Miscellanea and Ephemeron
10/29/2007 Archived Entry: "An Interview with Douggary Grant of SiliCon 2007"
Douggary Grant Interview
I had the pleasure of attending my first SiliCon and loved it, wish I could have stayed longer. I also never got to thank Douggary Grant, the Convention Chairperson, for my press pass (thanks, Douggary), but I did want to ask him a few questions. He very graciously consented to this email interview.
Ginger Mayerson: How long has SiliCon San Jose been happening?
Douggary Grant: SiliCon in one form or another has been around for about 10 years, it started from the ashes of Time-Con (a straight up sci-fi convention).
GM: What inspired the convention?
DG: Dan Lopez the owner of the show wanted to have his own convention after working in the community for so many years and really wanted give something back so he started it up as a NPO benefitting diabetes research. It has changed over the years (including taking a hiatus for a few in the late 90s) after I and my co-chair Chris Knight came on board it has become a full fledged multi-media convention catering to all aspects of fandom including sci-fi, anime, comics, and horror.
GM: Who else is involved in planning and execution of the con? I don't want to leave anyone out.
DG: TONS of people, companies, and fan groups contribute in various ways from financial or other forms of support to actual hours worked at or before the show. Wow, lot's of people work on the show There is a formal BOD and several Dept. Heads. A cast of thousands! (lol) OMG, I almost didn't want to answer this question, because there is no way I could mention everyone!
GM: Does SiliCon have a Mission Statement or some kind of thematic mission? Why do you all knock yourselves out every year?
DG: Chris and I established our sort of unpublished motto which is "Include everyone, exclude no one" We really try to adhere to that. Even if a certain part of fandom doesn't directly appeal to us, we make an effort to have it represented. Personally I knock my self out for two reasons, one it is a very deserving charity and that is important to me, and make a convention that is just plain fun to attend.
GM: I had fun at the con, was it a good con for you?
DG: Yes! I am exhausted, but I had a blast...I wouldn't trade these sleepless nights for anything.
GM: What worked or didn't work this year? Anything you'd do different or the same next year?
DG: I think we tried to do a little too much this year and some things fell through the cracks. Honestly I made this big push to include a lot of internet review sites, bloggers, podcasters, etc. like yourself. I wanted to create this caucus where all these folks got together and had fun. Unfortunately I was WAY too busy to involve myself in any of that at the show so I have no idea how it went, was it OK? Next year we are streamlining the show, more focus and better execution.
GM: Has it always been in San Jose? At the Doubletree hotel?
DG: no...there have been several venues used throughout the years, but the DoubleTree seems to be everyone's favorite.
GM: Were there any particular advantages to the Doubletree hotel? Other than I could have walked to it from the airport (I was wearing heels, so I took the prompt and speedy hotel shuttle).
DG: The DoubleTree has a long history of being a "con friendly" hotel (even back when it was the Red Lion). Besides having the 2nd floor (commonly called the party floor) with it's connected balchony and a super friendly (and understanding) staff. It's close to the airport and just the right amount of function space for us, a perfect fit!
GM: Have you considered other locations for next year?
DG: We obviously have thought about what happens when we out grow the hotel, we'd like to stay in the South Bay (we are named after SiliCon Valley!). Maybe the San Jose or Santa Clara convention centers? Who knows maybe we'll take over Moscone Center in a couple of years!
GM: What are the advantages and disadvantages of the location you have in mind for next year?
DG: Obviously if the con continues to grow at the rate it has been we'll outgrow the DoubleTree and HAVE to move onto a convention center proper...The advantage is more space, but when you get that large you almost always lose some of that intimacy fans crave...it will be our challenge to keep that feeling while still growing the show.
GM: You had a lot of interesting panels. How do you decide on your programming?
DG: A lot of the programming comes straight from the panelists. It is a great thing to have active participants who look forward their presentation all year. A lot of it falls into place and some of it is cooked up by staff. To tell you the truth one of the biggest changes next year will be (gasp) LESS programming. Two years running we've received input that people are missing events (or meals) because there is too much stuff to do. We want to boil that down to a few "must see" events like the Costume Contest or SFX Demo and add a few of the specialty panels sprinkled in.
GM: I didn't see many exhibitors and no medium to medium-large publishers, actually, I don't think I saw ANY publishers. Why is that?
DG: Actually we had Illusive Arts, Atomic Bear Press, Posuer Ink, just to name a few. You might have missed them in the sea of film production companies that invaded this year (we had over a dozen in attendance) One thing we do is try to stand behind small and independent press, giving them the opportunity to get themselves out there for the fans to see. We did have sponsorship from DC this year (they sent us a ton of stuff for the goodie bags and freebie table) but the large publishers really only do 1-2 cons a year (like Comic-Con and maybe a wizard World) we'll get there eventually, but for now we're happy to give the little guy some space to shine.
GM: I noticed a Bad Boy Bail Bonds, we have them in Los Angeles (not that I've ever availed myself of their services), product placement on the tag neck holder thingy. What's the Bad Boy Bail Bonds connection with SiliCon?
DG: Haha, besides getting a large portion of my paycheck? Just kidding. They are a very community minded business that I had some contact with back when I was heavily involved with the Rocky Horror scene (last word on that!). They were happy to be a sponsor.
GM: Thanks again for the press pass, Douggary. I'd like to come back next year.
The Wapshott Press
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