Welcome back for part two of our chat with Salathiel Palland, organizer of Motor City Steam Con in Michigan.
Read part one here.
Airship Ambassador: Another big aspect of conventions is the vendor’s room and all the great items they bring. What kinds of vendors were/are you looking for?
Salathiel Palland: I was looking for a mix of tried and true vendors, up and comers, and people who have never been in the state before. I wanted true variety.
AA: Conventions run on volunteers. How many people are involved to hold this event?
SP: oh my God, so many. It takes a village to run a con for real.
AA: How did all of those people get involved?
SP: My department heads I begged until they took pity on me and then we just advertised for the rest of these beautiful selfless people.
AA: How is Michigan for holding a convention? How does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc?
SP: Michigan is a great place to hold a con! We are rich in dedicated steampunks, we have groups all over – Detroit, Ypsilanti, Jackson, Monroe, Kalamazoo, Flint, Lansing – all over. Detroit really s a hub when it comes to travel so all roads lead to us.
AA: If Motor City Steam Con had a soundtrack, what would it be like?
SP: Pretty Certain a lot of gothy tracks with some hard rock, and synthy pop thrown in. And you gotta have some soul and blues.
AA: What kind of attention has Motor City Steam Con generated?
SP: More than I thought it would! I was really surprised at what a buzz it got at Motor City Comic Con. Hundreds of people picked up flyers and hundreds of others said they were already coming!
AA: Sometimes, it’s difficult to reign in the creativity and limit everyone and the event to just what can be realistically done, and done well. But, if you had unlimited access and an unlimited budget, what is one item you’d leap at to offer?
SP: Free tummy tucks done by a automaton surgeon. I would be first in line. Lol.
AA: Anything you can share about next year?
SP: That there will be one? We are already working on the next show. Oh, there will be a slight date change, too. So we are not competing with San Diego Comic Con, Ann Arbor Art Fair, Pennsic, etc. This turns out to be a very busy weekend and we want to be able to get the guests that we want out for our fans.
AA: How did previous experiences prepare you for this role?
SP:Running a steampunk bookstore and producing concerts and show and events for the store have given me a pretty varied and deep experience set. I’ve done a little bit of everything and keep looking for bigger things to tackle.
AA: What are the qualities a person needs as an event producer?
SP:The ability to drink and hold down large quantities of liquor; The ability to tone people out and put out the fire in front of you while you are making them feel heard; The patience of Mother Teresa; A private place to scream; A sugar daddy.
AA: What are some key factors in producing a successful convention?
SP: Plan, plan, plan! I have been planning this con for two years and I still don’t feel like it was long enough. You have to give yourself enough time to work out all the variables or you will fail,
AA: During the planning and execution stages, what are some challenges of producing a convention?
SP: working with so many strong, creative personalities; money; Promotion and advertising; finding interesting acts, etc.
AA: There are always a million details to keep track of during the planning, from making sure tech equipment is in each room to having a garbage can at the registration table. What were some of the more interesting details that came to you in the middle of the night, kept you awake in the first place, or came up at the last minute because no one thought of them?
SP: Wait! Oh my God, do I have a garbage can at registration? I didn’t even think about that!
AA: Along with all the planning of what the convention is going to be, marketing the event is important, too, to bring people in. How did you promote Motor City Steam Con beforehand?
SP:I took to the interwebz and never got off. I found some great sponsors in Rusted Crow Spirits and Abick’s Bar. Metrotimes is our media sponsor and their reach is vast. Flyers, contests, vendors and staff and entertainers spreading the word. We are relentless. Come the the con! See? Relentless…
AA: Looking back on all of that hard work, what are the rewards of producing this event, what do you look forward to for next year?
SP: Having a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. Not having to start from scratch again; an even bigger opening ceremony!
AA: What was one memorable story while planning the convention? Any laugh out loud or cry in the corner moments?
SP:Too many, too many, it is making me sweat just thinking about it. Too soon.
AA: Planning a convention can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?
SP: Music has always been a big soother and motivator. Playing with my kids because their energy and love recharges my soul. Just letting myself daydream and say “What if?” I seriously set aside time for that everyday.
Quick break in talking with Sal about the inaugural 2016 convention. Join us in part 2 when she talks about working with other conventions.
Keep up to date with the latest news about Motor City Steam Con on their website.