Since we are between seasons in our recaps anyway, we interrupt your regularly scheduled fangirling for a fangirling special report. Normal coverage of Season 2 will begin next Friday…
Red Dragon Con 3 AKA Life Will Never Be The Same
Late last spring, I was introduced to Hannibal, and by summer I found out that in October 2016 there would be a convention in London. After the success of the first one the previous year, a fairly low-key affair with Mads Mikkelsen himself as the headline guest, this would be the second of it’s kind run by Starfury Conventions, with a lot of the awesome ladies of the show in attendance. Despite my anguish as a brand new fan seeking to devour all there was, I could not afford the trip on such short notice, so I lived the panels vicariously through Twitter and Tumblr.
One night – the Saturday I believe – I noticed the feeds blowing up. Red Dragon Con 3 had been announced during the event to complete uproar. The buzz was due to the fact that a) it was only 4 months away instead of 12 and b) Hugh freaking Dancy, star of the show Will Graham and notorious social media-phobic, was confirmed. February 2017 was when they could finally pin him down and they had gone right ahead and done it. Yes it sucked for some but for me it felt heaven-sent. I did the maths and after frantic pleas for help towards the trip as an Xmas present, I made the most impulsive purchase ever. My husband is a fan but not quite A Fannibal™ so with his eye-rolling blessing it was done – I was going on a 3 night trip alone and I was going to meet my 12 year celebrity crush. After about 10 minutes of excitement there followed 4 months of intermittent “What the fuck have I done?”
More guests were announced as time went on – Aaron Abrams (Brian Zeller), Scott Thompson (Jimmy Price), Demore Barnes (Tobias Budge) and Ellen Muth (Georgia Madchen). I was excited enough to kill a girl and then, at the last minute, the death blow – Bryan Fuller, writer/creator/showrunner/genius/Lord/saviour/activist/captain of our goddamn ship, was coming too. Holy moly the anxiety was real.
During this run-up, off the back of an idea that formed at RDC2 with Vlad, there was a casual little post in the Facebook group about the music number at the end of Ella Enchanted. This spawned an ambitious project that transcended oceans, language, time constraints and the bounds of both creativity and possibility – Hannibal: A Fannibal Musical. I was stupid/lucky enough to be part of it and the fandom gods must have smiled upon us, for what followed will live with me forever…
I have never been to any kind of convention before and so this is to be educational for anyone planning to go; as well as a permanent memoir of that weekend when everything I ever knew ceased to be real. I will highlight tips for new people as we go because here, ID’s resident Fannibal brings you an account of three days of lost time in her life, that were seemingly endless and yet went by in the rustle of a Ravenstag’s feathers…
Background: The Musical
With my now friends Maëlibé and Victoria at the helm, the musical gained momentum. A Facebook group was made and ideas for songs that fitted the tone of any part of our story were batted around – the lyrics would be changed by us to create parodies. A public Google doc of scenes and songs was created and edited and honed. I even wrote one – I Loathe You, Baltimore made famous as Good Morning, Baltimore from Hairspray. The show grew legs – “auditions” were held in the form of cosplay and recorded singing. A cast was finalised, with myself playing Dr. Alana Bloom. It grew arms and a head – script was written to link the songs with stage directions to make sense of them, and Skype rehearsals began.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could perform it at the con? The dreamers dreamed but one day our show came to life – Starfury conventions had been asked and said we could have half an hour on the Saturday night to do the show. Frantic cuts were made for time, as the final version was almost an hour long. The songs would have to be pre-recorded, spliced into one long track and lip synced due to tech limitations but none of it mattered as long as we could make it happen.
A Kickstarter was set up to fund production of a show booklet containing the whole script and lyrics of the long version, and fanart that matched the scenes. An official Twitter and Tumblr for the musical were created and the marketing started in earnest – we wanted people to want to come. Other con-goers of course, anything else would be insane, no? Bryan Fuller followed the Twitter page and we all lost it. Amongst others, Janice Poon the food stylist on the show, Vladimir Jon Cubrt (Garrett Jacob Hobbs) and ultimately Bryan himself liked posts we shared. They knew and they were excited. The countdown was running short and we started to whisper the unthinkable to each other – what if the guests see the show…?
I had all my tickets, I said an anxious goodbye and took myself off to the airport. I am fairly well organised so I coped but still this was it, no turning back now. The events that would ultimately take place while I was away still not truly crystallised in my head, I sat on the plane somewhat excited but mostly just nervous about being alone. How differently I will feel next time… I studied my musical script with the full show track playing on my iPod. I laughed at the funny bits and I knew my cues – it was no big deal. Would that I had known.
