Yesterday, I went to my first Star Trek convention in San Francisco. I am in my mid-late 40s. While I am a moderate fan of the show, I am not a Trekkie but I am more a fan of imagination. People are story telling beings. I have heard many accounts too of a scientist deciding they wanted to be a scientist when they were kids all because of a science-fiction tv show they watched; similarly I have heard accounts of professional drummers making that career choice because of the little kid on the Partridge Family who (faked) played the drums. People are motivated by their imaginations. To be honest, I went to this Star Trek convention on a whim and expected it to be ridiculous. It wasnt.
Everyone I met was really nice and having fun (not trekkie delusional like many people think they are). About half the attendees were women (that was a shocker) and a lot of them were really gorgeous women. About 25-40% of the people dressed up in some way. They were happy and having fun and also open to having a stranger take their pictures (some pics attached below).
There were some of the actors and producers from the show there also signing autographs, taking pictures, talking on stage and answering questions from the fans about the show and about other aspects of their lives. I asked some of them about scripts I am writing and how to get an agent / submit them to shows:
First I spoke to John de Lancie who played “Q” in Star Trek The Next Generation. He was very insightful, helpful and a class act. He told me most shows wont accept a script unless it comes through an agent (for legal reasons). I told him I knew and I was finding many of the agents only take scripts if you are referred to them from a trusted source. John told me much of the problem was that they are overwhelmed by people but also its an act of attrition which weeds out people who arent serious about writing and getting their scripts read.
Brent Spiner, who played Data on the same show, agreed and made a joke that once you get the script to an agent, they might steal it (I hope it was a joke). He was a nice guy and on stage was very quick witted. Actually he seemed “on” the whole day. Maybe thats how he is all the time. One person asked him if he did stand up comedy as she noticed that in him. He said stand up comedy is the toughest act in show business and he didnt have the guts to do it. Someone else asked him about Daniel Day Lewis and he said he was impressed with DDL because not only is he a great actor, but while shooting a film, DDL spends his whole life in character because he thinks that if he doent, he wont be able to pull off the performance. I admire people who are successful, humble and know their limitations.
Marina Sirtis, who plays Deanna Troi, told me that an outsider once got a script to them at Stat Trek and they used it, then used a few more, then he went on to producing a few shows, then executive producing, then writing three of their movies. That felt good to hear. She was a ham on stage. Actually, they all were and seemed to be really happy to be there at the conventions and with the other cast members who they were still friends with.
LeVar Burton has a very outgoing personality. I asked him about getting an agent. He also started with telling me about the process to get a script to a show. He added that I should make sure to get a registered agent from the Writers Guild website. He also added that its not easy as they get a lot of calls, but to be persistent, or more accurately a “pain in the ass” and keep at it. Eventually, he said, they might give in and read a script.
Denise Crosby was there, who played security agent Tasha Yar and who I always had a crush on. She was nice. And Michael Dorn was there too although I didnt recognize him at first because on the show, he played a Klingon, Worf, and was so covered in makeup and costume I could have been standing next to him and not known it was him. I asked if if he hears that a lot and he said “all the time.”
George Takei, who was on the original show, spoke on stage too and told some good stories. He is 75 and I never would have guessed by looking at him. He was also very outspoken about being gay and how not many people knew until Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pissed him off by lying about supporting gay people and he became an activist on the issues surrounding the issues. He got a lot of respect from the people in the room including from me.
I also met Michael Aron who was on a two part episode of the show (and now lives in the Bay Area running a tech company) and Richard Arnold, who worked with Gene Roddenberry, vetted scripts, researched information for the show and is an archivist. Richard Arnold told me the same story Marina Sirtis did and just said to keep at it.
Jolie O’Dell was also there. She is a technology writer for VentureBeat and did a story on me and recruiting (my day job). She is also one of the nicest people I have ever met. Jolie is a huge fan of the show and was excited like a kid in a candy store. I got to meet her new husband who was there with her. He is a good guy.
It was a fun and very positive experience. I only went on a Sunday although it also took place on Friday and Saturday where other people from the shows were speaking on stage. Maybe I will go again some day. Here are some pictures of people there.
Thats a tribble stuffed in her uniform (look up tribble online if you dont know)
This is LeVar Burton speaking. (fuzzy cameraphone pic)