Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Weekend Assignment #326: Camp Among the Stars

It's taken me all week to figure out my response to Weekend Assignment #326: Off To Camp:

Weekend Assignment #326: Off To Camp

Guess what? You have been offered the chance to be the keynote speaker at a world famous fantasy camp! Great! Tell us what kind of camp it is, and what makes you such an expert!

Extra Credit: Create a special logo for the Fantasy Camp you are speaking at! :) Let's get a little visually creative!

Okay, then here's my logo. "Among the Stars" would be a fantasy camp for an audience that doesn't really need one: sf and fantasy fandom. The reason fans of sf and fantasy books, tv and movies don't normally need a camp is that we already have something that serves basically the same purpose, namely sf conventions.

But let's play this out. How would a fantasy camp for sf geeks be different from a ComicCon, and Worldcon, a Gallifrey One or any number of other conventions? It would be much smaller and more intimate, with more of the one-on-one opportunities that are a challenge for conventions to arrange, if they try at all. In most cases, if you want to chat with an sf author, or a guest star from your favorite episode of your second-favorite tv show, you basically have three choices. You can stand in an autograph line for half an hour or more in exchange for a minute or so of personal contact, or pay extra for a banquet or brunch, or approach the writer or actor in the hotel bar. A few cons manage to do better than this, but the whole point of a fantasy and sf fantasy camp would be to do much better. Attendees would spend much more than a con-goer would, in order to offset the economies of scale. The result would be more genuine interaction between fan and professional, but under controlled conditions. The professional would offer acting or writing workshops, or allow the fan to direct a scene, conduct an interview or even design a book cover.

John Levene (Sgt. Benton on Doctor Who) poses with an issue of 
TARDIS Time Lore, for which we interviewed him more than once.

So what would my role be in such an event? I would introduce a workshop in how to interview actors and other creative professionals. Over the years I've interviewed many actors, writers, and producers, a few directors, a costume designer, and I forget who else. My usual approach was generally to start with a very general question and move in from there. We always had a list of decent questions prepared, but the trick was to listen to the answers and follow the flow of the conversation, while still getting to topics people would want to read about. I'm not the world's greatest interviewer, but I'm fairly good at it, and I have some idea of the pitfalls. The last thing you want to do when interviewing someone is to bore or annoy them by fumbling for words or asking something the interviewee doesn't know or care about. (I'll never forget William Shatner's answer to some fan's technical question about dilithium crystals at an early Star Trek convention. "They're green," Shatner said. "And they make the ship go." How much more did the actor need to know about this fictional power source?)

Gee, I'm kind of sorry now that this Among the Stars camp doesn't actually exist!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I command you to organize the "Among the Stars" fantasy camp starting now.

That is all.