Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Con They Named Cold

It's a dismal afternoon here, the weather is apparently indifferent with murk. The Christmas spirit however seems to be in full swing, with frazzled shoppers in the high street & the television filled with the saccharine type of adverts which make me want to throw things at the screen...more so than usual....So, I have cocooned myself in my room with the iPod on shuffle & am trying to make some sense of the shenanigans which occurred a couple of weekends back.  It was to be a civilised meeting of minds & personalities for an in-depth discussion of a brand new independent film...some of the words in that previous sentenced turned out to be complete nonsense at..... #ColdCon 2012.

Now, a little background before I begin.  There is a show on telly called Merlin. In this show there are many talented folk.  Some of those folk play Knights of the Round Table. One of those fellas decided playing at Knights on horseback in the woods, while looking moody & swishing swords about the place was far too easy and in his free time put pen to paper to make a film. Blagging talent from wherever possible, he realised filmmaking was a tad on the pricy side and enlisted help from that, sometimes, great social media network known as Twitter. Somewhere along the line a convention was mentioned to assist with funds, promotion & to generally hug it out with those who contributed. I basically heard there would be hugs with Eoin Macken & Tom Hopper (plus special guests) and booked tickets for both sessions quicker than I could say 'Credit Card Debt'.

The Morning Session 

(I will point out here that this will contain spoilers for Season 5 of Merlin...if you don't want to know then I suggest you just check out the pictures of the pretty men & ignore all the blah, blah, blah)

The boys were running late, very late, extremely late in the morning.  On account of still filming the movie in Ireland until only a few hours before the con. But it was all fine because thanks to modern technology and the quick thinking of a guy, who would end up with his very own hashtag (even if he didn't actually know where that particular key was), we were kept appraised of their dash across Londontown.  Reminiscent of those heady days of Challenge Anneka, but instead of Dave the cameraman...we had #Strangelaptopguy.

The tweets came thick and fast as Eoin & Tom had issues with public transport, became lost, got a taxi, bickered like a married couple (over twitter, even though presumably they were in fact sitting next to each other), ran through the streets of London & Tom begged for food...repeatedly.  It was surreal.  It was hilarious, & the quick wit of #coollaptopguy (re-named by himself) replying to the tweets of anyone referring to #coldcon had the crowd thoroughly entertained.

(whoo-hoo, there's one of mine...& before you say it...I am aware I spelled 'anticipation' wrong...stupid phone)

Even extra guest Alex Vlahos (aka Mordred 2.0) got involved. Popping in to kick the talks off, he quickly became engaged with the online adventures of Eoin & Tom ( I'm aware this sounds like a show on CBeebies) eventually getting Eoin on the loudspeaker of his phone when it appeared the pair were about to stop on route to feed Tom.....from memory the exchange was brief, involved Alex telling Eoin off for swearing and was drowned out by 100 odd squeeing fan girls.

Alex was a champ & got stuck in answering questions on his lonesome. He talked about his father seeing him as Mordred for the first time on screen 'Well done, you've perfected that evil stare you had when you were four & we told you no to having sweets'...to be honest Alex has the kind of piercing blue eyes which I would happily hand over my last Rolo for.

He talked about the extra, extra special & very hush hush guest who was due later in the morning session, singing 'I know something you don't know' before further commenting that unfortunately 'My cat couldn't be here today' (an ongoing twitter joke about his adorable kitten Dr. Watson) 'He's on a flight to L.A...he has a part in a pilot for NBC...actually I need to talk to Eoin about that, as he's just missed out to Dr. Watson' Alex nods in his best evil Bond villain style..and we have an early indication as to the tone of the Q & A's.

He was asked how working on Merlin had changed his life 'Well I wouldn't be here with you lovely lot'...well played Mr. Vlahos. Generally it had raised his profile as an actor and presented more opportunities.

Finally, about an hour late, in breezed Eoin & Tom...with an air of coolness which was commendable considering the earlier insanity...Eoin tossed a backhanded compliment in the direction of Alex's jumper & people in the audience literally threw food at Tom.

So, with one mic to share between the three of them, Tom clutching his Banana & Eoin sending giggles through the audience with every Loreal style hair flick...the morning session of #coldcon stepped up a gear.

We began with Tom showing off his talents as a QVC sales person, expertly displaying a bag which had been made by a fan who was an extra in the film in Dublin (late to the party as usual, had I realised this was an option I would have been over to Ireland in a heartbeat).

Eoin is inexplicably crawling around the floor at this moment as a question comes over about when & where the film will be out.  As a voice on the floor, he explains that as they had only finished filming 7 hours before 'next weekend is probably not going to be in the equation' In theory after editing, adding music, winning film awards etc around this time next year was the general plan.