Arrival & Registration
I somehow got myself to London and to the hotel, where I had arranged to share a room with 3 other people – musical director Maë and her two friends who had all been before – for cheapness. Pro Tip #1 – There is a convention room discount code so WAIT until it is released before booking because it’s really good. I met them, checked in, and the room was nice. The Radisson Blu Edwardian at Heathrow is really fancy, Hannibal would approve. I got changed, put my brand new flower crown on my head and off we went to registration, where they give you your badge and pack of stuff etc.
It felt like the first day in halls at uni or summer camp or something. A buzz of nervous energy and only rudimentary familiarity, with faces I knew from social media but was too shy to approach at that stage. I had spare flower crowns so I gave them out, made a couple of connections, and waited. And waited. Pro Tip #2 – Ebay has cheap but not cheap-looking flower crowns so you don’t have to spend a lot to get something nice.
By the time we found the end of the line snaking around the bright conference centre, complete with black stag water feature, we knew we were in for a long one. Now I’m British so I can queue like a trooper (see also: Sunday 26th *eye twitches*) but it’s a real exercise in patience, and that’s even considering after about an hour I got called for fast track due to having a gold ticket. Pro Tip #3 – If arriving on the Friday, get up to registration before it opens at 4pm and I’ll race you there. I had a spare lanyard (you can buy theirs but just take your own) so I made another friend, but when I turned around they were understandably gone and I was alone. My roomies were still stuck waiting in the regular ticket queue and I had my first wobble.
I studied the schedule to look busy and saw the musical printed there for Saturday at 7:30pm. Wow. Somehow I still did not internalise this and stayed calm. I checked the Facebook group and saw that fandom mama, Ro, had the birthday card for Demore Barnes in the lobby and I went to find her. I told her it was like meeting a celebrity in itself (this girl is a Fannibal machine and I raise my hat to her) and she was adorable and gave me a sticker to put my social media handle on, to help us all find each other. Pro Tip #4 – Join the Facebook group, turn on notifications for the @Starfurynews Twitter, and USE THESE NAME LABELS.
Uncertainty & Opening
It was only 6.30pm and the opening ceremony was at 8. At first it does feel like everyone knows everyone but they don’t, it’s just that these groups are the loudest. I went to regroup (and apply make up) in the room and weighed my options. There was time to kill before the evening’s events and I was hungry…but still alone. I listened to my gut and went to McDonalds. It’s literally in the car park of the hotel so you will be able to get cheap fast food at any hour if you’re stuck. Pro Tip #5 – If you are EVER in doubt about eating now or later or in some other gap you think you see in the schedule, just eat! This includes dragging your ass up for breakfast because you have no idea when you will next get a chance.
Made my way to the main hall and saw that gold people get the first rows in the seating but right at the door, Maë and Ro were bearing little gift boxes and Fannibal Forever signs respectively. “Do you want to give this to Aaron or Scott? At the meet and greet.” Maë asked. I panicked, picked Scott and she shoved the invitation to the musical into my hand. I was a gold ticket holding member of the cast and I had a job as a conduit between Us and Them. No big deal right? Getting way too real more like. I don’t think the actual true reality that we would be chatting to them, hit me until right then…
I found a seat and said hello to the people I had to climb over – turned out I knew one from Tumblr and one from Twitter and also Fannibals are the sweetest. Pro Tip #6 – Just ask about people’s social media because so often you think you’re talking to a stranger and you’re not, and it is a great ice breaker. The opening ceremony isn’t long but it’s intense. Sean Harry, who organises the events, announces each guest, they come out on stage one by one and say a quick few words.
OK but imagine this with >600 people, high on adrenaline, knowing how big the guests we got this year are, and add the anticipation levels from it being almost half an hour behind schedule. Demore, Aaron, Scott and then Ellen. Tension built. Bryan Fuller in his flower crown JUMPER and running around for high fives – standing ovation chaos before he spoke a single word. Hugh Dancy made his appearance, we found out the answer to the hotly contested question of what condition of hair he was in, and it’s just total screaming carnage. Short and clean shaven if you’re interested, but the disarming thing was the look of startled affection on his face when he saw the reaction to his presence. There was no way for him to prepare for that and he seemed genuinely touched.
