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Dragon*Con on the Horizon: an Interview with Dan Carroll
Created by ProfHoppingood on 6/17/2013 7:16:43 PM

Steampunk Chronicle talks to Dragon*Con Media Director Dan Carroll for insights into one of the top cons in fandom.


There are many wonderful cons that the Steampunk community attends, with more conventions being launched each year.  Some are strictly steampunk, while others are cons that welcome fans from all walks of the fandom community.  But few conventions can compare with Dragon*Con.  Held annually on Labor Day weekend, the con fills five convention hotels to capacity, and spills out across a dozen city blocks.  Each year approximately 40,000 fans attend to meet, shop, show off their costumes, and rub shoulders with some of the biggest stars of TV, movies, literature, comics, science and art.  With so much going, it's no wonder that Dragon*Con requires the attention of a dedicated Media Director, Dan Carroll, and we were honored to get a few minutes of his time despite the busy planning schedule.  In this interview, Dan Carroll answers a few of our questions and give us some insight into what it's like to be involved in one of the largest cons in fandom.

 

What makes Dragon*Con unique? What are your favorite things about Dragon*Con?

A number of factors make Dragon*Con the unique cultural event it is. The first is the diversity of the programming and activities. With over 1600 hours of programming for thirty-five distinct fantracks from Star Wars to the Paranormal, a film festival, numerous costume costumes, and the largest parade in Atlanta, there is just so much going on! The second factor is the size of the audience and the participation of the audience. The Alternate History track exploding since Doctor Q took over is an example of that the participation in costuming and fabrication and already this track has had to expand to two panel rooms going nearly fully time.  Added to all that is the amazing roster of guests and professionals

My favorite thing at Dragon*Con is simply watching a family walk around Dragon*Con for the first time with everyone’s eyes wide open with fascination at the controlled chaos of costumers and other attendees. I also like the shopping.

Other things I enjoy are the night life and diversity of parties, costumes, and costuming events, as well as the insightful panels of celebrity guests. Things I sometime take for granted are being able to mingle with such a diverse cross section of people and the strong and wonderful friendships that begin at Dragon*Con and carry on year round.

 

Dragon*Con is HUGE!  Give our readers some tips for navigating four days of awesomeness.

The growing success of Dragon*Con has brought the concern about finding lodging.  This is the first year we have considered capping attendance. If you are interested in going, outlying hotel rooms and membership are both available at the website, DragonCon.org.   But, I think you are more interested

The first rule I tell folks about Dragon*Con is have a plan for what you are going to do and see. Use the website to find the panels and guests that excite you the most. As the convention comes closer you can use the new 2013 Dragon*Con App  for this too. 

The second rule is be ready to give up that plan to explore and discover something new.  One year I would do nothing but big panels, the next I would do small panels.  As I work more and more each year, I still find time for panels and dances and enjoying the parade. 

And, remember Dragon*Con is five hotels, and we have expanded this year to bring our vending to AmericaSmart, conveniently located between the Westin and the Hyatt, very accessible from the Alternate History Track. Learn where the hotels are and how to navigate. Many of the hotels are accessible by skyways that prevent having to walk on the streets

So have a plan…make it flexible.  Use the app! Use the program guide! 

 

Tell us a bit about the logistics that go into putting together an event this size, about the teams, the security requirements, the logistics, and the communication involved.

We have a volunteer staff of over 1700 who drive this show.  To put that in context, I am pretty sure we have 1200 at our first Dragon*Con.  Under the auspices of

directors, these volunteers work in 117 departments.  Some of the volunteer activity begins the Tuesday after last year’s Dragon*Con. My staff, media relations, is active all year long. 

Security and safety are important considerations. We embrace five hotels and the AmericasMart now, so it is crucial that we practice proper crowd control and personal safety. We work closely with the APD and the AFD to ensure maximum safety for all. Our host hotels have been amazing partners in this.  Recently we have implemented badge checks to get into the host hotels specifically so that we can improve traffic flow and provide a more protected environment for convention goers. 

 

 

One of our favorite things about Dragon*Con is Dragon*Con TV:  tell us about the making of DCTV.  How did it get started?  Where does the content come from?  How is it selected?

