Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Katsudocon - When Nothing Worked Out

Stress has won and I left the first lesson on Monday only after the first 10 minutes of it. I was dizzy, feverish, about to throw up and my head hurt like hell. On the train back home (I go to university in a different town) I really had to fight so I wouldn't start crying. When I got home I started to watch Totoro and the movie had me crying for good 2 hours. I have to say it's amazing to organize a convention.

Katsudocon was organized on 12th-13th of October 2013 in Jyväskylä's Forum -shopping mall. I can't tell you how the event was like for our visitors, because I was organizing it together with Minorea and Pia. I'll tell you instead how we walked through hell while building this convention. I can tell you that nothing went like it should have gone... Promises weren't kept, we were late on program starting times and on the final day one security guard locked me into a seperate section of the shopping mall...

When we started to plan the con, I was sure that everything would work out better than last year. Last year I had been just a volunteer, but this year I was in with the title of organizer. I had two areas of responsibility: artists alley and the website.

When I started to build the website I didn't even remember what was the html for adding pictures on the website... I had to brush up my coding skills quite the bit so I could make the site look as instructed. The website wasn't anything great, but I hope it fulfilled its purpose. I learned a lot of new things about coding, so hopefully I can make something a lot more stylish in the future!

Organizing the artists alley went extremely well. The tables got reserved quickly and a few spots without tables were taken. Only one person cancelled their reservation and everything seemed good and functional. On the night before the convention the reality hit me in the face when we started to build the con: unlike last year, there were showcases on the aisle where we were supposed to build the artists alley. The shops didn't want the tables in front of their display windows. It was really difficult to find spots for all artists until we finally got the place organized and the artists' alley was only missing its artists.

On Saturday the reality decided to hit me with a baseball bat and kick my ass after that. "There's a door through which the janitor needs to go through. You can't be in front of this door." "You're not allowed to have a table in front of our display windows." "Some shop keeper came to tell us, that we have to move away..." WHAT?! Only yesterday we had checked that all the tables were in their right places, the shops were okay with them and everything was fine, but NO! In the middle of the convention the shops decided that no, no one can have their artists' alley spot in front of our store. As the one responsible for the artists' alley I apologize to all those artists who had to move around in the middle of the day! I'm also very sorry, that I didn't have time to come and see you more often. I had to take care of so many things during the day, that I just didn't have the time. ;__; I still hope that everyone on the artists' alley had a great convention weekend and selling your amazing artwork in a shopping mall was a great experience. Thank you, you were an important part of the con! :)

Before the convention I also got to draw the illustrations. I've never drawn chibies so I had to edit the original, extremely cute Katsuna-chan to fit my style better. I'm mostly an animal artist, and I can't draw cute girls at all! The only humans I've drawn have been men... xD But cosplay contest diplomas needed pictures of Katsuna-chan so I had no choice but to start drawing - on Wednesday, a couple of days before the con. It took the whole day to draw the rest of the illustrations because I'm so lazy and slow drawer.. My apologozies for awful illustrations, seriously. :'D

When the convention was getting closer and closer, I noticed I had promised to take care for more and more things. I was planning the evening party and Japanese haunted house, I was contacting our Guests of Honor, I was translating e-mails and agreements, I was planning and hosting programmes, I had promised to be hunted character in our programme, I was looking for panelists, I was planning our schedules and spreading out adverts. I just... was involved in everything. In the original plan I was supposed to have a Japanese calligraphy workshop, like last year, but luckily it was left out  - I wouldn't have had time to do it!

Despite myself being so busy, the organizing of the convention seemed better than last year: the shopping mall had promised us two empty business premises, one for panels and one to serve as a picnic place. We were promised real dressing rooms, and it was amazing! But SURPRISE SURPRISE, what we got is a different story. "This dressing room is used by one store." "One shop is opening here 3 days before the convention after all, you can't have it." There were so many empty promises on the shopping mall's side that we all felt like crying. They were supposed to support us, not ruin our event! We got a couple of smaller rooms to use, but they were so disappointing compared to the big rooms we were supposed to have.