They all spoke of looking forward to meeting us all – another hint at things getting far too real and that was that. Then they all came back on to stand together and, like some protest of days gone by, we held up our Fannibals Forever signs. This was the first stand-out moment for me because Bryan’s face lit up, Hugh visibly said, “Oh my God” and they both immediately got their phones out to document the view they must have had. A sea of flower crowns and white signs that said we were still behind them, more than ever. We all knew I think, them included, that this con would be something else.
Meet & Greet
I decided to nip to the loo (Pro Tip #7 – Always do this if you can too) and it meant I arrived at the other big hall just in time to see my opening ceremony buddies going in too. Also a friend of mine actually saw Hugh doing the same – this is not an elitist convention – they roam among you lol and you can often spot a wild guest. I gratefully tagged myself on to them, bless their hearts for letting me, and the stewards (very hard working con-goers themselves) fitted us into a table. It’s set out like a big wedding and small groups make up larger ones leaving one ominous looking space free…I noticed I lost my badge off my lanyard and FREAKED, but all too soon they were tweeting that they found it, which is good because it’s an outrageous £5 to get another.
You can set out any old things you want on your table – toys, games, gifts, swag, sweets – and you can drink too, so take anything you feel like including booze. When they announced this too was running behind because the guests were having food, we got on with chatting and fretting. Pro Tip #8 – Bring something like Cards Against Humanity…FYI Hugh Dancy’s favourite card is officially ‘Pac-man uncontrollably guzzling cum’…it will fill time. Lo and behold, some other people at this table were a couple I gave a flower crown to and the lanyard girl with her friend. It’s such a big little community. The guests came in with little fuss and they suddenly felt like real human beings, just people, and the fear subsided like 5%.
We didn’t get anyone for a bit – 6 guests and around 20 tables – but then Demore appeared and it’s the most surreal thing. In your head you see Tobias but the guy in front of you is just a normal guy, sweet and funny and soft-spoken. He told a story about hitting himself somewhere painful with that weird weapon in his final fight scene with Mads. They only get about 5-10 minutes at each table before they have to move on, and they have people hovering with them – managers, PA’s, minders from Starfury etc – who guide them about. Ellen joined us next and she is like a doll – so teeny with all this gorgeous hair. She complimented my accent before talking about Scotland! By chance there were three of us Scottish at my table, crazy given there were probably less than 20 of us there.
I had a minor flail and then suddenly a fun blonde lady came over and says she’s bringing Hugh over next and to “Just breathe.” She was a good laugh the whole weekend because she must have seen some fangirling and then some! We had been watching him from afar, unable to deal with the prospect of meeting him. It’s genuinely hard to describe him. It’s not an exaggeration to say that he’s strikingly, fascinatingly beautiful with fine features even these days. As soon as he started talking to us though, I realised he’s almost shy. I don’t think I’d ever considered he might be this introverted, so detailed a picture I’d painted in my mind of him being this slick actor type, while we all swooned at his feet. He’s charming and sincere and open in a way that just puts you at ease and he’s so overwhelmed by this fandom.
Hugh said walking out on the stage to that response was “like a fever-dream.” and because I cover my nerves with humour I said he should be used to that and I made him laugh. He asked if we had all been to the other cons. I said no and he looked me right in the eye, smiled and said “Well me neither so we have that in common.” His eyes are lovely and his eye contact is intense, especially when your brain is like…but that’s Hugh fucking Dancy. It was just…*whimpers* My friend gave him a Will badge, he talked a little about the love and creativity being amazing, and about the musical, and then was gone. We were decidedly not alright. We got Aaron after that, who was hilarious and told us to ask Scott about “the bad sex he had last night.” Their friendship is real and they are one hell of a comedy double act. We then realised it was after 11pm and some tables had finished and gone. Bryan and Scott were still to come.
We hosted Bryan first and I have to be totally honest – I felt the presence of greatness. With Hugh it was like talking to someone you admire, someone you crush on to be honest, but this was like….’oh my hero’. Apples and oranges. Like he actually created this beautiful, inclusive thing – he made us and none of us would be here without him. He’s super tall and over-the-top, but in a loving bear hug type of way. He was also now wearing a flower crown, and told us that whereas Hugh is here to experience the love and to thank us all, he himself is here because he is a Fannibal too. I adore him. He went on to talk eloquently and passionately about Trump and Brexit and LGBT issues, imploring us to stand together now and he is so quietly inspiring without being preachy that I could cry. He was there much longer than he was meant to be and that was a sure sign of things to come.
