Saturday, 22 August 2015

Getting Better All the Time: FCD Countdown!

There's still a whopping eight months left until First Contact day 2016 but that's not stopping Wil Ross and David Limburg from delaying their plans for the event.

As their media followers will know the line-up is already pretty much confirmed (and note the use of the phrase "pretty much" there). Garrett Wang, aka Harry Kim from Voyager is back and this time acting as MC. Authors Una McCormack and James Swallow and Babylon 5's Claudia Christian will also be returning but this year they will be joined by even more Star Trek luminaries.

Deep Space Nine's Nana Visitor will be crossing the waters from the US as will Klingon legends Robert O'Reilly (Gowron) and J G Hertzler (Martok) who I can't wait to see. Patricia Tallman, well known for her stunt work on Star Trek as well as her starring role in Babylon 5 as Lyta Alexander is another set to meet fans at First Contact Day in April next year.

Bringing a touch of the independent films to the event will be John Carrigan who is soon to be seen in Star Trek Renegades and rounding out the group is Battlestar Galactica's Richard Hatch also now associated with the Axanar production as Klingon General Kharn. Star Trek afficionados will also be keen to meet and chat to Doug Drexler and Trekspert Larry Nemecek (who I'll be talking to HERE soon!)

"It's a massive leap," said David in comparison to the 2015 First Contact Day line-up. "The reason we've been able to do it is a massive amount of hard work and direct talking on the level with these people, explaining the situation, telling them what we're all about and letting them know what our goals and objectives are. We're not claiming to be anything like the larger events and these people aren't necessarily bothered about that. They want to know it's going to be a good event where everyone has a good time. We've been straight-talking. 

"The interest and love for our event and the people is amazing," continued David; "The amount of positive comments we're getting through our postings or on direct messages you would think that we were celebrities the way people are talking to us and are appreciative of what we're doing. We're just being honest and on the level with everyone."

Personally I think they're underplaying just how much work has gone into the 2016 event already with two thirds of a year still to go before the doors open. 

"In relation to the guests we've got we're showing what can be done." explaining Wil, "With some creative thinking and balls of steel and we're trying to be completely different to the larger events. Our overheads are larger than 2015 but if we do things right then I don't see that being a problem. It's going to be tough and there's a lot of hard work to come. I think we're about DefCon Three now but come November/December there will be little time for anything and FCD Events will become a full-time job for David and I because there's going to be so so much that needs to be done."

Wil noted that in the past they might have been able to get away with certain things since they were effectively amateurs but with the calibre of guest lined up there will be certain expectations. They'll need to be on their A-Game as even now First Contact Day is under close scrutiny on how it is portraying itself and how it is perceived across the wide expanse of media available.

"It's a risk for them as well," said Wil referring to the stellar guest list, "because they have helped us hugely and without their support and friendships this would not be happening in the way it is happening. It's a big risk but a good risk."

Some of the guests have been cost-shared with an event running in Scarborough the week after First Contact Day and it's also been about making sure it's financially viable for those attending to be out of the US for up to two weeks - that's effectively two weeks work they'll be sacrificing to be in the UK.

Still to announce there's at least one female, UK-based guest who will be bringing something different to Telford's International Centre - "It'll be complete fun!" commented David, "Without doubt!". Stay tuned because there are sure to be a ton of announcements between now and April.

So what else can we expect from the event? What's already being set in motion? For those who attended 2015, you will remember the world record attempt at the number of Star Trek redshirts in one place at one time. That record is likely to be attempted for a second time but perhaps the more interesting fact is that the event itself may actually set a world record. "We're playing around on a few ideas how we can make a sea of red!" said Wil.

"To our knowledge the last solely fan-funded event took place shortly after The Wrath of Khan was released and it had about 2,500 people but it wasn't actually a record." he explained, "San Diego Comic-Con is non-profit and without a doubt it's the biggest event so we have to be careful how we bill it."

"There will certainly be talks," continued Wil, "and our social media partners are heavily involved with this. More on that another time!"

Talking of media partners, attendees will be able to come and have a chat to myself along with the team from Visionary Trek, The Engage Podcast, Geek Apocalypse and online networking site Risa.

There will also be a mock-up of the Enterprise-D bridge thanks to the Riker's Beard team and master builder Kevin Chapman who is currently working on the tactical station. It means they'll be able to do some bridge shots plus you'll be able to try out the Klingon throne and The Original Series command chair that I managed to slip into this year.

"No doubt as we get closer and closer and people see what we're doing they will offer stuff. It's usually the way and it happened a lot with 2015 and we had to say no due to space."

Dealers will be better linked in with the main stage and guests this year as they will be in the same room. Some of the dealers who will be coming back have been working with the team back to when it was even called Dawn of the Federation.

Wil isn't just thinking about what's going on inside the event either and has been contacting hotels around the area to see if there are any deals which can be done considering the amount of people that could be attending the event. To give you some idea, that could be around 5000 people if every ticket sells. "We want the people of Telford to be involved;" said Wil, "local businesses, schools, community groups. When the new term starts we're going to contact schools in the area to see if they want to be involved, do some artwork, design posters and we'll select winners. We have some really crazy plans about how to start the event on the Saturday. There's a lot in our brains and on our chalk boards!"

"The other big thing we have is the acting workshop from Richard Hatch," noted David, "and we might have something else on writing and talking. I've seen Richard do his workshop before and it's always packed."

And the next big target? If you've been casting your eye over Twitter then you'll know Wil has been dropping a couple of hints in the direction of a certain William Shatner. "Let's get him over here!" enthused David. 

"We looked at other cast from The Original Series," said Wil, "but due to commitments it would be down to seeing if we could get Bill but at the moment we've not had anything back."

Seth MacFarlane even tweeted about FCD and how cool it would be for him to be there considering he was only in Enterprise for all of 30 seconds. Actually Seth has big links into the Star Trek family with numerous references to the franchise and that brilliant episode with the whole cast of The Next Generation

In the near future there will be a a crowd-funding programme coming into play to help pay for JG Hertzler's band and also there will be a lot linked in with the Mick Holt Fund which is FCD's own charity. In line with that there will also be raffles and auctions to raise money throughout the weekend.

So there's a lot happening and in a very short time since the last FCD took place. Thanks again to Wil and David for their time to bring us up to date on their progress with the event. I know we'll be back for more news shortly!

You can buy tickets, find out more info and join the discussion via the First Contact Day event page on Facebook. What are you looking forward to? Which talk? Which guest? Let's hear about it!

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