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Con of Thrones, the first major attempt to establish a Game of Thrones fan convention, lands this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. ComiConverse is on-site at the fabulous Gaylord Opryland Hotel, where we spoke to the Con's Melissa Anelli from Mischief Management.
Con of Thrones: We ComiConverse With Mischief Management
Q: Can we start by having you tell us a little about the Con of Thrones team. What are your backgrounds with Cons?
A: Mischief Management, the company behind LeakyCon, BroadwayCon, and GeekyCon, runs Con of Thrones. We have been organizing fan conventions since 2007, and are a team of incredibly passionate and fandom-positive people, who attack every event from the aspect of what would be best for the fans themselves.
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Q: Since you've obviously gathered some significant organizational experience with Cons, can you tell us where the idea came from to try for a Game of Thrones event?
A: Zack Luye came to me with the idea; he’s been a longtime member of the Potter fandom, and had attended many Mischief events. He also works on the popular web site Watchers on the Wall, and the popular podcast, Game of Owns. As soon as he mentioned the idea to me we started working on it!
Q: There are fan cons of all shapes and sizes. Cons dedicated to one single TV Show, especially one that is still on the air, are relatively rare, What made you feel confident that you could pull it off?
A: Not every TV show or fandom can pull of a concentrated event, but the fandom around Game of Thrones is huge and still growing, and we knew that there would be a big reaction to this one. We’re so glad that bore out!
Q: Can you speak a little bit about your own love for Game of Thrones? I'm guessing no one could undertake a project like this if they weren't a serious fan.
A: I’ve read all the books and seen every bit of the television show multiple times. I think George R.R. Martin takes the time to draw really complex characters that change over time, and I love that.
Q: Nashville is certainly an entertainment hub, but it's not one that immediately screams dragons and medieval lore. What was the thinking behind selecting your location?
A: Nashville is an incredible city, a destination location; it’s also got a wonderful con culture, and people who are willing to get out and enjoy entertainment. Also our hotel, The Gaylord Opryland, has a feel almost like you’re in King’s Landing, so atmospherically it was perfect.
Q: As experts in starting-up successful Cons, can you comment upon the process of building a great Con over the course of years? What are your hopes for this year's Con and where would you like it to go, going forward?
A: The thing to do going from year one to year two is to take a good hard look at what worked and what didn’t; while never giving up on the things that speak to the heart of fans. Sometimes, something may not be your most popular event or your flashiest session, but they can be just as important as bringing in the bigger names. You can’t do everything from the angle of what makes the most money; any con that only runs on that aspect alone ends up being less exciting and less fun for everyone overall.
Q: You're using a community App to do a lot of the programming and to build your own online community in advance of the Con. That's fairly innovative. What sold you on the possibilities there?
A: I think we, as a staff group are good at noting what types of fandoms lend themselves well to communities; Game of Thrones, with its rich lore, dense story, and in-progress status, screamed community. We know how much better every event gets when there is a community, and so we wanted to work hard on that from the outset.
Q: For those who will be attending their first ever Con this coming weekend in Nashville. What should they look forward to?
A: Look forward to feeling at home for loving Game of Thrones! Look forward to amazing costumes and a very positive, encouraging atmosphere. Look forward to awesome conversations and detailed discussions and learning more about Game of Thrones than you ever thought possible!
Q: As organizers, what are you looking forward to the most this coming weekend? How will you know Con of Thrones was a success?
A: At every convention, when I see people becoming friends and exuding excitement and confidence, and building community, we know every piece of work was worth it.
Thanks Melissa, and good luck with Con of Thrones this weekend!
Con of Thrones runs June 30 - July 2 at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.