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June 02 2013

Report from Tel Aviv's BuffyFest 2013. Coverage of last week's BuffyFest convention in Tel Aviv, Israel.

A lot of times I read here about events in different countries that I wish I could go to: A showing of Much Ado in Scotland, a Buffy musical screening in LA, SDCC with Joss.
This doesn't seem as good as any of those. But this was in Israel, where I live, at most a thirty minute drive from my house. I don't understand how the organizers (obviously good people for doing it) failed to hard at advertising it. In the article itself the first commenter is a Israeli who also had no idea about it until reading this article, and I am sure there are many more.
urkonn,

Thanks for the comment. I'm the guy who wrote this article on my "Buffy" fansite, so I thought I'd reply. (By the way, thanks to the person who submitted and thought it would good enough to post! I think it was Watcher Junior, based on the profile.)

The organizer told me that that they were indeed not knowledgeable about how to promote it. They just created a Facebook event (https://www.facebook.com/events/446066185476672/464164213666869/), invited their friends, and hoped it would spread from there. Many hundreds were invited, but relatively few came.

I would argue that hosting an event and promoting an event necessitate two different skill sets. My day job is in online marketing, so I would know how to promote anything. But I have no knowledge of how to create and host a major event or conference ("Buffy" or not). I'm sure that the opposite is true. Anyway, I told them that I'd be happy to volunteer to promote any future events here in Israel.

Still, the organizers' comments to me made it seem like this was a "building" year. Their dream is to have a major conference each year, with actors coming and many hundreds of people and all. It will just take a lot of work to get there. You need a lot of time and/or money to do local PR, online advertising, social-media marketing, and so on.

And that does not even include all the work involved with venues, talking to actors' agents, getting sponsors and so on...!
I second uurkon! I couldn't believe I didn't know about this. This would also be a good place to share events in the future...
I have attended a lot of Buffy & Firefly events around the US, and I know those events were attended by a lot of fans who traveled around the world to get there. I hope that future events in Israel would promote to fans online because there are not only fans in Israel who didn't know about this, and would have liked to have attended it. A convention like this can make a nice incentive for people like me to finally take a trip I've always dreamed of doing.

Particularly with the new show SHIELD coming out, there will be more Whedonesque actors to invite and more (new) fans wanting to get a chance to meet their Bid Damn Heroes.
sscott, urkonn, Ilana99 When I was trying to put a Buffy convention on seven years ago I learned just how difficult it truly is. Securing the venue, lodging and transportation for the guests (They need to be driven to the departing airport & picked up at the arriving one, then reverse), entertainment, photographer. Advertising. Security. Fundraising, unless the people putting it on are independently wealthy.

Then there's assigning people in the group different positions - someone to talk to the agents, someone to book the flights & hotel (and venue if it's separate from where everyone is staying), someone to sell the tickets and handle the money, someone in charge of security & personal assistants for the guests. Making a schedule for the event itself - how many days? When? What happens each day? Is it just a signing? Are there panels? Photo ops? Extra events, like a costume contest? Doorprizes? Auctions? Vendor booths?

Sounds like the people putting this one on just needed to be better organized. An ad in the local paper, maybe a blurb on a local radio station or some other calendar of events-type announcement. Fliers are probably the cheapest and easiest way to advertise - just about anyone with a computer and a printer can make a flier. This seemed to be more of a...lecture-type event than a fan "party," if you will. Maybe they could've combined the two? Have a lecture or what-have-you as part of a social gathering of fans. I know some of the bigger events will have talks on various subjects as they pertain to the show - feminism, religion, family ties, etc., so that might be something for the organizers to think of for future events.
First I want to clarify that I respect the people who organized this event. I'm very happy we might be entering a new era of Buffy events in Israel. Ten years ago we used to have a lot of great ones.
I can only imagine that promoting an event like this is hard, even more so when piled on top of the rest of the organizing by a small amount of people. But I'm not talking about TV spots or newspaper ads. There only a few Israeli SF&F online forums, I frequent one of the busiest ones, it had no mention of the event. None of the other forum pages I checked later had mention of the event. And of the two active Joss/Buffy specific fan forums I checked only one had mention of it. It should take all of thirty minutes for even none savvy Google user to find all the relevant sites, and a few more minutes to post a link to the Facebook event with a short explanation.
Israel does have a few events such as this one each year, and they are always advertised in this way.

sscott, thanks for the article. It was interesting to read what how some fans thinks the show relates to them being Israeli.

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