The SPNFamily Business… Article #2 on Salute to Supernatural in Denver, Colorado
The Salute to Supernatural conventions are always entertaining, but there is another word that describes these events: Family. Although the venue for the convention in Denver was small, it felt right. The smallness created an atmosphere of closeness and of camaraderie. While each of the celebrity guests spoke passionately about a variety of causes, they also spoke about the bond, the sense of community and family that is our fandom.
Before I get into those details, I think it is important to recognize the non-cast people, the people directly connected to these conventions. The first group is all of the wonderful people from Creation Entertainment. Co-founders Gary Berman and Adam Malin spend countless hours planning and preparing these events, events that allow us the opportunity not only to meet the cast, but also to meet our fellow family members. Mr. Berman and Mr. Malin, along with their staff and their volunteers, continue to pour their heart and soul and passion into making these events something special, whether it is in Denver or Las Vegas or any other city on the circuit. They go to great lengths to make sure lines move quickly, to have water coolers filled and ready to go inside the theater, to answer our questions with enthusiasm and smiles – they really do want us to have a good time! They have also recently launched Creation Stands, allowing us the opportunity to buy merchandise through their website which supports the various charities near & dear to the hearts of our favorite cast members. Without the unwavering passion and commitment of Mr. Berman, Mr. Malin, and all of the Creation staff, these conventions simply would not exist.
Holiday dinners. Reunions. Weddings. These are (usually) joyous family occasions. And what do we do at these occasions? That’s right – we take pictures. And aren’t we so so blessed to have crazy-talented photographer Chris Schmelke in our family? He is tucked away in a room, down a long hallway, settled into a place of magical happenings. He stands there on his mark, for hours upon hours, snapping picture after picture. We might feel nervous and anxious and excited, perhaps even dizzy and near to fainting; meanwhile, Chris is there, doing his thing, while the music blasts in the background. With each click, he captures a moment for us, whether that moment is a well-executed photo op featuring Jensen shielding a victim by aiming his dart gun at her demonized husband while Jared stands in in fear of a small clown… or perhaps he captures just a simple hug between Misha and a fan. All of these photo ops become little pieces of magic, little memories that we will cherish forever. I, for one, cannot imagine a convention without Chris. He is, perhaps, that one member of our family that we can all agree that we love unconditionally.
The last group of people that need to be recognized are the families. Danneel and JJ. Gen and Thomas and Shep. Vicky and West and Maison. Jaci, Mandy, Mollie, Sarah. I’m going to stop there with the names, mostly out of fear that I will either spell someone’s name incorrectly or even worse, forget someone altogether. But you get the point. All of the wives and all of the children give up their precious family time, so that we can spend a weekend with The Guys. The kids might be to young to understand it all, but the wives get it – we are this big, crazy family, and we love these guys… and speaking only for myself, I am so very grateful for their selflessness in sharing the guys with us.
All of that said, let’s get back to the Family Business of DenverCon details and more pretty pictures, shall we?
I think every single celebrity guest spoke in some way about our fandom, our family. The show is in its eleventh season – they get it. They know the show is still airing, in large part, because of us. Richard, Rob, and Matt talked about exactly that. They talked about how “hard it is for people to truly understand what these conventions are like, what they’re really about, unless you’ve actually been to one.” Yes, there are autographs and photo ops. Yes, there’s lots of laughing and singing, and it’s hectic, and not many opportunities for food or sleep. Yet, it is so much more than that. We are there because we have a chance to meet them… but they are here, and they keep coming back, because they get a chance to meet us. They really, truly, sincerely want to meet us and do the photo ops and sign the autographs, and just have that chance – even if it’s only for a few seconds – to share a smile with us. And to all of the naysayers out there who doubt that, please, read on. The cast, the fans – We. Are. Family.
Several of the celebrity guests talked about the importance of tolerance and inclusion, but Osric Chau was the first to talk about it. He said it is important to “give people the benefit of the doubt, to not judge a person based upon your first meeting.” So true, Osric, so true.
He went on to talk about the Tough Mudder event. He has talked previously about the event itself, recalling details that we have heard a thousand times before, yet we can’t help but sit mesmerized and enthralled in hearing it again. Then he talked about “hanging out at Jensen’s house afterward.” He said they have all grown much closer by being at the conventions together, but they don’t have a lot of time to just hang out together. For him, the opportunity to go to Jensen’s house with the guys after the Tough Mudder event was wonderful because it gave them that chance to just simply hang out together. Again, it’s all about family.
Gil McKinney talked about Attitudes In Reverse (A.I.R.) and the wonderful work they are doing in mental health education. He also talked about the hectic schedule of the conventions. Tying the two ideas together, he explained that these cons are more than just autographs and photo ops for them. He said this fandom is truly a family, “and we love you and we want to help.”
It is no surprise how Osric and Gil answered this fan’s question, “If you could mandate a daily activity, what would it be?” Instead of giving a funny answer, both Osric and Gil gave meaningful answers. Gil said we should have to say something nice to someone every day… and “Actually say it out loud, don’t text it!” Osric said that we should be required to give thanks for something everyday. Just my opinion, but both of those sentiments could be applied to family, right? It always comes back to family.
