First of all, I'd like to give a big thank you to Gillian (aka @CommuniConNews), who single-handedly planned CommuniCon. That's right: all by herself. There is a group of 5 of us who go by the name Tranny Queens (TQs for short), and 4 of us helped, but she really did the majority of the work. Yes, we're still in shock. She's amazing. We told her tons of times, and gave her some little present, but you guys...she's the BEST in the world. I'm giving away the punchline now: Thank you, Gillian, for the best day of my life!
So here's my rambling and all-access account of all the behind-the-scenes stuff that went on at #CommuniCon. I mean it, I'm about to tell you every goddamned thing, so you might as well bookmark this sucker for future reference. #SORRYNOTSORRY
1) I came in from Texas, not the East Coast, because I visited my 86 year old grandparents for a week first. They are the actual definition of heaven, but that's a story for another time. I live in New Jersey and worried a LOT about the East Coast fans coming in from the snow storm. All made it but one, and I'm still in tears over that. If any of the writers, actors, or DH/EM sees this, if you could tweet or even make a vine/short video and say hello to @Lightening__Bug on twitter, I would be eternally obliged to you. She's been a big help to me personally in the fan movement. I love you, girl. I'm trying to help.
2) We all stayed in the Hollywood Historic Hotel, 1.2 miles away from Los Angeles City College. My shuttle ride there on Friday night was overly long, and the driver was rude, but then I figured out he was Russian and talked to him in Russian and he cracked a smile. When I arrived in Gillian/Sarah's room, there was merch everywhere: boxes of shirts, mugs, water bottles, pins/magnets. Oh, nobody made any money off this, it was all out of Gillian's pocket. If y'all want some merch, tweet @CommuniConNews and she'll hook you UP. All the merch was so beautiful, and I felt like I was in some wonderland. "It's really happening!" So okay, brace yourselves. I was sitting there with Gillian, Jen, and Sarah, and the email from Yvette came through. We found out the Friday night before that Yvette Nicole Brown and Gillian Jacobs were going to come to #CommuniCon, but we had to keep it secret. Sweethearts that they are, Yvette and Gillian didn't want to crash the "No Small Parts" actors' panel; they wanted them to have the spotlight all to themselves. So Gillian (fan) arranged to go downstairs with a parking pass at 3:10 for them, right around the time Harmon was arriving. SQUEEE!
2a) I told Gillian about the ability I have to livestream on the laptop and asked if she needed that. She said sure, the other livestream option fell through and she was afraid they'd have none at all. Since I hang out all the time on Tinychat with the lovely Community fans on the AV Club board (mainly the famous 150K+ comment board from S3 finale), even as technologically backwards as I am, I KNEW I could pull off a tinychat livestream. So I did a couple of trial runs that night, testing out the camera and mic to make sure everything worked. I forgot to ask if it was weird if I played violin for Dan, but I figured I'd have my violin there out of the way and only play it if it "came up organically."
3) Being with fellow Community fans is the best feeling in the world. The characteristics of fellow fans that I met in person: EXTREMELY smart, funny, loving, kind, silly, generous, and helpful. It's like Dan Harmon made something as a magnet for only the most beautiful, perfect butterflies. Honeysuckle Harmon? Okay! My buddies from Canada, in particular (hi @NaughtyVegan!), are just amazing. I wish I stayed longer in LA, because staff work (which was glorious and I'm not complaining) pretty much took over. You don't want to be THAT PERSON who leaves everybody else to do all the grunt work, you know? :)
4) Glory to Los Angeles City College! Our good friend Clinton picked us up on Saturday morning and drove us over to the campus. As soon as we got there, we hustled to set up art tables, registration tables, merchandise (boxes of shirts to the right, mugs and water bottles to the left), and tape permits and filming notices on the walls. I'd like to shout out Clinton in particular for taking over merch sales duties when the livestream got to be a little, shall we say, all-encompassing for me. Thank you, friend and brother!
I got the LACC wireless user ID and password and set up the livestream right after the merch table was all set up. Everybody said they could hear me perfectly, so I started taking the laptop around to say hi to everybody there. It was my goal that anybody who wanted to could chat with anybody on the livestream, and vice versa.
So you guys have to know: I'm not technologically advanced, OK? My video camera is a $120 kodak waterproof thing; I bought a tiny tripod, extra battery and wall charger, and 2 extra memory cards for it, but I hadn't realized how much time and energy the livestream would take. NOOB ALERT: I didn't know how to establish extra moderators or screen broadcast videos in tiny chat. I tried to change the settings a couple of times, but there wasn't much time before the writer panel started and I kept shutting down the stream. THERE WERE WANGS, OKAY? Twice, a random guy would pop up on the broadcast to the side, holding their wang on live video. I had to ban them super quick; I didn't know if minors were watching, but I was scared out of my mind. There were also a couple of porn bots who found us, saying BAN ME, GO AHEAD AND BAN ME. Hey, make my day, assholes!
