Monday, October 15, 2012

New York Comic-Con Panels: Friday

Hey everyone, I'm back from an amazing 2 days at New York Comic-Con. My first one! It was quite an experience. I had missed out on it last year because of a new job which sucked even more because Above The Film had been approved for free press passes. Well this year I had full accepted the idea that I would not be going this year either, until my friend and fellow ATF writer Ken offered me a free pass for two days. Who would say no? Note: None of these pictures are mine.
Christopher Lloyd Q&A

While not technically a panel, the first actual event I did was a Q&A session screen legend Christopher Lloyd was holding. Ken and I got in and got our seats a little toward the back left section of the room. As anyone would expect with a Q&A it started off with fans saying quotes and making references to his work. He was able to smile and laugh and embrace most of it. With as excellent a career as he has had, it is more than expected.

When asked what his favorite film to make was, he confessed it was Back To The Future Part III. "I mean, it was a western. Who doesn't want to be in western?" he joked. He went on to confess a love for trains, especially the steam engine they filmed with, and ZZ Top which all just sweetened the deal. "The scene in the film where the entire town has a large party in the center of town took three nights of shooting all night, so even when we weren't filming ZZ Top was up there playing and we all got to have a party the entire time."

He discussed aspects of his craft including how he believes that a costume is something that can truly help in finding a character, that memorizing his lines has always been the hardest part of acting for him, and that he has no preference for acting in comedy or drama, he just likes to act. He did give a little bit of advice in his approach to comedy though.

"The comedy is always better when you [the actor] believe in the character and give it your all. Play it like you would a drama, because then you're not trying to make people laugh, they just happen."

AMC's Comic Book Men

AMC's Comic Book Men panel was moderated by Kevin Smith the executive producer, developer, and make-shift host of the reality show. Smith, who currently sits on the high council of nerdom was greatly in his element in front of a crowd with a microphone in hand and gave a bit of history about how the show came about before showing off a highlight reel of the forthcoming second season. Screaming children's parties, a fake gay superhero wedding, and a visit from Stan "The Man" Lee which has the Secret Stash crew sitting around him like children at story time as he spins them some yarns.

After the sizzle reel, Smith invited his friends from the show up to the stage for the panel to begin. However, a lack of working microphones at the beginning of the panel meant all five would have to crowd around the only working mic at the podium like an award ceremony and attempt to answer audience questions that had to be shouted up at them. Thankfully the problem was solved soon after, however not soon enough to avoid Smith miming several penis jokes with the dead electronics, and the panel continued as it was meant to.

Sadly, as can be the case in a situation such as this panel, most of the question asked were directed at Kevin Smith, being the most known member of the panel (even though he was only the moderator) and Walt, Mike, Ming, and Bryan did little more than sit at the table and watch Smith talk. I give Kevin credit that there were definitely points where he did what he could to steer the questions toward the panel, but when questions like "what was your favorite movie to direct?" and "will red state be your last movie?" are asked it's pretty hard for the boys from Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash to answer. However much Smith tried to get the boys involved, it also doesn't help that he loves to talk and at length, and he knows it. The question about Red State led to a 10 minute speech about the trials and tribulations of young filmmakers and attempts to inspire a new generation. Smith may love to talk, but he does it well and he's always fun to listen to.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D

I have to admit, I really had no interest in this panel or the film when I got to Comic-Con in Friday. The first film was okay, but it felt rather convoluted and bogged down in a backstory they couldn't properly explain. When I then heard that a sequel was coming out six years later I was entirely underwhelmed. I have no faith in video game movies ever since the abortion of a series Resident Evil has turned into made it to a third film. The problem Silent Hill has always had, whether the games or the movies, is that it is always stuck in Resident Evil's shadow. Even the panel's moderator, Fangoria's own Tony Timpone almost called it Resident Evil as he opened the panel.

