Have you always wanted to meet your favourite movie or television personality? Are you a person who likes to collect autographs? Then you should pay a visit to one of the many conventions held across the UK.
As a general rule there are two types of conventions. The first is an open convention. This usually consists of a mixture of personalities from numerous television programmes and movies. It is also open to the general public and basically works on a first-come first-served basis.
The second is a film- or television-specific convention. These types consist of a small group of personalities from a particular movie or television programme. They are usually limited in numbers, depending on the convention’s location, and work on a ticket-sales basis.
Open conventions are usually held over a couple of days, with the personalities choosing to either attend all days or only one of the days1. The larger conventions usually have free entry, however some do charge2. You can expect to pay for the smaller conventions.
If you decide to go to one of the many open conventions, such as Collectormania, the London Film and Comic Con or London Expo, it is always advisable to arrive early. If you are travelling a long distance, it might be an idea to travel the day before and stay at a hotel or bed and breakfast.
The main thing to remember is to keep checking the relevant websites, etc for information about the people you are going to see. It is not unknown for guests to cancel or even change the days that they will attend the day before the convention begins, although this is quite rare.
Once you arrive you can expect to queue for quite a while. Many of the larger conventions have solved this issue by introducing 'virtual queue tickets'. This basically means that numbered tickets will be handed out at the start of the convention, leaving you to wander around the convention site. Announcements will be made stating which block of numbers are now being taken – this is usually done in blocks of 20 - 30 (eg, 120 - 150). You then make your way to the queue, pay the required amount and will usually have your autograph within ten minutes.
Depending on the popularity of the personality you are seeing, you can expect to pay anywhere from £10 to £30 for an autograph. There are also additional charges if you want a professional photo with your chosen personality, which are usually about £20.
There are basically three rules: you will be allowed to take either a posed photo with your chosen star, a non-posed photo or no photos at all. The non-posed photo basically means that you can take your photo while the personality is signing your autograph, but they will not stand up and pose with you. Generally, people will just lean on the table while the picture is being taken. Other restrictions may include the use of mobile phones or standing to one side to take a photo.
Events and Stalls
Of course, the stars are the main attraction. However, some of these conventions have other events going on, such as open forums, interactive events and even screenings of the star's latest project. Some even hold an after-hours dinner/party, where you will get the chance to meet the stars on a more personal basis.
Many events will have stalls selling all manner of memorabilia that are available for open sale. A lot of the items are quite reasonably priced. However, more rare items might require a second mortgage.
- There is always a good mix of celebrities, from a much wider range of genres.
- Much cheaper than the more specific conventions.
- Good photographic opportunities.
- Usually very crowded.
- It can take all day to get just a couple of autographs.
- Long queues.
- Limited facilities.
Movie- and TV-Specific Conventions
If you are an avid fan of a particular movie or television show, you may wish to spend that extra bit of money in order to travel to a more specific convention based on your particular show or movie. There are loads to choose from, including Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek.
One of the biggest upsides to these conventions is that you don't have to worry about getting to the event early, as there will usually be a timetable of organised events set out over a period of days. However, as stated before, it may be advisable to travel the day before and stay overnight somewhere. In some cases you will have to organise your own accommodation for the entire event, as this will not be included in the price of the ticket. Some of these conventions do take this into account, though, and will include an extra night's stay and hotel accommodation in the price of the ticket.
Once you arrive at the location, you will normally be met by one of the organisers and given a convention pack. The pack should contain a timetable of events and a few little goodies – it is generally left for you to decide which events and talks you want to attend. You will also need to book things such as signings if this is not already included in the price of your ticket.
Ticket prices can vary, depending on the size of the event and who is going. You can pay as little as £60, but you may end up having to pay for your autographs, photos and accommodation. The all-inclusive events do appear to be expensive, but when you think about what you're getting, it can work out as a worthwhile investment. One all-inclusive event, Slayer Cruise, costs up to $3,599. However, you don't just get to meet the stars, you also get a one-week cruise and all autographs and photos are included in the price.
In many cases the personalities are more than happy for you to take as many photos as you like – this is usually because part of the event will involve a photo session with a professional photographer which you will either have to pay for (about £20, again) or will be included in the price of your ticket.
Events and Stalls
In this type of convention, the events are more organised and a lot more intimate. They might include chats, dinner with the stars, parties and screenings, etc. Some conventions will have a limited number of stalls to buy memorabilia and may even have an auction or two.
- A lot more intimate.
- More events and better organised.
- You're almost guaranteed a photo and autograph of all the stars attending.
- Better facilities – in some cases your ticket price will include the cost of your stay or may even be as part of a holiday.
- Usually the more expensive option.
- Travelling to the location usually means having to travel a long way.
- Limited genre – conventions are usually based on 'sci-fi' or 'cult' movies and television.