Volunteering at Comic Cons
I started to write this on my way home from volunteering at London Film and Comic Con. It’s the UK’s biggest event of its kind. It’s a place where dreams are made for a lot of geeks. It’s a place where you’re with your people. It’s also where you can meet your heroes.
But any organiser would know, to run something like this, you need a massive team of people. 99% of these people are volunteers.
Why do we do it?
We do it because we are, like you, fans. We love the guests, we love the shows, and we love helping people. You could be that 1 person who’s really made someone’s day. However, it’s not an easy ride. Yes, there are a few “perks” however I have been on my feet for over 36 hours this weekend, I ache all over, and I’m more tired than you would ever imagine! But, would I do it again tomorrow?
Highs and lows: What is volunteering really like?
The main upside to volunteering, is the gratitude from people you’ve helped. Whether that is helping someone find the location of their next photo shoot, or letting that one young fan dressed as their idol go and say hi to a guest. Personally I also love seeing people just after they’ve met a celeb and sharing in their joys.
There are some people however who aren’t so nice to you. If you are working a busy line, you are literally fighting fire. Staying calm can be challenging. Some people tend to think that they can talk to you however they please, just because you have a crew shirt on. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! We are all doing our best to help you. We do not know everything about the whole con. It’s a massive place and we are given 1 area to work in. These people really need to walk a day in our shoes, they will then know how it feels!
How to respond to: “You’re just here for the freebies!” (It’s not true)
Some people think we do it for the freebies. We really don’t!
Most convention companies can’t give you much when you Crew for them. I’ve worked for a few companies over the years. Once, I got a photograph of the guests. Once, we had permission to grab some selfies or autos with guests. Another, gives you expenses to help towards costs of hotel, paid in cash or vouchers to be used at the show. But, to be honest, I don’t do it for any of it. I do it because I love it!
Another upside to crewing. You may get asked to be a guest assistant. Meaning, you’ll be sat next to the guests taking the money and helping them out. This could be anyone from second stormtrooper from the left, or someone bigger. I wouldn’t expect to be put next to your number one meet however, they usually check out your social media and make their choices accordingly.
Which is just as well… I would have died had they put me next to my number one meet of the weekend DAVID TENNANT!!! He got announced on the Saturdayafternoon. The whole con erupted! (Myself included) I did however manage to bag myself a pic with him. All paid for with my own hard earned cash!
If you’re considering volunteering, here’s a few tips to help you through:
- Know your company: always attend before volunteering. Get a feel for the place and see how things work from the outside.
- Try out a smaller event first: volunteer at a local comic con. Or one of the companies smaller events. This will give you a feel for what goes on in the background.
- Only apply if you’re intending to follow it through: With the larger cons people always drop out. Please only apply if you really want to do it. The work only gets harder when people don’t show.
- Know your “pit”: when you get placed in an area, make sure you get a full rundown on what you need to do by the senior in the area. These are people that have crewed many times. Get all the information you can, and if you don’t know ask!
- Expect the unexpected: You could be placed anywhere. From front door to photo shoots. You could also be pulled from that area if quiet to work something else.
- Stay calm: if dealing with a frustrated attendee. Stay calm and if you don’t know the answer to the question point them to the area supervisor.
- Look after yourself: You don’t get much in the way of breaks. There are times for lunch I.E Guest on lunch/photo area is in between shoots. When you’re having a quiet period, take some time if you can. Grab a drink or snack. (Or in my case a cheeky vape or cigarette.)
All I would say to sum this up is if you want to get a feel for the inside workings of a comic con, give it a go!! By doing this, I’ve made loads of new friends. I’ve got massive respect for anyone organising an event like this. After all it’s very passionate people, creating events for other passionate people!
It’s a wonderful thing, and I for one am very glad to be a part of it!
I’m also going to throw the rest of my pics from the event here for good measure. And the fact that they’re bloody amazing!!
Again, these are pictures I bought and earned for myself – and I’m really proud of these!
Sarah J Wilson – Your friendly neighbourhood comic con volunteer