Wrapping up the Q&A at the film These Birds Walk, I hustled out of the theatre, glanced at the Uprise Bakery’s wall clock and began a fast pace drive towards Jesse Hall for the final Saturday film I would see entitled Comic-con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope. I thought, what a great way to end the Saturday at the True/False Film Festival!
Clearly, the title is too long, but like any great sci-fi epic, long names sell the product and using the gimmick of playing of a Star Wars title, it appeals to the masses. But, is the long title, while cute, is not ever spoken. It pained me to even spend the extra 3 seconds to type the full name here, then everyone I have heard in conversation have simply said “Comic-con”. Which, let’s be honest, for most folks that film will be the only version of The Comic Convention that anyone will ever see or in which take part.
Arriving to the atrium outside the auditorium my buddy Darin Tuck was directing folks in his swanky T/F purple tee. We hugged and then he said I better get a seat because it was filling up. So I walked in to see that the whole bottom was full and was suggested that I tried the balcony for a seat. Bummer, I was not able to find any friends to sit with because of my previous film downtown. Walking up the stairs my nose began to bleed- a little embarrassing. Then I found the perfect seat, on the aisle four rows from the top of the room. Time to get started.
The busker band was playing, full with one of my fav instruements, a cello, and blasting out a powerful beat. Down front by the stage were costume-clad fans lining up for pictures. I wondered if my friend Nick Bartlett had dressed-up-he did warn that he would. But, I should have to wait until after to answer that query.
Then the man of the night came up- Morgan Spurlock, famed director for Super-Size Me. Several folks assured me that for him to be at the T/F fest was a big deal…whatever. Spurlock began touting and upholding nerds and geeks for who they are, and he is one as well. Clearly this crowd was ready as audience-wide yowls went out several times during his introduction. I could not have anticipated the amount of excessive howling, yowls, and whoops that were to hang in the air all night.
Spurlock said that the Jesse Hall screening was the largest audience for the film so far, as it is being released this year, even with a companion picture book already on sale. He even pointed to my buddy Nick, who had painted himself blue and come as an Avatar! That blessed my heart.
These folks were not just festival hoity-toity folks here to watch this; these folks were avid movie buffs, comic fans, gamers, and a bevy of other worlds, lands, and franchises were represented. The title came up: fans cheered. The directors and producers names appeared: fans screamed. I even let out a holler for joy when I saw Joss Wheedon’s name appear as an Executive Director.
For the next 2 hours many loud noises were sounding from around the room as famous actors, comic book illustrators, movie directors, Joss Wheedon(!) and Stan Lee appeared for interviews or were in convention shots. The joyful shouts of respect and admiration did not cease.
Here is the trailer:
Lightheartedly the narrative introduces several personalities into the plot. Two illustrators, one a soldier and one a local Columbia, Mo resident, were going for portfolio reviews to see if they could noticed by any comic companies. A garage costume designer took her team of video game characters to compete in a masquerade competition. A rabid toy collector raced for his Con target with aggressive fervor. A young dating couple who met at the previous year’s Comic-con explored the grounds as the fellow tried to secretly get a Lord of the Rings engagement ring to propose to his girlfriend in front of a huge nerdy audience. A comic book dealer goes through the ups and downs of making ends meet as the Comic-con becomes less about hard copy comic books and more about everything else.
These stories all intertwine through the four-day confab as over 700 hours of film was shot to cover these and other people’s stories not featured in the documentary. Thousands of folks go to this, waiting in monotonous lines for hours or days to get first dibs to what the convention had to offer fans there in San Diego, Calif.
The documentary does a great job of revealing the desires and hearts of the fans, but never allowing this open posture to open the way for mocking or ridicule. These are real people pursuing real passions and sharing real goals for a whole universe of the unreal and the non-existent.
Another relate-able aspect of the film are the white background, larger-than-life interviews of big name folks in the Comic-con universe sharing what got them hooked as children or their real struggles to be given chances to work in this industry. My emotion was at a high when the young couple did their proposal in front of 7,000 folks at a session. At this point, most of the audience with me cheered and clapped.
Here are some weak points:
1. Morgan Spurlock is bordering on narcissism. In the Q&A following the film, he had to speak often and a lot, totally fine with just continuing on rants regardless of the length of lines at the microphone for questions.
2. The film was so close to being family friendly, until they put a few inappropriate interviews in there with sexual references and several unnecessary interjections of rough language.
Will you laugh? Yes. Did I laugh? Um, a lot! It is one solid telling of a story in the alternative universe of Geekdom that winds its way through the lives of the average Joe and Jane. Even if you are not a self-ascribed geek or nerd, you should watch this film because you never know what cameo may appear that catches you off guard (sort of like watching a Muppet’s movie…).