Sebastian Roche might burst onto stage with an explosion of energy, and he might carry that energy and electricity throughout his entire panel, but make no mistake – this man really cares. All of that energy and electricity channels into a serious moment when he passionately reminds us to…
Sorry… I was saying “Sebastian” and “passionately” in the same thought and I just…
Back to the point. Sebastian channels all of that energy and electricity into a serious moment when he passionately reminds us to… “be more about inclusion and a lot less about intolerance.”
He went on to say, “If we have the means, then we have a responsibility to help the less fortunate.”
Inclusion. Tolerance. Helping others. Isn’t that what family is about? Isn’t that what family should be about?
Tahmoh Penikett talked about our fandomily as well. He talked about how our creativity and our imagination allow us to bond together, to come together for a common goal. He said, “You are the most loyal, the most dedicated fan base. You have the power to create real change in the world.”
He also talked about the importance of meditation in his personal life. “Just 5 minutes of meditation every day, and you will benefit from it. You will be better because of it.”
Tahmoh mentioned starting a 30-Day Challenge… in my opinion, this is a brilliant idea. For some, meditation might be the thing that helps them find some peace. For others, it might be 5 minutes spent in prayer. For still others, maybe its a 10 minute walk, or just 5 minutes of quiet as you drink a cup of coffee. Whatever it is that allows you this moment, then I agree with Tahmoh – you will benefit from doing it, and you should make a point to do this thing that brings you peace on a daily basis. Big thanks to Tahmoh for reminding me that I need to make the time – even if its just 5 minutes a day – to take care of Me. Afterall, what good am I to my family, both my real life one and the one I have found in this fandom, if I haven’t taken care of myself?
In his panel, Richard Speight Jr. told us about his experiences while working on the set of ‘Band of Brothers.’ He explained that many of the other actors were portraying servicemen who were still alive, and they could talk with these men and hear their experiences firsthand. Unfortunately, the serviceman that Richard was portraying had already passed away. After a lot of research, Richard was finally able to locate the family of Skip Muck, the man he was portraying. He had the opportunity to talk to the family and read letters and learn more about the real life man. I was very moved as I listened to him share this story. I had goosebumps as he told us about the monument that was built for Skip Muck and the Niland brothers (Saving Private Ryan is based upon these brothers). The whole experience of working on the set of ‘Band of Brothers’ was something more than an eye-opener for Richard, he said that it actually changed the way he parents his children. Band of Brothers, oh yeah, that is absolutely about family.
Misha Collins also talked about the idea of brotherhood in answering a fan’s question about the lack of female characters on the show. He explained it this way: while this is a male dominated cast, in furtherance of the idea of and development of brotherhood, we do have strong female characters (such as Charlie and Jody, to name a few) that propel the idea of brotherhood. He went on to say that the underlying theme that flows through our show is this idea of brotherhood, of interpersonal male relationships… which, personally, I find as a refreshing break from the “cop procedural – reality tv – doctors having too much sex” stuff that dominates Every. Stupid. Channel.
I would also like to mention Misha’s charity, Random Acts, and the good works this organization is doing on a daily basis. RA is frequently a part of the Supernatural conventions, setting up a table and collecting donations for a local non profit agency. While in Denver, RA volunteers accepted donations (non perishable food items, toiletries, hats, gloves, etc) which were then given to The Gathering Place, a non profit agency in Denver serving women, children, and transgender individuals facing poverty and/or homelessness. Of course, we generously donate to and support Random Acts. We support this because we want to, of course, but also, we support this because Misha is part of our family and that’s what family does for one another – we support, we donate, we encourage, we lift up one another. And I can’t think of any better way to describe Random Acts and their #GetKind message.
Mr. Collins, thank you. Thank you for bringing Random Acts into my life. Thank you for reminding me that I can do more. Thank you for pushing me to be a better person.
Just, thank you.
Jared Padalecki also talked about the idea of family. A fan asked what he would be doing if he weren’t on Supernatural. Jared’s reply was quick and concise, as if the answer was the same as breathing, as easy to say these words as it is to say his own name… he said, “I’d be without the SPNFamily, and it would kill me.”
No worries, Jared, we got you.
These guys. Really. Talk about inspiring. They are each so passionate about their cause, from A.I.R. to Random Acts to #AKF and everything in between. And everything they have chosen to support, in some way, it supports us too. They have all said this fandom-family means so much to them, they are so grateful to be a part of this. But if all of these guys talking about their causes and their passions and their love for our family isn’t enough…
I am most touched by Mark. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he can be snarky and sarcastic. Maybe he doesn’t answer questions. Maybe he snips back at you for asking stupid questions. Maybe he refuses to write the fanfiction for us. Maybe he’s funny and charming and if you haven’t hugged this man, then you really must add that to the top of your bucket list. Like, right now. Go. Do it. Add “Hug Mark Sheppard” to your list.
When he talks about this fandom, the sincerity seems to literally drip from his lips. I wouldn’t dare try to quote Mr. Sheppard, but this paraphrased version pretty much sums it all up.
“This show, these people, this fandom are so much more than Supernatural. When family comes together to support one another, in the way that you do… what this family does collectively… It is a wonderful thing, and makes me very proud to be a part of this. These conventions are the most rewarding things I’ve experienced in my career, and I really and truly love you, the fans.”
That’s it. That’s the show. Supporting people. Changing things. The SPNFamily business.
just a mom with a camera.