What started off as place where comic book lovers could gather together has now become the geek mecca of all geekdom. That’s right…Comic-Con. The first Comic-Con only had 500 attendees. Now over 150,000 people gather in San Diego each year and unless you are able to personally attend the convention, you really couldn’t experience what Comic-Con was all about. Until now.
Joining forces with Stan Lee, Joss Whedon and Harry Knowles, Morgan Spurlock has created a documentary that gives you a glimpse of what Comic-Com brings and promises. ‘Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope’ is a documentary that explores the massive 4 day event from the perspective of fans, those famous and ordinary, as well as those who hope to bring their dreams to life.
As Spurlock explains:
“Comic-Con is a place that is built and survives because of our love and our passions. There’s something for everyone there and there’s something that will make us all remember what it was like to be a child, whether we’re collectors or cos players, artists or addicts. It reminds us all of the importance of dreams and of wonder. It’s not just an event… it’s a state of mind and this film reinforces why we love it and shows everyone else what they’ve been missing. “
We were extremely fortunate to be able to talk to Spurlock who directed the film and with one of the main subjects of this documentary, Holly Conrad, a costume and creature designer whose hope in the film is to win the big Masquerade Ball prize.
SF: ‘Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope’ gave me the impression that it’s a love letter to Comic-Con.
SPURLOCK: I think it is a love letter to Comic-Con! It’s a love letter to fans, it’s a positive reinforcement of passion and obsession. I think obsession is a good thing. I think it could be healthy. What the film will do for people who live across the country who’ve never been or for people who think they ever want to go, will show you what this world is all about and what you’re missing: the fact that there is something there at Comic-Con for everyone. I think it’s great.
SF: When most people think of Comic-Con, they think of the panels, the cosplay and the displays. I liked how you focused on the fans’ dreams.
SF: It’s something you don’t see. I also enjoyed Holly’s story. Holly, was this your first Comic-Con Masquerade Ball (a showcase for elaborate fan made costumes) or have you participated in many of them at Comic-Con?
CONRAD: That was actually my third Comic-Con Masquerade but my fifth Masquerade altogether as I had done some at other cons too.
SF: You had an incredible Mass Effect costume and creature design. Was that all done at your home, in a garage?
CONRAD: Almost all of it, yea. Most of it was done there. Some of it was done in my friend’s, Ben’s, garage who had done the animatronics for me. The sculpting and the molding of the head were done in my garage. 99% of it all was done in garages and from supplies from Home Depot! (laughing)
SF: What made you decide to choose the subjects you featured in the documentary?
SPURLOCK: It was a tough decision. We had over 2000 video submissions that we had to whittle down to the cast that’s in the movie but we wanted to find people that represented each type of archetype. Whether it was an artist to show his wares or a costumer competing in the Masquerade or a comic book vendor who has seen his business change over the last 20-30 years, a collector who’s coming to get that one toy that he was dying to have… and I love James Darling and Se Young Kang. I love the couple that fell in love because of their geekiness. Now here they are about to get married.
SF: I like the fact that the documentary doesn’t exploit the geekiness of Comic-Con.
SPURLOCK: Well, for me, what the film does is that it turns the people into people. You know, it’s not like “Oh! Look at those weirdos! Oh! Look at that freak!” The freak show element was taken away because it humanizes everyone in the film. To kind of do that humanizes all geeks in a way.
SF: Was there a story you wished you could have delved into more or one that you wanted to include but couldn’t?
SPURLOCK: There was a story that we weren’t able to put in the film. We followed 10 characters of which only 7 made it into the film. But there was one story about a woman and her brother who started a comic book company in Columbia, South America. They were basically coming to Comic-Con to raise money for their comic book company. They were like, “This is it. This is our last chance. If we don’t do it, the comic book company will go under.” They were waiting for his Visa to show up. The day before the con, his Visa still hadn’t shown up so he basically told his sister she had to go by herself. So here she was, she had to come on this plane and come to Comic-Con and try to hustle to make things work on her own. It was one of those things that once you put that story in with the others, it didn’t work. It was just too difficult.
SF: Holly, I have to ask, what’s going on with the Mass Effect film? (Conrad was offered a position of creature/costume designer for the movie)
CONRAD: I’m not sure yet. Obviously these things take time but when it does actually get into motion…I’m really really excited to have any part of it. I’m stoked!
SPURLOCK: I think they just did a rewrite on the script. I think they’re a ways away.
SF: What do you hope audiences will get out of your documentary?
SPURLOCK: What I love about the film is that I love the way that it makes you feel good about being a geek. I love that! I think we’ve grown up for years being outcasts and weirdos and now the nerd culture and the geek culture have come together and now it’s one powerful nerd-geek culture where those people control all the entertainment business! And not only that, it’s now cool to be one of those people who wears a Green Lantern ring and a Flash t-shirt and play video games. It’s a very different time and it’s great!
‘Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope’ premieres in theaters on April 5th in Los Angeles, April 6th on VOD, and April 13th in theaters in New York.