DCTV is the brain child of the Dragon*Con Videography Staff, overseen and guided by Brian Richardson. It was originally conceived to provide programming and information to the hotel rooms, but has expanded with the exciting addition of additional content.  A division of the Tech Ops department of Dragon*Con, the content is created by a group of volunteers over the spring and summer. The ideas come from Dragon*Con fans who post suggestions on the Tech Ops bulletin boards.  The ideas that are selected for filming are selected cooperatively by the folks who made the videos.  Once the videos are made, they need approval from senior management. One of the most famous success stories of DCTV is the creation of a puppetry track in response to The Sci Fi janitors. 

 

The guests you bring to Dragon*Con are the biggest names in Fandom.  Who is new this year?  Who are perennial favorites?  What do you recommend for fans who want to see their favorite guests?

From comics to film to real space travel, Dragon*Con has always brought the most amazing guests to Atlanta.  This year is no different, with the return of George Takei. William Shatner, Richard Dean Anderson, and many more.

Our Steampunk guests include writers Jana Oliver, Cherie Priest, and Philippa Jane Ballantine. Joining them will be Doktor A, the League of Steam, and others from the world of TV and film.

Celebrity Guests provide autographs on the Walk of Fame for a small fee.  Writers are available for autographs in the autograph area.  The App will have their schedules as we get closer to Dragon*Con.  All of the guests and visiting professors

 

Okay, we’re the Steampunk Chronicle, so let’s talk Steampunk!  How is Steampunk fitting into the Dragon*Con scene? 


Since the inception of the Alternate History Track at Dragon*Con, Steampunk has continued to grow.  Right now it is one of the biggest tracks at Dragon*Con, if not the biggest.  It holds such a unique place, as I said, because it is so participatory.  As one of the largest tracks at Dragon*Con, Alternate History is recognized for it’s growth under Dr. Q, and now has two rooms of programming. The broad appeal of Steampunk across the convention is seen in costuming, our vendor rooms, and the general excitement about the subculture. 

 

In the past few years we’ve seen more “Steampunk bands” showing up as headliners in Dragon*Con entertainment.  Who have you got lined up this year?  Do you think there’s a connection between the draw of these bands and a growing popularity of Steampunk at Dragon*Con? 

It’s still early in the year, but we have Abney Park coming again to Dragon*Con.  We are always happy when they appear.  And while they are bands, per se, we have the great Professor Elemental and the amazing League of Steam coming to Dragon*Con for 2013.  I think there is a showmanship inherent in the Steampunk ethos, so it’s only natural that these performers fit in naturally with the growth of Steampunk. 

 

The Dragon*Con Parade is legendary.  Tell us about the parade, the participants, and the crowd it draws.  Tell us how Steampunk factors into the parade, particularly the bands and the contraptions.

The parade, in its twelfth year, is now the largest in Atlanta.  We are working with the city of Atlanta to make the parade route longer, for a better overall experience for parade goers.  Last year we had 3100 marchers and 80,000 spectators.  Along with the Star Wars, Star Trek and superhero costumes there will be hundreds of Steampunk costumers in the parade. Since Dragon*Con is months away, it is hard to predict exactly how Steampunk will be represented by bands, but you can be sure there were will some Steampunk spectacle in the Dragon*Con Parade.

One amazing thing in the Parade this year is a wedding at the end of the parade featuring a bride and groom in Darth Vader regalia. Steampunk Boba Fett will be officiating the wedding dressed in his famous Steampunk Costume.

 

Okay, instant word association.  [Trickier in a written interview, so be honest! ;-)  ] 

Dragon*Con - Amazing

Crowds - excitement

Nightlife – whooo!

Panels – Shatner, Shatner, Shatner!

Steampunk - goggles

Fandom – home

Costumes – Dragon*Con

Shopping – AmericasMart

 

Anything else you’d like to share with the readers of Steampunk Chronicle?

While it is too early to tell you everything that will happen at Dragon*Con’s Alternate History Track, I have a lot of faith that Dr. Q will continue to grow and improve the experience for you.  Not only is Steampunk such a huge part of Dragon*Con, but it is possible that Dragon*Con’s Alternate History Track is the largest Steampunk gathering in the world.  Keep an eye on the web pages, and let us know what you are most excited about.  If you are interested in helping Dragon*Con Media Relations by talking to reporters or posing in your steapunk finest, reach out to me at mediarelations@dragoncon.org.  

 

 

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