The Afterglow of Hal-Con 2011 & the Preparations of Hal-Con 2012 : An Interview with Jennifer Lambe and Amanda Schreiber.
Jennifer Lambe and Amanda Schreiber are the co-owners of Clever Girl! Event Consulting & Management and the brains behind the yearly Hal-Con sci-fi & fantasy convention held in beautiful Halifax Nova Scotia. Both of these busy ladies managed to take a few minutes to chat with me about Hal-Con 2011 as well as this year’s convention running from October 26-28.
Hal: How was Hal-Con 2011?
Jen: It was excellent, the feedback we got from everybody who attended (fans and guests alike) was SO incredibly positive! I had an absolute ball.
Amanda: Even though I was exhausted at the end, it was because I was having so much fun, and from the feedback we got, everybody else was in the same boat.
Hal: What were the 2011 results? How many guests, patrons, the overall size of the venue, the amount of money raised?
Jen: We had over 4000 tickets sold to fans and over 500 volunteers, exhibitors, staff, and guests. The venue exceeded 40,000 square feet. Our charity auction more than doubled our earnings in 2010.
Amanda: From what I saw, everything was almost double the first year. So many people in one place, I kept hearing from WTCC staff that it was one of the larger events they’ve ever seen.
Hal: Please tell our readers what the money is raised for and how much Hal-Con has raised over the last two years?
Jen: Between the last two years, we’ve raised over $9000 for Child’s Play Charity – sending toys and games to the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax, NS.
Amanda: Child’s Play is a charity that is run by gamers for gamers. They specifically buy games and toys for kids in the hospital, andALLthe money goes towards the gifts, no admin costs are taken out of the donations (the great guys from Penny Arcade pay for the admin out of other revenue)
Hal: If any of our readers would like to donate something to Hal-Con, how would they go about it?
Jen: They can email email@example.com
Hal: Tell us some of the highlights from Hal-Con 2011?
Jen: There were so many moments that rank high on my list. Nicholas Brendon’s snoopy dance (with music!), JG Hertzler commending the fans of Halifax, seeing our charity auction raise over $6500, and seeing a marriage proposal during the costume contest!
Amanda: My highlights include the charity auction, the marriage proposal (nobody but the MC knew about it) and just the amazing costumes that people wore, with no intentions of entering a contest, they wore them “just because”
Hal: What were each of your favourite highlights and why?
Jen: My favourite is seeing some kids play pinball for the first time in their lives.
Amanda: All the new friends that people got to meet just because they were wearing a certain hat, or a costume that had an interesting pattern. But my absolute favourite was when I heard that my volunteers, in less than 2 hours, pooled all the money they had together, so they could win a helmet in the auction, only to donate it back to the mother of the boy we dedicated the auction to.
Link to his story:
Hal: At Hal-Con 2011 you allowed me to be a guest through Red Leaf Comics and Comic Book Interviews and the experience was amazing! Unfortunately, my comic-book launch didn’t happen because the comics didn’t arrive in time. I was able to have a great chat with the 14 or so people who attended the ‘launch’. We gathered around in a semi-circle and basically discussed how hard it is to ‘break into the industry’, tidbits and pieces of knowledge I picked up along the way, and ways to get seen and heard. For me that was my highlight of Hal-Con 2012! With the comics finally being delivered, hopefully Hal-Con 2012 will allow me the chance to do the honest-to-goodness comic-book launch…
Hal: Can you compare the events, panels, and attendance to last year?
Jen: Attendance went up dramatically – we doubled the number of fans attending and more than doubled the space we’re using from 2010 to 2011. Because of our new, improved space we have more opportunity for mini panels, workshops and more. You can expect to see even more of everything in 2012.
Amanda: There really was just more of everything. We wanted to keep a broad base of “a little bit for everyone” and we’ll continue to do that as much as we can.
Hal: Was there a general theme? More Cosplay, more zombies, was there more of one genre than another?
Jen: Hard to say! There’s always genre favourites – lots of Star Trek, Star Wars and such. But we’re seeing a huge variety and incredible imagination with all of our costumed fans.
Amanda: We’re trying to keep an even appeal, of course some things are more popular than others, and each year will be a bit of a different balance, depending on what is going on in the world (say a new movie, or the anniversary of an old TV show, might change what guests we bring in) so that might change the slant a bit, but overall, it’s just more of everything. People like to mix it up, one of the costumes last year was a Klingon Green Lantern.
Hal: Tell our readers about the Hal-Con costume contest and where they can view it?
