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February 21 2008

Moonlight Rising Convention cancelled. Annual Poconos convention comes to an end.

I think "no comments" says it all. ;-)
I'd just like to say, well done to them for doing proper refunds before they got themselves into trouble.
Well, it's a known fact people are more likely to complain than praise, and I've heard soem reports of folks enjoyign this, but, well, on the whole, the descriptions of this event I've read make it sound "unsurprising."
I wasn't planning on going this year, but I had nothing but good times when I went previously. ::shrug::
Too bad. I went to the 1st and 2nd cons, and although I had some complaints, overall they were great experiences.
I had gone to the second con and really enjoyed it. I had hoped to attend one again in the future, since there are almost never any Whedon-related cons in the northeast US. I'm sorry to see it end.
I went to the 2006 event, and they had some fundamental challenges: - the site is so far from area airports; once you are there, the mountains block cell phone signals; it was clearly fan run.

I saw this year how they were struggling when the guest list had few Whedonesque guests much less headliners before the cancellation. I am sure this effected registration. I thought it was interesting in the announcement that they said there "isn't enough interest in the fandom."
Well, I'm going to restrain myself from making any nasty comments, although I do have personal...experience with someone involved in running this convention, which is not of the nice variety.

As for "not enough interest" - did they see the insanity that was the ticket sales for the Paley Center event??

However, having tried for two years to put together my own convention, I do know some of the obstacles faced, not least of which is raising the funds to put it together. (Which is why Carpe Noctem is now known as the Con That Wasn't.) The guests, even the "lower tier" guests, are not inexpensive, since you have to pay not only their fee, but their flights to and from the event, some form of vehicle service (NOT a cab!!) to get them to and from the airports on both ends, a per diem and their room. From someone in the know I was given the following disheartening information: "For fees, flights, hotel, advertising, it takes roughly 150,000 USD, to START.
You can't do a show without at least 50 k in capitol as the days of actors letting you use their names to sell tickets is over, many of them have been burned."

Something to think about, folks. Yes, we love our 'verse and we love our actors and we love our fellow fans and want to all get together and hang out and have a good time. However, unless you're a HUGE "corporation" (And I use that term as loosely as possible) it's next to impossible to put together a convention without a source of income. My hats off to the Browncoats who threw together the Back-up Booster Bash at the rather literal last minute; it could not have been easy.

It does, however, look like the days of fan-run conventions are coming to an end, which is sad. I'd much rather have a nice, comfortable-feeling small convention, like Motor City Buffy was, than feel like just one more sheep being crowded through the chute. I want to have time to hang out with Andy Hallett and talk fan fiction, not stand in line for hours and get a brief flicker of eye contact and a plastered-on grin and a quick scribbled autograph. I cherish the memory of the hug from Tony, after my emotional break-down, which you'd never get from a huge con like Dragon*Con.

Great. Now I'm going to be stuck with serious thoughts for the rest of the night.
The success of the Backup Bash was the gift of wonderful guests who showed up for free, generous donors here at Whedonesque and elsewhere, and the tireless work of so many of the California Browncoats who arranged and staffed the event on the fly. It is not the kind of event that could be re-created, and of course so many people got burned financially that we couldn't really want that situation to arise again.

I want to give a lot of credit to the Moonlighting organizers who are pledging to make refunds. This is the honorable thing to do (because, as we know, the Flanvention organizers didn't make the attempt).

It is very difficult to run a real grass roots fan event, too often people jump into it thinking it will be easy and fun.
embers Well, we certainly didn't think it'd be easy, but it sure was fun while it lasted! We had Yahoo meetings (Not calling my staff yahoos - we'd use Yahoo!Messenger) to discuss who we wanted, what events we were going to hold, whereabouts in Wisconsin we were going to hold it (We settled on Milwaukee, mostly due to the international airport and the amount of hotels with large number of rooms available), when we wanted what to happen, etc. We had a line on a con-exclusive action figure, we had plans for the tickets and nametags, door prizes, raffle items (I actually just sent the raffle items to the Bronzer Reunion Party that was just held in LA), a room-theme contest, a staff party...

We actually had Erika Amato & Velvet Chain confirmed, and a semi-confirmation on Anthony Head, but we had trouble nailing down the hotel. And, there's that pesky no-money thing.

