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Erie Anime Experience is a small convention in Pennsylvania, and I had a chance to talk to the convention president, who gave me some interesting insights on the convention, and a few ideas for folks working on a fan-to-pro route.
One event at the convention is discussing the historical background of anime – in this case, the Kenshin series. This has proven to be a twofold advantage – it not only takes the fans interest deeper, it's also proven an interesting way to get the professionals who've worked on the series involved when they visit. It's a different take on the usual talk-to-a-pro panel that intrigued me – involving the professionals in discussing the larger context of their work.
In fact, we discussed another element for future cons that I think is needed more in any professional track – the history of an industry and deeper understanding of it. Many career-oriented people can benefit from knowing the history of what they do – and passionate fans/geeks often get into the history of their interests, from anime to computer games. A good history of any property or media can be useful.
Some interesting insights from the convention. If you're in the area, give it a try!
– Steven Savage