So the weekend is finally over and I am exhausted. I really should have booked this Monday off as I am typing the first part of this at 5:25am and am due to leave for work in 15 minutes! Stupid idea when you have been on your feet non stop for three days. That aside its been a mixed experience this weekend with both highs and lows. So for those of you that aren’t familiar with DST3 its a Star Trek Convention that was run from the 3rd of October to the 5th over the weekend hosted at the Excel centre in London. I’ve only ever been to one Trek Con before and that was when they were handing out bags advertising the release of Star Trek : Nemesis so you can work out how long ago that was. It was also incredibly tiny compared to DST3.
I went for the silver package entitling me to a little bit of queue hopping and the Friday night opening ceremony as well as the Friday night party. I had some time constraints for the weekend however as I was supposed to be working that weekend and had limited holiday left. Three days to be precise so I took the Friday, Sunday and the Saturday off. I went with my brother as I don’t get to see him too often and he had no holiday left to take from his job which unfortunately is working nights, so he was working until 4am Friday morning. We decided to book most of our activities for the Saturday with the intention of heading down late afternoon on the Friday so he could sleep in the morning, and returning early afternoon on the Sunday so I could sleep for work on the Monday.
We had arranged for a total of six photos each on the Saturday and about three or four autographs as well as three talks, the opening ceremony and the Friday night party. Lets go ahead and get started with Friday!
Friday 3rd October 2014
We arrived at our hotel and had some issues with our rooms not being ready. The rooms were nice, both having a great view of Canary Wharf.
We got ourselves ready and headed out to the ExCel centre arriving at about 6pm which wasn’t bad considering we didn’t know exactly where we were going. After picking up our packages from the DST3 desk we had about enough time to get into line for the Opening Ceremony at 7pm. The Opening Ceremony was thoroughly enjoyable and really set the mood for the weekend. Hosted by Jonathan Ross, he introduced each of the guests that would be appearing at DST3 giving them a chance to say hello to everyone, it was well paced and enjoyable throughout.
After the Opening Ceremony we headed to the Friday Night Party wearing our lovely Hawaiian shirts to suit the Risa theme. We stumbled across the upper entrance that was supposedly for package holders only, so we thought “this is great!” but to our surprise it seemed they let regular ticket holders in first which was annoying. It took us about half an hour to get in and when we did spotted Vaughn “Legend” Armstrong playing his harmonica :P. Exhausted from lack of sleep and all our walking and travelling we decided to leave at around half ten as we both needed some serious sleep. Before leaving we did decide to get some Trek Themed cocktails including Klingon Blood Wine and Romulan Ale :D. Friday night was a good beginning and we returned to our hotel eagerly awaiting the next day!
Saturday 4th October 2014
I woke up around 7am as I didn’t really get any sleep (missed MY bed!). We headed off to ExCel with the intention of getting there before our 10:30 photo shoot with Vaughn “Legend” Armstrong. We hadn’t been inside the main event yet as we only went to the Enterprise Stage for the opening so it was interesting to walk inside for the first time Saturday Morning. As you walked in the door you were greeted by the Enterprise D bridge set, and to the left was a stall dedicated solely to the sale of tribbles which I thought was hilarious.
There was also the prop museum, some additional stages, areas to chill and a gaming area along side other stalls and attractions. Saturday was pretty much filled with the same story, we queued for a photo then went on to the next one. I will just give a list of the actors that I queued for and the time that I did it!
Vaughn “Legend” Armstrong
(Admiral Maxwell Forrest)
10:30 – 10:40
14:05 – 14:40
(ENS Travis Mayweather)
15:30 – 16:00
15:30 – 16:00
(LT CMDR Data)
15:40 – 16:30
Vaughn Armstrong was a lot of fun, he is an absolute legend and great guy to meet. I also got a picture signed by him and had the chance to have a little chat with him which was fantastic. Such an upbeat guy that clearly appreciates his fans. Ethan Phillips was obviously a much more busy man and sadly there is always a bit of a compromise. The more “popular” the actor the less interaction you get with them as the line is moving so quickly, so we just said hi and took our photo. He was smiling all the time and I know from videos I’ve seen of him at conventions he is an incredibly funny guy as is Robert Picardo. Again Robert Picardo was perfectly pleasant and looked happy to be there but I didn’t get to say much to him. He had a nice hat though. Sadly Brent Spiner was for my brother only so I didn’t get to see him but my brother tells me it was much the same as Ethan and Robert, In and Out.
Anthony Montgomery like Armstrong was a legend, he was so interactive, always on the floor, never hiding out the back, I just saw him several times, walking around enjoying himself. I was queueing for him and actually spotted Luke Sutton, someone I knew from online back in the days of Freelance and Elite Force Review. I was queuing so couldn’t say hi and didn’t see him again. Anthony Montgomery arrived ten minutes early and said “Hi, sorry I’m late!” to everyone….. Fantastic. He was so vocal and friendly, and I was completely nervous meeting him due to his very outspoken personality. In fact I had my pass round my neck for all of my photos but his, as he said to me “get rid of that, you don’t want that!”. I took it off at which point he grabbed it and threw it across the room ROFL. He was very funny and I saw him a couple of times later on as well, first I got a signed photo and secondly I asked him for a copy of his graphic novel that he had written and was promoting at DST called Miles Away. He signed it as well. Lots of fun and just an all round great guy. He posted an image on Facebook showing him standing next to one of his old uniforms from Enterprise with a phase pistol prop in his hand.
