I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Phoenix Comicon media night at their new offices in Phoenix. I got to spend a few minutes with their Guest Director, Brandy Kuschel.
LoS: The amount of guests for Fan Fest is really solid, has the fact that the con is so close to the holidays had any effect on getting commitments from guests?
BK: To some degree yes. It’s a little bit of a cumbersome process that takes up a bit of time and you factor in the holidays, it’s doesn’t work for everyone. We’ve had two guests decline because of Christmas.
LoS: Does the television shooting schedule make it easier to get guests at this time of the year?
BK: Not really, some network shows continue to shoot one or two weeks into December.
LoS: How challenging is it finding the right mix of guests for Fan Fest? Have you had the thought of “let’s save them for Phoenix Comicon”?
BK: It’s a challenge for both shows actually. Guests we really want will say no and we also have to think about the cost factor, this time of the year people tend to not spend their money on them self so we keep that in mind when approaching certain guests.
LoS: On average, how many guest requests do you guys get in a week from attendees? How much impact does the survey results have on who is booked for Fan Fest?
BK: On average, we get 100 emails a week and at the end of the month I get a report, so needless to say it can be quite a bit when I look at it.
The surveys have a pretty significant impact, we want to bring out guests that people will enjoy. I come up with a top 20 guests and then typically I only get 2 or 3 and then I have to move on to my next 20 and then the next 20 and so on. It’s a balancing act to get guests requested and what we can achieve.
LoS: Without naming actors or actresses, what’s the number one television or movie property you get requests for?
BK: It’s never consistent, it always changes depending on what’s popular. A few years ago we got a ton of requests for Big Bang Theory, then it was Doctor Who, and then Arrow. We will usually get a popular guest but it’s just a timing a thing, it might be a few years because of shooting schedules, con burnout, prior commitments, and so on.
LoS: The guest lineup is very Scifi driven this year, was this conscious effort or just how it came together.
BK: We get more request for scifi actors than any other genre. We actually had quite a bit of horror guests available to us for Fan Fest but we felt that was more for our June show, we didn’t want to mix horror and the holidays.
We’ve had a lot of success from the scifi genres and so it allows us to bring more guests from the genre.
LoS: Do you have any particular guest you’re excited to see this year.
BK: I’m excited so many of them! I travel to a lot shows for network so a lot of the guests I’ve seen or met before but what I’m excited about is to be able to bring them to my show and have them see the great fan base we have here. I’m a big Doctor Who fan so it’s exciting to be able finally have some of those guests at our show.
Thanks to Phoenix Comicon for the invite and to Brandy for her time to answer my questions.