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Armageddon 2011 Adelaide

Adelaide Showgrounds

March 5 & 6 2011

Saturday morning and upon arrival there was a very clear line for those with VIP passes and those who chose to buy the general tickets.  Entry was very quick as promised for the VIP passholders and it was over to the Ticket booth for tokens and then to the photo booths to get celebrity photos done - this was also very quick for those who got in early.  The photographer whoever she was did a great job with my pic and did the check to ensure all was good before moving on to the next customer.

Slight schedule change saw Patricia Tallman first up in the main stage area - best known for Babylon 5 she also worked on Star Trek at the same time doing stunts and has most recently been seen as a murder victim in Castle (she told some very interesting stories about her work in all these areas and more).  One of the more unheralded guests who really gave an interesting talk.  Next up was John Rhys Davies who is best know for his roles in the Indiana Jones films and Sliders but take time to check his record on IMDB he just hasn't stopped working even though these days is a veteran of the industry.  His talk was also very interesting and he had plenty of tales to tell about his experiences working with Steven Spielberg and countless others over the years.  Still popular it was close to a full house for this talk with plenty of questions about his career from Indiana Jones to recent game voiceovers.

David Anders was next and in complete contrast to John Rhys Davies as probably one of the less known guests with only 10 years including a regular cast member of two series and a movies and admitting to his acting roles starting with a Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen vehicle which was probably best forgotten.  Currently he is in the latest version of Children Of the Corn now playing on pay-tv on Foxtel (but he looks a lot different now- seems younger and has hair - than in that role).  After a slow beginning the questions started to flow and David Anders revealed that he had been out and about in Adelaide for several days & nights before the weekend and found Adelaide anything but quiet and was planning to head off to the Soundwave concert that night to see a favourite band.  He also showed great ability in switching between an American and English accent as needed for on screen roles (though no one ever seems to be all that good at the normal Australian accent though only the Crocodile Hunter/Crocodile Dundee ocker accent another which David Anders did well). 

I had to leave and go off to Morphettville at this point to photograph the important races on the day - would have liked to have stayed for the Karen Allen and Ryan Robbins/Chris Heyerdahl panels but timing didn't allow.  Several hours later I made the mad dash back for the David Hewlett VIP Panel.  After a video that finished the Lance Hendriksen VIP Panel the whole room was left in a shocked mood (the end looked rather gruesome but I have no idea what it was about as I was still trying to recover from fighting the traffic and bolting from the car park to collect my photo from earlier and then make it upstairs for the VIP Panel to end the day).  Several of the weekend guests were also in the room for the video such as David Hewlett, Laura Vandervort, Colin Cunningham, etc.

During the VIP Panel David Hewlett gave a very entertaining insight into various aspects of his career and on occasion his personal life and what it was like not only working on Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis but also his one episode appearance on Stargate Universe (the darkest show of the franchise which many SG fans including myself have turned off - I find it lacks any of the 'fun' of the previous series and replaced it with 'teenage soapie' themes and internal fighting in the group which if you dislike the characters you are suppose to like and like the one you are suppose to dislike I guess the writing is never going to make the show what you want to see).  Like many of us he grew up watching Dr Who and in particular Jon Pertwee leading into Tom Baker's Dr Who which inspired him to get into acting and he said how often its fantastic to work with various guests not only on shows but attending various Sci Fi conventions (such as sitting next to the 'android from Aliens' Lance Hendriksen  who handed him a book to read on the plane when he couldn't use his electronic reader during the takeoff to level flight period).  It finished all too soon when the organisers noted it was 6pm and time to finish for the day.

Sunday and the line to get in with VIP passes was a lot shorter but perhaps the bulk had obtained their photos & autographs and decided to come in a bit later as the guest panels didn't really start until nearly lunchtime.  That allowed plenty of time to get autographs (for me) and there is always the opportunity to chat to the guests at this point but unlike some I cannot just make general conversation with people I do not know but it is great to be able to pick out a few actors to meet (even if it is just a quick greeting-though that said John Rhys Davies does make a point of asking a you general question and talking to you about that for a couple of minutes which makes it a lot easier if you just have no idea what to say to them).

As it was sometime before the first panel of the day I wandered around the products stands and there was every item you could want to find on Sci Fi except a outlet selling the series on DVD - I saw plenty of the Comic Anime but none of the mainstream series.  Perhaps retailers thought attendees would already have them but listening to the various panels really does make you think 'wow I should re watch these shows' or indeed seek out other work of said actors or perhaps purchase shows that hadn't watched before but after a panel thought 'hey I wouldn't mind seeing that show'.  Maybe one of the mainstream DVD retailers might take up the idea in the future.

Ami Cusack and James Clement from Survivor were there and happy to talk about their experiences in the various seasons - and though they both said it was a great experience it sounds like you really do have to have the right mindset for up to 40 days in a beach environment (not to mention the horrifying giant spider and net like spider web experience of Ami Cusack in Vanautu).  They were also signing autographs on various signed cards for free.

It as still early but thought I'd sit in on the end of the Animation panel and then the ADR Voiceover Awards Ceremony.  This was actually quite interesting although I had no idea about the actual animation most worked with in their voiceover work but it was more about what and how they did the job of animating characters.  Then two remained to give the audience the chance to vote on four pieces where attendees from the weekend had a chance to record a voice of a character.  The were all really good considering they had only gone through the ADR classes the day before and once the prizes were awarded by audience vote (and a brief example of what can be done a home computer with the right source materiel) it was the countdown to the most entertaining panel/panels of the weekend on the main stage.

