Part 1 of my report on "M" day (aka Saturday) at the Vancouver Supernatural convention featured the indomitable Mark Sheppard, plus Tahmoh Penikett, Matt Cohen and the myriad of other guests who had shared Friday's fun with us. Saturday afternoon's fun began with a splash, watching Gil McKinney and Matt Cohen get wet for the ALS Ice Bucket challenge!
I felt sorry for both these guys! Gil and Matt had both accepted the challenge and arranged for the hoopla to take place in front of the convention hotel during the lunch break. Gil arrived first, as Matt was doing photo ops with fans. Nothing worse than having to wait for 30 minutes anticipating some horrible thing that you really don’t want to do! Finally, Matt raced through the hotel lobby in a half bath robe. Really have to wonder what the other convention’s guests (a Yoga gathering) thought of our antics!
Gil and Matt stood bravely together as comrades-in-arms getting frozen…
…from wave after wave of ice water…
… being dumped on their heads by more-than-willing fans!
Shock in the aftermath!
Thanks goes out to Lynn at Fangasm for these great pictures (I am one of the people snapping pictures behind Matt and Gil!)
Poor Matt was having a really rough day! If you remember from Part 1 of my report, he had taken the red-eye into Vancouver and hadn’t slept in over 20 hours. What a way to wake up! Gil, on the other hand, really had to wonder what he had gotten himself into! Was this only his second appearance at a Supernatural convention? Talk about being baptized into the family!
Inside the convention hall, the schedule had been put on hold to wait for the few hundred fans who were outside filming and watching Matt and Gil’s misery! Matt had pleaded with us to get back inside as fast as we could, because the guests who were being delayed make the decisions about who gets back onto the show! He teased that they would never again write him into a story if he was responsible for making us miss their panel!
Russ Hamilton, Kevin Parks, Adam Glass and Jim Michaels
Fans have been petitioning for a panel of Supernatural’s writers, directors and producers for a long time. Finally, the stars aligned (pun intended!) and we had the thrill of listening to some of the top people responsible for putting Supernatural on the air ever week!
From right to left, the guests were:
Jim Michaels – Executive Producer
Adam Glass – Writer and Executive Producer
Kevin Parks – First Assistant Director. Also known for his “Ride to Conquer Cancer” through Vancouver, a bike-a-thon Kevin joins every year in honor of Kim Manners (the Supernatural team was the 20th highest fundraising team this year, bringing in over $16,000!)
Russ Hamilton – Location Manager. Also known as the Guide Extraordinaire on the “RussBus”, which takes fans to see filming locations on the days before and after the convention.
I was so very excited to hear these gentlemen talk about their experiences and perspectives! It looked to me that maybe more than one of them was a bit nervous. After all, their jobs are mostly behind the scenes and this was their first convention appearance!
Unfortunately, the very first question went something like this: “It’s no secret that season 9 was controversial. What do you think were the biggest mistakes you made in season 9?” The audience was stunned! There was a mass groan and spontaneous outcries of “NO!” We were finally in the presence of the “powerhouse minds of Supernatural” (as they were entitled on the schedule) and that is the first question? I decided to include this socially awkward moment in my report because previously there have been sincere questions from fans as to why the guests are never asked the “hard” questions.
Fans debate the pros and cons of episodes, storylines, dialogue and character representations. We are each happy with some things and terribly disappointed in others. The reality, though, is that the people who put together the show are fiercely proud of their work. They really do the best they can to produce the best possible show, in their artistic views. Unspoken convention etiquette dictates that when we get the chance to interact with these people, we don’t ambush them, i.e. put them on the spot. I’m sure this fan meant no harm, and she honestly was asking the question that a lot of people truly wanted to ask the creative minds that make important decisions about the direction of the show. The difficulty arose in asking them during a public appearance, when literally thousands of people were watching, and when their off-the-cuff answers would be reported into infinity on blogs, social media and, well, websites like this one. Russ responded first, by asking the fan what she thought were the problems. She answered that there were too many storylines. Adam Glass then fielded the question with grace. He said that he really appreciated the honesty of the question and the feedback. The issue is that everyone has a different opinion, and that they have to write where the story takes them. They truly can’t write to anticipate everyone’s possible reactions because there are an infinite number of possible reactions to the various stories.
The panel then proceeded with other questions, which thankfully were maybe a bit easier to answer.
Of which episode (on which they personally worked) were they each most proud?
Adam said something about an episode that was an homage to Kim Manners. Sorry, I couldn’t hear him clearly on this one. He then added “Bad Boys”.
Jim is the most proud of the 200th episode [Jim told me in a separate, side conversation that they worked twice as long as usual to prepare the 200th episode because they really, really want it to be special!]
Kevin is most proud of “Frontierland” and “In my Time of Dying”
Russ is most proud of “Monster Movie”.
What was the story behind creating the Men of Letters bunker? There was a bit of a friendly disagreement on the facts on this one! At first, they said that Bob Singer wanted a permanent location for cost reasons. Jim jumped in and said HE wanted the permanent location. Well, either way, Adam & Andrew [Dabb] pitched the grandfather story to Jeremy and the MoL idea was hatched for “As Time Goes By”. To a later question, Adam said that the writers have talked about the backstory of the Men of Letters, so they might write a future episode which gives us more detail!
Look at the various close-ups. You can just see their minds pondering, analyzing, thinking ahead…
There was a cinematography question about why the look of the show shifted after Kripke left. Jim said that it was not a conscious decision to change the lighting/look after Eric. Partly, the Purgatory story led them to the change in lighting (gothic rural to saturated), but that there were also technical reasons for the change in appearance of the show. They started off on film and are now on filming in high definition video, so everything looks different.
What was the most difficult logistical problem they have had to manage? Kevin talked about “Operation Moose Drop 1 and 2” (the delivery of Jared’s children). Surprisingly, though, they listed two other issues as the most unexpected problems. First was the delivery of Misha’s child. When he had to leave the set without warning, they had to get stand-in with absolutely no notice. The only person available didn’t look at all like Misha! They also talked about when Jared broke his hand in season 2. Bob “graciously” told Jared to stay home the day after his hand surgery (doesn’t this guy ever just break a bone? Why do all his injuries require surgery and rebreaking?!). The second day after surgery, though, Jared reported for filming as usual but he was absolutely useless because he was still under the influence of the anesthesia! After several botched hours of mistakes, they asked him to please go home and sleep it off! Jim joked that Jensen was a pure professional because he both got married and “scheduled” the birth of his daughter while the show was on hiatus. Jim wished more of the cast would be that considerate!
Adam was asked if an episode has ever turned out differently then he intended because of director’s choices, post-production editing, or any other reason. He said no, episodes stay true to the writers’ visions. He then explained the writing process. First, Jeremy (Carver) and Bob (Singer) tell the writers what is going to happen each season. The writers then pitch three or four stories and Jeremy and Bob pick which ones they think will work best. They (I think Jeremy and Bob) then pepper the myth arc into the pitch. Adam shared that the Supernatural writers all LOVE the show. He saig that is absolutely not standard in the industry!
Then there was a question that sounded like it was coming from the fan microphone, but yet we couldn’t find anyone talking. The “voice” asked, “What's the best thing about Misha Collins? You've said he's your favorite and very inspirational!” We all immediately recognized the voice as Misha’s, from behind stage!
“Kevin: He used to be the quiet one on set. Spoiled by J&J now.
Russ: Favorite part? Good ass!
Jim: He can drink more vodka than me!
Adam: Who's Misha?”
(as reported by Bardicvoice in the live tweets).
Misha then appeared at the front of the question line, took over the microphone, and proceeded to ask follow-on questions, debating each answer! This was obviously the panel’s cue that their time was up and they needed to relinquish the floor to Misha!
