Intervention 2016

Intervention 2016

Intervention began as a gathering of creativity and nerddom – a weekend to connect with artists and writers and podcasters, share ideas and inspiration, perhaps just hang out and enjoy some games. While remaining a friendly makers’ space, Intervention has shifted its scope into the broader realms of science fiction and fantasy. Last year, I had the privilege to voice act alongside the awesome Terry Molloy. Intervention 7’s guest lineup included actors, writers, and directors from various incarnations of Star Trek, Doctor Who, Buffy, and other such iconic properties.

And a special appearance from Thomas Dolby, who I mainly knew for that one song that everybody else does as well. I had no idea of said song’s importance to those early years of electronic music and music video, let alone Dolby’s broad range of accomplishments as an educator and technological innovator. His presentation, Map of the Floating City, was named after an album released track by track through a steampunk online game inspired by the views of container ships off the boat he refurbished as a recording studio that would be safe from the flooding in his tiny British seaside village. Dolby spoke with great joy, wit, and appreciation for his audience. He even performed three songs for us, live looping to recreate the backing tracks of his encore on the fly.

Adventures in Voice Acting – with Dwight Schultz, Todd Haberkorn, Robert Axelrod, and Jon St. John – combined straight talk about the craft with improv party time. Roaming the audience to take questions, Todd Haberkorn riffed off people’s T-shirts and gadgets and in-progress knitting projects. The actors all riffed off each other with a natural and amicable chemistry. We heard how bad vocal impressions can give rise to new characters, and Lord Zedd ordered pizza from Duke Nukem.

Back in high school when it was released, I loved the Tank Girl movie because its titular protagonist rocked her own punk aesthetics and kicked everybody’s ass Riot Grrl style. So of course I flipped my lid at the chance to see Intervention founder Oni Hartstein interview its director, Rachel Talalay. She spoke frankly about the limitations of Tank Girl’s production contributing to its critical and box office failure – not being able to push the envelope as far as she and the character’s creators wanted to, editing by committee that threw out her decisions, subtle material omitted in favor of the basic and overt. If made today, Tank Girl would be much different thanks to advances in special effects technology and the boundary-stretching precedent of movies like South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. Talalay imagined a similar feel to Mad Max: Fury Road, her favorite film – and mine! – of 2015. She shared a trailer for her upcoming movie, On the Farm, based on a book about the victims of a notorious Vancouver serial killer – spotlighting the stories of women, many of whom were cast aside by society, instead of stoking the killer’s infamy.

I got a refresher on my favorite drawing package at Liz Staley’s Intro to Clip Studio Paint (Manga Studio 5), which focused on the elegant panel, and text layout features used for sequential artwork. I got new perspectives on writing as well. As one who plans key points of structure and builds out from those bones, I struggle with the discovery of potential through quantity that events like NaNoWriMo are meant to inspire. I also struggle with finishing Good Enough for the Time Being. Write-O-Rama and Time-Limited Creative Challenges gave me some thoughts on finding and keeping momentum – writing out a long list of ideas every time I get stuck in Do What Now Land, roughing out one event or conversation or narrative blurb enough to show its purpose, generally training myself to create or tangibly plan some new content every time I sit down to write. Thanks to a panelist who uses such events to try out different media without pressure to show any skill, Time-Limited Creative Challenges also planted a seed of renewed interest for my long dormant hobby of songwriting.

Presented by Toonseum founder Joe Wos, The Comical Side of Election Season highlighted the progressive aspects of popular write-in joke candidates other than the usual Disney favorites. Gracie Allen campaigned with her own brand of absurd airheaded satire. Pogo stood up for the environment and against McCarthy. Pat Paulsen, predecessor to the likes of Stephen Colbert, tackled sex education, gun control, and the draft, moving around onscreen so late ’60s network suits couldn’t seamlessly censor his material. Joe Wos spoke against the fear of negative reactions that stifles honest journalism. He stood against this fear as well, emphasizing his own opinions on the death of satire and the parties guilty of its murder.

In the spirit of collaboration, Intervention’s founders happily shared how they work their magic. Oni Hartstein and community manager Kara Dennison discussed the timeless truths and shifting challenges of marketing your work, from keeping it real and relatable to injecting yourself into the social media firehose – and, thanks to the degrading signal-to-noise ratio of said firehose, partying like it’s 1999 with a renewed emphasis on networking in person. Want to Start a Convention? Not sure that I do, but I liked hearing different perspectives with a common thread of solid business sense. Oni lent her voice to an episode of Managlitch City Underground, which I guest acted in last year and enjoyed well enough although I only spectated this time around – especially thanks to a blooper outburst of expletive within an Oh Golly script that had the whole room roaring.

Guests also shared time with the attendees through photo opportunities, autograph sessions, and a meet and greet party. I said hello to Rene Auberjonois, who was enjoying the down to earth atmosphere of Intervention and even helping out with children’s activities. Robert Axelrod asked about my creative interests and kindly said that it takes a talented writer to create good characters – to which I replied that it takes a talented actor to bring them to life. On the final morning, I ran into Todd Haberkorn and Jon St. John just hanging out in the lobby, both of whom were incredibly appreciative of my compliments on their panel.

Too bad that the meet and greet conflicted with a presentation by Jon St. John. From what Spousal Unit told me, it was everything one would expect and more. A showcase of his most hated roles, from terrible video game characters to a cat toy commercial with unwitting innuendo! Performing said innuendo as said terrible characters! Prank calling people’s phones! Passing out tequila shots and playing Rock Band – though he was buried about fifty deep in fans, so Spousal Unit bowed out at that point. I did hear about all of this before my chance meetup in the lobby, so at least I got to ask whether Bavarian Cat Toys would give my pets BALLS OF STEEL.