Jensen said that you have to use whatever is in your own headspace and find a way to marry that to the script so you can make you performance ring true. He said that it's hard not to get too emotional before shooting---that you have to be careful or you'll go overboard. Listening to music was another way they both said worked to get them into the mood. Jensen went on to say that Bob Singer makes sure that they get the scenes down in as few takes possible so they're not stuck crying all day.
I kept tabs on the back and forth question lines, trying to gauge how far back I was and how likely I'd get to ask my question. We even had a volunteer ask us what our questions were---and I showed her my written piece of paper. The whole time, though, my toes were throbbing. Would the awesome shoes force me to sit down?? Or, gulp, would we run out of time before I got up there?
When it comes to directing, writing, or doing other work on the show or post Supernatural, they were both asked what they'd like to do. Jared said that he was very happy with just acting on the show---that he enjoyed playing Sam and telling his story. Jensen said that he felt there was a good marriage of writing and acting going on that worked for the show and that the characters get written well to tell the stories they present. Jensen did say that after the show is over he'd be interested in directing, absolutely. I'm sure, if we do get season 10, we'll see Jensen take the director's chair again, too.
So, what were their first impressions of Supernatural all those years ago? What ran through Jared and Jensen's minds as they read the Pilot script? Jared said that he enjoyed how gritty it was. He liked that it had a reality to it that made what they were presenting plausible. He told us that he enjoyed shows like Buffy and Angel, but felt that they went a bit too campy at times, which is what he didn't want to do with this show and he feels that that has worked mostly for Supernatural. He enjoys the stories that they get to tell now and saw the potential to do so from the very start. Jensen talked about how he read for Sam first as they were trying to cast him before Dean. During the process, Jensen said that he wanted to read for Dean if possible, which they allowed. He said that the character fit him and in the end he got the job. Of course, he had to throw in a little humor to his answer, citing that he wanted to read for the character that cries a lot and that he cried to get the job.
During the panel, Jared was distracted by some weird feedback from back stage. He abruptly stood up and disappeared behind the curtains, leaving a distraught Jensen behind. Instantly, Jensen froze in his seat, eyes wide as he surveyed the crowd. In a tiny voice, he said, “I can't do this without you,” which brought big laughs. Of course all the cameras in the house had to flash, taking multiple photos of Jensen's freaked face, to which he said in a squeaky voice, “There's so many flashes!” It was one of the funniest moments they had while on stage, and as soon as Jared came back, Jensen demanded, “Where did you go?”
Someone asked a very cool question about the fight sequences on the show and how they manage to make them look so real. Jared talked a lot about how these scenes are written carefully with purpose. It has to be a way to get the characters into the next room, to get them into the next scene, move the story along in some manner. Jared said that Kripke didn't want the brothers to be “kung fu” brothers. That wasn't what the show should be about. I thought the whole discussion really revealed a lot about the show's nature. I can totally see what Jared was talking about here in each sequence of fighting---particularly between Sam and Dean themselves---that it had a purpose to move the story in a certain direction and set up end games.
By this time, my toes were wailing in agony and I was running out of the ability to stand like a flamingo to relieve the pressure. I was also, sadly, still too far back in the line. Hope was dwindling quickly!
In a gear shift, someone asked Jared and Jensen how they manage to handle the family-work balance. Now that they both have wives and children, how do they cope with the long days of filming? Jensen started to answer, but decided to bring Bob Singer up on stage to speak better to this topic. Bob Singer said that both Jared and Jensen were both very lucky to have found two women who understand the nature of the business. He said that was number one for relationships to last in the business---and as he has been married now for 30+ years he knows how hard the work can be. Jared interjected that he knows it takes a lot of work to make it all work and that he is extremely happy in his marriage. He said that if it means he has to get on a flight so he can spend time with his wife, he will. It's things like that one will have to accept if they have any chance of making it work. I think that philosophy can be applied to any relationship. You get what you give, as they say.