When the panel got going though, my mind slowly changed in favor of this movie. Writer/Director Michael J Bassett gushed about his love for the video game series and how much inspiration he pulled from Silent Hill 3 for the story of this film. I have always found myself drawn to writer/director made films due to being one myself because of how much work and passion is put into them. There's something to be said about a filmmaker wanting to make sure that everything was handled the way it is meant to be from script to screen and Bassett's passion for this project was obvious from this panel. He talked about his use of practical effects and monsters in order to make sure his actors had terrifying things to react to, and during the Q&A didn't miss a beat when asked the tough and obsessive nerd questions about the video game series. Bassett made this panel worth while. I also have to admit I wanted to be here to see Kit "Jon Snow" Harrington in person, and he was quite funny and charming especially in admitting his fear of the Silent Hill games.

There was also something that Samuel Hadida, the producer of the film, said that even convinced me to give 3D a second chance, especially for this film. "The major difference between a video game and a movie is that a video game immerses the player into the story and the world while a movie tells a story and has that barrier between audience and movie. 3D is actually the perfect marriage of video game and movie because the 3D immerses the audience into the world this film creates and they get to experience the terror just as they would in a game."

Legendary Comics

My first actual comic panel AND my first panel moderated by Nerdist's Chris Hardwick (nerd-swoon.) Legendary comics EIC Bob Schreck started off the panel with Chris Hardwick by talking about the beginnings of the film studio's venture into the world of comic books and what it would mean in the coming year as far as comics they have planned. He showed stills of art from their biggest and newest release "The Tower Chronicles" from writer Matt Wagner and artist Simon Bisley. It was at this point that Wagner joined him and gave the crowd a run down on his book. "The Tower Chronicles" (which I bought at the Midtown booth afterward) is the story of a tough-as-nails supernatural bounty hunter who seems to have an agenda besides payment for doing what he does. "We have cover art done by Jim Lee on the first book, Alex Ross on the second, and Tim Bradstreet for book 3. Obviously we had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for artist," joked Schreck.

After this Schrek introduced well-known comic writer and soon to be conventioneer Grant Morrison to talk about the comic he is currently in the middle of getting off the ground for Lengendary. The book, called "Annihilator" is introduced in classic Morrison fashion, with a long and complicated explanation of how he came up with the title. "There is a gigantic blackhole in the center of our universe that scientists lovingly refer to as The Great Annihilator, and I am just fascinated by this idea of in the center of life as we know it is this great big destructive monster." This concept would go on to inspire Morrison's story of a screenwriter who makes a deal with the devil that results in his own character coming to life and leading him into danger adventures. "A writer's life is dominated by deadlines, but what happens when those deadlines grow to a cosmic level and missing them could mean the end of the world?"

Finally, the last two to join the panel were director Guillermo Del Toro and his co-writer Travis Beachem came out to talk about the comic book tie-in Legendary will be doing for their movie Pacific Rim. "I have good news and bad news," Del Toro started. His bad news was that they had shown teaser footage for Pacific Rim at San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year and had planned to go to "radio silence" on showing anything from the film until the trailer released in December. This would mean not showing any footage at NYCC. "The good news is, I don't give a fuck." Ken and I sat in awe and childish glee as they showed the teaser footage, full of giant crab-monsters attacking a suspension bridge, monster vs robot fights, and Idris Elba giving an epic and inspiring speech to his troops. Afterward Del Toro spoke about the comic book tie-in being a supplemental guide to the world of the film, "the biggest DVD extra ever" he called it. They spoke of the emotion and inspiriation for the film being heavily steeped in World War II and adventure films. It seems that for a Kaiju monster/robot movie they aimed for a gritty and human story that would not rely entirely on style and flash, but on the emotion of fighting for the survival of a species. Del Toro mentioned the film has quite a dense mythology in both the monsters and technology of the time with their concept and history "bible" being easily over 1000 pages long. He also mentioned how controlling he was when it came to the 3D conversion process in order to make sure it did not hinder the film.

The final Q&A was entirely directed at Del Toro, I believe the picture above is from that with the obvious "why am I even here?" pose that Grant Morrison is striking, I'd say it was farther into the Q&A

Well, that was Friday's panels and with that Pacific Rim trailer I thought I had already seen the best part of Comic-Con, but boy would Saturday prove me wrong. Saturday panels to be posted quite soon.

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