Jen: This is one of our best main stage events. We’re expecting at least 150 costumes and a 2-hour show to feature some of the best handmade costumes at all stages of expertise.
Amanda: They can view last years photos on Facebook, or on our website. Trevor, our photographer, took pics of everybody as they came off stage, so we have at least one photo of everybody. With over 100 people in last years contest, it might take a bit to go through though.
Hal: What is the convention centre like?
Jen: It’s a great venue. We’ve got flexible space with moving walls that allows us to customize the 40,000+ square feet to suit our needs. By creating a nice layout with flow – the separated rooms still encourage wandering and mingling so fans can check out the whole convention. Plus having a few walls helps with noise control – which is nice. We’re avoiding a “warehouse con” feeling – with one large empty space and only curtain dividers.
Amanda: I love the WTCC. As Jen said, the space itself is very customizable, and the staff is great at getting everything we need. They’ve been essential in helping us plan the con beforehand, they ask for, and give, feedback all the time, so the event can be the best it can be.
Hal: Is there room for expansion or will Hal-Con eventually outgrow the convention centre?
Jen: There is some room left for Hal-Con at the convention centre. We can have a capacity of 6000-7000 people at any given time on three floors, but we’re not quite there yet. Give us another year or two and we’ll have to see where we are. The WTCC is a fantastic venue with a great support staff working there. In 2016, the new convention centre is expected to be operational – and we may move down the block to check it out!
Amanda: There is still room in the WTCC for another few years anyways, but we have plans in place for if and when we do outgrow it. We’ll just have to move a few walls in the meantime.
Hal: I was pleasantly surprised with all the additional comic-related guests who showed up for Hal-Con. For example, I’m sauntering [yes, I saunter] down a vendor aisle and all of a sudden I am face-to-face with Nick Bradshaw, superstar artist for Marvel!!! Can you give our readers a complete comic-book creator guest-list?
Jen: Still under development, sorry!
Amanda: I wish I could answer this question, but then I’d have to kill you.
Hal: Curse you vile women [says Hal in a really bad Stewie Griffin voice]. I can tell you it will take a lot of beat last year’s comic creator group that included Nick Bradshaw, Steve McNiven, Darwyn Cooke, Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col, Geof Isherwood, Mark Oakley, Faith Erin Hicks, as well as some fantastic local talent in Tim Larade, Mike Holmes, Jordyn Bochon, Tim Carpenter, Dave Howlett, Kate Leth, and some handsome guy named Hal Hilden.
Hal: Any chance of letting us know who is, or may be, on the comic-book guest list for 2012?
Jen: Still under development! But this year, we have some great plans – you should expect to see some updates in March and April. Hal Hilden did promise he would come back – so I imagine you’ll be able to follow updates of his comic book there.
Amanda: See above.
Hal: My sources have told me that the lovely and talented Gail Simone [DC writer], as well as John Kovalic [Dork Tower comic book] will be in guests for Hal-Con.
Hal: I know there is still much work to be done, but would you tell our readers a little bit of what is planned for Hal-Con 2012?
Jen: We’re adding the 3rd floor to be a dedicated gaming space (making us the largest gaming con east of Toronto), as well as a canteen for on-site food options, plus the workshop rooms will have dedicated themes to make them easier to find!
Amanda: Again, just more of everything. As you know, we’ve expanded to the third floor, and gone back to the three day format, so we have room for more gaming (which was wildly popular) on-site food with a lounge area to relax in, a second stage area, and just revamping of the schedule to make things easier to find and get to.
[UPDATE] Hal: Just added to the guest list for 2012 is none other than Gimli from LOTR, acclaimed British actor John Rhys-Davies!
Hal: Thank you both very much for this and I look forward to seeing you this October at Hal-Con 2012! You can find more info about Hal-Con, as well as Jen and Amanda at the following sites…
NOTES: Hal originally thought Hal-Con was named after him, but his wife informed him that unless it was called ‘Doofus-Con’, it was not named after him….
About the interviewer –
Hal Hilden fancies himself a warrior-writer. Having wallowed through the trenches with pen and paper in hand he has fired off script after script over the years. This has given him calloused fingertips and the intestinal fortitude to realize that working in the comic industry is easier said than done.
Hal’s co-creator owned property is Dreamland: 2047. He dabbled in the television industry writing a spec-script for a cartoon property. Hal is currently a staff writer for Red Leaf Comics and Chief Correspondent-Canada for comicbookinterviews.com. His highly-acclaimed issue: MacSorly, RCMP from Red Leaf Comics was an instant hit.
Hal can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org