MISTI-Con MuggleNet Academia: Janet Batchler and the Films

by John on May 20, 2013

MISTI-Con in Laconia, New Hampshire was a blast! This joint production of The Group That Shall Not Be Named and MuggleNet.com was set on a lake-side resort whose buildings, Big Top tent, and props (can you say, “Life Size replica of the Fountain of Magical Brethren”? Wow.) had a Hogwarts feel, especially with the nearly 500 attendees who all seemed to have five or six Wizarding World outfits to change into. The Beauxbatons uniforms were stunning and the spot-on Gilderoy Lockhart outfit Clay Dockery wore to the MNet podcast still makes me laugh.

And the live podcast with MNet host Keith Hawk and special guest Janet Batchler was a big hit. Janet is a long time friend of this blog and she blew the full house (well, tent) away with her insights and observations as a screenwriter about what worked and didn’t work in the film adaptations of the Hogwarts Saga. Listen to the whole thing; I’m no friend of the movies but I loved talking with Janet about Hollywood realities as well as the effects of the Franchise on Fandom’s experience of story.

Two other MISTI-Con notes below concerning Leaky Con and a delightful Potter Pundit I met with a mind-blowing idea:

I was asked there and by email before and since if I will be going to LeakyCon in London or Portland this summer. Well, if you have been receiving the Leaky Con updates and requests to ‘Register Now!’ that I have the last several months (the latest list of featured attractions is here), you know that I’m not mentioned in any of them.

Why not? It isn’t that Gilderoy wouldn’t go if invited. It’s just that I haven’t received a response to my several queries since last year’s gala in Chicago. Three possibilities about why this may be: (1) I fell through the cracks, (2) I’m old news, and (3) Fandom is no longer interested in artistry, meaning, or legacy discussions.

I’m guessing it’s a bit of all three reasons. LeakyCon has improved light years since their first borderline debacle conference in Boston and the registration nightmare in Orlando at Leaky2, but you certainly should assume “disorganization” and “incompetence” before “malevolence” or “meanness” in being ignored by their staff. And I certainly am the old hand of LeakyCons; I’ve given eight talks and panels at the first three so I can sympathize with a Programming Decision Maker’s choice to give the Hogwarts Professor a pass.

And I don’t think it is sour grapes to note that there is a lot less interest from Fandom in the books than there was six years ago. Center Stage is now held by actors, actresses, and any production of the movies and by Wizard Rock groups and derivative productions, especially StarKids on stage and YA authors whose work is influenced by the Potter Mania of the last decade and a half (which is to say, all YA authors).

I’ll go back when invited or when I have written a YA title or something I need to promote. Good enough?

And the best part of MISTI-Con? Meeting up with Swythyv, my pal from Who Killed Albus Dumbledore? God willing, I’ll be sharing links here soon to her thoughts on the place of Albania in the Hogwarts Saga. It’s a lot more involved than you could possibly imagine. Believe me.

Tornado watch and crazy thunder storm here in OKC so I’m posting this sans photos before we lose power. Love ya!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise M. Freeman May 20, 2013 at 9:18 pm

(FYI…. Just got an email from John; he and his family are fine and a safe distance from the major damage in Oklahoma City. Prayers coveted for the victims….)

Kelly May 21, 2013 at 1:15 am

It’s too bad you won’t be coming for Leakycon, although I definitely understand what you mean about it becoming more about other fandoms and wizard rock than literary discussion. I’m set to deliver a paper there in Portland about the ghosts of Hogwarts and it’ll be my first Leakcon. It’ll be interesting to see where the fandom has gone in recent years. I’ll report back to ya in some way or another :)

Louise M. Freeman May 21, 2013 at 8:07 am

Please do report, Kelly. I would love to present at one of the cons, but not quite sure how to wrangle an invitation.

Bruce Charlton May 22, 2013 at 3:27 am

“there is a lot less interest from Fandom in the books than there was six years ago. ” – the interest at that time was more than a little hysterical, and based on the ‘whodunnit’/ ‘what happens next’ aspect of an unfinished series of books.

What would be a sustainable (and healthy) level of interest would be more like that of Tolkien’s Hobbot/ LotR and the Lewis Narnia books circa 1995 (i.e. before the major movies).

For most people, books are to be read once – for the really keen they are read more than once; and only a tiny fraction ever get onto the secondary literature.

Tolkien’s LotR books were published in the mid 1950s but it was not until about 20 years later with Paul Kocher’s Master of Middle Earth that a decent book was published *about* LotR, and there was another decade before truly first rate critical work was done by Tom Shippey – so Harry has been comparatively very lucky, so far.

Real iterature is ‘a long game’ and has not much to do with fandom.

Moonyprof August 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Hi, there, John–was looking around after the new Pottermore reveals and saw this.

The fandom is quieter, true–but I think it’s also splitting off. Misti-Con and a few other, smaller cons are stepping up where HPEF left off. I’ve never been to Leaky, but I know it does not sound like my thing–more like a rock concert than a fandom gathering plus academic conference. I thought Misti-Con did it very nicely, and it looks as though there will be more. People are still interested in the books, if the level of interest in my classes are any indication. The Los Angeles Dumbledore’s Army has spun off a book group reading other materials.

I’ve always enjoyed the fannish things, like the broadcasts Keith Hawk does or the marvelous costumes, but I like the balance. I hope George Plitnik and Cathy Leodegrande can come to the next one.

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