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Megaplex 2014 - Willy Wonka Pounce



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Some candid comments on Megaplex, from the Chair
carlfox wrote in megaplex
I've been bouncing 'round the friends list this evening, looking at some of the things that are being posted about Megaplex. While I thank those of you who have chosen to join us in March, I'm a little surprised as to the virulence of the negative comments. The feedback that I have received from most folks who have attended is that they did enjoy the convention; there have been a few bumps in the road, but for the most part, folks went home satisfied.

When we created Megaplex to fill in the gap left by the demise of Furry Spring Break, we decided we wanted to try something different from the other furry cons - have a stricter ratings limit (which is more PG-13 than G, despite some comments otherwise), have more focus on performance and entertainment, and try to have a more relaxed feel overall. We do not have an art show (the logistics for setting something like that up is prohibitive for a smaller con), and only last year went to a traditional dealer's room setup, allowing folks to reserve tables and sell anything that fits in the rating, instead of the open-table, own-works-only artist's alley we started with.

We have always been open to ideas for panels and events, and have implemented many of them in the past. Some of the ideas we've had were later used by bigger cons like Anthrocon. Some ideas, like the tracked days in 2005, didn't work as well and have been discarded. (2005 is, I believe, where some of the discontent is coming from, since for some folks it seemed there was only one day out of the three where events were of interest.)

Admittedly, the convention has always had a certain level of vitriol aimed at it, some of which can be laid at the feet of the Board and staff. For example, mach has pointed out to me on many occasions that calling ourselves a "funny animal" convention and avoiding furry references at first was not the best P.R. move, and, in hindsight, he's right. There's also been personality conflicts between Board/staff members and certain folks in the furry community here in the state, which I feel is where a lot of the current negativity is coming from. Some people don't like us simply because we don't allow the more adult stuff (e.g. no porn); some don't because they aren't into the costuming and performance side of the fandom.

I've noticed some comments about feedback being discarded, or resulting in some negative reaction from a member of the staff. I know that any feedback sent to me directly (mp-ceo@pawpet.org) is always read, and I do try to respond to it as soon as I can. (I did have a hard drive crash back in October, so if you sent me something then, please send it again.) If you sent feedback to the convention (megaplex-feedback@pawpet.org) and did not receive a response, please contact me directly. If you did receive a rude or non-constructive answer back from one of my staff, please let me know who responded to you, so I can follow up and find out what the issue is.

One more note on feedback : please make it constructive, and don't make it anonymous. I want to know who I'm talking to, and why you feel something works or doesn't. Flat-out "this con sucks!" comments, anon or no, with no constructive feedback on whether something works or not, or how to improve existing events or processes, does neither of us any good in the end.

If I, personally, have done anything to offend, I apologize. I will readily admit that I could've handled a few things better, and I hope that we can discuss any issues you may have with me in a candid manner.

If you have an issue with a member of my staff that does not directly stem from the convention or its planning, I would recommend discussing your issues with them directly. Direct, candid discussion is the best way to fix things, in my experience; many relationships (personal and business) fall to the wayside over minor things simply because of lack of communication.

We have, traditionally, been woefully understaffed, and great thanks go out to those folks who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help us in past years. Anyone who is interested in helping out in 2007 is welcome to contact me directly, especially if you have ideas how to improve our operations. Hard work will be rewarded.

I am definitely concerned about the comments on the behaviour of certain members of the staff. While the old "they all disappear and get drunk at night" chestnut is over-the-top inaccurate, the behaviour of staff and volunteers (especially security volunteers) is something I take seriously. If you receive less that courteous treatment from a member of my staff, talk to me, and let me know who so I can discuss it with them.

In particular, I will not tolerate security volunteers overstepping their bounds, such as threatening to revoke memberships from members who are following the rules and not hurting anything, even if the volunteer is "kidding around". If I find out about that, the person making such threats will find themselves off security, if not out of the con completely.

The move to Jacksonville has had its detractors. yappyfox did a lot of research into possible venues for 2007, in Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville. We could not find space in the former two that would both meet our space requirements and fit into our expenses and not subject our members to hotel space well in excess of $100 a night. The Wyndham has been most generous to us in that, once we meet our room block, the space is at no cost, and the room nights were kept under $100 (just, I grant you, but getting something that low was impossible in Orlando).

We realize that some folks may not come to the convention because it is not in Orlando, and that some folks in points south of the First Coast are unable or unwilling to drive to Jacksonville. While Jacksonville is not a tourist market like Orlando is, there are a number of fun things to do in the area - the beaches are a short distance away from downtown; the Jacksonville Zoo is one of the best zoos in Florida, and is constantly improving; and historic St. Augustine is a convenient drive south from downtown Jacksonville, just to name three. (Not to mention, for folks driving in from parts north and west, we're only a couple of hours away from Orlando - if you plan ahead, you can attend the con, and then drive down and enjoy Central Florida as well!) We hope that folks will at least give us a try here.

