Planet Comicon’s national TV debut

Chloe Dykstra of Heroes of Cosplay
Chloe Dykstra celebrates her costume contest win on episode 5 of SyFy’s Heroes of Cosplay series.

One of the exciting elements of Planet Comicon 2013 was that we had a Hollywood production company in our midst taping two episodes of the new television series Heroes of Cosplay. We made our debut last night and the second episode – the series finale – runs next Tuesday night.

For those who don’t know, I’ve coordinated the panel room programming for the convention for the past five years. This involves scheduling the appearances of the actors, artists, moderators, and other panelists, coordinating several simultaneous sessions, and overseeing an army of volunteers who guard the panelists’ tables in the exhibit room and ensure that everyone gets to where they need to be. Our largest event room seats more than 1,000 fans, and we fill it to capacity for events featuring popular performers like Wil Wheaton, George Takei, and Adam Baldwin.

I must admit that adding a television production and a second night of costume contests during our first year at Bartle Hall meant quite a bit of extra stress. In the end, we pulled it off. I was delighted to work with Lisa Wax, the field producer from 51 Minds Entertainment. Lisa is a dynamo of energy, always on the move and making 60 decisions a minute.

We also have to thank Blythe Renay and Jeff Yenzer from the Damsels of Dorkington who stepped in with short notice to emcee. Blythe and Jeff are two of the most creative and charismatic regulars at Planet Comicon. We were lucky to have them available to make us look great on TV.

I also learned a lot about how much work and preplanning goes into an “unscripted reality” show, including the ways that drama is invented out of thin air – or in the editing room after the filming is finished. There were plenty of elements that were planned in advance for this show, but the team was constantly on the move, adjusting to events as they happened. And, for the record, the judging of the competitions is not rigged. I know the producers fed the judges some tough questions to ask the show regulars, but the judges picked the winners based on their own preferences.