We at SAGIndie decided to try a little something new this year, and hold a panel at Comic-con. We figured there we would find many aspiring indie filmmakers wanting to make low-budget sci-fi and fantasy films, and who probably weren’t aware that they could actually afford to use professional talent. What better place to educate said filmmakers than their Mecca, Comic-Con?
Scott and I woke up (in our respective apartments, get your mind of out the gutter!) so early on Saturday that the sun wasn’t even up. Under the cover of night, we ran away from home to join the circus that is San Diego’s annual Comic Convention. We met up at Union Station to take the train south. Plans were almost thwarted here, when we realized that the line was longer than my list of reasons not to have kids. We also figured out that our grumpiness is in direct correlation to how sure we are that we’re going to miss our train (multiply that by empty tummies squared and lack of sleep to the 18th power and you’ve got a breed of supergrump that is scarier than my seventh grade math teacher.)
We calmed down a little when we made it to the train in the nick of time…until we realized we were sitting behind the most annoying girl ever. You know how painfully unfunny kids are when they’re, like, eight years old and are just discovering what a sense of humor is, and they try really hard to be sarcastic and stuff? She was less funny than that. What’s even worse is that she sure hit it off with the guy next to her, so the next three hours we were forced to listen to this girl and her plot to go to wealthy older Beverly Hills couples and offer to bear children for them if they get her into show business. No matter how loud I turned Children of Bodom up on my i-Pod, I couldn’t drown her out.
Upon arriving in San Diego, we promptly (accidentally) gave some poor guy the wrong directions to the covention center. To console ourselves, we had breakfast at some nook whose name escapes me right now, where I had the best omelette of my life. After that, it was time to get down to business, so we checked in, got our badges and admired how precious dorky 9th grade boys can be.
I’m finding it difficult to find words to describe Comic-con. Crowded is one that comes to mind. Expensive is another. I was lost on a good number of the references. I know, I know, it’s Comic-con. But I figured "I’m a nerd, I watch cartoons, I’ll fit in here!" That wasn’t enough. I don’t care about Star Wars, The Matrix, LOTR, superhero comics being turned into blockbusters. I used to pretend I did, but as I got older and more secure with myself, I found myself less and less worried about not being in the upper-echelons of geekdom. I knew that if I had really belonged there, I wouldn’t have been so irritated by not being able to get through the massive crowd to an area less claustraphobic, or pushed along by the crowd when I wanted to stop and look at something. We did, however, take a ton of pictures and marvel (get it?) at the effort that it must have taken these fans to get their costumes together.
After wandering around the lower level and exploring the upstairs autograph area, we went to the room where we were to hold our panel and Q&A. There was an indie film-fest going on (!!!), but all the films were non-union. (Even though I found out later some of the actors were actually SAG – very naughty.) The film fest ended and we set up the presentation, which went by faster than expected. We had a decent crowd for not having advertised, coupled with our competition: a LOST panel. Unfortunately, some of the audience left when they realized we weren’t showing any films. The (lucky) people who stayed were treated to the comedic stylings of Mr. Scott Garner and his hilariously sensitive microphone. The Q&A was brief, but several people stayed after to talk to us more. It’s very satisfying to dispell negative rumors about SAG and show people what a good deal these contracts are. Once everyone had cleared out of the room, we debated whether or not to stick around and explore some more, but decided against it. If we hurried, we could make it home in time for dinner!
We left, spirits higher now, at the thought of making it home early. We just weren’t made to last in a place like this. We walked the mile back to the station, following the yellow bricks embedded on the edge of the sidewalk, just barely making it back in time to catch the 4:20 train back into the city. After ten minutes of waiting, we realized that the 4:20 train must be late. It was a disappointing realization, as it was becoming, like, unbearably hot. (Now I’ve lived in both Arizona, where temperatures regularly reach in excess of 110 degrees as early as the end of May, and Chicago, where you truly understand the agony of extreme humidity – so trust me when I say it was unbearably hot. I feared the only way I was going to get my jeans off was with a heavy duty nail polish remover.) It was nearing 5 pm when the Amtrack employees finally realized they needed to let us know what was going on. Apparently, the trains were coming into the station but not leaving, because Amtrack was experiencing technical difficulties. It occured to us now that we may be stranded in San Diego, unless a train that could carry us home came along.
By the beginning of the third hour standing in the sun waiting for a train that may or may not ever arrive, the crowd had grown to the size of a mob and was understandably upset. It might have been a little better had we been allowed to form a line inside, or at least in the shade. Scott and I made some calls to a friend who had access to a computer, and got the addresses and numbers of several rental car places in the area. When we realized the closest one was, like, over a mile away, we decided to call them first. You know, just in case. Our suspicions were confirmed. They were all closed. Getting home seemed even less like a possibility at that point, and I overheard angry people exclaiming that no hotels in the area had rooms available.
So we gave up the hope of returning, resigning ourselves to a feral life on the mean streets of SD, and turned our focus to organizing a coup d’etat. I was fashioning a bayonet when Scott wandered off for a smoke, and as soon as he was out of sight and ear-shot, the announcement was made: The train is boarding now! (I took a picture of the scene, to give you an idea.) I stood by the boarding gate alone with our bags, eyes stinging with tears at the thought of us missing this train because he had wandered off. I tried calling him, but all I got was his voice mail. My heart sank into the deep recesses of my tummy as I watched as the crowd boarded the train. There was no sight of him, we never going to make it home.
Just when I couldn’t get any more dramatic, Scott appeared in the crowd, strolling casually to where I was standing. How can he be so non-chalant?!? (I would characterize my demeanor as "cool and collected" – Ed.) He almost had us stranded! We got in line and politely made our way to the train. After scoring a window seat (!!!) but still extremely grumpy about the whole ordeal, we put on our i-Pods and watched as the seventh circle of hell faded in the distance. I was starving and contemplating a much deserved trip to the dining car, when an announcement was made. There was no food on this train. Anywhere. I was too exhausted to get angry, so I just listened to Jay-Z and made a mental note to justify my thug once I made it back to Los Angeles.
There’s no place like home.