Fedcon is a sci-fi convention based in Dusseldorf, Germany. The convention is now in its 23rd year and this year I was lucky enough to attend along with Bunny. This was our first convention abroad and we were really excited and unsure what to expect.
Fedcon is Europe’s biggest Science Fiction Convention. The event started as a Star Trek Convention, but over the years the event has opened up to include may other Sci-fi films and TV shows/
For Fedcon 23 the guests included:
- Richard Dean Anderson – Stargate
- Amanda Tapping – Stargate
- Michael Shanks – Stargate
- Tony Curran – Defiance
- Shannen Doherty – Charmed
- Holly Marie Combs – Charmed
- Nichelle Nichols – Star Trek
- Nicole de Boer – Star Trek DS9
- Nana Visitor – Star Trek DS9
- Alexander Siddig – Star Trek DS9
- Max Grodénchik – Star Trek DS9
- Aron Eisenberg – Star Trek DS9
- Garrett Wang – Star Trek Voyager
- Roxann Dawson – Star Trek Voyager
Fedcon 23 began on the Thursday and ended on the Sunday afternoon. This has been the longest convention I have been to since I started attending events. Each day was planned to precision and only once over the entire weekend did it overrun. From the moment it began on the Thursday there was so much to keep you busy including panels, photo shoots, workshops and of course merchandise to buy. Most days would begin at 9/10 am and would not finish till 9pm. On the Saturday night the last panel finished at 10.30. You had a schedule to plan your day, tweets from Fedcon with updates on what was happening or any changes to the schedule and staff that could help you or point you towards someone who could help you.
Something that stood out for both Bunny and I was how’s relaxed the whole event was. There was so much going on but yet there was no stress, there was no rushing around and all those attending were simply making the most of the event while having a great time. You could tell for many this was a chance to catch up with old friends, meet new ones and share their love of sci-fi.
Opening / Closing Ceremonies
We arrived early on Thursday morning. Bunny had been provided with an opportunity to attend the press conference at 11am. I should say at this point we were running on only two hours of sleep on that first day so we both thought we did really well. The press conference went well and while there were panels on the first day everything was gearing up for the opening ceremony. Garrett Wang had been the MC for the event for many years but this time Nessi was the Master of Ceremonies (MC). After about twenty minutes of adverts, trailers from their sponsors we reached the part where the guests were brought onto the stage and introduced. Each guest said a few words and then passed the microphone over to the next guest.
While all the Star Trek guests received a warm welcome from the audience you could tell this that everyone was so excited to have three of the main cast of Stargate SG1 at the event. This was a world first and you could tell what this meant to everyone. The last guest to be introduced was Nichelle Nichols who sang to us which was really entertaining and brought cheers from fellow guests and the audience. Once everyone was introduced the guests started dancing which was hilarious although Nicole, Nana and Amanda were really great to watch. We also heard the Fedcon song for the first time…
The closing ceremony was pretty much the same as the opening. The guests came on, spoke about their highlights but this time there was more of a subdued feel since we all knew the event was coming to an end. Again Nichelle told us a wonderful story and sang to us while at the very end everyone danced on stage.
I have only been to one other event where there was an opening and closing ceremony but I really enjoyed these at Fedcon. They both were a lot of fun, they celebrated what was to come and reflected on what had been a great weekend. Even now I can’t get the Fedcon song out of my head.
Over the four days two locations were used for panels; the main auditorium and a second smaller room. While I wanted to attend as many Star Trek panels as possible I was also keen to listen to some of the non Trek ones as well.
During the four days I attended panels with Diana Mulder, Nicole de Boer (two over the weekend), Richard Dean Anderson, Roxann Dawson, Tony Curran (two over the weekend), David Warner (last half hour) Nana Visitor, Alexander Siddig, Stargate Trio (RDA, Amanda Tapping and Michael Shanks), Nana and Siddig, Amanda Tapping, Roxann and Garrett Wang, Barry Jenner (last twenty mins), Larry Nemecek and the last panel was the three main Stargate stars with Suanne Braun and Jay Acovone. As well as the main guests we also attended a panel about the upcoming film Star Trek Axanar with Star Trek author David Gerrold and Alec Peters and Rob Bennett.
I have to say it was an incredible experience listening to all these guests talk about their shows, about their characters and take some interesting questions from the audience. Something I did note though is that the questions were much “in the moment” of the character or show/episode. Those asking the questions would want to know about a particular scene or episode and while some of the guests could answer most replies were that they couldn’t really remember. For the actors they might be filming two or three stories at once so instead of remembering the plot they might recall an incident with the filming. I wasn’t brave enough to ask a question (I will next time) but you could tell how much the shows / characters meant to those listening to the panels and the questions being asked.
Roxann Dawson does not attend many conventions so we made sure we attended both of her panels. These were really interesting as Roxann spoke about her character B’Elanna from Voyager and about directing. We found out about how she wanted to become a director, learning her craft and her plans for the future including directing more “Agents of SHIELD” episodes. When Garrett joined Roxann you could see the friendship between the two and it was extremely funny. The moment when Garrett slipped up mentioning Kate Mulgrew had been invited to the “boy’s only nights” was priceless.
Garrett also took part in a panel with Nicole. While attending conventions the pair have become good friends and you could see the chemistry between the two while on stage. I have seen Nicole talk before but Nicole is very entertaining and has a wicked sense of humour so I didn’t mind listening to her again.
