Thursday, 30 March 2017

FCD: Preview and Tribute


For the last three years I have been a big fan of the First Contact Day events in the U.K.

They may not be the vast, globe-dominating Showmasters pieces, crazily priced, attended by thousands and milked for every penny possible because they are better than that in my opinion and FCD is genuinely produced by fans and run with love for the genre and all it encompasses.

Whether it's been the Leicester Space Centre in 2015 (did we really all fit into that one room?!!!), the Telford Park Inn hotel in 2016 or this year, the Telford International Centre, every minute has been entertaining, fun and amazing to experience. It's given me the chance to meet up with fellow fans I've only chatted to on the internet (Dan Adams!), have a scout through some memorabilia, see a Red Shirt world record be created and chat to Trekkies and actors from the franchise that I love. 

Indeed, to this day, two of my favourite interviews have come out of FCD from John Carrigan and Aron Eisenberg. Both were a delight to talk to and it was only though the universe of FCD that I got a chance to meet both of these gents; thank you.

It truly is a fan event from fans for fans and at its core it comes down to the unwavering efforts and energy of Wil Ross and David Limburg. Now this week I had hoped to chat to the faces of FCD but due to their focus on the event other things have taken a much greater priority and I believe it's really important to recognise their efforts because man, do they put in a lot of effort, time and their very souls.

Hell, Out of the Ashes 2016 was their brilliant recovery from a series of crushing blows which totalled the original plan for FCD (least said the better). Others might have walked away but these guys didn't, ploughing time and funds into the event which was, in the end, a resounding success but came at a price which could have grounded this year's event before its name was even whispered.

Their spirit and ethic is at the beating heart of FCD and has been since the very beginning making each event bigger and building on the success of the previous year. Now I can't speak for them but it does seem these guys - and the team they have in support - pretty much live FCD when they're not doing the "day job". Every day there seems to be some new news from these two, something else that's happening and there's a real feeling of passion and love for the subject and the event itself. I wish I knew these guys better than catching them once a year in the flesh and then on a smattering of Skype calls because they are some of the most genuine and friendly people I have ever met. Each time I've been to FCD there's always been a warm welcome and the team are always accommodating. It's a wonderful experience.

What I never understand is some of the grief that the FCD team get because things don't quite work out. So what if Jonathan Frakes couldn't make it or things changed the format of last year? They still soldiered on through and made it the best it could possibly be. I challenge those who have been negative to try running their own event - I suspect it's not as easy as they might think and I seem to remember from last year the organisers virtually not sleeping for three days. Things happen, life happens and they have adjusted accordingly. Last year's guest list wasn't as large as planned but it was still entertaining from the first to the last minute and you couldn't complain in any way.

Over the last trio of years Wil and David have managed to book Star Trek authors James Swallow and Una McCormack, Voyager's Garrett Wang and Robert Picardo, Star Wars stormtrooper Alan Flyng, Deep Space Nine's J G Hertzler and Aron Eisenberg, Babylon 5's Claudia Christian and Bruce Boxleitner, Stargate's David Blue and Rainbow Sun Francks and Star Trek Phase II and friend of Gene Roddenberry, John Carrigan. But it's not just about the guests. FCD feels like a sci-fi family, the feeling of support and dedication to the organisers flows through every nuance of the weekend whatever happens. Y'know it's not 100% slick 100% of the time but that's some of it's charm and warmth. In a way it shouldn't be perfect and streamlined like some of the bigger events because this is 100% fan-made and has never lost that unique feeling along the way.

Once again this year promises to be huge with a great guest line up, talks and much more across the weekend. In fact, tonight will see the the first of the weekend's events and I wish I could be there but other matters have to take priority. I am really excited for FCD once again and look forward to another packed weekend. For me this has become the must-attend event of the year; hands down. 

Now we do know that this will be the last Out of the Ashes but will it be the end of FCD? I hope that this weekend closes that book and helps start a new chapter in the life of this event because I reckon the calendar would be a lot emptier without it.

So to all those involved with FCD this weekend, I salute you. You make one heck of a good event and here's to many more. See you there!