An Australian True Blood Fan’s Convention Experience

October 11, 2010 by  

A lot of True Blood fans can be found all over the world, including in Australia and New Zealand. One such fan, our good friend Lizzie 1071, kindly agreed to share her experience with everyone here on TrueBloodNet.com. Thanks so much, Lizzie, for sharing your awesome experience with us! Read on and enjoy!

TRUE BLOOD CONVENTION (SATURDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 2010) in SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

By LIZZIE 1071

I was lucky enough to attend the first Aussie True Blood Convention, organised by HUB Productions, on Saturday 25 September 2010 in Sydney, New South Wales. I went with my two friends, Craig and Nicole, who are also Truebies.

The lucky attendees of the convention got to see Sam Trammell, Kristin Bauer, Todd Lowe, and John BillingslyCharlaine Harris had to cancel out at the last moment but promised to make arrangements to tour OZ/NZ next year.

The event was an all day affair, starting at 9:00 am and finishing at 6:00 pm. Afterwards, the guests had to fly to Melbourne, Victoria, for another Convention which was to be held on the Sunday. Most of the guests were only in OZ for a few days due to the length of the journey. (No wonder guests are jet lagged! And once here, they always say they want to come back for a longer stay!)

Though not the biggest convention I have attended, True Blood did manage a respectable crowd, seeing that True Blood was never promoted in OZ like it was in the US or UK.  From the crowd, I gathered that they were mostly Bookies with a scattering of Truebies.  There was a scattering of Dealer Tables selling all sorts of T-shirts, memorabillia, comic book (singular, as they had all sold out except for one “Sam” issue), photos for autographs, ‘silver’ fangs on chains, etc.  Some beautiful auction items and a “to die for” Bill and Sookie autographed photo were part of the raffle.  Naturally I bought tickets, though I did not win. An auction was held, and it did very well. A Sam t-shirt went for $A220, an Eric for $A80, Bill and Sookie with a couple of additional items went for $A180, a little red case for a “fang attack” went for $A170, a lit up glass sign of True Blood (in pink light) went for $A260, a S2 cast poster for $A1600 and a S3 signed cast poster for $A1000.

The main draw, though, wasn’t the auction. It was the stars who were at the convention.

JOHN BILLINGSLY

The first guest was John Billingsly, who plays Bon Temps Coroner Mike Spencer.  I have seen John many times in his capacity as the Doctor in Star Trek Enterprise.  He’s very funny and not shy in the least.  What I saw on stage on Saturday was a very hyped up John.  He was very “out there” and completely in control of the audience, making them almost wet their pants with laughter!  He encouraged questions with the promise of lollies (candy) in return!  The crowd loved him!  I wonder if the “booze for dolls” he was swigging contributed to his “spritely” personality!

John loves working on True Blood and hopes he will be in Season 4.  He said he enjoys his role on True Blood and that he loved the orgy moments, but that they filmed in LA at an ungodly hour and it was very cold!  The extras who were mainly in a state of undress for the orgy scenes would arrive on the set with blankets and no one knew each other before hand. John described it, saying that when the director called “action,” everyone would drop their blankets and get on with it!  I don’t know if John was kidding or not, but he said the going rate for extras to show  boobs was $50 a breast.  One lady complained that she was only allowed to show one boob as there was a budget cut!  John’s biggest beef was that he was not given $50 a ball!

When asked how long it takes to tape an episode, he said because of the budget, localities, special effects and stunts, it would take around 9 to 10 days, where a network show would take about 7 days. He said that one scene of his at the orgy lasted a few seconds on screen but took 2 days to shoot!

He also said that if he could be anyone on the show it would be Jason, as it is a very challenging role.  Lafayette was his  second choice. John said the Special Effects Department was extremely good and that the  “Miss Jeanette” corpse was very realistic.

John has been to OZ 5 or 6 times before and said it was like Louisiana as they had snakes in common!

TODD LOWE

Todd  was Charlaine Harris’ replacement and was very happy to be here, even though he only got a day’s notice. (He was very jet lagged.) One thing that struck me with Todd was how slight he looked compared to what he looks like on screen.  I know the camera puts on weight, but I did expect him to be taller and larger.  Todd is musically gifted and has a band, the Pilberry Knights.  He sang a verse of a song and yodelled for the audience, which was a very cool treat!

In response to a question from audience on how he researched his role as a Vietnam Veteran, Todd gently reminded the audience that his character is an Iranian Gulf War Veteran, not a Vietnam Vet like Terry Bellefleur is in the books (which confirmed my belief the room was full of Bookies). Todd said that his role was written as comedic and that he had to find the right balance so that the audience found his character sympathetic as well as comedic.