A brilliant guy asks what pretty much every woman in the room had been thinking...Why did Gwaine & Percival have their shirts off for the first two episode of series 5? (because there IS a God)...Eoin puts the blame on Tom saying that 'he has it in his contract...there is a certain percentage of screen time where he has to be topless....& I was unfortunate to be roped in with him' (And...because there IS a God!)

A question arises about whether wearing the costume helps the actors become the character.  The lady asking came prepared with a picture of herself in a Percival costume, which was brave/impressive/showed one of the many problematic moments in cloak wearing as it was half shut in a door.

Alex pointed out that when Eoin had first starting filming he 'didn't know what Gwaine sounded like' which was met with laughter all round.  Eoin explained that he had planned to play Gwaine with a Scottish accent, but due to the director  & another member of the crew both being Scots, he 'bottled it'. He instead  just 'started talking really deep...which sounded cool' (if 'cool' equates to sending the ladies all a quiver, then yes...it does indeed sound cool) Tom, however, interjects with the notion that although Gwaine's deep voice sounds great on film to act alongside it is a quite different experience. 'It does sound really cool...quite jealous...when you're acting with it...it sounds hilarious' He shares a crafty, comical glance with Eoin before lowering his own voice to demonstrate the word 'Deep'  'but it comes across really good' He pats Eoin on the back 'So well done bud'

At this point, during the many chuckles throughout the room, Tom attempts to remember the original question and Eoin snatches away the mic with some payback banter 'she was just saying when you put on the costume, does it make you feel like you're more in character?....the answer is yes' to which Tom replies, with a shrug, that he 'doesn't have a lot of costume' ...Eoin concedes.

Alex had started off the series as 'bandit Mordred' which was a little different to 'Knight Mordred' and when he put on the chain-mail he had 'felt a lot younger...because obviously next to this man....' he gestures to the towering hulk of Tom Hopper standing beside him, guns folded 'And this man...' nodding to Eoin 'tight shirt' Macken, his voice suddenly sounding deliberately self conscious and young '....in chain-mail I felt like a tiny little kid' Tom without missing a beat, grunts out 'You are...a little boy.' Alex shoulders slump... he wins the hearts of 150 women.

Favourite line in Merlin

Tom, looking to the ceiling with arms folded 'not a lot' which immediately sends all in the room into fits of laughter. Alex suggests that he 'says Sire really well' Tom contemplates for a moment 'Sire is more of a Rupert (Young aka Sir Leon) one' and immediately follows with an impression 'Sire...a message...has arrived' delivered in the tone of serious with furrowed brow undertones & a smidgen of William Shatner. Before Tom gets into to further trouble, he points the mic in Eoins direction. 'I can't remember any of my lines' A girl in the audience comes to his rescue as she is wearing a bracelet with a Gwaine quote on it.  Eoin then proceeds to read it out...in the 'deep' Gwaine voice...'Nobility is defined by what you do, not by who you are....ah, I remember that one...that was a good line' sounding impressed and a little surprised, before adding 'Quite important line in the context of the show & the character'  (yes, indeed it was Eoin...but bless your buffudlement & slight buffoonary...I can almost see why the casting director picked you for Gwaine)

Filming locations

Eoin on filming in France 'France is great...you get cheese & wine & stuff.' (Me squinting from the 4th row...'It looks like Eoin, & walks like Eoin, and yet...sounds so much like Gwaine') He continues to comment that Wales is cold & they film Merlin in a big damp warehouse.  I get the impression that it's not his favourite place to film...from all the words which say it isn't his favourite place to film.  At this point #coollaptopguy typed on the big screen that 'Wales is cool' & Tom mentions that 'Internet guy is from Wales' a cheer is heard from a  few members of the audience, prompting an 'oh, and there are some sheep in' from Tom '80's stand up' Hopper.

Tom mentions filming in Forest Fawr, near Cardiff...where he has 'never spent so much time in one forest'...yep, Merlin does lean towards multiple outings in pretty forest locations, also the exact same rocky gulley for every ambush scene in the series...ever!...Before Tom can come to any solid conclusion about his favourite location Eoin whisks away the mic. 'We don't have any favourite locations, because it's always really cold' He reminisces 'We had a really crap day...' a discussion breaks out about which episode this occurred in (episode 6) 'Anyway, we were on a quest....'Eoin glances at Tom 'Am I allowed to say that...who cares, we go on a quest...every...single....episode' he continues to say it was freezing cold, really wet & they all hated it....'It was the most miserable two weeks of our entire lives...so remember that when you're all watching it' Sorry Eoin, I was too busy watching Team Merlin be all 'grr arg!' and 'arse kickery'... the magical powers of editing prevailed.

