Sunday, 19 May 2013

FedCon - Translation of report - "Bienvenue à la BarrowCon !"

Original report in French by Audrey from

The original report has some great pictures, make sure you check it out :) While I've not included the pictures from the original post, I've translated the captions, flagged by "[PICTURE]".
While 2012 was this author's discovery of FedCon - world-famous German sci-fi convention - 2013 confirmed last year's impressions: this four-day event that takes place at the Maritim Hotel in Düsseldorf is simply not to be missed. Would you like to know more?

Düsseldorf Airport, Thursday 9th May, 1pm: it's impossible to miss the groups of people who are going to FedCon, an iconic convention in Germany, which was celebrating its 22nd anniversary this year. While it's mainly dedicated to the Star Trek universe, this famous convention has reached a wider audience over the years by opening up to other franchises like Stargate, Farscape, Starship Troopers, Battlestar Galactica or the Whoverse. There's enough to make every sci-fi fan happy. Large groups of people do the trip each year to attend this  4-day event at the Maritim Hotel, right next to the airport.

While last year's edition features two megastars - William Shatner (Kirk in Star Trek) and Richard Dean Anderson (Jack O'Neil in Stargate SG-1), 2013 started with a few hiccups. Numerous guests' cancellations made visitors a bit disgruntled. A few weeks before the convention, Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck in BSG) had to cancel due to a conflicting shooting schedule. The actress was replaced at the last minute by Tricia Helfer (Six in BSG), who in turn had to cancel the day before the convention. This was a bit too much for the Battlestar Galactica's fans... and for the others, as at this point, almost half a dozen guests had cancelled just a few weeks before the event, something never seen before in FedCon's history. Unfortunately, these are the rules of the game: for an actor, the priority will always go to a role and filming rather than attending a convention, and it's understandable.

[PICTURE] - Opening ceremony... the tone was set!

Vive BarrowCon!

In any case, there were once again enough overactive guests this year to set those four days of convention on fire: Andrea Thompson (Babylon 5), Gigi Edgley, Claudia Black and Ben Browder (Farscape and Stargate), Garrett Wang, Robert Beltran and Ethan Phillips (Star Trek: Voyager), Tracee Cocco (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Mark Allen Shepherd, J.G. Hertzler et Robert O’Reilly (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Anthony Montgomery and Linda Park (Star Trek: Enterprise), John Barrowman and Eve Myles (Torchwood), Jasika Nicole (Fringe), Matt Frewer and Colin Ferguson (Eureka), and Casper van Dien, Dina Meyer and Patrick Muldoon (Starship Troopers).

Each guest was allocated two 45 or 60-minute slots, during which they were roaming the stage, microphone in hand, answering questions from the fans, who were gathered in two large auditoriums. But apart from these solo Q&A sessions, guests also got a group session - depending on the franchise they belonged to. As you can imagine, when a solo session was a show in itself, laughter, good times and general hilarity was guaranteed when sessions were hosted by two or three guests.

[PICTURE] - John Barrowman and Eve Myles... or "how to make an impression"!

The tone was set during the opening ceremony, which started with a long speech from Anthony Montgomery, in a quite a shaky German that caused fits of laughter from fans and guests alike - some of the latter even went to get chairs to sit while on stage. Then came the Starship Troopers trio. To make fun of Montgomery, they unrolled a giant roll of toilet paper, aiming to make a speech that was even longer... the best part came at the end, when John Barrowman and Eve Myles came on stage: the actor who plays Captain Jack pulled FedCon's mascot out of his zipper, causing hilarity among all those present.

The convention started with an already amazing atmosphere, which was only confirmed the following days during which the merry Barrowman's  presence became a running gag... even leading Ben Browder and Garret Wang to rename FedCon to... BarrowCon!

From excitation to emotion

Panels came after panels for four days, alternating with photo shoots and autograph sessions. There's no question that between set anecdotes, jokes and confessions, guests gave the audience some wonderful moments on stage. Of course, some were more reserved, even shy. Jasika Nicole confessed from the start that she had never done this and it was the first time she found herself in front of several hundred people. However the atmosphere got more and more relaxed as the convention was progressing.

[PICTURE] - Linda Park in front of the audience

Among the beautiful moments, we'll remember: Eve Myles talking about the departure of some of the Torchwood  actors, John Barrowman improvising the main title of  the musical Anything Goes or explaining the "banana trick" he does on set, Casper Van Dien inviting himself in his friends' panel and Ben Browder knocking the main set over. The guests, already in very high spirits, liven things up even further during the sessions in groups of two, three... or even more!

