The anime convention industry is extremely competitive, with strong frontiers, however Rilack launched the successful GEMUCON, his first convention this year, how did he do it and what are his plans for the future.
Had you been to many conventions before Gemucon?
I have been to a few conventions, and a lot more if we include MCM Expo, London Film and Comic Con and Eurogamer Expo. My first convention was Amecon 2010, and then I had a year of solely AnimeLeague conventions, where I started to work at conventions. Followed by Kitacon 4 and Amecon 2012.
What finally made you take the plunge and decide to launch your own convention?
During Kitacon 4, there was the now, very much confirmed rumor that Kitacon would not be running in 2013. Some of my friends and I just happened to be talking about this and how the hole in the schedule would make for a great chance to launch a new event…and so I did.
What was the biggest risk you took in starting your own convention?
The biggest risk I took was simply starting everything. There was plenty of people that said I should wait a bit longer, plan a bit more, research a bit deeper before I started everything, but once the ball started rolling, it was hard to stop it!
How do you think the convention industry has changed over the past years?
I honestly wouldn’t know. I haven’t been in it long enough to look back and go ‘oh, things have changed’.
With more convention companies being launched, do you think the convention industry is becoming too saturated?
I don’t think the convention industry is becoming too saturated, but I do think that the conventions are too similar. Each event needs to find their own niche in the convention schedule, but when the public demands that you do everything the same as X event, individualism is hard to create.
Do you think conventions popularity at the moment are just a phase/trend, or do you think they are here to stay?
Conventions will always be here, but will they be the same as they are now? No, not at all. At one anime convention, I was talking to someone who was attending conventions back in the beginning in the 90s. He told me how it was mostly a place for people to come and watch new anime, as downloading episodes straight from Japan wasn’t even close to a thing back then. As long as they keep evolving and changing to meet the demands of the public, conventions will never go away.
How did the first Gemucon go?
The first Gemucon went as well as could be expected. There were painfully obvious things that went wrong, but we adjusted and, as far as I know, the people that attended had a great time.
What was the biggest success of the weekend?
The biggest success of the weekend was how much fun the guests had. Due to the fun that they were having, this translated to the attendees and any mistakes were glossed over with good humour.
If you did it all again, what would you do differently?
If I did it all again, I would put more thought into the venue. Having your event split over two floors that are numbered 1 and 10 is just not a good idea!
Did you learn anything about yourself from the whole experience?
That I really, really hate going on stage! Other than that, I learnt that no matter how much I worry about something going wrong, I can adapt and make it work.
What advice would you give someone thinking of launching their own convention?
Make sure you attend a lot of conventions, and gopher at them if possible. You will get a lot of experience, and make a lot of friends that will be willing to help you with your own event.
All photographs in this post were taken by the friendly Team Neko UK https://www.facebook.com/TeamNekoUK