Scott came after that and he did indeed tell us his story…but then I gave him his invitation with all the table’s eyes on me. He opened it and read and could not be more interested in the project! He asked how we made it and what it includes and who I play. When I told him ‘Alana’ he said, “Oh yeah…I can definitely see that.” and I had another brain fart. Between me and our lovely Molly actress we got him thinking about coming along. We had a casual rehearsal after this so we left and headed for that, despite it being nearly midnight. I don’t really know the others at this point, and they had done some runs already so I just sat and laughed at the outgoing ones mucking about. I am now one of them lol. Maë was stressed as all hell as were now performing on the dancefloor not the stage, but I was so drained that I just nodded, gave her a long reassuring hug and went straight to bed without heading to the party. Pro Tip #9 – These parties are themed but it’s not strongly adhered to at all so don’t worry. I think it was the quietest of the nights though so I didn’t miss a lot.
The next morning we woke up to the news that the last tables at the Meet left at 4am because Bryan was spending so much time with everyone. He is so, so Extra and there was a buzz around this day already. If I could live Sat 25th Feb 2017 over and over and over, I would…
We ate breakfast and I checked the Twitter as I knew photos were early, then I realised I was late to queue (they do it in blocks of ticket numbers) for Aaron & Scott. I scurried off and the queue was actually not bad. You show them your photo tickets to go in and when it’s done they give you a little collection card. The guys were fun and up for anything so I wasn’t nervous and it was done in a literal flash. I was at a loose end again and due to my own shyness I just chilled in the lobby and called home. Before I knew it, it was time to queue for Bryan & Hugh, and this was the first time the logistics got the better of the staff. Pre-ordered photos are done before ones purchased on the day, but so many people had booked a photo with both guests that it was a little chaotic. Nobody knew which queue was which or where the ends were. Pro Tip #10 – In queues, people just give you stuff – stickers, art, badges etc – so bring a tote bag or folder to keep it all in because it’s awesome.
I eventually got that it made more sense to go to Bryan first and then come back to the standstill Hugh line. The main issue with the staff was that they often seemed to be making it up as they went along – but from experience this would not be their fault as they were volunteers, chances are they were not well managed. One would insist on something and then two seconds later another one would just contradict all that. Another girl near me did the same as me, and we ended up chatting as we waited for him to arrive from the whole group photo area. This line again moved fairly well and Bryan was like an excitable kid meeting everyone, if only for a few seconds. He was giving out hugs, compliments and beaming smiles right, left and centre. I gave him my Funko Hannibal to hold and he threw his arm around me – it was a real party vibe for pre-11am. Pro Tip #11 – Plan your outfit, props and pose ahead, and bring anything you need down with you in the morning, or prepare to freak out in the queue line.
The Hugh queue had gotten insanely long by the time we were done so off we went to the end. It moved fairly fast until you got in the actual room, where it snaked around a bit, and the butterflies started in earnest. You have all this stuff in your head like ‘I wonder what he smells like’ and ‘I wonder how tall he is’ but if you’re like me, when it comes to the crunch you just go numb and try not to freak out. We said hi to each other and I asked if he’d like to hold Tiny Will. He said he’d love to and gave me a real smile, which is likely why I look scared and/or starstruck as fuck in my picture. If I ever meet him again I’m hugging the crap out of him that’s for damn sure, because I regret not doing it so much. My hands were shaking like crazy afterwards for almost 15 minutes – it is a real high, a trip, and my queue buddy and I couldn’t stop manically giggling.
I ran into my Opening/M&G buddy, our Molly from the show, in full Margot cosplay. We spotted lots of others too, some funny and some amazing and everyone was taking pictures of everyone. Pro Tip #12 – Regarding cosplay: if you want to do it just go for it, if not it doesn’t matter, but if you wants pics with people just ask because they love it! We went to Scott & Aaron’s panel and it was an uproarious laugh from start to finish. They found ways to make almost every answer funny, with some really touching additions from Scott.
The whole Hannigram thing made them joke a lot about their own ‘bromance’ and then things descended into madness. My friend’s Margot riding whip was passed to them, as was the prop collar from episode 3×07 Digestivo, and 50 Shades of Preller happened. Aaron does gently mocking impressions of Will Graham, and spanks Scott. Scott shouts filth and wears the collar to be led around. It was scream-laughing carnage, and all over too soon. We had a rehearsal for the show planned for 5pm, so I unfortunately missed Ellen and Demore to go and Alana myself up.
