Fellow nerds and nerdettes, my name is Michelle and I’m a Conzilla. Conzillas are lesser than Bridezillas as we typically do not end up kicking anyone out of our groups. There have been times where I have thought about it, but I have resisted. After all, not everyone can follow such a tight schedule. Simultaneously what is the point of having a schedule at all if you are not going to follow the most of it? With that said, I found myself straying from my Friday schedule last year merely because I learned new things about having a General Admissions pass at Walker Stalker Atlanta. My goal is to reveal some of my tricks and make all you fellow Conzillas feel better about the organization you provide for your friends. Trust me they care.
Schedules Are Key
Your friends want a schedule. This year I thought the panel schedule would not post to the site until the week before. I waited patiently. I even told myself I would not compulsively check the site to see if it were up earlier. One of my friends attending the event with me this year seemed shocked I did not provide her a schedule. And what I mean by having a schedule is that I take all the times of panels. I include them. I highlight them according to main stage and convention floor stage. Two colors are dedicated to those. I typically do not include the mini live stage panels, but should one do so they should highlight those as well. Then we have another highlighter for the days of the convention to separate the new days. You can also use a different color for photo ops you and your friends are participating in. This year I am pink and my friend is orange. Embrace the plan. Embrace the fact your friend cared enough to take the time to cover each member of your group. Your Conzilla truly cares and wants to make sure you make the most of your convention even if said Conzilla makes you eat in line while waiting for a panel. No worries, you will eat.
Know Where You’re Going
Knowing the layout is important and every good Conzilla makes sure to grab a map. They typically know where the panel stages are and attempt to make a game plan of how to get from the main stage panel back to the convention floor quickly. Conzillas also makes sure to know this to provide an answer for friends and family attending with them. I typically scope the tables of all the people I want to make a goal of meeting. I take pictures of their signs. I form an immediate game plan in my phone. This year a good part of the Gather app is that every person’s schedule is already planned. The only thing that would make this even better is if I could somehow plan out my money in the process. Regardless the app keeps us all up-to-date and that makes everyone in the group happy and ensures they do not miss a minute of something they truly desire to partake in.
Autographs are always a must. This is why scoping the lines and autograph area for a Conzilla is vitally important! One wants that individual interaction with their favorite actor. Over the years I have made sure to bring a friend through line with me. They might not get a selfie or autograph but they typically get a handshake and the interaction. I have found that the prices range from $20 to $90 for autographs. Sometimes this includes a selfie and sometimes it does not. I suppose we have to consider if this person allows selfies at the table in the first place. Typically I spend about $60-$80 and attain both a selfie and autograph in combo prices. Prices are sometimes on the signs on the table along with that particular celebrity’s schedule. Friday is more of a free for all in this manner and the best day to get autographs if you are general admission. Plus, if someone you want to meet will be there all weekend and one person will only be there on Saturday or Sunday this is the perfect way to plan.
Photo Op Corner
Photo ops are always a blast. A Conzilla will swap, upgrade, and typically make sure that their friends also get the ops they desire. Last year I bought all the ops for my friends who later paid me back. Some people consider the only downside to a photo op is that they move rather fast. Most of the experiences I have had with photo ops have been amazing though. All my favorite celebrities have given hugs or a hand shake. Some of them even took one look at me and knew what they wanted to do in our photo op making the experience even more memorable. The goal of getting to your photo op promptly is to keep a close eye on the schedule. A good Conzilla will typically check the schedule every night via the app or online. I also recommend making sure to be in the square provided by celebrity photo ops team about ten minutes or so before the time listed. This gets you in line quicker and closer to the front of your badge grouping.
Sit Down with a Good Panel
One of the bet parts of any convention is sitting down for a panel or two. And every good Conzilla will make sure that all friends are accounted for by knowing their groups favorite actor, actress, or shows featured. Why? Because The panels are SO much fun. We learn more about not only the characters, but the actors as well. My suggestion is if you know you have to leave a panel early that you sit toward the back. That way if others are taking pictures or recording a part of the panel you are not the person who makes a guest appearance in their photo/video. It’s the considerate thing to do. Getting an aisle seat will also make you super popular among other patrons for not interrupting their experience as well as you try to not so quietly squeeze your way through the other patrons. They will thank you as will the rest of your group who might stay to finish watching the panel.
The vendors are these events are absolutely fantastic. Make sure you take some time at some of these tables looking around. Talk to the vendors. They are awesome and just as big of a fan of the shows they depict in their artwork. Most of them have cards as well. If there’s a particular artist you take a liking to specifically the other best bet is to take the time to actually put their information into a search engine once you get home. This will let you know if your favorite artist is coming back to a convention near you sometimes and give you an idea of artwork you want to purchase at another convention.
The Amazing Fans
People. I have formed some amazing friendships by merely standing in line. I’ve made friends with volunteers and fellow con goers alike. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone you don’t know. The best thing about these conventions is they make you realize more people like you in this world exist. While you are unique, others are just as passionate as you about whatever show or movie you adore. This is one of the best feelings in the world. A good number of my friends on Facebook now have worked these conventions. They have given me a different perspective. I even talked with one of the writers on this site last year. Sometimes those that you meet might change your life by making you see another side of the convention that you never saw before.
Michelle Patterson prides herself on her random pop culture knowledge. She finds great joy in all things horror related and tries to enjoy movies on a weekly basis. If she’s not at the theater, she can be found at a convention or a concert. To connect with her more, check out her Instagram page, Twitter Page, Facebook Page, or her website.