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Dealing with Guests. Or, how to spot and identify celebrities from quite a long way away.

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Presentation on theme: "Dealing with Guests. Or, how to spot and identify celebrities from quite a long way away."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dealing with Guests

2 Or, how to spot and identify celebrities from quite a long way away

3 Dealing with Guests By Jim Vowles Otakon Guest, Industry, and Press Relations Chief

4 Number one The larch.

5 Number two The Scott McNeil

6 Number one The larch.

7 Why should I care Whether you love or hate the guest, or couldn’t care less about them, your actions reflect on the convention Guests who feel welcome and enjoy themselves will sell us to other guests We set the example for our members

8 The Guest/Con Agreement Prestige Bump in membership Positive Buzz Press coverage Goodwill among membership Programming content (panels, events) Exposure for guest Exposure for product/show Opportunity to interact with fans Opportunity to network within industry Unique opportunity to visit US (for overseas guests) Guests bring the con….The Con brings the guest…

9 Guest Categories Guests –Invited Guests: we invite, promote, schedule, and cover all costs; industry often still part of this but we control. –Industry Guests: industry invites and covers costs; we may promote and schedule but not necessarily Non-Guests –Featured Panelist Expert, Big Name Fan, etc. with a draw (via Programming) –Featured Webcomic We promote on our website and in program book but do not cover costs unless they’re organizing a panel (via Programming and/or Exhibitions/Alley) Too many webcomics to support fairly, and most are not within our mission

10 Guest Types Actors - seiyuu, dub actors, live action actors Artists - animators, manga-ka Writers Directors Producers Musicians Academics

11 American Guests Predominantly voice actors, ADR directors, etc. and others involved in the dubs Hugely popular among our membership Sometimes have fan clubs Autographs in high demand Largely independent Often here on their own (this is not paid time for them) Generally informal and friendly

12 Japanese/Overseas Guests Broad spectrum of production and creative types and talents May be here on behalf of their company or studio May be first visit to the US Tend to be formal and polite by default

13 Cautions for Japanese Guests! Basic, simple formality - best behavior –Politeness, but not necessarily stiffness Maintain distance - arm’s length –Size difference can make them feel overwhelmed –Most are not touchy-feely by default Don’t assume they don’t understand you –Many understand at least a bit of English, even if they rely on an interpreter Pay attention to their discomfort level!

14 More cautions Take extra care with hygiene. Steer away from fanboy funk areas! Don’t blow your nose in public. (And especially not at dinner!) Take your cue from the guest and handlers about bowing –Bow the same or slightly more than they do –Don’t exaggerate the bow Don’t stress out over the bowing or Japanese formality –They don’t expect us to get it perfect

15 Exchanging Business Cards Cards are exchanged at the start of the meeting, and usually while standing. Exchange cards using both hands when possible; if not, use the right hand. Review both sides of the card carefully. Confirm pronunciation of names and positions at this time. Place the card carefully in your card holder, wallet, or shirt pocket -- never in your pants pocket. –If at a formal meeting, leave cards on the table as a reference during the meeting; then put away carefully Don’t write on the card in the presence of the person who gave it to you.

16 Speaking via Interpreter The interpreter is your go-between; ask for his or her assistance –“Would you mind introducing me to Maruyama-san?” Allow the interpreter to introduce you Address your questions and responses to the guest directly, not the interpreter –“I’m glad to meet you” vs “tell him I’m glad to meet him” Be as clear as you can -- have a good idea of what you’d like to say before you start talking. Allow frequent pauses for the interpreter to catch up.

17 “I’m not sure that would translate properly.” This phrase is a signal that you may be putting your foot in your mouth, or that you’re asking too much of the interpreter. Some things you say may not translate well, or may be difficult for the interpreter to convey properly. Some interpreters are more fluent than others and some simply lack vocabulary for certain concepts. Some things may even be offensive or considered very poor taste, and it may not be obvious to westerners. The interpreter will try to prevent giving unintentional offense, and is offering an easy way out. Take it unless what you’re asking is very important!