I took my time, called home again, went over my bits again, curled the hair and changed, then headed down to the Hugh & Bryan panel. I did get a few double takes, as people realised I wasn’t me anymore, but I found myself sitting alone as I was almost late. I decided to take my place in the question line instead because yolo, right? Wrong. They announced it was just going to be Hugh for a bit because Bryan was still signing autographs, chatting too exuberantly to everyone he meets. The queue of people at the mic reshuffles to put Hugh-only questions at the front. Far too soon I am at the front and the sight is…intimidating. Just a lone mic on a table, ready to transmit your voice to a room of hundreds, and behind it Hugh Dancy looking encouragingly at you. Pro Tip #13 – If you want to ask a question just think about what you’ll say and do it! You will regret it if you don’t.
I prefaced it with a compliment about his American accent in the show that he was very sweet about, and then asked a semi-serious thing about Will finding Hannibal’s notes and wonky clock drawings in Season 2 and being pissed. He said Hannibal probably has a folder marked ‘Do Not Show Will’. Then I think I went into yolo autopilot and asked him about Aaron’s earlier theory that ‘Will Graham would be a shit Christian Grey because he would end up spanking himself…discuss’. The laugh from the crown was positive but he’s 10 seconds into answering before I even remembered he was meant to be in the latest 50 Shades movie. What the hell did I just do?! He seemed to be joining in the fun though, so we exchanged what I hope was a good-natured smile between us as he spoke.
His answer was playful with a side of ripping into the writing in those books and I couldn’t have asked for more. He said Will would suck at it, really because he wouldn’t be able to handle the billionaire playboy lifestyle without simply buying more dogs, and that Hannibal and Will’s intelligent conversation is notably absent from the Ana/Christian dynamic. Burn and oh, he’s too good. I sat down in an aisle seat with that sense of exhilarated relief you get after being on a roller coaster, and noticed our fretting director in the Bryan queue beside me.
Time had run away from us and Bryan wasn’t even there yet. We exchanged frantic whispers about what to do, and using the wonder of social media, the rehearsal got pushed to 5:30pm. Bryan finally arrived and the Hannigram chat ranged from serious – Hugh feels Will didn’t really think Hannibal capable of love, thus taking him so long to realise that might be what they had; to utter trolling – Bryan announces officially that “They flip.” in bed. We were all giddy and it was cutting it close as we finally headed to rehearsal. I was supposed to go for my non-Hugh & Bryan autographs but the timings didn’t line up, and I NEEDED this run through, so I left it. This was to be my fatal error but right then I couldn’t have cared less… Pro Tip #14 – DO NOT FOLLOW THIS EXAMPLE – if you have a slot to go for stuff, do as you’re told!
High-spirits and jangling nerves made us hard to wrangle – I even accidentally went in the Green Room across from our rehearsal space to the kind amusement of Hugh, Aaron and a minder. We tried for two full practices but with absent people at the beginning, faffing with props we had never touched until then, mistakes and the delayed panel, we only managed one. We whispered nervous jokes and were literally discussing stage directions and cues in hushed tones while we ran it, reassuring each other that it would all be ok without fully believing it ourselves. We hammed it up and it seemed to work so we concentrated on that.
Ultimately I sound like I’m blowing our own collective trumpet but I’m just so proud of us. We do mostly come from performance backgrounds and know how to deal, to just bloody get on with it, but this was uncharted territory – we hadn’t even worked in the space we had. Some of us were very worried, some were just saying fuck it, and then they came to get us…
I picked up my plastic baby and my Mizumono coat and we walked through the worryingly quiet hotel, to nip in and arrange props where they should be. A glance around revealed just about everyone is there to watch, holy shit this was bigger than any audience I’ve ever had. The guests were not there and we were briefly disappointed and relieved in equal measure. We got in position and made to start, but Maë only got a bit into her introduction before they stopped her. The guests had arrived, a little late from their dinner and excited to see the show, so we had to wait until they sat themselves down, right at the front of course. I think this was what you’d call a sink or swim moment – there was literally no time to stress, no option to back out, no other choice but to give it everything and hope for the best. I’m told that’s what we did.
I remember bits, feelings – the constant willing myself to just do what I practiced after that first time I turned around; the eyes on me as I counted beats until my cue that made me want to play up to them; the giddiness when we got a laugh, an ‘aww’, a cheer; the tentative enjoyment as it very quickly became apparent that people were loving it.