David Hewlett was scheduled to be on his own for an hour and then Rainbow Sun Francks and Colin Cunningham were then due to take over for another hour before Lance Henriksen did his time.  Well a full house packed in for David Hewlett with attendees were sitting on the floor and standing right along the back wall.  An hour of questions about Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis, projects since and a few about previous projects passed very quickly as David Hewlett proved again to be very entertaining.  And then it picked up another notch when Rainbow Sun Francks came in and joined in sometimes on stage and other times doing the work chasing out into the audience with the microphone for questions.  Not long after Colin Cunningham turned up and stayed out in the crowd for a while with the microphone again for questions with both he and Rainbow Sun Francks asking if David Hewlett could 'leave the audience' for them for their hour.  Well instead of that he stayed and it ended up being all three there for the next hour (this was the break in autograph time so David Hewlett pretty much gave up his lunch break to stay on the main stage for the fans).  With all three of them it turned into a brilliant questions and answers session with each question turning into a fairly lengthy answer as they basically bounced off each others answers and went off into tangents which were often very funny with plenty of references to the making/filming of various parts of Stargate and encounters with their fellow actors on the shows (and being actors they do great impressions of others when describing various incidents).  Again time passed way too quickly and they headed off for more signatures while a fair crowd remained for Lance Henricksen.

Lance Henriksen presented in a far more down to earth tone and in addition to various anecdotes also mentioned that often the Australian accent could be hard to decipher - probably hard to understand when we don't actually hear the accent but then it took a while to get used to some of the guests accents (nothing like looking at someone that extra second as your brain processes what they actually said - got used to it by Sunday but the first day took a little while).  Yet when watching the TV shows you don't notice their accents.  Anyway Lance Henriksen was very gracious and there were plenty of questions especially in regard to Aliens and some interesting tales told about when Terminator was presented to the studio as a project and of when he was driving to a location after already getting long nails and preparing them for a part or indeed going through customs with a heap of knives on his way to film Aliens (even back then a bag with knives going through customs would get you arrested in suspicion of planning to do bad things).

After that panels I took the chance for a last wander around the stalls and wait and watch some of those who chose to get dressed up in all manner of costumes for the Cosplay competition (or just for the heck of it) and the mock up Tardis was very popular with people taking their own photos all day.  Plenty of anime and in particular with the younger age groups while the older attendees tended to be across the board with plenty of Dr Who, Stargate, DSV Seaquest, Star Wars, Star Trek etc themes.  There are plenty of photos elsewhere online of the various costumes worn - I had no more than a passing interest and only took photos at the panels.

After a break it was time to head up stairs to the first of the two VIP Panels of the afternoon to finish the event with Ryan Robbins and Chris Heyerdahl from Sanctuary.  Both had also been on Stargate Atlantis with Chris Heyerdahl probably best known for those of us who haven't kept up with Sanctuary for playing Todd the Wraith in the later seasons of Stargate Atlantis.  These guys didn't seem to like sitting on the chairs as most of us would (see the photos)  but talk about entertaining from the moment Ryan Robbins arrived-it just started and didn't let up til they had to finish.  Both have been in science fiction shows for years though Chris Heyendahl has his first acting work listed as in 21 Jump Street (which screened in Adelaide on pay tv a few weeks ago) while Ryan Robbins only has work listed at IMDB dating back to the late 90s.  However in 2001 Ryan Robbins was in an episode of the Outer Limits that I had stuffed up recording when it was on TV late at night and never saw the ending til late last year after getting the Time Travel episodes on DVD - it was the only one I had not seen the ending to til then.  One of the questions was a request to sing and Ryan Robbins did a very impromptu performance (see photos below) finishing with Hallelujah at the end and he was very good- how could it not be when he's looking straight at you for a few lines of the song before turning attention to Chris Heyendahl for the build up to the big ending.  Both actors at times headed into the small group to provide the microphones for questions and gave very entertaining answers as well and plenty of banter between then and it was a shame the hour had to end.  I do wish I could have seen their Saturday main stage panel but it was on while I was down at the races on Saturday afternoon however this panel with the small VIP group and front row it probably didn't get any better than that.  It was also noticable that all of the VIP panels I was in that the actors were even more personable (and more likely to go into personal life stories)  than on the main stage but then I guess it was a completely different atmosphere to be up that close on both sides.

The final VIP panel of the weekend was Karen Allen & John Rhys Davies and while much more calmer than the previous hour they both gave very interesting insights in the movies they have been in and the actors they have worked with and some fascinating insights into the male/female role ratio and age groups.  Towards the end John Rhys Davies gave a impromptu demonstration of  what happened when he had all the extra body armour and costume on and had to swing a weapon while on his knees for the Lord of the Rings movies - lets say they were quick to dig holes etc so he could play the part standing not kneeling (try it only if you have a soft landing surface directly in front of you...).

I had never been to a Sci Fi convention before so didn't know what to expect but the organisers of this event did a fantastic job to ensure everyone got their photos and autographs done even if it meant holding panels for a few extra minutes while the guests finished the last few in line and it was also fantastic that the audience was permitted to have cameras without restriction for all the panels (and just in general for those taking pics around the trade stands).  It hasn't been confirmed as yet but with its success over the weekend in particular compared to the Sydney event (not that many less through the door and remember Sydney is many times bigger in population than Adelaide) it is expected that Armageddon will be back next year just a little bit later out of the Mad March period (perhaps May-I hope later in May as they are planning to move the big Adelaide Cup meeting back to early May where it use to be and any clash would draw crowds away from both events and that would be a shame as they are both attract a lot of the under 30s).  The venue itself was fantastic and easy to get to everything and with the Adelaide Showgrounds car parking close by so that is much better (and probably cheaper) and anything in the CBD itself - I certainly plan to be back for the next one.    

 

 



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