Part of our continuing series on how to make conventions more supportive of professional fans and geeky ambitions. The summary of the continuing series is here.
Anime USA is a large convention in Arlington Virginia, taking place in November. I had the pleasure of talking to the head of programming who himself has an interest in profans – he and his wife are doing their own work for release in 2010.
You may have heard of Anime USA as it's built a good reputation for interesting events and ones for career-oriented fans.
First, the convention is more than glad to draw on local talent – due to it's location there's a larger than normal pool of freelancers in the art/comics/media area. This is something for conventions anywhere to consider – you probably have some demographic advantages in getting pro-fan events at your convention, even if it may take a bit of research to figure out what.
Secondly, the convention works on "drilldown" in some events – getting in on a really fine focus, such as discussion of specific issues facing actors, or having focus on single authors and figured delivering useful, specific advice.
Finally, the convention staff contains many Pro-fans, progeeks, and hopeful professionals – and is glad to look for such people for staff. This adds a deep level of knowledge to the convention – and also a level of interest. Such people know what people want to see in professional events and events, or can do them themselves.
This has definitely paid off for the convention, building its reuptation – and also bringing opportunities to the convention staff. When a convention has a "professional" reputation it pays off for everyone involved.
Anime USA is the kind of convention that makes me wish i got out east more – but if you're out there, be sure to check into it. I might even manage to work it into my busy schedule sometime . . .
– Steven Savage