So you guys, the first three hours of the livestream were wang and porn patrol, and it was all me. I really had to put 100% focus on it, and it was terrifying. I had the laptop up in the front at first, but it was in front of the speakers. I wish somebody told me at the beginning that the sound was muddy, because I would have moved y'all to behind the speakers. I just didn't know.
When I moved behind the speaker, at first I was holding the laptop in the air. Then I found a large A/V box under the table, about 2 feet high. I put the box on its side on top of the table, then put the laptop on top of that, and the sound and vantage point were relatively decent. I wish there'd been a table on the sunny side of the room so you could see the event better, but as far as what I had to work with, it seemed pretty good.
5) My buddies Sll03 and Stephenr77 (Canadians) pretty much saved the day for me. They helped me, on the first break, to set up extra moderators and put the wang videos in a permanent green room (aka nasty video purgatory). I then set up _HJP_ and Legit_Republic (Egyptians), and DrReginaPhalange (Australian) as moderators too. You guys, you have NO IDEA how relieved I was to have your help. I still had to keep watch over the laptop at all times, since my Internet connection likes to freeze up about once an hour or so. I was SO AFRAID this would happen while something really important was going on. So you guys being moderators meant that I could focus just on that. THANK YOU, LOVE YOU, OWE YOU.
6) I was sitting outside at the registration table when Dan Harmon arrived. I immediately went to fetch the livestream laptop in the hall and bring you guys to talk with Dan. If you missed it, he held the camera right up to his face and was very intimate with the Internet. It was precious. He said something like (I couldn't hear every word; I'm hoping one of you can fill me in), "Hey guys, we're here and we miss you, and I feel that you're with me."
7) I brought the laptop around to say hi to Yvette, Gillian (quick wave), the writers, and all the minor characters. Quendra with a QU shouted out Egypt, which made HJP and Legit very happy (GO EGYPT)! Janine came in after Dan said hello the first time, so I did something I never do: I brought the laptop up to him again, and told him Janine missed him. So Dan yelled at Janine: "Janine! Where are you? Why aren't you here? We're all here! What, you need extra parking cones downstairs?" Later, Dan said hello again, before he went on the balcony for the best meet and greet in the world ("I'll stay until I've said hello to every single fan.") Of special note: Lloyd mentioned "Troy stare," referencing the "'Sup?" face, and Dan responded back. Lloyd, did he make the face? Funny stuff!
8) Erin and Neil Berkeley had a very interesting series of interactions with the livestream. First of all, Neil is Dan's official documentarian. Which means he has a six-syllable job title, which is five more syllables than my title of NOOB. What did his freaking camera cost, $10K? Jesus help me.
Tangent: Anyway, there I am, freaking out over making sure you guys have a good time, watching the screen to make sure you're not frozen (I told people to tweet me if that happened, if I just couldn't see it), and I TOTALLY Britta'd it y'all. Okay, the livestream wasn't recorded from the laptop, right? Because I'm really not THAT advanced. I know just the small things I know, and that's it. So I even though I had backups for the video camera, I still wasn't able to do both things very well, because I'M JUST NOT THAT GOOD AT TECHNOLOGY, I'M SO SORRY. So the video camera went down at odd times, and I really didn't understand that because I was fixing laptop problems all the time.
So what you get is most of the stuff, but not where Dan/Yvette/Gillian talks to you directly. And I'm so sorry I missed that. Next time, I promise you, I will have one other person with me to do that. And I will have a list of stuff that I need to get, and you will ALL help me with telling me who needs that, OK? AAAAGHHH SORRY!
Okay, back from tangent: So Neil is watching me, right? I'm off to the side, staring at you guys, and he doesn't know what the hell I'm looking at. I pointed at you and maybe he thought I was pointing/staring at him? Well he's very fancy and he has all this great equipment and I totally have CAMERA ENVY and whatever. At one point, Affro said "Meow" on the livestream, so I totally made cat claws, which is JUST NOT professional documentarian behavior, okay? So he was looking at me funny.
Erin was very sweet with you guys, and said a lot of nice things to you. I was trying to treat her like a normal person. I think she could sense my inner fangirl, which I was trying to rein in.
But I totally lost it around Bobrow, you guys. I just heart Bobrow. I was able to be professional with Harmon and his beautiful girlfriend (she really is perfect in person, and so down-to-earth), but LOOK: http://twitpic.com/c3iko5
9) Everybody crowded Yvette and Gillian, and I was so worried they were miserable. I got in there for a quick hello on the laptop, but only got a couple of quick pictures with them because I didn't like how much they were being crowded. They said they really enjoyed #CommuniCon later, so maybe I was off in my assessment. But as staff, I really didn't want to take up too much time. Yvette was so sweet with me on twitter later, saying she wished I'd told her who I was so she could thank me. SO NICE. Guys, Yvette helped the fan movement SO MUCH all this time. Thank YOU, Yvette, for everything YOU'VE done! :)
10) The panels were perfect. Dan was perfect. If you're on our scrapbook, I'm posting as much original source material as I can on http://www.pinterest.com/violincatherine/communicon-scrapbook (including my janky videos, which take 4 hours to upload for some reason because they're HUGE, and I'm praying more professional videos come up soon. HELLO DOCUMENTARIAN NEIL PLEASE HELP ME THANK YOU! Hahaha. Or anybody else with a fancy pants camera who knew what they were doing, okay, whatever.)
