Steven Ellis polls the SFX forumites to find out what they thought of the Weekender
Well, it’s been almost two weeks since thousands of sci-fi fans descended on a cold and wet holiday camp in Prestatyn for the third SFX Weekender. And for most the thoughts of long queues, bad food and train crashes have faded to be replaced by the better memories of the weekend, the bits that we’ll remember and talk about for years to come.
The Weekender concept is a fantastic one; a residential science fiction event bringing together the SFX crew, sci-fi stars of page and screen, panels, performance and films, sing-alongs and quizzes.
I’ve attended all three and had a blast each time, being in a place with so many like-minded people, both famous and not, where everyone seems to be up for a laugh and where everyone can release their inner geek is such a great experience. There may still be teething problems, but there’s nothing else like these events out there.
As with the previous two events I have so many great memories, from fun in the pub with forum peeps to grabbing photos and conversations with the talent present. Highlights this year include meeting Carlos Ezquerra; the lovely and very nice-smelling Eve Mile (she loves a man with fresh batteries and I’m not explaining that one); coming second in Dave Gee’s Blastermind quiz; bribing Dave Bradley to say Kudos in is opening speech; bizarre photo ops; and being a zombie and biting Jordan (again.) I could go on and on, and I sometimes do… But instead I thought I’d see what your best and most bizarre memories of the weekend are.
Here’s what some of the SFX forumers had to say:
Queen Of The Fay:
Thursday night, seeing all the old faces again and feeling part of something… always love that night. And Saturday night – without a doubt Robert Rankin doing the awards is just fantastic and then spending the masquerade ball photographing people and seeing how their imaginations work. Most of all, I love feeling normal: the rest of the year I'm “The only geek in the village!”
I got to meet Brian Blessed… and hear him from a recommended safe distance. For my money this is the best event in the country to have fun with like-minded folks. Thanks SFX!
Highlight for me would be sitting in a teacup as Codex, while Voldemort and Riddler sat in the other two. And because the ride had broken down we had a red shirt zombie powering us along. Bizarre moment has to go to little Voldemort; I say no more!
The highest point was Brian Blessed getting me quite teared up with his Q&A speech. The weirdest was going to the masquerade ball and everyone asking to have photos taken with me – was very surreal!
I would say my biggest high point was meeting THE Colin Baker and presenting him with a custom figure of his Doctor attired in a concept black costume derived from Colin's own comments on the sort of outfit he’d have liked to wear in the role. The weekend contained a number of bizarre moments but eating breakfast whilst Darth Vader stands but a few feet away recreating Eddie Izzard’s famous Death Star Canteen skit was one that always makes me smile.
The highlight for me was by far the Masquerade Ball. Over a thousand like-minded people, all wearing amazing costumes, drinking, dancing and having the time of their lives. You don’t get unity like that or such a euphoric sense of belonging anywhere else. It was amazing.
High points definitely include being able to spend an evening severely underdressed as slave Leia, and yet feel completely safe, not to mention NORMAL; the huge joy of experiencing Brian Blessed live; Robert Rankin’s surreal entry to the SFX Awards, flanked by a galactic guard of awesome; and being awed by the effort put into the cosplay – it was literally like walking through the pages of my fictional history.
Biggest highpoint was getting to meet up with friends I haven’t seen in ages and have a great time. Most bizarre moment was probably a toss up between Sylvester McCoy going rogue during his Q&A and helping to guide a nearly blind Llama God to the pub in his Vorlon costume.
Ed the Head:
Highpoint was finally grabbing the busy Tony Lee for a photo. That and how friendly everyone was. Not an ounce of negativity anywhere.
Bizarre moment was how many people wanted their photo taken with me in my Voldemort costume. Cool.
My highlight of the weekend was coming fourth in the quiz – we really didn't expect to do that well – and of course my Dalek costume!
The highpoint was finally meeting many of the people from the forum. The most bizarre moment was turning round and seeing Batman and Two-Face having a pint together in the bar!
I’ve just started watching classic Who and Sylvester McCoy has become one of my favourite Doctors, so it was fantastic to see him in person doing a Q&A. While it was sad Sophie Aldred couldn’t be there, her presence was missed but not needed, as Sylvester McCoy was a ball of energy taking the mic out and interacting with the audience himself, and pretending to hit my friend Sarah with her Ramona Flowers hammer. He even had time for a few words with me several hours later when I was lucky enough to get his autograph – total legend.
It’s difficult to choose a high point from the weekend but Sylvester McCoy’s Q&A session was hilarious. Such a warm and entertaining man. The Just a Minute game was also a wonderful idea.
From a purely selfish narcissist point of view, Tony Lee & Dan Boultwood using me as the fall guy in their audience participation session and thus catapulting me from unknown to loads of strangers shouting “SilverFox” at me was a high point. But for pure “here’s why 4,000 geeks have assembled” value it's got to be Darth Vader in the canteen being handed a tray by Sheriff – Izzard’s Death Star canteen sketch is brought instantly to life.
I think it’s quite telling that most people’s best memories include the sense of friendship and camaraderie the Weekender has. Sure, the panels and guests are always great. I managed to sit in the Main Void from 11am till 3pm on the Saturday watching Q&As and panels and I was entertained the whole time. But it’s the people we share the experience with that really seems to make the Weekender what it is. Most people above have already booked for next year, so I guess the message is – SFX : if you build it, we will come. And maybe Tony Head will make it one day too…