[Note: The costume contest followed the production panel. I will upload a few pictures of the contestants into the WFB's Supernatural Convention Photo Gallery, but I’m going to proceed with the Misha report, because, well, pictures! I will also say beforehand that I will be relying very heavily on Bardicvoice’s transcript of Misha’s panel. I snapped the pictures but just couldn’t simultaneously take notes. It will make sense to you as you keep reading…]
As we all know, when Misha/Castiel wasn’t the leader of the angels, he was a self-appointed God. Well Richard/Gabriel and Rob/Chuck welcomed their fearless leader to the stage. I’m not sure he was a benevolent God, though! Richard was “allowed” to sit down but not leave the stage; Rob was required to stand and only speak when spoken to!
Bardicvoice: “Misha has Richard sit on the stage; sends Rob to bring Rich water. You will consume what he brings you." What ensued was a long gag about whether Richard wanted a bottle that had been half drunk by someone else!
While Richard and Rob were left in their subservient positions, Misha started taking questions from fans. Occasionally, Misha would ask Richard or Rob a question, but only as a prod to show their helplessness...
Richard cracks up, wondering what has become of his life! [I know Richard is blurry in these two photos, but their expressions were priceless so I included the pics anyway]
Several fans asked about GISHWES, for example, how did Misha pick the quests? Misha said he wanted to find easy records he could break at a single event without hospitalizing anyone! Unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well, since the one task ended up with 800 people holding hands in the hot sun, trying to pass a hula hoop between them without releasing hands. The record required that not even one person could let go or the chain would be broken, so even when people started collapsing from the heat, they still held on (I think this was in Seattle)! He took a poll and there were five people present in the audience who had collapsed (one girl went further and also broke her foot doing a GISHWES challenge)!
In response to a later question, Misha said that GISHWES will go for as long as people enjoy it. In his irreverent way, he said it accomplishes things that have always been on his to-do list but he never got around to doing. This way, he feels more completed! (Of course he never mentioned the money it raises for his Random Acts charity!)
In the meantime, Richard and Rob are still on stage…
Richard noted that this was the one convention to which he wore a white shirt, so of course, Misha would use him as a footstool!
“A penny for your thoughts, Richard!”
Intersperse here a disgusting, rather funny dirty joke complete with visual gag and fan participation (which I will spare you). Finally, Misha took pity on Richard and Rob and dismissed them from his presence. Relieved, they ran backstage as fast as they could before he changed his mind!
In the meantime, questions to Misha have continued (Question/Answer relay is courtesy of Bardicvoice’s live tweets):
Fan suggests son West might become a chef.
Misha: Don't think that's a good idea. His stuff is pretty terrible! Misha laughed at one GISHWES food critic's review of West's pasta jam sauce: "Won't kill you, but shouldn't be put in your mouth!"
At some point in the panel, we all sang Happy Birthday to Misha. The Big 40!
Of course he had to be asked about the pranks that Jared and Jensen pulled on him while he was director. He laughed and admitted that he doesn’t think the pranks are nearly as funny as the boys do! He said "Jared put some muscle into that 1st pie.” Then when Misha had just gotten cleaned up and back on set, a bit anxious about being behind schedule now, Jensen pounded him with another pie! Misha said it was getting less and less funny each time, and it wasn’t very funny the first time! He then demonstrated how his director's chair was sabotaged by Jared and Jensen to collapse -- 3 times! Truly, I don’t know how this man puts up with those two!
If you could write Cas into any TV series/movie, what would it be?
Misha: Gilligan's Island!
Which Supernaturalcharacters would you be most scared of & attracted to?
Misha: Scared of Sam because so big, testosterone-driven!
Attracted to Castiel for no other reason than his physique!
How would Cas react to 9-year-old girl's birthday party?
Misha: I think [the] problem is he'd take it very seriously. Same level as apocalypse."