(From Anthony Montgomery’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anthony-Montgomery/33244826628)
I also decided to get a signed picture of Hana Hatae (Molly O’Brien) as I just remember her being so nice when she came on at the opening ceremony. She was really nice, asking me and my brother why we weren’t in uniform ROFL.
In between photo shoots we also had the Brent Spiner talk in the Enterprise Stage area which was a lot of fun but the first signs of a major flaw in events layout started to surface there. You see, the Enterprise Stage was part of the large hall that housed the rest of the event but was separated by essentially a curtain. The next hall down was empty and was used for queuing. Now considering that all the talks in the Enterprise Stage were paid talks, you would expect them to be to a good standard but you could frequently hear the crowd cheering and people talking from the Excelsior stage near by. In every talk that we went too the speaker would often get distracted by the noise. They would also have difficulties hearing the people asking questions in the crowd due to the noise behind them throwing the sound off. In that case, a member of staff should have been at the back of the room translating the information and informing the speaker via a small receiver in their ear. This would have prevented a lot of the problems that most people found frustrating when it takes 5 minutes for the speaker to simply understand the question.
In reality it would have been better if the stage and the queuing areas swapped locations. An entire sealed room for the Enterprise stage and a noisy queuing area instead of the other way round. This probably would have helped all the speakers at the event. All the people we listened too did an excellent job, trying to make the best of essentially poor stage design and it was certainly worth the money. That was…. until the TNG Reunion talk.
The TNG Reunion talk had to be one of my most anticipated events. Getting to see all the cast of TNG, excluding Jonathan Frakes and Wil Wheaton. Sadly I could sum it up in one word… Crap. Why? You are asking? The fault didn’t lie with the cast that again did an excellent job at trying to deal with a bad situation but instead was due to the poor stage design once again, the technical difficulties, the fact that they hadn’t given enough time for the group photo shoots which overran and the poor planning of the talk. The Opening Ceremony was built around a host, following a flow of directions, introductions and interactions with each Cast member. The Reunion talk was another Q&A session, just like the single actor talks.
Let’s start at the beginning. The Cast were late in due to overrunning photo shoots. Not their fault and they apologised although really it was down to the event organisers. There weren’t enough chairs to begin with when you would expect that they should know either how many tickets they had sold so they could get enough chairs or limit the sales to the number of chairs in the stage area. Also to my surprise they hadn’t even prepared the stage for the talk, and started to do so after we sat down, even though the last talk in there was Jeri Ryans guest talk which finished 45 minutes before the Reunion talk. There were serious technical difficulties. The microphones weren’t loud enough and I missed about 30% of what was actually said. The sound problem reappeared with the cast being unable to hear the questions from the crowd. Marina Sirtis even had to go and get a microphone so people could ask questions!
But after all of that, the reason it was so bad was because of the complete lack of planning. As I said the Opening was planned, giving every cast member an opportunity to speak, say hello to the crowd, and talk about things relevant to them. Q&A with god knows how many people in a crowd and almost the full cast and William Shatner on the stage, it just wasn’t going to work.
As I said before the Cast made a good effort to try and produce something worth while, but some people like Levar Burton didn’t really have the chance to speak.
So what should they have done. Simple, no live Q&A. They should have placed a question box at the event where you could post questions to ask the cast and taken questions on twitter. They could have then sat down at lunch time on Saturday an worked out the best questions, probably starting with the most commonly asked questions and then moving on to the most unique. Chosen them, and then printed some cards to give to William Shatner so he would have some material to host the talk with. He could then have asked the questions and made sure everyone had a chance to speak. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I remember feeling sorry for one guy that was trying to ask a question but was obviously so nervous that he couldn’t get his point across. This combined with the fact that the cast couldn’t hear him because of the poor stage design wasted a lot of time, made the cast go off topic, and the crowd mocked the guy because of his question. If he had be told to write it down on a piece of paper the day before, in the morning, or on twitter he may have been able to express it better. The Cast made the best of a crap situation, but I left the event earlier then expected after the talk, feeling disappointed. It cost me £75 for a mess. I could have used the time inside the event to try out the new Civ game ROFL.
After returning to the hotel I got pissed as a fart to make the evening more interesting then went to bed. A long day, mixed with highs, but ending on a low :(.
Sunday 4th October 2014
On the Sunday I returned for the last time, to the ExCel centre. This time I was there for a Enterprise Stage event with Colm Meany and decided to get a photo shoot with Hana Hatae. She was really nice and so short lol. Sweet girl. I also had the opportunity to speak to the guys at the Star Trek : Timelines booth, nice to see another Trek game out there! and had a look round the gaming area.
Finally I got the Bridge Set and Borg Assimilation Chamber photos done. On my rush home I saw some others that I know from the interwebs, John Fisher and Richard Evans, but again couldn’t say hi as I was late and had work in the morning. After a long journey home, I was both glad and saddened to see the end of the weekend. Regrets? Not having more time on the Sunday and Friday for sure! Also I may have done a little too much. It would have been nice to have a chance to talk with people I knew or meet new people. Will I return? Who knows, but I will certainly remember the experience!