Robert and I left Montreal this morning, sleep deprived, and returned to Denver with an additional 150GB of footage from WorldCon. We’ve been on the road since Comic-Con, and there’s so much I want to share that I will have to retroactively write about Los Angeles, Marin and Modesto in my next blog entry. In the meantime, here’s what happened in Montreal…
The 67th WorldCon–aka Anticipation–kicked off last Wednesday evening at the very cool Palais des Congrès, which offered multiple opportunities for visually arresting interviews. We stayed in Westmount, in the beautiful apartment of my distant Canadian cousins, who won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for Les Invasions Barbares in 2003. It sure beat the Virgin River Casino in Mesquite, NV, where we stayed on our way to and from California.
After reconnecting with Lawrence Schoen, director of the Klingon Language Institute (whom I interviewed for my 2004 doc EARTHLINGS), we started our inquisition with three more contributors to STAR WARS ON TRIAL: Don DeBrandt, Lou Anders, and the inimitable John C. Wright. Lawrence also answered a few questions, and shared his definitions of George and Jar Jar in Klingon.
After two years of email correspondence, we finally met and interviewed the legendary JoBlo at his way cool home (he’s a big fan of A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and owns the most amazing movie-inspired original paintings I’ve ever seen). The following day, Lawrence arranged another interview with Howard Tayler (Hugo-nominated creator of Schlock Mercenary, who subsequently promised he’d create an original George Lucas cartoon for the film); and we also talked to famed science-fiction (and five-time Hugo Award-winning) author Joe Haldeman (who actually worked with George for a couple of weeks between ESB and ROTJ on developing a ride for Epcot Center), and with guest of honor Elisabeth Vonarburg.
WorldCon also kindly organized a panel in support of our project (George Lucas: Savior or Destroyer?). We filmed it, of course, and later staged another heated 90-minute debate with five passionate fans from Montreal. We crashed a room on the convention floor at 9pm, and captured the magic as it unfolded.
So what was the highlight of our trip..? I’d be hard-pressed to argue against Neil Gaiman. After filming a press conference with him last Thursday, I approached his publicist, introduced our project, and requested an interview with him. It was granted the following day (she even adjusted his schedule to accommodate us), and we had the tremendous honor to pick Neil’s brain about STAR WARS as a story, and talked about whether George Lucas owes anything to his fans, and to what extent the creative process can/should be influenced by his fan base’s expectations. Considering how slammed he was during the convention (he even admitted to being “fried” prior to our interview), I was particularly impressed by his generosity of spirit and genuine interest in our project. It was a far cry from Comic-Con, where even “actors” who ended up on George Lucas’s cutting room floor had the gall to charge twenty bucks for an autograph. Neil Gaiman had several signings scheduled at WorldCon, and when we approached him again yesterday to shoot some B-roll, we realized that he didn’t charge a thing for his autograph (up to four per person, actually). Throughout the week, he showed nothing but patience, love and respect for his fans. He was, truly, everything you’d expect the great Neil Gaiman to be.