Casper van Dien, Dina Meyer and Patrick Muldoon improvised a commented viewing of Starship Troopers, before Eve Myles and John Barrowman decided to turn up in the panel out of the blue, like a bunch of troublemakers. The Torchwood actors got the prime spot, i.e the last panel of the convention. Needless to say that given their liveliness and high spirits during the whole weekend, this panel was eagerly awaited. They didn't disappoint! From serious questions - Barrowman cut the rumour short about a Doctor Who spinoff featuring River Song - to less serious ones, Myle and Barrowman sang, danced, told work anecdotes but also personal ones: Eve Myles' story about her farting dog was a huge success.

[PICTURE] - Patrick Muldoon, Dina Meyer et Casper Van Dien, never running out of anecdotes!

Claudia Black and Ben Browder's nice gestures need to be noted as well: the Stargate SG-1 and Farscape duo, whose panel started more than an hour late on Saturday evening, insisted on answering the questions from all fans gathered next to the microphone before leaving for the day, well after 10pm. This endeared them even more to the fans, most of whom came from quite far (and of course spent a lot of money to attend the convention).


Apart from the usual panels and costume contests (it would be great, by the way, if the costumed people could pause on stage for pictures and not run off after their performance), the convention also included the traditional photo shoots and autograph sessions. There's not much to say about the formers, there's very little time to pause with the guest(s), which is mainly due to the limited time allocated for those sessions - 30 minutes - for an ever growing number of fans. However, the kindness of this year's guests needs to be noted once more: Barrowman and Myles were not against a few seconds of pure silliness in front of the objective.

There were some mishaps for the autograph sessions on Saturday. Very few people with weekend passes (4-day access) were let into the room. Priority was given to Gold Pass (the most expensive) and Day passes, the latter we can understand, since they wouldn't be here on Sunday. However, once in the main room, we could see that the queues were not very long, which means that more people could have had access to the room on Saturday. On the other hand, the Sunday session was almost immediately open to all visitors, without any distinction regarding the nature of the pass (bought more or less in advance prior to the convention).

[PICTURE] Ben Browder, very focused (as if !)

Two guests stood out during the autograph sessions: Ben Browder and John Barrowman. The queue to Ben's table was very long, which led the Saturday night panels to very delayed. The fact is that apart from being popular, the actor was taking his time during the signing, even spending a few minutes with some of the fans. This was a delight for the fans, but a nightmare for the organization staff. As a result, the actor was moved to another space on Sunday, where his popularity didn't diminish but there were two members of staff managing the session.

As for John Barrowman, Captain Jack partied for most of the night at the hotel bar on Saturday night, singing in front of a cheering crowd... and woke up very late on Sunday morning for his session, with "one hell of a hangover" according to Eve Myles, who, joined by a Casper Van Dien in fine form - kindly applauded her friend's arrival. Because of Barrowman's 45-minute delay, the queue to his table was already huge, but the atmosphere during the whole session was absolutely great.

An event that kept its promises

Those who were worried about guests' cancellations were undoubtedly reassured by the whole atmosphere of this 22nd edition of FedCon. The whole event was of very high quality, and the small hiccups due to the delays were largely compensated by the organizers' and the guests' professionalism, which made this new edition a success. FedCon doesn't have to prove itself any more, however, the convention doesn't rest on its laurels and sets the bar very high each year.

[PICTURE] - Already time to say goodbye...

One of the obvious high points of this convention is the freedom given to the guests, which results in surprising and rich panels, with no constraint - no translation constraint, in particular, since everything is in English. Unfortunately, this kind of panel doesn't exist today in France, where guests are always coached to a certain extent and answers translated, which limits both the interaction and the amount of exchange between the guests and the fans. The ultimate proof of the success of this year's edition is the conclusion of the closing ceremony, where guests came back on stage several time to dance and film the audience... some guests stayed on stage until the last moment, announcing that they would like to come back next year with surprises.

The Düsseldorf weather became a bit gloomy by the start of the evening on Sunday, just like the FedCon visitors who had to leave their bubble and go back to the real world again. The wait will be long until next year's edition, which will take place from 8th to 11th May 2014... but one thing is certain, we will be there!

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