He originally auditioned to be Hoyt role and was offered the Terry role, which he is very happy doing. His favourite episode was Season 2, Episode 10 where he kicked arse at Merlotte’s whilst under the control of Maryann!  Terry finally got to be a tough guy and played with a gun! Todd also mentioned that the orgy scenes were difficult to act out due to the very cold conditions (ie 33-38 degrees F.) Ice cubes were given to the actors so that they would not breathe out steam, because in Bon Temps you don’t exhale steam!

Todd was asked if he preferred the Gilmore Girls or True Blood.  He said he enjoyed his time on Gilmore Girls but it was not a show he could watch with his mates!  With True Blood, he and his mates hang out on Sunday nights and watch (with a bit of footy thrown in!).  When asked what other character would he like to be, he said Jason, just like John Billingsly did, as it would be a challenging role! Lafayette was also Todd’s second choice!

A concerned audience member asked whether Stephen and Anna‘s marriage would affect the direction of the show and how Season 4 would play out.  Todd said, (tongue in cheek, I hope,) that Sookie could be showing her ‘goodies’ to the Viking next season and that he could see Stephen standing in the corner, arms folded, making sure things did not go too far!  He said he would like to see that, but then became serious and said that both actors were professional.

Todd is hoping that the series will skip ahead in time, as Arlene‘s pregnancy at the current rate will take about two more seasons for the baby to be born and that could become tedious! Let the baby be born and let’s see what will be wrong with it!

One thing that Todd is glad of is that he does not have to do nude scenes because he does not have the physique of some of the other cast members. He gets a bit freaked out with some of the stunts and uses a double for some of those, like when Malcolm came into Merlotte’s and threw him across the bar.  He did not want to go on that ‘spring’ machine (like the one Stephen used in his finale scene with Queen Sophie Anne). One scene that made him uncomfortable was having to say that he wore “possum peckers” to Sam.  Made him feel a bit like a yokel, but now that he has watched that scene, he does not feel too bad about it now.

Todd was asked by Stephen to play at his wedding to Anna (they had heard the band play a couple of times).  Todd felt honoured.  He said he could not believe all the paparazzi hovering around in helicopters and boats nor could he believe the house where the couple were married, in Malibu. Todd also told us that the Bridal Dance was “Such Great Heights” and that Stephen sang two songs – “Rustle for the Chain” and “Mystic Train”.

When asked who was a practical joker on the set, Todd said that no one was, but that Stephen was a great mimic and could mimic just about anyone (did he mimic Eric’s voice in the finale for real?).

KRISTIN BAUER

Well, what a very slim woman Kristin is! Very slight!  Kristin and her husband had been in Sydney for 5 days and were enjoying sightseeing.  They stayed at the old Q Station (the old quarratine station on the north shore) and had been whale watching. Whilst in Melbourne, she will visit a Koala colony. She spoke about her love of animals and her concern for the whales and congratulated Australia on its stance against whaling in the South Pacific region. Kristin also said that she made a sketch of Alex (which was auctioned off on TrueBloodNet.com), with the proceeds going to a dog and cat rescue.  She now intends to draw Stephen Moyer with the same intent.

In answer to a question on what it’s like working with Alexander Skarsgard, Kristin said he is lovely and funny.  It was a challenge learning Swedish and that they both had fun with that.  Kristin said that her favourite scenes were ones with Alex, Stephen and Anna.  Actually, she was very gracious about Stephen and Anna.  Kristin said that she had trouble with her fangs and that they gave her pain.  She asked Stephen how he coped with the teeth and he said that she had to live with the pain, and she now does and is able to cope knowing that they do hurt and feel uncomfortable and you just have to work around it.  She also said that if her clothes looked great, then they were really uncomfortable!  Kristin also shared that she likes the Jessica character and feels it is a challenging role.

One funny tidbit that Kristin told was of that scene where she, Eric, Bill and Sookie were running out of Fangtasia in Season 1.  Both she and Alex were on a skateboard-esque thing to give the illusion of gliding, with fans blowing on their hair.  Poor Stephen had to run and pick Anna up and still run.  She said the writers had no clue about some things, since  it’s easy for them to write “pick up Sookie and run” but in reality it’s very hard to shoot!  After a few takes, all the actors heard was Stephen huffing and a puffing!

Kristin said that having Denis O’Hare on the show raised the bar and she felt honoured to have worked with him.  She is hoping for some flashbacks of Pam next season – she would love to know how she and Eric met and how he got to turn her.  She has only read book one of the Sookie Stackhouse novels and did not want to read any more in case it influenced her acting.  Her husband, Abri van Straten, reads them though and tells her if she will be appearing that season. Luckily, Alan Ball signed her up as a regular and she got quite a few scenes, more than she would have gotten if the books were followed verbatim.