One fan asked about “postmodern meta fiction aspects of Supernatural” [really? If memory serves me, it might have been FarawayEyes that asked that question!]
Misha: That's partially why [Supernatural is] still around for 200 eps! There are times on set we look at scripts and say, “Huh? What? Oh, well; let's do it.” And things we thought weird turn out great.
In retrospect, I think I find it hard to ever remember what Misha talks about because the whole panel is so random! The answers are always farcical, there is no semblance of a conversational thread, and he is often laughing just as much as we are. I’m not complaining, though, because, well, Misha!
I would like to leave you with a few images of Saturday evening. Formal, scheduled activities again run until about 2 a.m. (con going is not for the faint of heart!)
The new thing is the Cabaret. Rebuffed for calling it a talent show, Rob was informed by Richard that talent shows were so “70s” (or was it “80s”?). Talent shows are for amateurs and junior high schools. Cabarets, on the other hand, are a chance for skilled performers to showcase their craft! Actually, it turned out to be fabulous. The idea is that each star stages some talent that they don’t usually share. The exception was the Elastic Waste Band. This was their time to grace us with a fun, jamming concert. Mark Sheppard replaced their usual drummer for a song or two as well.
We were able to laugh at Richard’s misfortunes again, at the hands of Misha:
Gil McKinney sang two songs, which was a real treat. It is a true pleasure to listen to Gil sing. I might have captured his performance on video, which I may be sharing with just a few of my friends…
I really hope he lands some musical parts in the future.
Osric played the guitar and sang two songs. He explained that recently he had seen someone playing guitar on-line and decided he wanted to know how to do that, so he immediately stopped what he was doing, went out, bought a guitar, then started a marathon of teaching himself how to play (I’ll have to write about his competitive obsessiveness sometime). He had never played in front of people before and believe me, he was scared! Earlier I had seen him practicing on his guitar between autograph signings and had thought, “wow, is he bored or something?” Now I understood. Osric was a nervous wreck for his performance! He complimented the SPN Family by saying that playing guitar for us on stage was a sign of how much he trusted us. He felt he could be completely vulnerable in front of us because he knew he could rely on our understanding and support.
(a snap from another video I may have taken)
He started singing, but his voice was barely audible because he was so scared he couldn’t get enough breath for his vocal chords. He pushed through, though! His voice was quiet, but soothing. When he finished his first number, he said he wanted to do a second song that was more familiar to the audience. He started it, but had to stop singing several times because he just couldn’t catch his breath (you know that feeling when your heart is racing and you are taking such shallow breaths you can’t breathe?). Each time he stopped, the audience sang the words to fill in the gap! He would start again, then stop, and the audience would sing the rest of the verse, or the refrain, or whatever he needed to continue. Soon he just pointed the microphone at the audience, asking us to sing along with him (I’m getting goose-bumps thinking about it). At the end of the song, all of the other stars bounded out from behind stage and hugged him, obviously aware of how hard that singing and playing debut was for him, and wanting to support him with the love and encouragement he deserved. One more example of the bonds within the SPN Family. Osric, it was an honor to witness your courage in exploring something you had never tried before.
The Cabaret concluded with everyone coming on stage and jamming to songs, except Misha (who just has to be different!). He jumped off stage and started dancing with audience members!
After the Cabaret, the gold patrons have an after-party, with more music (DJ), drinks, and a centerpiece contest. Osric, Richard and Matt (best as I remember) were the judges of the three entries. The winner happened to be a young lady named Amy who sat next to me for the whole convention. She was at the convention with her mother, who bought the whole weekend for her as a graduation present. Here is her winning centerpiece:
The base is a black bowl which lights the Devil’s Trap. Suspended above the Trap is the First Blade and black, feathery angel wings!
Once again, blurry eyed, and too tired to “carry on” any longer, I retired for the evening, knowing that first thing in the morning was the early panel with the Js...