The overriding memory is just of relaxing and really going for it as the show went on, and knowing everyone as a team was doing the same. I glanced at the guests a few times and seeing Bryan’s face lit up like it was the best thing ever, coupled with Hugh following the lyrics word for word and laughing at all our jokes, is an experience that I will take to my grave. We came expressly to fangirl over them and here they were fanboying over us! When we did the ‘well written lesbian relationship’/Hannigram kiss finale to roars and screams of approval, we all knew we had done it. By some combination of the old adage that first and last performances are the best, and a Bryan Fuller miracle, we were inexplicably killing it. Seeing him leading the standing ovation is when I personally took leave of myself to pure euphoria. Pro Tip #15 – If you are ever in the position to do something that you worry might be too scary, push yourself to do it. It will make you feel amazing and you could end up living your dreams…
Demore was presented with a birthday card and cake after we took our bow and said a few lovely words of thanks. We all sang happy birthday to him, the whole room, and it was such a one-big-warm-and-happy-fannibal-family moment right then. Pure joy. Bryan came to our huddle to thank us and because of where I stood I caught his eye. Drunk with confidence I exclaimed, “No, thank YOU!” and he grabbed me in a huge, tight hug. Demore did the same, and Scott and Aaron were raving about it. Hugh I simply beamed at as they were being ushered away and he gave me that look, you know the one – a proud smile and a hand gesture that says ‘hats off to you.’ Again I wish I’d gone for the hug…damn it lol. Pro Tip #16 – If you want a hug and it’s an appropriate moment, ask because you might never get another chance. *cries*
The cosplay contest was right after this and Bryan & Hugh dressed up as Hannibal and Mason respectively for a laugh while judging. I unfortunately missed it as I was running to McDonalds, screeching and freaking out, with my show murder wife turned forever friend, Emma. We went through something reality shifting playing a couple and I know I’ll love her for life, despite having never met her until the con. Such is the power of the Fannibals. We ate it on my bed and got changed for the ‘sexy science’ party, unsure what life meant anymore; then spent an hour or so drinking cocktails in the chilled restaurant. We talked about what just happened, the future, and got totally overwhelmed by the Twitter response to the show as we scrolled through the endless messages of touching praise.
We eventually went for a triumphant, boisterous dance and honestly the times we walked through the hotel after the show, people were recognising us and saying we did well. We brushed with fame in more ways than one that day, finally crashing from the adrenaline embarrassingly early. Top 3 best days of my life. 10/10 would (and will) do again.
A late breakfast after sleeping like the dead, only now I had so many people to say hello to, people whose names I now knew. It was a real taste of that thing the seasoned con-goers speak of and it felt nice to be arranging to sit with my new murder bestie Emma/Margot at the day’s panels. I was there super early, and along with the two girls I just kept running into, we got seats in the 3rd row. We settled in for the long haul and some awesome Q & A…and we were not disappointed. Pro Tip #17 – If you want good seats, queue as soon as possible, but be willing to pee and eat in shifts if your group is staying there all day. It’s bad form to leave all your stuff and disappear.
Demore and Ellen were first and I was struck yet again by how lovely Demore is. Obviously I know he’s not Tobias but Tobias is terrifying and it’s a nice surprise to see such adorable warmth coming out of his mouth. Ellen I feel might be quite shy in this type of situation but still very sweet, you can tell she loves working with Bryan. They ended their session by saying the guests had had a lot of discussion amongst themselves about why we love the show so fiercely. They opened the floor to us to say what it meant to us and the answers were so emotional and honest. They made me just feel so much solidarity with every single Fannibal.
After that it was time for Scott and Aaron part two and they were out in the audience, climbing on chairs and generally causing havoc. They are so funny I could listen to them talk semi-serious crap about themselves, each other, their careers and Hannibal like once a day every day and not be bored. After Scott accusing Tom Hiddleston of being gay, Aaron speaking of being typecast as ‘yelling cop guy’, and them acting out a scene as Moneypenny and Bond including a proposal and a kiss, it was time to say goodbye.
During the ‘lunch’ break, I nipped across to say hello to The Hannibal Cre-ate-ive group and my Tumblr fic-writer friend. So surreal to put faces to totally anonymous blogs and URLs, but I like it. Reminds me there are real fannibals, real creators behind every post, every story, every piece of art and I cannot wait to meet more next time. Pro Tip #18 – Carry snacks with you to avoid fainting as you really can’t just go off and eat without forgoing something.
After that we got Hugh and Bryan (at the same time today) and it was a real emotional roller coaster. From Hugh clearly tearing up at least twice due to Bryan and the fannibals piling on the praise and love, particularly for writing the “It’s beautiful.” line; to Bryan speaking out for women and inspiring with his tale of the “obsessive tenacity” in getting where he was; to us all giggling excitedly over yet more Hannigram and Season 4 murmurs. It is real and it’s coming for us. I loved this panel and the queue for questions was still around 20 long by the time they were forced to wrap it up. They are both direct contradictions to the saying “don’t meet your idols.” Nope. If your idols are Bryan Fuller and Hugh Dancy – meet them because they are wonderful and giving. Speaking of giving, the collective fan book made by us all was presented to Bryan at this panel by fellow Scottish Fannibal and project organiser, Samantha. Hugh got one too and I often hope that, somewhere, they are looking at it and smiling. There are photos that say they are.
*Takes deep breath* So remember I said that on the Saturday I totally missed my autographs? Well I foolishly thought this would be simple to rectify…HA. In my naive, con-virgin mind I was going to ask a steward nicely and get my ‘other’ autos first, because the queue for Hugh & Bryan that I was meant to be in was a) definitely going to be slow as hell and b) not open to me yet as I had gold but a really high number. Simple, huh? No less than 3 staff members (not stewards) told me I couldn’t do this and to just go chill so off I stressfully went. My roomies had done all their stuff and were in high spirits for the evening, so I tried to join in. I kept one eye on the Twitter at all times for my number and the second it came up I ran to queue. It was LONG and I started to fret in earnest.
After about 45 minutes in the Hugh/Bryan queue, doing frantic calculations with the time, I decided I had to try one last time. By sheer luck, the person I stopped was a lovely lady named Annette who made it her business to take me out of the queue to go get my other ones, on the condition that I went to the back when I returned. SOLD. I was low-key mad that everyone else had said this wasn’t something I could do, but I was confident now that I’d get everyone to sign my stuff. Got Demore, then Ellen, then Scott and finally Aaron and they were so lovely and easy to talk to. They signed my “Making of..” book (with room for more people in future hehe). However, I gradually realised that everyone who was in this room were the last people who needed autographs at all. The Closing Ceremony was listed on the schedule as being 20 minutes away as I scuttled back along the corridor to join the big queue. It was even longer than when I’d left it and we all knew this was going to be an epic. Pro Tip #19 – If the stewards are wielding their power, and your gut tells you it’s not right or fair, trust yourself and politely fight your case. You paid to be there and they’re not better than you.
It moved scary slow and this was even with the whispers that Bryan had been warned to keep a lid on the chatter today. Sidenote: this wasn’t fair really since we were the gold people and this meant the regular tickets had got the best interactions with him but still. I heard no less than 5 different people arguing with the same two power-mad staff members to be allowed in to queue at all and it was hard to listen to. Not sure if all of them made it despite paying to be there like we all did… We started to bond over this shared endurance test, as there was nothing to do but wait. They gave us water, they let you leave to pee and come back to your spot.
At around 8:15pm, after what was genuinely 3 hours from coming to queue in the first place, I arrived at Hugh Dancy’s table. We talked about the musical and he was so proud of us and so complimentary and impressed which is just baffling… Also his smile could crumble you. I managed to say most of what I wanted to say, though it was a little embarrassing with their PA people sitting either side. They really couldn’t care less though, I’m sure, but it was over far too soon. Not to worry, though, I simply crossed the room to join the next stage of the queue for Bryan. Not long after that Hugh was done and his people took him off, probably to eat, poor guy. I gave him a cheeky wave and said ‘bye’ because I was right at the doorway as he passed and because I’m terrible. He returned it. Cutie.
Time marched on, much quicker than it felt like we had been there as we inched around – 8:45pm, 9pm, 9:15pm and there were still like 50+ people to go. Then something happened, staff and Sean and Bryan discussed it and the announcement was made: a two hour delay to the closing ceremony was enough so it would start at 9:30pm. This made sense as I’d been getting increasingly antsy text updates from friends waiting in the main hall for it. Bryan fucking Fuller – best human on earth, probably – was going to come back after that and finish the autographs for every single person. We got a ticket with our number so that we couldn’t skip the line upon our return and ran through to the hall. I squeezed onto the floor by Emma’s feet, right at the front for simplicity, later perching on her shared chair.
The closing speeches were the definition of bittersweet. They were great to listen to and everyone was happy and excited, including the guests, but the tone was naturally of thanks and farewell and it was sinking in – this was coming to an end. It was clear they were leaving tonight. Hugh seemed emotional yet again and I felt him – it had been such an epic weekend. Bryan was wonderful and still impossibly upbeat – I get the impression he could happily be surrounded by his Fannibals at all times and not get sick of it.
I had a great view and was screaming with the loudest of them, as they each said how much they had loved being there and other wonderful positive messages. It’s easy to forget that they have all moved on from Hannibal, and they don’t see each other or think about the show every day like we do. Knowing how much they seemed to cherish getting to be together, as well as meeting us, was just another layer of ‘squeee’. There was some promotion of RDC4 as tickets were already on sale, but I wasn’t sure if I could afford Gold, or justify buying it with no guests announced. GODAMNIT past Katie!
Once it was done we had a second wind for the queue and so did Bryan. Without the pressure of the schedule hanging over him, and to say thanks for waiting, he went back to chatting a lot and we didn’t mind a bit. Out of 600+ people we were the final approximately 40 and we even got a free poster for our trouble (shhhhhh!). Again we talked about the musical and he just gushed….I ended up getting a little upset explaining that he had changed my life and he legit took my hand and was too much. He wrote #MarlanaForever on my musical booklet. That man is my life force. I had arranged to RUN, not walk, to McDonald’s with the girl one place in front of me and we did just that, noticing it was just after 11pm. 6 actual whole hours and worth every second. Pro Tip #20 – Chat in queues it’s the easiest way to bond.
We ate and I changed into my ‘oscar night’ dress before we stumbled down to the bar, to relay the fact we had just got done, like war survivors. I found my friends and before long I was drunk on two vodkas and one wine. The malnourishment and being so drained had made me weak, and we were all full of exaggerated declarations of love for each other. I met more Tumblr people and even some fans of my writing, which was A TRIP, and then it was time to dance away the hours until the survivors photo. This was arranged for 2am and truthfully it was a snip to last until then after how late we had joined the party.
They took ‘red carpet’ photos which was fun but understandably I look rather out of it in them. A lot of the musical kids were there and when the DJ played Korn – Narcissistic Cannibal we pretty much lost our shit. We acted out bits, played up to our stage characters, and finally just celebrated our success – and our last night – by flailing around the dancefloor like we owned it. Apologies if we annoyed anyone! Far too quickly it was time for the pictures and goodbyes before bed, which involved tears, hugs, promises and Emma and I being told our musical directors were “so gay for us.” Relatable.
I woke up to the knowledge that tonight I would be home in my own bed, and the news that Gold tickets to RDC4 were sold out. Welp, that was that then, nothing to do but leave. I missed my husband terribly but these people were my family now too. Through our melancholy, we somehow picked through and packed up the mess that was our room and I headed down to check out. I ran into our S2 Hannibal and our Chilton from the musical who were also headed for Heathrow T5, and we decided we had to just leave right then. In hindsight, if I had stayed to say goodbye to everyone I would have been a wreck and likely missed my flight, so it was probably for the best. We talked exhausted but hilarious crap all the way there and it was a lot of fun on an otherwise sad trip, but then lost each other in the vastness of the airport. I bought a humongous cinnamon swirl and wondered vaguely if any of the guests, Hugh mostly, were at the airport too. It was completely bizarre to be in the real world with ‘normal’ people who weren’t wearing flower crowns.
My flight took forever to take off and I made the fatal error of listening to the musical track as we waited. Alone once more and being transported back to that night, I’m not ashamed to say I wept like a child, hiding my face from the lady next to me. Everyone who warned me about con blues was 110% right, and I went on to cry in the car on my way home from the airport and like, twice more at home. I have only started to feel almost recalibrated and not depressed about normal life, today – 6 days after returning home. I have applied my scientific mind to it and concluded that being essentially high on naturally-occurring drugs e.g. adrenaline, endorphins etc for 3 days solid gives you a serious come down when it’s gone.
The comforting thing is, thanks to social media and the anticipation of Season 4 news in August, the friendships, memories, fandom and hopefully the show, are not going anywhere for a while. I love each and every one of my fannibal family, and I caved and bought a regular RDC4 ticket as soon as I got home and had a think…only 355 days until we can do it all again. ❤
Pro Tip #21 – RDC4 is February 23rd-25th 2018 in the same location.