Bob Singer answered a question about Dean introducing Azazel to the Winchester/Campbell families in “In the Beginning,” and if that affected him in any way, knowing he did that. Bob said that they don't plan out storylines this way---where something in season 2 will set up season 4 or beyond---a lot of the time it is a happy accident and he's glad that it's worked out that way where a viewer can trace something happening now to something that happened prior. He told us that they sit down at the beginning and end of each season and discuss where they're going or where they've been and how they want to approach that. He said that of all the seasons he found season 7 one of the most challenging.
Someone asked Jensen if he had any advice for an aspiring actor. He told them to shut up and listen, to to be a sponge, and to learn all you can. He said that he may have seemed very reserved early in his career, but he figured if he was talking he wasn't learning, so he kept quiet.
As this was a fan convention, someone asked if they've ever “fanboyed/girled” out over anyone. Jared admitted that he is a huge Pearl Jam fan and when he got invited back stage he ended up squeezing Gen's hand too hard. Jensen went on to say that he told Jared to stop being so excited because it was embarrassing. Bob interjected that Jared's squeezing of Gen's hand is proof that they have to build the set and props to withstand Jared. He can and will break things without trying while filming.
Of course, one embarrassing moment led to another. A question about embarrassing moments they wouldn't want their children to see came up. Jared joked that he isn't sure he'd want Thomas to see season 4 Sam and Ruby---though joked he could tell Thomas that he looked like that once. Jensen talked about a cowboy photo shoot after Jared said, “Google Jensen Ackles Shirtless Cowboy.” He told us that the photoshoot was awkward for him. He was maybe 18 or 19, and so he did what they told him to do. He was wearing a cowboy hat and the director asked if he could take his shirt off---so he did. Someone else mentioned the photoshoot with Jensen in brick pants, yet another embarrassing photo!
When someone asked what they'd tell their younger selves, Jensen quipped, “When they ask you take your shirt off at the cowboy hat shoot, it's okay to say no.”
I was laughing, but my feet were weeping. And sadly, all too soon the volunteer ushered us towards the seats, closing down the question lines. All my months of planning went poof. But I had tried, so I couldn't regret not getting to ask. I plan on asking it at the next convention---and while I hate to be rude, I will have to get in line sooner to make it happen.
Someone asked another though provoking question along that line. If you could see five minutes ten years in the future, would you? Jared said that he wouldn't. It would be too obsessive for him---focusing only on that moment. He had a good point, that no matter, good or bad, you'd think of nothing but that.
The J2 panel also had a moment for us as a SPN Family to show our generosity, something that Jared praised emphatically. They were going to auction off two special coffee table books made by Jerry Wanek each season for the cast and crew. The monies raised would go to an organization Bob Singer supports---Death Penalty Focus. The bidding started and became a robust high stakes game quickly. Before long, thousands of dollars was being bid---when Bob decided to cap it at $4,000. I didn't even try to bid, knowing I couldn't possibly afford these beautiful books. Bardicvoice had one along that she had won in a separate auction years ago. I thumbed through it, stunned at the beauty.
Jared kept trying to introduce a very bashful Jerry, but couldn't spot him on stage, to which Jensen shouted at him, “He's behind you, you moron!”
The second auction items were the portraits from “The French Mistake,” hanging in Jared's mansion. The monies raised here would go to a variety of charities that Jared supports---from A Dog's Life to St. Jude's. This portion of the auction became silly quickly. Misha arrived, serving as a waiter with Coke. Richard protested, telling him, “I told you Pepsi, you idiot.” Jensen had fun with the Jared portraits---along with Richard. Jensen made the whole canvas dance. They took turns walking into its “basement”---or in Richard's case taking those evil escalators. Jensen managed to tumble behind it, getting great laughs from the crowd.