Things didn't go well on other aspects either. At some point we were so frustraited, that we were ready to cancel the whole event. The original cosplay contest judges cancelled and our DJ changed his plans only one week before the convention. We had to get new people for these important tasks really quickly, and we were all very stressed out. We were already worried that we would have to cancel the evening party! Luckily DJs Tesno and D-Shark promised to save us and we could arrange the evening party! :)

My own schedule was planned a bit wrongly, so the delay on haunted house's opening can be blamed on that. I was the only one who had experience on Japanese haunted houses yet I was interpreting in a programme until the time the shopping mall closed. The haunted house got finished anyway even though we ran out of cardboard boxes and fabrics. The most disappointing thing in the haunted house (and the evening party in general) was the the fact that the security guards weren't allowed to switch off the shopping mall's lights. The haunted house wasn't dark enough, it would have been so much more scary if it had been dark! During the last year's evening party there weren't any lights in the shopping mall, so of course we assumed it would be like that this year too. Unfortunately a different security service was taking care of the shopping mall this year. :(

Even though the haunted house didn't turn ous as great as I had hoped, it was still a success. I wasn't supposed to be involved in the haunted house after building it, but I decided to make myself into a ghost and haunt there with Uruhara FC. I'm a coward myself and I get scared really easily.. I hate the fact that my friends keep spooking me, but now I know why: it's so much FUN!! It was so amusing to sneak out of the closet, get close behind people's backs and suddenly make a frightening sound. Their expressions were so funny, and it was really nice to hear that people actually were scared afterwards. xD

On Sunday I was so tired that the whole day passed by in some sort of a trance. I was hosting the cosplay date too, and I wasn't prepared for it at all. I couldn't handle my time on stage as a pouting Soifon, so I just decided to be something so I could get the job done. I'm bad at improvising and I'm not funny, but I'm not afraid of being on stage. Luckily Minorea was handling the role of Katsuna-chan in an adorable and foolish way. <3 The participants in our cosplay date were amazing and I kept snickering at their answers by myself. Thanks to all participants and volunteers, who filled in the empty slots!

During the closing ceremony my stress took over. My throat got so sore that I couldn't swallow anymore. My finger started to bleed (I have no idea why) and I dirtied my cosplay during the last 20 minutes... u__u" When we finally started to clean up after the con, I went around and collected signs to dressing rooms and some contests questions. I went to a seperate part of the shopping mall where the males' dressing room and picnic room were. When I returned to the glass doors by the end of the aisle, it was locked! While I had been behind the corned, the security guard had locked the door with a big padlock, and there was no other way back to where the other people were. I had also forgotten my cellphone, so I couldn't call for help. Luckily I got out from one street door. I had to go around the whole shopping mall to the loading bridge through where I could get back in.

It wasn't the only time the security guards failed.. If the shopping mall announces that it closes at 18, it's supposed to close at 18:00, not at 18:20!! It was awful to prepare the evening party while all kind of people walked in and out of the doors. We had no idea if they had a ticket (it was required for the evening party), because we couldn't control who got in and who didn't. On the next morning the shopping mall was supposed to open at 12, but the doors were opened at 11:45. Luckily we got our volunteers to look after each booth in case someone would steal something. The vendors weren't happy though since they were prepared to come back to the shopping mall at 12 because no one was supposed to get in before that..

I can't even remember all the horrible things that happened while organizing the convention. It must have been some miracle that all programmes were held and the convention ended without bigger disasters. And no, organizing a con wasn't just horrible. We organizers had fun too, and it was nice to hear that people actually enjoyed our event and its programme. I met old and new friends and it was amazing! It was nice how all of us supported each other and none of the organizers or the volunteers were left alone with their problems. Big thanks to our volunteers, helpers, panelists and Guests of Honor. You made this convention possible! ^w^

Next year we won't have Katsudocon anymore, but we are already planning something new. We have already asked one place if we could have our convention there. It's way better than the shopping mall and we are very excited to organize our con there! We are looking for other organizers and planning the theme of the con too. So this wasn't the last convention in Jyväskylä - we will be back in spring 2015 with something better!

You can find pictures from Katsudocon here:

In the next blog entry I will tell you about my COSPLAY in Katsudocon. ;)