Away Mission: Treklanta 2018!
Well I’m back from my first Away Mission to Treklanta and what a weekend!
It’s been far too long since I’ve been to a Star Trek convention, but Treklanta was a great “gateway” back in to the con circuit. If there’s another convention that focuses more on fan films than Treklanta, I’d love to know what it is because organizer Eric Watts and his team spent a lot of effort and programming towards lifting up Star Trek fan films, not the least of which is their annual "Bjo Awards" which recognizes the best Trek fan films of the past year. Not surprisingly, Vic Mignona’s phenomenal Star Trek Continues swept the awards as it wrapped its final year of production. There were some other worthy mentions at this year’s Bjo’s, so take a look at the list and pick out something cool to watch.
If you're interested in the state of Star Trek fan films, take a look at the coverage (and videos) of one of the panel sessions I sat on at Jonathan Lane's Fan Film Factor website.
Fan films (and my participation on the panels) notwithstanding, here’s some of what I found to be Treklanta highlights this year:
Great guest speakers! Actors Robert Duncan McNeill (Voyager), Gary Graham (Enterprise), Robert O’Reilly (TNG/DS9), and Conrad Coates (Discovery) all had some great stories to share with us and were completely accessible during the whole weekend. This is not the “hide the stars away from the fans” approach we see from the larger cons and dare I say this made the whole weekend feel more authentic than pretty much every other con I’ve been to. For the record, Treklanta was Mr. Coates’ first convention appearance and we were all glad to see him. It was also great to meet David George, an accomplished Trek author who talked to me at length about how he sold his pitch for the first season Voyager episode "Prime Factors", which was arguably one of the best episodes of that season.
Programming! Whether you wanted to learn how to apply makeup and prosthetics, weigh in on Star Trek Discovery, test your Trek trivia knowledge, or have a gaming session, Treklanta had it all. And did I mention this was Mecca for anyone who cares about Trek fan films? Pretty sure I did!
Klingons! You couldn’t swing a bat'leth without hitting a Klingon at Treklanta. The Klingon Assault Group (“KAG”) commandeered an entire wing of the conference center for their “General Assembly” and spent the weekend freaking out all the other hotel guests and occasionally cursing each other in Southern-accented Klingon. The highlight of Saturday evening (if not the whole weekend) was the “Miss Klingon Empire Beauty Pageant” which was… GLORIOUS! My personal fave moment was when one of the entrants played the main Klingon themes on her VIOLIN! The fact that she didn't win the pageant is a crime worthy of exile to Rura Penthe! Shame on you, judges!
Partying! Saturday night brought a series of after-hours block parties held in various attendees’ hotel rooms. The Romulan Tea Party (yes they had actual tea brewing) was mellow and welcoming while a party thrown by one of the convention vendors made me flash back to my college days into what was essentially a loud, out of control frat party that I’m sure the other hotel guests were thrilled with. But by far the best party of the night was thrown by those rowdy Klingons who were all taken aback by the sudden appearance of Robert “Gowron” O’Reilly in search of a beer (which yours truly gladly provided). Before you could say “Q’apla!”, Bob was regaling us with tales of his auditions for Star Trek, his friendship with J.G. Hertzler, and some family history. The scene took on a meta quality as I actually started to feel like I was with a squadron of Klingons drinking before a campaign and getting inspired by Chancellor Gowron. Then again, I was drunk, so what do I know?
Even after the convention ended, the fun continued. I was invited to tour Alec Peters' (Axanar) studio facility in Lawrenceville, GA and it looked incredible despite the fact that they are clearly still getting everything moved in. Yes, there is a bridge set. Yes, there are dozens of costume racks with just about every damn Star Trek costume you can imagine. Yes, there are set pieces from Federation and Klingon starships strewn across every corner of the space. Yes, this is the next best thing to Sto’Vo’Kor and I am grateful to Alec for taking the time to give me a personal tour!
I also want to thank so many great people I met who took time to get to know me and ask about my project including Randy Landers, Glen Wolfe, Dan Reynolds, Greg Teft, Alec Peters, and about a dozen others whose names I knew until I lost the relevant brain cells at that Klingon party! Speaking of those burly Klingons, a special “Q’apla” to fellow Tennesseans Ryan Baker & Kathy Peck, John Shoberg, and Vicki Greve among others who guided me in the ways of the warrior and made me glad I decided to join the crew of the IKV Predator.
Of course, the biggest props go to the father of Treklanta, Eric Watts, who surely is breathing a sigh of relief now that the event is over! Clearly a ton of work went into this year’s event and I don’t know how he does this every year. All I know is… Eric – next year if you invite me back, I promise you a full-color headshot!
And yes, I do plan on going back to Treklanta next year, regardless of whether I am on a panel or not. This was a great time, despite the hole in my bank account, a stolen laptop, and a bitchin' hangover I’m still recovering from!
- The Admiral