A “brief pause” had to be taken to make sure they knew how much money was being offered and where bidding stood. Like my dad, Jared seems to enjoy horribly bad puns, because he held up his hands like paws and said “Brief paws.” At some point Richard decided that auctioning off Jared's portrait wasn't enough. He had to auction the real deal---starting at a $1.00 then descending to $.50, $.25 and finally a penny. In all seriousness, Gen's portrait went for $700 and Jared's for $1300. As Richard said, they were travel friendly souvenirs!
With the auctions over, Jared and Jensen left the stage and we were in an intermission until Ty Olsson later that night. So what to do?
Throughout the convention many of the guests on stage had teased Robbie Thompson. He had managed to skulk his way to the back of the convention hall---and that didn't save him any. But after Jared and Jensen's panel was over and the crowd dispersed, Robbie became a bit of a social butterfly upstairs in the hotel lobby. He stood chatting freely with any fans that wished to do so---and Bardicvoice and I joined in. Robbie was just as friendly as that first meeting---and I wasn't nervous this time. Several people came to talk with him about Charlie and his episodes.
Several also asked how he liked being at the convention. Robbie admitted that he has been attending ComicCon for years---though he lamented the fact that it has become bigger and bigger, taking away from the original idea in many ways. He said that he was enjoying this convention very much, though, and that it was a great treat to meet the fans in person.
That doesn't mean Robbie wasn't distracted, though. He kept checking his phone for texts. Which, as it turned out, wasn't the rude gesture that it can so often be. We were rather glad to learn that the texts were coming from the other half of RobDam---Adam Glass. He was on his way from the airport, and Robbie invited us to wait with him so we could meet him. By this time my poor toes were either so abused and sore or just plain numb that I decided the Hell with it and took the shoes off. Why stand there in agony when no one would care about my fancy shoes?
Adam arrived---and he wasn't alone. He had his son, Aiden, with him. They had come direct to the Sheraton from the airport. Despite being a bit travel worn, Adam was friendly and gracious from the start. He asked us how we were and how we had liked the convention. He also chatted with us about the show and various things. We introduced ourselves to him---and I told him that I was the one that had written the profile on Robbie. Being that Adam is the other half of RobDam, I told him that I would now have to write one on him. Yet another article I'll be working on thanks to VanCon!
Adam was open to the idea---but cautioned that I not judge his episodes from season six as he considered it a weird time for the show as it was in major transition. He said he would look forward to the twitterview to come and the profile in the end. If you have any great questions you'd like to ask, let me know and I'll put them together with my own.
Robbie and Adam not only have a great friendship on Twitter---they do in person, too. As Adam lost track of the highly energetic Aiden, Robbie would effortlessly break his own thought to locate him and keep an eye. They were relaxed around one another, and in turn that made everyone around more relaxed. I know I basked in the moment---one that I had dreamed about since hearing that Supernatural had conventions at all. I wanted to meet the writers. And now I had met a couple of them.
All too soon, though, Adam had to round up Aiden and get him to their hotel so they could eat and shower after their long trek to Vancouver. We dispersed after that to get ready for the conclusion to the convention that night.
Ty Olsson or in Porncouver style, Felony Bell, closed out the panel portion of the convention. I was curious to see what he'd be like, and having heard about his panels at other cons I was excited. He came out on stage and I instantly connected with his humility and humor. He was a delight to watch on stage as he moved. What really struck me most about Ty's panel was hearing about his childhood. I found his story moving and emotionally charged. He admitted to failings and difficulties and gave us that hope at the end when he talked about his drama teacher pointing him on his true path. I think sometimes we all need someone like that in our lives.
I found it fascinating the way he talked about not making connections---not having attachments because he had moved around so frequently while growing up in the foster system. I think on one hand that's a sad fact for those that experience that---and on the other a testament to the human strength to cope with that. He used his profession as an example and it made sense. If you pin everything on that callback for that audition and don't get it you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Not making the connection or attachment allows you to let that go. Sometimes it's a good thing to practice that perhaps.
