Welcome back for part three in our visit with Ingimar Oddsson, organizer of the Steampunk Festival in Iceland.
Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
Airship Ambassador: If the festival, and Bildalia, had a soundtrack, what would it be like?
Ingimar Oddsson: We actually have a national anthem and it is rather conventional. But as ongoing theme I would think a mixture of balkan gipsy band and a circus band playing bittersweet tunes would do it for me.
Photo by David Sitbon
AA: What kind of attention has the festival generated locally, throughout Iceland, and across the world?
IO: Today in Iceland I think everyone knows the Steampunk Iceland festival. We have been lucky because it has been considered far fetched idea to have a Steampunk festival in the most remote village in the westfjords of Iceland. It has made the prime time news three times and lot of articles and radio programs have handled our festival nicely. The world? I don’t really know for sure. I thought most Steampunk enthusiasts had knowledge of the Icelandic steampunk festival but when I have visited other conventions I really need to introduce myself and what I stand for. So we must do better in presenting us to the world.
AA: It can seem like we’ve accomplished so much in sharing steampunk with others, but there’s always more people everywhere who have never heard of steampunk. 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?
IO: Hahaha .. Airship of course. I have actually tried, and also steampowered whaler but it was just a little too expensive.
AA: Ha, just a tad. Anything you can share about 2017?
IO: Steampunk Iceland will have a great steampunk event preferably in the end of June. It will be in Akranes only 20 minute drive from Reykjavík. I will be there and my band The Old Spice but the rest is still in the pipes. Akranes is a town on a little peninsula reaching out in the Atlantic. Population about 7000, good camping area and lots of guesthouses and hotels nearby. Steampunk Iceland 2017 will be hosted by the Exile King of Bildalia.
AA: Sounds like a great start in your planning. How did previous experiences prepare you for this role?
IO: As a performer I have had some experience in bands and also in classical music. I wrote and managed my own musical in 1995 and that would have been the “biggest” project I’ve had so far.
It didn’t work out and I went bankrupt. That was probably the best school. Since then I have managed small events here and there and small businesses but also the Sea Monster Museum in Bildudalur for three years. Successfully I might add and that was my second schooling. Each event adds to my knowledge and when things go not so well I learn even more things than when everything goes nice and smooth. Experience really educates. My other education is in multimedia and intercultural communication, which has helped a lot in marketing.
AA: Any sea monsters in Bidalia? I think that could be pretty steampunk 🙂 What are the qualities a person needs as an event producer?
IO: Beside enthusiasm and being crazy? I would say that a person taking on managing an event of any size would have to be ready everywhere and always. There are people better at many tasks, and I have to see that and utilize their talents. But as a manager I have to be ready to clean the toilets as well as giving orders or handling finances. “Jack of all trades” … At the same time I have to be able to communicate to all the “masters” out there and bring the project as a whole to its final goal. This is something I can always get better at.
AA: What are some key factors in producing a successful convention?
IO: Communication, communication. From the beginning to the end. The goal should be to create a memorable experience to all participants, but we won’t get there unless everyone work on the same page.
Photo by Sandra Dogg
AA: There’s a lot of work that goes into a convention – how long is the planning stage?
IO: When you know there is going to be one, you start planning. No matter how much time you have, you will always wish a little more time. But it will happen whether you’re ready or not.
AA: “If it weren’t for the Last Minute, nothing would ever get done.” During the planning and execution stages, what are some challenges of producing a convention?
IO: Financing is always the most difficult task and keeping the budget. It is always hard to guess how much you are going to have to play with. Even at the last minute it can go either way.
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?
IO: I remember one last minute drama Haha, minijack to XLR adapter was missing at 11pm and the show was on, full house and we were in Bildudalur, far far away from everything.
But sound nerds are also to be found in Bildudalur. We had a surround television system brought to the stage in twenty minutes.
I have had similar moments from time to time but things always get sorted out…. somehow.
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 the festival beforehand?
IO: I have always tried to find the least expensive way. Of course sharing the event, all my friends and so on but also I try to get interviews, TV, radio and newspapers. We published our own newsletter ourselves; The Bildalian Post and created some mini events in Reykjavík to reach out. It is also good idea to start a crowdfunding campaign or publish a song or a video few months before the event.
Still, nothing is ever enough and to reach the mainstream one might have to become mainstream. And that’s something to think carefully.
Let’s break here in chatting with Ingimar. Join us next time when he talks about the challenges in running a convention event.