Listening to Nana and Siddig over the weekend was incredible. This was the first time I had seen both of them and I was not disappointed. The individual talks were really enjoyable with Nana telling us about the effects of Hurricane Sandy, showing us a picture of her son and of course discussing Kira and Star Trek. We were also treated to Nana singing which was incredible. I really do see now what Bunny likes about Nana, her smile is infectious, she has a great sense of humour and of course she is absolutely stunning. Siddig was not what I had expected. He was down to earth, spoke about the pitfalls of going to Hollywood at such a young age, how the awful events of 9/11 effected his career like he had never expected and he was not afraid to voice his opinions about fellow actors or current events. Individually their panels were good but when Nana and Siddig got together it was something entirely different. The panel was funny, topical and to Siddig’s surprise very open and honest. The chemistry between the two is still there to see and it was really enjoyable to see them together.
Away from Trek, one of the most enjoyable talks was with Tony Curran. Tony is most known for his role in Doctor Who as Vincent Van Gogh but for many (including myself) he is known as Datak Tarr from Defiance. Tony was going to be joined by Julie Benz but Julie could not make the event. I have to say Tony was really enjoyable to listen to. He was very funny; he answered questions about season two of Defiance with great ambiguity and was an instant hit with the Fedcon audience and myself. Bunny even asked a question to Tony about his time on “24”.
Richard Dean Anderson is simply “out there” and was in his own world while Amanda Tapping was engaging and inspirational. The panel with the three main cast members was a world first and was also the first time the three had been to the same convention. The three clicked instantly and they told us some funny and even poignant stories about their time on Stargate and their fellow cast members. The audience loved this panel and the standing ovation lasted some time when the panel ended.
Two other panels we attended were with Larry Nemecek who we know from his “Con of Wrath” project & the TNG companion and the Star Trek Axanar team. Both were really enjoyable with Larry really getting everyone involved with his panel. Axanar looks like it’s going to be an exciting film if they find the backing. The Trailer was amazing even though we were not too sure about certain casting decisions.
While all the panels were incredible the panels with Siddig were the most enjoyable. I really appreciated his honesty about his time on DS9, his views about acting, others in his profession and world events. He was really refreshing and I would love to see him talk again.
One of the highlights of the weekend came as a complete surprise to Bunny and myself. I was showing Bunny around the book and comic stalls and there in front was comic art David Messina. For those who listen to The Holodeck podcast you will know that David have drawn some of the most popular Star Trek comics including the Khan mini series, Countdown to Darkness and Nero. After our initial shock we spoke to David and he told us he was actually on holiday and had decided to come to Fedcon. David was kind enough to sign copies of our Khan comics and also drew a picture of Khan on one of my comics.
Photo Shoots & Autographs
Over the weekend I had photo shoots with Barry Jenner, Nana, Nicole, Siddig, Roxann, Garrett & Roxann and Amanda Tapping. The photo shoot with Garrett and Roxann was a last minute addition since Garret invited himself to Roxann’s shoot. It was a great deal, two Voyager cast members for the price of one. We couldn’t turn this down.
Again the photo shoots were really well orgainsed. Those with gold tickets would be allowed in first and then the rest of us would queue. Some of the shoots including Amanda Tapping which had large queues but these were easily dealt with. These felt relaxed and you would normally be able to collect your photos within the hour.
Unlike other events that I have been to the autographs were handled very differently. Instead of the guests being at table the whole weekend and only moving for shoots or talks there was two allocated sessions for attendees to get their chosen autographs. The sessions were on Saturday and Sunday morning and depending upon your ticket number you would enter the auditorium when your number was up. I have to say this really worked. There was no rushing, no stress and while some of the more popular guests had larger queues it did not affect the smooth running of the event. The guests were more relaxed as well which was nice to see. I had autographs from Nana, Siddig and Roxann. Bunny and I had a nice chat with Sid & Nana at their tables and Roxann was kind enough to allow us to take a picture at her table. Bunny also took a picture of Nana that perfectly captures her personality.
As well as talks and panels there were also special effects / makeup workshops going on. There were also some rooms selling merchandise and it was really nice to see a lot of products that I had not seen in the UK. I could have easily spent a fortune there. There were rooms displaying drawings and paintings of characters from some of the more popular shows. As most events there was a Costume competition and this year there were so many Cosplayers. Everyone looked great in their uniforms or dresses etc.
While not attending panels, having photo shoots, collecting autographs and recording podcasts Bunny and I did get time to visit the bar a few times. We caught up with friends, bumped into some of the guests and had a great time. There is almost an unspoken agreement between the attendees and guests that when the guests are relaxing they are to be left alone unless they want to interact with us. Quite a few of the guests did actually interact with us which was nice. Sleep was something that we did without most of the time while at Fedcon and the last night we were actually at the bar till 3am. That was a great night; we caught up with Garrett, made some new friends and just reflected on how great Fedcon had been.
Fedcon was an amazing experience. In the short time I have been attending conventions I have to say that Fedcon was the best event that I have been to. Everything from the guests, to the venue, to the organisation was exemplary. I have never felt so relaxed at an event or had so much to do. At this point I need to thank Bunny for a suggesting I go along with her to Fedcon. I had a great time and how she managed to put up with me I will never know. I had an amazing time over the four days and within hours of the event ending we were already planning for Fedcon 24.
Listen to the Fedcon song here….I dare you to!
Listen to the podcasts Bunny and I recorded for Visionary Trek:
Look out for the photo gallery for Fedcon very soon.
Thanks to Bunny for all her support and support with this post.