July 20, 2003
Comic Con: Part I
I spent all day Saturday at the San Diego Comic Convention, which was awsome. Here’s, uh, 12:00 through 4:00 or so.
The first thing we did was see Kevin Smith^Òs panel. As far as I can tell, a panel consists of a guy up at the front answering questions. Or, in some cases, several guys. Smith is quite funny, and is just about the most vulgar person I^Òve ever heard speak in person. There^Òs a good fucking reason that bastard uses ^Ófuck^Ô every other fucking word in his fucking movies.
Still, he was captivating, and told some great stories. I^Òm definitely going to have to get the Evening With Kevin Smith DVD, which I understand is more of the same.
Smith on Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back and the cinematic power of Ben Afleck:
I go to the studio and say I want to make a movie about me and my little stoner friends to go around, make fun of the studio, and make dick and fart jokes.
Miramax: No fucking way.
Smith: Ah^Å It^Òs got Ben Afleck in it.
Miramax: Here^Òs twenty million dollars.
He made many a joke about Ben Afleck that day, even repeating dialog between them. He can imitate Ben’s voice surprisingly well. They apparently keep a constant flow of insults going back and forth. For example, when you have Kevin Smith sign the Dogma DVD, he writes “This guy is gay,” with an arrow pointing to Ben Afleck. When Ben Afleck signs it, he labels Kevin with “Tubby Motherfucker.”
I^Òm really amazed that people actually asked him questions. You have to either have a thick skin or be quite the masochist, because, of course, the most obvious source for jokes is the person standing in front of him.
After that, I stayed for a presentation by New Line about a certain upcoming movie involving a ring. It was a quite impressive panel, despite having a lackluster beginning and an anticlimactic finale. To begin, a woman came out to introduce the movie, and she was the most uninspired lackey I^Òve ever seen. She even mentioned, as the applause died down following some clips, that that was why she ^Óloved her job,^Ô but managed to say it in such a way that I can only assume that the primary reason the people near me didn^Òt leave immediately was that most of them were in wheelchairs (One of the nice things about going places with Avani is that she acts as a ^Óget out of line free^Ô pass. Skipping the three hour line for admission. Getting into Smith’^Òs talk late, and with really good seats. Awesome. I even had my tag stamped with a little handicapped sticker, because I was with her, so I got in too.) I really have no idea how she (the New Line lackey, not Avani) got to be up on the stage. Must be somebody’s niece or something.
Anyway, the culmination of the panel was of course a trailer for Return of the King. We all knew this. It was, I^Òm pretty sure, why almost everyone was there. First, however, they made us sit through about half an hour of stuff about Freddy vs. Jason. Uninspiring. There was then a section in which they showed us the costuming process for an elf, a hobbit, a rider of the Mark, and an Uruk-Hai. Was kinda cool to see the costumes get put on, and to hear them talk about the intricate features of each. The skirts of the elves are made of leaf mail with twenty thousand leaves apiece. The straps of the Rohirrim have designs and Rohan cultural patterns on them. It^Òs amazing to see the depth to which they^Òve attempted to portray Tolkien^Òs world.
They then brought out Dominic Moaghan, Sean Austin, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, and the head of Weta Digital, which did the FX for Gollum. Serkis is amazing, and he kept interjecting bits of Gollum dialog and ^Åsounds^Å into the presentation. They showed us his audition, and it was really disturbing. We also saw some behind the scenes stuff during the modelling and filming of Gollum scenes. The most interesting thing to me was that, to get the original model of Gollum, they didn^Òt build it in the computer. They built a rubber model, life size, and then scanned it with a laser to get the three dimensional surface in the computer. During this presentation, the costumers and characters were standing off to the side, and as I looked at the Hobbitess, the elf, the Rohirrim, and the Uruk-Hai, I had a serious Wizard of Oz moment.
Finally, they showed us the trailer for The Return of the King. Since it was the first public showing, I can say that I^Òm one of very few to have ever seen it. It was, however, the most lacking-in-content three minute trailer I have ever seen. There were shots with the director, shots of the filming, shots of the actors talking about the movie, and about four seconds, total, of actual footage. I think they showed the logo three times. Boo.
I didn^Òt realize until I left the conference hall how large this convention really was. There were around 63,000 people here today. The building is around five city blocks long, and there were comic booths and video games and movie studios and artists and panels and new technology and board games and webcomics and more on every square inch. I spent a great deal of time just wandering in a random manner, a vacant, fish-like, gape on my face at the sheer magnitude of everything.
A detailed description of which will have to wait for tomorrow.