This weekend at the San Jose Convention Center, the second Heroes & Villains FanFest San Jose, came and went. And, personally, it was a great show! Granted, my bias is based solely on one day, working Michael Rooker’s line as a line control volunteer with my twin brother. Michael’s booth was towards the side of the fanfest floor where the panels were located and he was surrounded by Sean Gunn, who did motion capture for Rocket (Racoon) and Carl Grimes himself, Chandler Riggs! Yeah, it was a pretty fun area where we’d get a lot of fans coming by after different panels ended.
I’ve written about Heroes & Villains FanFest already but this time I wanted to touch on the main mission behind this show, the fans. During morning orientation, the founders, Brad Justice and Mike Bradley, went over tons of logistics stuff but what resonated with us volunteers is the idea to,
Treat the fans like they were celebrities, and treat the celebrities like they were your buddy from home
This idea really hit home because I’ve been to so many conventions and you don’t feel like you are treated like A-listers when you need to stand in line for the entire day in order to get into a certain panel or you feel price gouged at every turn. This one felt different and it’s from the founders that you get this sense of fun and ownership because we’re given the trust to make decisions on the fly if it benefits the attendee.
At the end of the day, the majority of the volunteers are fans themselves, I know I am. So working different celebrity lines is super fun when you yourself are stoked to be there. And that’s how I treated every person who walked by Michael’s booth with enthusiasm and a smile. A lot of times, I encountered first time attendees who didn’t know how the celebrity booths worked. So I did the quick elevator pitch of how each booth had different price lists for different things you can do like get the celebrity’s autograph, a selfie with the celebrity, or, if the celebrity allowed it, a simple meet and greet to say hello. Once you have that bright blue volunteer shirt on, you’re bound to be as helpful as possible because I’m sure we’ve all been in the same situation where you needed some information about something going on and who better than to ask the people working the show!
Throughout the day, I gauge my effectiveness as a volunteer with how attendees react after leaving from meeting the celebrity. I’m pretty confident that every person that left Michael Rooker’s booth had either a huge smile or were laughing as they exited. I mostly credit this to Michael being Michael because he is a character and a force of nature. He genuinely enjoys meeting his fans and his energy got me through the hours of standing in front of his booth.
That’s what makes my volunteering experience a much more richer one because the people I’m lucky enough to work with has fun themselves. And a lot of people I’ve chatted with ask if I get super cool perks for working with the celebrities like a free autograph or picture. And the answer is no. The only perk that we get is having the opportunity to represent the FanFest as embassadors with the celebrities. If we mess up in some way, then they might not actively come out to these shows anymore. But as the main mission dictates, if we keep the fans happy and jazzed about meeting the celebrity, then that energy and enthusiasm will transfer over to the celebrity. Again, Michael already was upbeat and having tons of fun so it wasn’t hard for attendees to really enjoy themselves and have a memorable experience meeting him.
The last thing I want to touch on with my unorthodox recap of this show is how Mike and Brad markets this show. The tag line is,
For fans, by fans
I mention it before that us volunteers are huge fans of the celebrities and tv shows these actors come from. So being able to support a show that brings these talented people to my hometown is a slam dunk. But it really is run by the fans. Every volunteer I met was both super friendly and genuinely wanted to be there, from other line control volunteers to the merchandise crew that I bought my Heroes & Villains FanFest SnapBack hat from and to the staff that make this all possible for us.
I’ve only volunteered at a few other conventions prior to my experience with Mike & Brad’s Heroes & Villain FanFest but thanks to them and the awesome volunteer crew, I’m a lifer! It’s awesome to come across volunteers that I’ve worked with last year as well as those that I didn’t work with but recognize. It makes this more of a fun volunteering family and seeing them again shows that the founders trust us to keep providing an awesome experience for the attendees and celebrity guests as well.
With Walker Stalker Con coming back to San Francisco next April (2017), I’m going to try to add that show to my volunteering resume. I hope to see a lot of the volunteers I’ve come across through Heroes & Villains FanFest but am always down to meet new people. If there’s one piece advice that I can give is to volunteer for these smaller, more intimate shows because the reward is much greater. It’s a great way to give back to this awesome community of nerds as well meet huge fans like myself at the same time! No Kobiyashu Maru situation here, it’s all win-win!
Have you been to Heroes & Villains FanFest or Walker Stalker Con? We would like to hear from you so please leave a comment below or feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook page here or Instagram page here or our Twitter page here.