Chronicles of a Fledgling Filmmaker: Fandom Life - How Being A Fan Can Be Productive
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How to use fandoms to boost your resume...
Okay, so the fandom mention. I’ve said a few times in so much detail that I wouldn’t have my job in the industry if it weren’t for my obsession with fandoms and being so involved in my hobbies. To be specific, I used to run a weekly video chat for Wizards of Waverly Place and ran some character role play accounts. These gave me the skill set I needed to apply for the initial creative job that led to my current career. Apparently people want more details than that, though, so for those of you who’ve asked me about it, here’s the play by play:
It started with Twitter. I was pretty active on there by the time I really started getting into Wizards of Waverly Place. Yes, it was a Disney kid’s show. And I was in my twenties. Shut up. I’m allowed to watch kid shows. I proclaim my youthful looks come from my non-adult attitude towards life!
Anyway, so I made friends with a bunch of other fans who followed the show and the show creators’ Twitter accounts. One of them got it in her head that we should start a weekly video chat every Friday when the show aired so we could sit and watch together and fangirl/boy out over everything as a group activity. She needed help figuring out how to get the thing running, though, so I volunteered myself since by that time I was already used to hosting panels at anime conventions. Co-hosting a video chat to basically do the same was no big deal, and I was good with organizing things like that, so I scoured the internet to locate the best platform for our needs (it was Tinychat at the time) and got it all set up for the group. Then we simply did it! We got on for our first show, and it was sort of a mess, but a totally fun one, and each week we had more and more people coming in to watch us and the show together.
Over time, my co-host had to abandon me for actual life, but I kept it up on my own just fine. We went from half hour chats that mostly just covered the episode to staying on for hours afterwards, playing games, answering trivia, having karaoke sessions, and eventually having actual guests from the show come in to answer questions.
WATCH ALEX INTERVIEW MATT SMITH, STAR OF WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE:
We became the “official” chatroom for the series, and ran it successfully for three years until the show finally came to an end.
During that time, one of the show’s creators held a Twitter competition to get him followers. Whoever earned him the most followers got invited to a private screening of the show, and I jumped at that chance. I owned that contest. Between the followers I already had from hosting the chat and my general tenacity to Tweet every person who so much as even mentioned WoWP, I got him something like five hundred followers over the course of one week. After winning, I asked the show creator if I could bring guests, and he allowed me to bring several of the kids along with me from the chatroom.
So for the first time, WoWP fans from literally all over the world were coming together in person to watch a private screening of their favorite show. It was my first time in Hollywood and my first time where I would meet some of my favorite celebrities. It was a dream come true!
Now, phase two of my successful slide into the industry was starting around the same time with a completely different fandom. I was also very much into Life Unexpected, having been a fan and follower of Kris Polaha’s works for a little while. Kris didn’t have a huge fanbase at that time, so I was a regular on his Facebook page, sending him praise and support for whatever he did. It was on his page that I met a fellow fan who happened to be the owner of a television review blog. It was kind of a funny moment because one second we were chatting with Kris, and the next we forgot all about him and were chatting with each other. On his page. Because I found out she ran the blog and was looking for a writer, and I told her that I had just won this trip to Los Angeles and could totally write about it for her. Much to Kris’s amusement, she hired me right there on the spot. We joked about it after, about how being a fan of Kris Polaha apparently gets other people jobs.
So I went to LA, went to the screening, played tourist with all my chatroom kids while also playing field trip monitor. I freaked out (internally) when my celebrity crush came up to take a pic with me, and then went home and wrote all about it. My first real blog post went kind of everywhere. The blog editor loved it, the cast and crew of the show loved it, they spread it around to their followers so I got more readers, and overall just made a fantastic first impression as an entertainment blogger.
From there I continued to impress with my episode reviews - Kris often reposting my segments on Life Unexpected so that I got a little closer with other members of that show, too. Because of that, I was alerted to the fact that one of the other actors was premiering his horror film at the Austin Film Festival. Like the dedicated little journalist that I was, I decided to go to the festival to support him and other movies that were airing there. I did some research, got myself a free journalist pass to the festival, lined up entry into a bunch of the films so I could drop reviews on the blog, and scored interviews (I interviewed Dax Shephard, much to my delight) and red carpet access all over the place. I paid all my own travel expenses, though, because it was something I volunteered to do, not something my blog sent me to do. And it was totally worth it. I got a lot of attention from those posts, got to go to lunch with one of my favorite producers, and had yet more material to put on my resume.
Enter Twitter, once again. So now I was doing all this stuff and sort of making a name for myself (while I was still living up in small town Washington, mind you). One of the actors from my all time favorite show ever - The Magnificent Seven - tweeted that he was going to be in Seattle. I jumped all over that, introducing myself and asking him if he wouldn’t mind talking about the show with me (the show had been off the air for something around ten years by that time), and he said yes. So off I went to Seattle to conduct this interview with one of the people who made me want to get into the entertainment field in the first place. It was one of the highlights of my entire life. That meeting led to a friendship, which meant I had somebody down here in Los Angeles to show me around and hang out with when I came down to do journalism events; and when I eventually put together and ran a whole weekend convention for The Magnificent Seven at the Los Angeles Convention Center, he was right there to help me out. Rick Worthy. Still one of the sweetest people I have ever met...
WATCH ALEX INTERVIEW RICK WORTHY, STAR OF THE MAGINFICENT SEVEN:
After that I flew myself down to cover the Emmys. You would think I would spend a lot of time talking about that, because, hey! The freakin’ Emmy’s! But to be honest, I think that was the most boring journalist thing I have ever done. It was fun getting all dressed up and being within inches of a lot of television stars, and my blog post about it certainly did well, but it’s not something I would choose to do again. It was pretty boring. There was nothing going on. You get herded into your seat, then you’re stuck there watching hours of speeches, nothing special happens when the broadcast goes to commercial breaks. The only entertaining part was when Lonely Island came on to perform.
Looked really good on my resume, though, so it gets some kudos for that.
So, yeah, basically I just inserted myself into places in my fandoms where I would get noticed, went a little above and beyond to help promote the shows and actors that I loved, got my own fan following based on that, spent a lot of my own money being the biggest fangirl of all time (but being respectful about it because nobody likes a crazy person), and all of that piled up to having a lot of impressive stuff on my resume. Added to the fact that I continued to write fanfiction and run role play social network accounts, when the job came up to promote a new series via different platforms while writing in the voices of the characters, I was pretty much a shoo-in for that position. Haven’t left the company since.
And there you have it. Yes. I can proudly say I earned my career through being a fan of a kid’s television show, an actor who hadn’t made his break just yet, and an old western that had been off the air for a decade. I call that a win in my book.