Two questions put to Kristin were:  If she was Pam, who would she like to bite: Eric, Bill or Sookie, and who would she bite as herself: Alex, Anna, or Stephen. As Pam, Kristin said she’d bite Sookie. Her answer was more descriptive for herself. She said that Alex would say “what’s up, Kristin,” and if she bit Anna, Anna would probably bite her back. If she bit Stephen, then Anna, being such a fiesty young thing, would kick her arse, so, seeing she was a married woman, it would probably be Anna! LOL!

Kristin was asked to do a scene from True Blood.  She picked the one where she and Lafayette were in the cool room and she had Laf up against the wall and said “Maybe I wear too much pink” etc.  She also commented on the conversation in the bathroom at Fangtasia with Jessica – she feels like she is True Blood’s version of Carrie Bradshaw, but giving bad advice!

When asked about the blood tears that she and other vampire cast characters on True Blood shed, Kristin said that thanks to IRT Special Effects, they have to cry normal tears and post production colours them in, which is better than before where coloured corn syrup was put in the corner of their eyes. She also explained the “silver” reaction vampires have. The make up artists put a special resin on the actors, which makes the skin bubble and burn — it’s like a glue and takes a while to set.

Kristin commented on several shots that were difficult to film due to several issues. One was the scene where Russell is burning in the parking lot of Fangtasia. For those shots, Denis’ makeup looked awful he had to wear full eyeball contact lenses (which can be very uncomfortable). Another difficult scene was when Bill was being tortured and  he had to hold Lorena up so that Sookie could stake her. Kristin said that Mariana Klaveno loved being on True Blood, but that scene, with all that goo on her and on Stephen, was her undoing.  Poor Stephen had to hold Mariana up for the staking and then had to rest Mariana between takes and the goo stuck them together.

When asked how long a night shoot took, Kristin said sometimes they would be on set for 16 to 17 hours.  Not all that time would be productive – lots of it is spent hanging around whilst standins did lighting checks, etc.  She said she would love True Blood to go on for years and could just see the Vamps with their walkers putting their Vamp teeth into glass jars at night!

Kristin said, in answer to a question about how Charlaine Harris feels about True Blood, that Charlaine loves the show and sees her books and the show as two different mediums, both to be enjoyed!

SAM TRAMMELL

Sam came on to loud applause and once again, I was surprised as to how slight he really was.  Sam is a good looking man!  He also knows how to get around!  Sam has been in Sydney a couple of days and has already taken a taxi to famous Bondi Beach, hired a wetsuit and surfboard and shot the waves! Later, he took the 443 bus to Circular Quay and caught a ferry to Manly (another famous surf beach), hired a wetsuit and surfboard and shot some more waves!  What a guy! He was also interested in our few types of footy (football) as there were finals and semi finals being played for different codes that Saturday. Sam said that he had a couple of days in Melbourne then he has to fly back to the States.  I was most impressed that he took the effort to get to know this city (and bus numbers), even though he was only here for a very short period of time, but said he would definitely be back!

When asked what would be his favourite “shift to” animal, Sam said a lion! Sam originally tried out for Bill, but was told that Alan Ball was looking for a non American for the role to give the character mystique. Alan suggested that he try for Sam, and Sam’s glad that he did!  When he got the role, he said he screamed  like a little girl because he was a shapeshifter who owns a bar!

Sam said he has no issues with nude roles as he had to go full frontal on broadway, on his second play! Sam said he loved acting on TV but being in front of an audience in theatre was a really great feeling. One thing that Sam really enjoyed in Season 3 was that he got to play “bad arse” Sam.  His favourite scenes were the ones featuring King Russell at the TV station, especially when he ripped the spine out of the anchor man.

There was a lot of talk and laughter re Sam’s sex scenes with Daphne on the pool table.  Lots of jokes and offers were hollered at Sam by the ladies in the audience, as well as alternatives in lieu of pool table. The one that took Sam’s fancy was the “air hocky” table! Sam said that those scenes on the pool table were very uncomfortable.

Another popular scene that was brought up was the sexy “hard water” scene in Season 3, Episode 1 with Bill. Sam shared the joke that he and Stephen pulled on the unfortunate stand in guys, getting them to stand close, take their shirts off and kiss whilst he, the Director and Stephen laughed their guts off on the side lines!  Sam said that he was to use a stunt double when Rene was kicking him at the cemetary in the Season 1 finale after he shifted to human from a dog. However, when he saw the condition of the stand in’s bum, he was disgusted and said he did not want anyone think it was his bum, so he did the scene himself! Sam said they shot a great scene when Sam jumped over the camera and changed into the dog mid flight, but this scene was not used.