We tried everything we could think of to raise money - we contacted potential sponsors, we looked into getting a small business loan, we were willing to sell our memorabilia on eBay and use the profits for the con...nothing worked. Gotta say, after two years of planning, hoping and dreaming, to actually have to "admit defeat" really hurt. And it still hurts. Whenever I see notice of a new convention/fan get-together/reunion party thing I get a "What could have been" pang. I still haven't thrown out the con-related emails, or the notes in my notebook of what to charge for the events, who we wanted, etc. because I keep a tiny little spark of hope alive. (That, or I like to torture myself. Probably the latter more than the former.)
I thought they were never going to do another Moonlight Rising because they had to cancel last time. This is kind of deja vu. But not just kind of.
Oh, electricspacegirl don't get me started on this. Oops! Too late.

They had to cancel last year because they didn't sell enough tickets. So they said they'd take this year off. Then they said "Oh, there's so much demand for it we'll put it to a vote." "Oh, ok, we'll come back next year, but we're gonna do things differently."

Uh-huh. And Jayne doesn't like guns.

I really have a lot to say on this, most of it negative, but I'm going to keep the rest of it to myself. I will say that making promises you can't keep...oh, wait - politicians do it all the time.

Umm... Don't count your tickets before they're sold.

But, if you ever get the chance to talk to Anthony Head, don't bring this particular convention up to him. Unless, you know, you feel like pissing the man off. He has a story to tell about how he was treated by the organizer of this event, involves much swearing (Which...when done by a Brit is actually fun to hear.) and the expression "crawl back under your rock."
The difference with the Paley Center event is they have a lot of guests. And not the likes of Third Stunt Double for Lorne, the actual core cast members and creator/show runner of the thing in question.

Which, of course, is *extremely* expensive. But will obviously sell out.
Something else to keep in mind, in case anyone is thinking that the actors are being greedy by asking for payment, airfare, hotel, transport, etc. It is *grueling* to work a convention, even a smallish one (and I say that as someone who has both helped organize events and PAed for VIPs), and while it is no doubt validating to hear how you changed the life of a fan or how wonderful your performance is, it is very difficult to be 'on' for hours and hours over the course of a weekend. And while it may seem lucrative, keep in mind that many of the actors who still DO appear at conventions are either using their fees to finance their own projects or aren't getting enough other work to keep a roof over their families' heads and food on their tables.

While I remain (naturally) skeptical, I'm glad the organizer of Moonlight Rising has promised to pay back the money already put down towards the event; I just hope it actually happens. If you're one of the folks who is awaiting a refund, it would be good to hear when/if you actually get it.
I think this is one reason why you see so many conventions happening in Los Angeles -- most of the guests live here (unless it's a convention for a show shot in the U.K., New Zealand or Australia), so no airfare, they can go home at night so no hotel room (unless they like to party) and they can go home, period, so it's much less of a time commitment for them.
I attended the first Moonlight Rising. I don't regret going.

And I am experiencing lots of schadenfreude right now. I'm a bad, bad person.

I did have a blast at the first MR. I met lovely people, made friendships that lasted years, and had tons of fun. So MR, thank you for that - and the schadenfreude.
I agree, Shapenew. Nothing against the rest of the country, but it just makes a lot more sense to host an event closer to where your guests- the draw for your event- work and live (or, you know, to live in a country to which they'd like to travel)!
I'm disappointed to see this convention end. It was my second, and now probably LAST, fan-run convention. (My first was a Blake's 7 convention years and years ago in Newark, NJ). It is even more sad because it is so very rare to see people interested in Sci-Fi in my area. Right before I purchased my ticket for Moonlight Rising 2006, I had commented to my mother about the severe lack of good Sci-Fi conventions in the Philadelphia area that aren't along the lines of, "Poof! Here's our guest! Poof! They're gone!"

I usually do not have the time or funds to travel much further than an hour or so to enjoy something like this and it leaves a hole in my activities as a fan.

When I went to MR'06, it was a very difficult time in my family's life. I purchased tickets for myself and my mother, who was very sick, and arrived to find out the volunteer coordinator would not be there. It seriously messed up the scheduling for such a small convention. But a few volunteers just pitched in, made things happen, and we had a blast. My mother and I experienced quite a few happy and exciting memories in that one short weekend despite any problems that popped up. Or perhaps it was because of them?