Now, the next question came from a woman who wanted advice on directing a theatre play.  The premise of which was a modern retelling of the story of Jesus Christ, where he and all his disciples are gay men....set in Texas....yep...that face you're pulling right now...that was the general expression of the whole room....shock/awe/befuddlement/stepped into The Twilight Zone....

Tom, who had been about to take a sip from a bottle of Lucozade (other energy drinks are available) at that moment, opens mouth...closes mouth...kind of laughs with an air of 'WTF'.  He turns his head to face the crowd (whom at this point are laughing hysterically) and furrows his brow.  Finally he takes a swig of the drink & continues to process what has just been said, as Alex answers (bravely) 'Make sure the actors learn their lines...and...err...Wow!' Tom takes the mic 'Say that again!' the timbre, a slightly higher octave than normal.  The Questioner repeats the premise.  Tom smiled, still in disbelief, turning to Eoin 'I mean it's almost on the verge of genius' shakes his head as he stutters 'I....I....I'm stumped....who went...' does 'lightbulb' gesture 'I've got it!' delivered with an incredulous expression....something is mentioned about David Walliams...then, Next Question.

'Speaking of gay men...do you guys 'Ship' Merthur?' (that moment when you realise you are actually living in an alternate reality controlled by Russell T. Davies & John Barrowman)

Alex does a brilliant double take between Tom & the person who asked the question. (while some of us in the audience are adopting the slightly nervous, cringe pose which seems to happen involuntarily when such a question is asked to the actors) Tom 'Speaking of gay men....what?!?...Ship Merthur?' the pairs complete and utter bafflement to the concept was priceless.  Tom continues 'Do we like the idea of Merlin & Arthur as a couple' slowly sinking in 'Well...the many nights I've lost sleep thinking about that' Alex, completely and utterly bemused (& adorable) attempted the reach for the mic, draws his hand back to scratch his stubble in brief contemplation before asking 'why is there a ship?'

The room irrupts with guffaws of laughter as the term is explained to mean 'relationship'...before the pair can even begin to digest this nugget of fandom, suddenly pairings are being flung at Tom & Alex from all directions...Percival & Gwaine...Perwaine...something which Tom repeats with a tone of incredulity/surprise...or possibly... interest. Then he asked 'Merlin & Mordred...what's that one called I dread to think' (Oh, dear Tom...can open...worms...everywhere!)...the answer is of course 'Merdred' '...sounds like Murder!'

At this point...Eoin, who had stepped out of the room in the middle of the whole 'Gay Jesus in Texas' thing...returned... & absorbed the conversation taking place 'Do you know what...I walk out of the room for one minute...' because in no way would Eoin have contributed to the current tone of Q & A.

Moving on...Acting tips

Eoin runs with the mic on this one 'I've been doing this for 8 years...Tom 7...Alex is a blow-in' Queue Alex's best 'sad puppy face' Alex begins to talk about the benefits of drama school while Tom whips out his iphone 5 to check out the HD video function...& he and Eoin begin the Cold sequel which will surely be titled 'Ships: A Portrait of An Englishman, An Irishman & A Welshman' (TM)

Who is Your Favourite Superhero?

Eoin's answers immediately with 'Wolverine'...after a little contemplation Alex follows with 'Spider-Man' instinctively miming the associated hand gestures.  Tom ponders the longest, to Eoin's chagrin 'It's not a hard question' Finally Tom settles for Iron-Man, as Tony Stark is such a...and here Tom adopts his best 'inner city ghetto' voice...'Play-ah!' Tom continues his worship of all things Stark as Eoin & Alex look on.  I can only deduce that this is actually what Tom spends his nights thinking about. ..

So that was the Q & A with the Knights of Camelot...but, there was more...an extra special guest...TBC


Karen said...

Love it !!! Hilarious!

Emma said...

Hi Karen...The boys were on top form & it didn't take long for the innuendos & banter to start flying around the place...guess that's what occurs on no sleep & high consumption of energy drinks....not that I was complaining ;-)

Montydog13 said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you - from one who couldn't be there - probably just as well - it's embarrassing being a middle aged "fan girl"! Really looking forward to the next installment

Emma said...

Montydog13 - I only discovered conventions in my 20s and don't know why I didn't start going before. Best of times are always had, and the actors are always lovely...sometimes completely mad...but lovely ;-)

Karen said...

Hi Emma, Yes they certainly were on top form, especially considering they'd had ZERO sleep!! Such really good guys who truly love their fans.... Loving your blogs! Great memories!! It was my 10 year old, Pippa, who asked Colin if he knew Eoin before Merlin,so I guess we should forgive such an odd question from an "innocent"!!;-)LOL..
Your blogs are such great fun (FABULOUS pics too!!), I didn't get to enjoy ALL of it on the day as I was part of the crew, but your humour has made up the gaps! THANKS!!!