Sam’s hopes for Season 4?  Well, he would not divulge if he killed Tommy or not and said that he still hoped he had a chance with Sookie. Sam told us that he gets more recognition now and gets asked for autographs, but not as much as “Robert Patsy’.  Sam said that the inside of Merlotte’s was on a stage and that the outside plus his trailer was on the Warner Bros. lot, along with a few other True Blood sets.

A few tidbits that Sam revealed about himself included that he was classically trained in piano and plays the guitar, and he likes the Blues style of music.  Sam also tried some Aussie slang – “goodonya” and “G’day mate”!  He got a few laughs!  He said there was some sort of parady done of Merlotte’s and if you google “Merlotte’s sitcom” it should come up!

Sam shared that what really offended him in Season 3 was Joe Lee‘s horrid off-white underwear!  He said it was hard trying to focus on set looking at that!  He said that the actor playing Joe Lee was a good bloke.  Sam also did a display of different Southern accents, which went down well with the crowd!  Sam asked whether we thought Jason’s accent sounded like the past US President, George W. Bush.

Another thing Sam shared is that he was the second victim on the first season of Dexter! Sam was a delightful guest!

After the talks, the actors obliged the long queues waiting for their signatures. Then the guests were quickly whisked away to the airport to fly to Melbourne for Day 2 of the True Blood Convention!  It was a bloody good day!

(Image Credits: HBO Inc. and Lizzie 1071)

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  • Nia

    Dear Lizzie,
    I am so sorry I missed it and did not comment sooner on this wonderful article, but as you know life sometimes throws obstacles in your path.
    How fortunate you were to attend such a funfilled event and to bring us such a great review. To see these amazing stars and to interact with them must have been such a pleasure.

    John B has been one of my favorite actors since his roles on Stargate and Enterprise. He is such a pleasure to watch and so funny. I enjoyed his quips about the orgies, too funny.

    Todd is so sweet and talented; I would have given anything to hear him play at Stephen and Annas wedding (also to have heard Stephen sing to his lovely new bride, sigh, such a romantic our Stephen). How kind of him to feel honored to be a part of it all and for Stephen to ask him. That is true camaraderie.
    I would not mind at all if Todd did nude scenes, he is a beautiful man inside and out!

    Kristin is also such a sweetheart. I can fully understand how she must love the scenes with Anna, Stephen and Alex. They are all captivating when in scenes together. I guess though she better not bite Stephen any time soon or incur the wrath of Anna, LOL.

    Ahh Sam T. He is absolutely a wonderful person. I always hear how terrific he is. I am happy he got the role of Sam, he will always be my sweet puppy to me although I could see him shifting to a lion in the future. OK, the hard water scene in S3 still gets my blood hot. Two such gorgeous men and…….well you know, LOL!
    I hope he keeps working on his Aussie slang. I bet he is very good at it.

    Thanks again Lizzie, it took a lot of work to bring this wonderful review for us all to enjoy.
    My thanks to you as well Isis for publishing it (*Waves*, hope you are well!)

    • NIA! *waves and glomps* How’ve you been? We’ve missed you so much here!

      Isn’t Lizzie lucky that she was able to go to such a cool convention? I know I too wish that I could have been there!

    • lizzie1701

      Hi Nia and Isis! Thanks heaps for the cool review! It was a great Convention !

      Let’s hope there are many more!

  • ~ Caitlin

    Thanks for the excellent and very detailed article Lizzie! People asked a lot of good questions. Sounds like it was a lot of fun. I agree with Todd, I hope next season skips ahead a couple months. Arlene can’t be pregnant for 9 seasons. Yes, those underwear Joe Lee wore were nasty. They sure showed him in them quite a bit too. I wish they could incorperate some more singing into the show. I’d like to hear Sam and Todd. Stephen did a good job singing in season two. Sam could get a karaoke machine in Merlottes. I hope they do show a Pam/Eric flashback next season. It would be neat to see Sam as a lion to switch it up a bit.

    • lizzie1701

      Hi Caitlin,

      Thanks for reading my review. It was a good convention and I look forward to having more TB Cons in OZ. Yes, more singing would be great. Last season was so dark that we need to lighten up a bit in S4!

  • I just wanted to thank you again, Lizzie, for sharing your experience with us! I’m so glad you got to go to the convention! 🙂

    • lizzie1701

      Thanks Isis. My pleasure!