Thanks Aria and company for a once in a lifetime experience. :)
If the worst scenario happens and the organizer of a convention has to cancel, this is the most professional and reasonable way to do it. Face the crowds head on. Don't wait until the event is about to start to tell everyone. Shit happens and people understand that. Whenever we get a new sales person at work, I usually give them a speech about integrity. One of my favorite lines is, "people understand errors, mistakes, screw ups, etc. They don't understand being lied to."

Sorry to hear it didn't work out for you and your crew ShadowQuest but I have to give you many kudos for maintaining your dignity and stating publicly that you plan to honor your responsibilities.
Um, alexreager - one of us is a bit confused, and I'm not quite sure which one.

I'm not, in any way, shape or form, associated with this other convention. I was in communication with someone on the staff when I was trying to get mine off the ground, but after someone who knows came on board my staff and..."opened my eyes," as it were, I dropped communications.

We never even got to the selling tickets stage with Carpe Noctem, much less the announcing it was going to happen, so I didn't have any money to have to refund.

OzLady, shapenew Yes, it's easier for the guests to get to a con in LA. It's not, however, easier for some fans of limited budget to fly out there & afford a hotel room. Hence our wanting to hold our convention in Milwaukee. That, and there aren't very many centrally located conventions and Milwaukee has a lot to offer if people had wanted to make a week of it (Public museum, zoo, Brewers stadium, Performing Arts Center, botanical gardens, not to mention brewery tours) since we had planned on holding it this June.

It's only February. If I go to a Chinese restaurant and get a fortune cookie with winning lottery numbers (Like those 110 winners of the Powerball did) I still have a few months to whip something together. Two years of planning won't be entirely down the drain. Four & a half months is enough time, isn't it? :-)
But ShadowQuest, while of course what the fans want is of importance, from a *business* perspective if you can't get the thing which will actually GET people to pony up the money then you don't have a convention, plain and simple. And again, the overhead of getting the guests to any location beyond the LA area ends up raising your costs which in turn means you have to raise your fees. Which in turn lowers your attendance which means you don't have the money to pay your guests. You *do* understand that these actors, etc. do this as *work,* right? They may appreciate our praise and patronage, but at the end of the day this is their *job* and they have to be paid to do it and it has to be worth their while.
OzLady; That's why ShadowQuest knows she needs either a lottery ultra-jackpot or a huge inheritance from an unknown multi-jillionaire great-uncle. She knows she has to be able to get the celebs there in the first place. Of course, as any number of "dye-zas-truss" conventions, both MR and others, have demonstrated, that's not always enough. (Food poisoning alla round once, I read.)

alexreager: Deep down I guess I believe that of people, which is why I'm very honest. Of course, having had parents and an ex-wife who *didn't* understand mistakes, I never *expect* anyone to.

In a way, this is disappointing, given that MR was traditionally the con physically closest to me; assuming I ever have a car and disposable income again, I had always hoped to get to one. (well, maybe the annual horror fanvention in Pittsburgh will eventually start getting Jossverse people)
The horror part of the big convention here in Toronto brought in Juliet Landau a couple of years ago, so it does seem like a possibility, DaddyCatALSO.
Thanks, DCA. At least you understand where I stood on CN: TCTW. Of course holding it in LA is less expensive...unless the convention holders don't live there. Then you have to fly out frequently to check hotels, or have someone on staff who does live there do it, and, boy, you better trust them.

Oh well. Moot point. Never gonna happen. And small, fan-run, affordable conventions are dead.

And yes, OzLady, I do know that this is work for the actors. In some cases the only paying gig they can get for a while. I certainly wouldn't expect any of them to do it gratis. (Although Amber did waive her fee, and paid for her own flight to MotorCityBuffy.)

Our hope w/CN was to offer an affordable, fun convention to our fellow fans by providing a different locale and a variety of events not given at most - room decorating contest, a mingle as opposed to a cocktail party so they could actually spend time with the guests, a prom...

Dunno what the hell made me think I could pull it off.
Never attended MR, but always wanted to. Big kudos to the organizers though for realizing that they couldnt put on the event and promising refunds.

I was big time burned from Flan (didnt go to back up bash and never saw a single cent) so I give the MR people big credit for being up front. It's sad though because that was the con closest to me geographically speaking.

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