His story was human---which in many ways showed in his performance as Benny. There was a warmth about him that made him instantly likeable. Hearing about different people that have been in the system reminds me of how lucky I've been, too---but hearing how he overcame that and knowing that it is possible to overcome anything if we work hard is my biggest takeaway. As they say, “not all those who wander are lost,” and I think that applies here because while some of us wander about trying to figure out where we're going in this life, sometimes what we're searching for is someone to guide us. I think all of us can point to a person or two that led us to a path that got us somewhere better---be it a new job or dream---and how that improved the journey we call life.
I also love hearing guests on the show like Ty talk about working with Jared and Jensen. He let us know that Jensen was very gracious in allowing Ty to shoot his coverage first---something unheard of on most shows. I love how we hear how professional they are---and how they welcome guests like they're a part of the family!
Ty didn't do his panel alone, either. We had Rick Worthy crash it, making a grand entrance. It's a shame Creation hasn't seemed to manage to pair them together officially. I think they'd make for a great panel. It was neat to see him there—-albeit briefly! Not that Ty was all serious. When they auctioned the Jared and Jensen banner off he decided to get silly. He helped run the auction and threw in extras. He said he'd be willing to kiss the boys. It made the price shoot up. For Jensen, though, Ty said he'd kiss his picture and throw in dirty pillow talk and moans. It was hilarious. He put on quite the display and roused the crowd indeed. The final tally brought the poster to $525.
All too soon, however, his panel was over---and with it Van Con. But that's not the end of the story!
Robbie Thompson and Adam Glass told us that they would be hanging out in the hotel lounge by the bar at 10:30 and that anyone was welcome to come chat. Bardicvoice, Tigershire, Fangasm, and a few others joined us. The chat was informal and friendly---complete with Adam being willing to buy us drinks. Topics ranged from the show to fandom to the new season and more.
Having had a chance to talk with them more than once now, I found them both to be gracious, kind, and enthusiastic about their jobs. When Robbie talked about writing for the show---particularly about Charlie or the brothers---I sensed that he loved what he does. He also enjoyed having the chance to watch the show in its entirety prior to joining the staff and I think overtime that has shown in his episodes. What really struck me about Robbie in person, however, was just how much of a fan of genre he really is. Having written the profile on him, I knew that he was a fan of these things, but talking with him really drove home just how much he put himself into Charlie and his other writing. Robbie mentioned that he is also looking forward to the episodes his fiancee will write for Once Upon A Time. Unfortunately, Robbie had to call it a night early and bid us all farewell. It was one of the biggest highlights to have met him at this convention---and one I'll remember forever.
That left us with Adam. Of course, Aiden was Adam's adorable wing man, flitting about the lounge until sleep won the war. Adam told us that he had the opportunity to join other shows such as NCIS and had decided on Supernatural---mostly because he feels that it is the best show on TV. He said that his wife is not into genre and had questioned the choice---but now that she's watched it she loves it. He told her she had better because “you live in the house Supernatural built!” His daughter? Not as much. One of her friends has a Supernatural poster in her room, and Adam's daughter didn't want anything to do with it. Not even a dad writing on Supernatural is cool! Judging by Adam's reaction to my Minnesotan accent, though, I won't be entirely surprised if someone in one of his episodes this coming season ends up with one! It did seem to amuse him greatly, after all.
Adam told us that last season and the current season were different than his first two seasons for various reasons. He said that he liked working with Sera Gamble as show runner, but admitted that she had to work hard to prove herself since she was the first to take over after Eric Kripke stepped aside. He also said that the writers didn't talk nearly as much as they do now---leaving collaboration to be much more likely than in the past. I found it a fascinating but small window into the writer's room. Adam seemed to enjoy the changes very much, especially with Robbie now on the staff.
Adam ordered some food to go for him and Aiden and once it came he roused his son so they could head back to their hotel and get some rest. With that, the chat with the writers was over and we dispersed.
But VanCon isn't over yet. Not for me. I had a ticket to the Location Tour and was ready to see places outside of the hotel---places that the show was filmed no less!