11) I tried to show Neil Berkeley the livestream after Harmon's panel, just to show him what I was doing, but RIGHT THEN the silly thing froze. Embarrassing. I managed to get it running again later, though. I really wanted to go out on the balcony and play violin for Harmon. You know, give something back to the man who put my heart back together? Yeah. The LACC wifi died on the balcony, and my phone was dead, but some sweetheart named Brian gave me his wifi hotspot to hang out there and do my thing.
I went up to Erin and Neil again, and this time, Neil finally understood what I was doing. He turned his camera on while Erin had a long conversation with you guys, and totally yelled at Stephen for not listening to Harmontown podcasts. She said that if you said nice things, the screen of the laptop might end up in the documentary. She asked what your favorite soup was, and things like that. Somebody said they wanted to steal Harmon from her, so I playfully told Stephen to ban them.
Anyway, at least the wangs weren't on screen anymore when Harmon and Erin spoke to the laptop, yay! I asked Erin what Dan's favorite song was, and she said Xanadu. So Clinton helped me listen on his telephone, trying to learn the song in 3 minutes. I took out my violin in the cold, Clinton holding the laptop, and played Xanadu, then Somewhere Out There. Cool thing: most people on the balcony sang along with me!
12) The next day was the Pixeldrip art panel and the fan testimonial portion. I got the video, okay, but it will take 5 hours to upload. SOON, I promise, I'll upload it. They showed the documentary ahead of time, which you can see on the scrapbook page. The artists were very precious and beautiful, and we enjoyed listening to their process.
13) I was sweetly asked not to livestream the fan testimonial, which I know was a disappointment for some people, but:
a) There were some shy people going up to the mic,
b) People talked about highly personal things,
c) We were all crying.
Highlights: Community helped cheer people up enough to endure chemo for a brain tumor, major life upheavals, leaving an abusive marriage, severe depression, etc. It was SO powerful. The end was @DramaKim reading a 13 year old girl's fan testimonial, which ended with "Greendale is Where I Belong."
14) Other highlights:
a) Mary and the Shannons took the laptop around with them a few times, and totally charmed everybody in the live stream. I really wanted them to have some time to chat with Taylah, so I was very happy about that.
b) Of course we all went to Denny's the first night. Did drunk people make their menu? Grilled cheese with mozzarella sticks inside, and pancake hushpuppies? REALLY?
c) I took the laptop outside on a break to see the quad (pilot was filmed there). My wifi conked out on the front porch (again, DUH DOY, NOOB AND CRISIS ALERT), but I turned my phone wifi on and went as long as I could. I went to the steps and all the Wives and Clinton were there. So this happened:
And you really WERE there with us!
I'm so sorry I didn't brush my hair Sunday. There were so many strange things happening to me, lack of sleep was my fault, but then I walked the mile (yay fitness), and had various strange physical things happening to me all at once.
But strolling through LA on a Sunday is cool, because you hear Spanish church music. Some of it was rocking out, man! Total bass and drums.
d) JUSTIFIED had trailers out to film the following night, and a lot of you were freaking out over Olyphant and Goggins. So I showed you as much filming equipment as I could, and was going to take you on a hunt for Goggins' trailer later, but I had to be sensitive to the other fan organizers who needed me to be a normal person again (what's that, you say?) for them!
e) We went to In-N-Out burger. Clinton and I are vegetarians, so we got the cheese versions. I was made fun of, A LOT, for enjoying it a little too much. Jen is In-N-Out Jesus, and I am her first disciple, y'all!
f) I have to tell you something: our actors at "No Small Parts" are like gods to us; we totally worship them. My FAVORITE was Brisco Diggs (aka Black Hitler). I got feedback from the actors and their spouses that they felt SO happy and welcomed, that it was just an amazing feeling to be loved so much.
g) I don't think I have to tell you that every actor and writer is the nicest, most approachable person in the world. This is not normal in show biz, folks. #PerfectCastIsPerfect
h) On the last night, the TQs settled down for a 7 episode marathon in our hotel. Here's some footage:
i) Do you guys know what it feels like to walk around with the whole world in your hands? It feels like rainbows and magical forest friends and ice cream and pizza and jump rope and I LOVE YOU ALL. I MEAN IT, EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU!
Hey, I've been rambling for a good long while. If there's anything I missed, or if you'd like to add your own account, I'm happy to blog anything you guys send me. You can also hit me up in the comments.
1) Erin's #CommuniCon followup:
2) The song I had going through my head during the entire #CommuniCon: