If you’re a gifted artist who wants to make a living creating fandom art, but you’re not sure where to go for advice, there’s a place for you. Perhaps you have a strong opinion about pop culture and you want to start a podcast or website. Or, maybe you’re just a nerd who likes to create cool T-shirts, robots, or webcomics because it makes you happy. If you are one of these geeky creatives, you might need a special type of Intervention.
From August 14th-16th, hundreds of geeky creatives made their way to Rockville, Maryland for Intervention 6 convention. A portmanteau of “Internet” + “Convention,” the con was designed to bring artists, writers, filmmakers, and all other inventive types together to build supportive relationships, acquire priceless knowledge, and become inspired by their peers’ success. Whether you need to reignite your creative spark, refine your career goals, or discover a brand-new path, Intervention is indeed worthy of your time and talents. Here are 10 reasons why you should start planning for next year’s big event now:
Photo Credit: Onezumievents.com
Intervention was founded in 2010 by Oni Hartstein and James Harknell, a Whovian married couple who have an ingenious knack for tapping into niche markets and building compelling conventions through grassroots efforts. Oni handles all things Marketing/PR and holds it down as the CEO of Onezumi Events, Inc., while James is a behind-the-scenes tech guru. Although they are in charge of both Intervention and its Doctor Who-related sister con (Re)Generation Who, the founders are invested in more than bringing in the cash. They can be seen interacting with guests and playing a pivotal role in the Intervention programming, by taking the reins on several panels about marketing, copyrights, and staying motivated. They doled out actionable advice while encouraging all attendees to pursue their passions. And the duo carefully selected an eclectic mix of experienced panelists armed with vital information about comics, publishers, technology, writing, and web design. As expected, the panelists were a reflection of the convention founders: approachable, genuine, and transparent about their entrepreneurial pursuits.
PixelWho Brought The Tenth Doctor To Hold Down Their Spot
Intervention is a networking sanctuary for all guests. The convention, which was held at the Hilton Washington DC/Rockville, had a spacious layout that made it easy to comfortably stir up conversations in the hallway and exchange business cards (or Twitter handles). For con-goers who wanted to build casual relationships, Intervention 6 offered a wide range of social activities planned throughout the event. Guests could freely roam into a gaming area for a little Rock Band, or hit up a “Drink and Draw” jam late at night. There was also an “artists’ alley” for attendees who wanted to get their work out to the masses. And, for those under 13, a full children’s programming schedule included arts, crafts, and fun games to help nerdy kids connect with new friends.
Panelists Ly Cao of PixelWho and Nicole Dieker Give Public Speaking Tips
When you don’t know exactly where you’re going, it always helps to have someone steer you down the right path. This year’s con offered a series of “101” panels to help creatives take the first step toward their goals. Writers who needed help with setting the scene for their story headed straight to World Building 101, while burgeoning filmmakers spent their time in the ABC’s of Making a Web series and Filmmaking 101. ABC’s of Making a Web Series panelists covered all the bases of creating an online saga, including the importance of running a tight schedule and movie suggestions (like Mad Max) for stunt scene inspiration.
Intervention even tackled glossophobia with their “How to Speak In Public” panel. PixelWho’s Ly Cao (who brought the TARDIS to life via cosplay) instructed the audience to think of themselves as the product they are trying to sell. Her panel partner Nicole Dieker encouraged audience members to come forward and tell a general story so they could offer a straightforward yet encouraging critique to the brave participants. Intervention was clearly designed with the rookie in mind.
If you have ever been to a sizeable geek event, you know that attending panels can be a pain. If you haven’t had the experience, here’s the short version: long lines, long waits, and short tempers. It’s a complete madhouse! But, if you attend Intervention, you won’t have to worry about feeling like you’re in a herd. Although there are a few hundred people in attendance, the smaller panel rooms make it easier to get your pertinent questions answered by panelists. There is no frustrating commute between panels, or a long wait hoping you get into the room. The number of attendees allowed at Intervention seems to be carefully controlled to keep everyone satisfied. And, even though the con is smaller than others, there is still lots of gaming, an LARP room, and tons of vendors with plenty of paraphernalia for the nerd masses.
Attorney Shena Dixon Mason Answers Legal Questions
Why sift through a million Google search results when you can get advice straight from the experts? During Day 2 of Intervention 6, Shena Dixon Mason, Esq. hosted an hour of Q&A for everyone who had legal questions about their innovative pursuits. Virtually no question was off limits as attendees asked about whether or not it was legal to use a picture-taking drone over the beach, or if a photo belongs to the camera owner if a monkey steals it and snaps a selfie (all important issues). Attorney Mason even told attendees how they could enjoy the con life while getting needed tax breaks.
Married pair (and friends of the con founders) Tom and Kambria from Shadowbinders also tackled the tough challenges that comic book writers face in regards to pitching a project to both media and publishers.
The Audio Podcasting and Internet Radio 101 panel was also a great place to score needed answers. When the panelists were questioned about how to make money via podcasting, Ben from Tau Radio reminded everyone that monetizing shouldn’t be the main goal:
“If you are getting into podcasting to make money… you are doing it WRONG!”
Still, Ben was open to suggestions on the money-making front, and one attendee recommended Midroll for podcast advertising. He described it as easy money for podcasts, if you’re okay with ads.
Oni Hartstein also did a Q&A when she took on a solo panel about drumming up press. She was asked how to build a faithful following and she revealed a simple, yet poignant secret: Reply to other people more than you share your own stuff. Care about other people first.
Angela Pritchett and Kara Dennison Jumpstart Day 2 with Unique Geek Chic
Even in the geek community, there are often conversations about who really “belongs.” The internet has an abundance of articles about what makes a person a true nerd or geek, but at Intervention those supposed “guidelines” go out the window. The panels extended over a wide range of subjects to include every type of geek in the world, including the fashionable one. Intervention Press Head Angela Pritchett and anime fanatic Kara Dennison talked all things geek apparel for both sexes. Then, Monica Marier showed geek women how to tailor men’s shirts to fit their frames. And for every software-driven session (like Manga Studio 5), there was a session about a topic like dating. Instead of feeding into the stereotype that all geeks are only invested in a narrow range of activities, Intervention 6 encouraged people to geek out over whatever brings them joy.
Have you ever wanted someone to just get to the freaking point and tell you what tools you need to use for your project? Well, the panelists at Intervention are not afraid to share the secrets to their success! After being asked what tools they used to create their podcasts, Tau Radio, Castwave Studios, and Dr. Arnold Blumburg took turns name-dropping cool software needed to start a show. A free, multi OS tool called “butt” (broadcast using this tool) was suggested to help stream live audio on a Windows or Mac. And, if someone wanted to record Skype audio, Amolto could be used to capture audio, and the sound quality could be refined by using a FREE digital audio editing tool named Audacity.
Hacker Bree Rubin also let everyone in on how she built her own version of a popular Doctor Who adversary. After presenting her “creeping” baby angel workshop, she provided everyone with a link and all of the coding she used in Arduino so they could try their hand at building a robot army.
Later that evening during Webcomics 101, Michael Terraciano and the Shadowbinders team threw out a couple of great places to publish webcomics (example: Deviant Art) and suggested using Manga Studio 5 as a great digital method to bring comics to life. Attendees left each and every panel feeling like they had concrete tools of the trade to get started.
You never know what you will see or hear at Intervention. Because the con was crafted to give you the boost you need to be creative, Oni, Shadowbinders, and Liz Staley ran a special panel about how to stay motivated. During the session, many quotable moments took place as the panelists opened up about their personal struggles with mental health, family, and failure. One of the most poignant moments came when Oni told the audience that success was not the cure for depression and haters are not their problem.
After receiving inspirational gems, attendees walked out in the hallway and probably ran into the Lord and Savior himself (see above photo), who later went on to try his hand at using his heavenly voice in an audio workshop run by Terry Molloy (AKA Davros from Doctor Who).
And… Bree’s baby angel could sneak an unflattering snapshot of anyone walking in its vicinity.
In addition to the panels and workshops, there was a daily 11AM session entitled “Everyone Needs Help Sometimes: Webcomic and Art Portfolio Reviews.” There was a designated expert assigned to give constructive feedback to any attendee looking for an opinion about their work. Outside of the con, asking someone to review work can incur an hourly fee, but this service was offered free of charge. And, with the aforementioned business lawyer Q&A and James Harknell’s Copyrights 101 course, guests saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars by attending Intervention.
Social media doesn't lie…check out the reviews of Intervention straight from the people who experienced it:
For more information about Intervention, and to follow plans for the 2016 con, check out their website and follow Oni Hartstein on Twitter.
Tai Gooden is a freelance writer, author, part-time blogger and full time Whovian who has contributed to several online publications, including The Guardian, xojane, HelloGiggles, HuffPost Parents, and BlogHer. When Tai isn’t waiting for the TARDIS, she can be found rambling on Twitter.