18 Musical Acts & Manga-ka (and other high-profile guests) Access control often key to the agreement that brings them here Neither likely to be unaccompanied; if found, return to relations/green room Musicians typically tightly controlled by label –However sometimes band members escape (TMR’s bandmates decided to sneak out and look for food in the wee hours) Manga-ka are sometimes notoriously shy

19 General Rules for All Guests Be polite and courteous Try not to go all fanboy - use restraint! Don't take advantage of your staff position to ask for anything Don’t monopolize the guest’s time - others are waiting Respect their privacy When in doubt, check with the assigned interpreter or relations staffer

20 Avoid Foot-In-Mouth Disease For goodness sake, avoid the whole dub/sub thing! Don’t talk about the anime you just downloaded or bring up fansubs… The guest almost certainly knows more than you do about “the industry” Don’t talk negatively about shows, companies, events, or people around guests, press, or industry –Word gets around quickly –Project may have involved them or a friend –Could sour their whole experience (this has happened before!) When asked for honest feedback: –Do your best to answer truthfully, but TACTFULLY –It’s okay to deflect! (Especially if you really hate their work!) “Ordinarily I am partial to fights between enslaved mutant animals. Perhaps I was not the target audience for the second Pokemon movie.”

21 When Guests Wander Some guests want to explore on their own –Maruyama-san, for example, usually sneaks off to wander the exhibit halls when he has time Some guests, however, simply get lost or waylaid –Signs of being lost for real: Wandering around in docks (without a cigarette) Panicky or dazed look –Signs of being waylaid Surrounded by horde of fangirls Panicky or nervous glances

22 Lost Guest Syndrome Most often happens when guest decides to “meet us” someplace -- most often en route to or from autographs or panels If a guest is obviously lost: –Look for a nearby escort –Ask if you can help them get where they’re going –See if they want you to call for help –Contact green room or relations ASAP If lost guest doesn’t speak English –First ask the guest, in English, if he needs help –Contact green room/relations ASAP –Consult pocket schedule if you can –Bring guest to a safe staff area such as Ops or Green Room

23 Social Interaction American guests often join us for staff downtime, and are more apt to spend time with fans, in the nearest bar, or in lobby areas Japanese guests tend to prefer smaller gatherings and rely on Relations staff to act as a buffer Plenty of exceptions in each case Always let the guest set the tone for what they expect Be careful about drinking with guests! –Avoid excessive drinking yourself –Try to ensure the guest doesn’t get too drunk

24 Be aware of the guest’s moods! Having fun! Tired and would rather be cuddled with wife Having a great time

25 Summary Treating our guests well is probably second only to treating our members well. –Building good will is critical to ensure future opportunities –We may be their only glimpse of USA fans Japanese and American guests have different expectations and different needs Be careful what you say in front of guests! If you encounter a guest in an unexpected place, switch off your inner fanboy and re-connect the guest with Relations staff

26 Summary (continued) For Japanese guests –Be especially polite –Pay extra attention to hygiene –Give “arm’s length” personal space –Be prepared to respond to card exchanges –When speaking via interpreter, speak to the guest and allow time for the interpreter to translate –Don’t assume Japanese guests don’t speak English

27 Summary (continued) Be on your best behavior and set a good example for our membership Let the guest set the tone for your interaction Be sensitive to guest’s moods –If guest is surrounded by fans, keep a sharp eye on the crowd

28 BONUS: Wil Wheaton’s Rules for Conventions Rule One: Conventions would not exist without fans. Rule Two: Conventions can not function without volunteers. Rule Three: Respect your fellow fans. Rule Four: A memo to celebrity guests who sign autographs….it’s never about the autograph, it’s about the interaction. Rule Five: Don’t be a dick. Wil demonstrates how to cast spells like Doctor Strange

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