The rating of the convention will remain at the PG-13 level - which, by way of comparison, is the same rating Anthrocon maintains during most of their con events. The only difference is that we do not allow adult materials at all in the dealer's room, and our rating is, with one exception (showing the Rocky Horror Picture Show), always at PG-13. (...and to be honest, compared to some R-rated fare out there, Rocky's pretty tame. :) 2 The Ranting Gryphon has always kept his material under the rating (sometimes just under, but within the guidelines), despite claims made elsewhere.

Considering the more conservative nature of the Jacksonville area, as well as positive feedback we've received from our membership, we will not be changing the rating in the near future. While we acknowledge we could draw more people by being more permissive, the negatives outweigh the positives right now. (Orlando is not as conservative, but considering the tourist trade caters mostly to families, we felt that maintaining the rating there was for the best, as well.)

Megaplex is a furry fandom convention. We will continue to showcase fursuiting and puppetry, but I am interested in seeing more art- and writing-related panels, as well as entertainment ideas that are outside our usual fursuit and puppetry events. We do not focus on "lifestyle" panels or events, as these events do not fall into the categories we wish to showcase. In my opinion, there are many sides to the furry fandom, and I think we're providing a good service to those fen who wish to explore the arts-and-performance side of things. We can always do better, and I hope interested folks will contact us and help us find where best we can improve.

The shift from Artists Alley to the more traditional Dealer's Room setup came after feedback from attendees; folks wanted to be able to sell works other than their own, and wanted to be able to make sure they got the same tables each day, so we changed to implement the more traditional setup. To be honest, we also are utilizing the table fees to help cover other operational costs - bringing in guests of honour, paying for sponsor suite food, buying materials for registration, etc. doesn't come cheap. By reserving a table, you're providing that much more support to the convention, and we thank you for that.

We're planning on having a "lounge" area for artists and associates who just want to hang out, draw, chat, and relax. We will not be allowing sales in there, but it will allow folks who may not have need of a dealer's table to show off some of their work, and share it with others.

Overall, a convention is what you make of it. If our attendees come and enjoy themselves, even if it's more from visiting with friends and comparing notes with other fen who share their interests, then we as a con staff have been successful. We've always had a laid-back feel to the con, which some may find boring, but others enjoy. Do we need more events? Possibly, but personally I'd like to keep some of that laid-back feel around. To me, it's more relaxing that having to rush around to avoid missing things.

I hope this answers some questions; if nothing else, it helped me get some thoughts worked out. :) On behalf of the Board and staff of Megaplex, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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If it makes any difference, I've always loved your con. I LIKED the pg rating it had.. but i'm rather biased on that simply because it put me on a level playing field with the other artists competeting for the limited dollars ;)

I hope to make it to the con, especially since it's closer to where I live now.. ;) either way it goes, I with the con well and hope it will be a fantastic success!

From someone who was there from the beginning

Megaplex is a breath of fresh air because it doesn't follow the same formula of every other convention. One thing that always annoyed me about other conventions was that every stage show had to have fursuits in the performance, or puppets, or something other than a person. Guess what? Some furries have talents that deserve to be showcased because the person is talented without playing an anthro. Sometimes people forget how broad the umbrella of furry fan is. Some are nothing more than a fan of part or all that might be construed as furry. Some people are fans of costuming or FX makeup and don't identify as a fur at all. They might like to go just to see some nifty stuff. MP provides for these people. For example My boyfriend isn't a fur. He was bored at FC. Except for the room parties there wasn't much for him there. A con like MP would be more to his tastes so when planning to go to a con I'd put MP high on the list if he were to go with me.

You guys have high class entertainment. Toxic Audio. Nothing furry there but man, what a show! No con has hit that mark yet.

Keeping with the theme when inviting GOH's. RIGHT ON! More should follow that lead.

The internet is for porn. No need to have it in the dealer's room. sure, if it is there, okay, but if that is the only reason a person is going, or unhappy, let them stay home.

I regret that I haven't been able to come back for t he last couple of MP's. I love Jacksonville. The waterfront is a lot of fun and I know several clubs that cater to t he more adult side of things that I'd love to visit again.

You've always done an amazing job as has the rest of the staff. The whole " they go get drunk after hours" is childish and smacks of whining cuz they didn't get invited. Get over it. Even staff have a right to choose how they spend their off hours and with whom.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.Christmas is so special with a little one in the house.

I don't think I've been to a con yet, furry or otherwise (ESPECIALLY anime or gaming), where there isn't some kind of after-hours drinking done by staff members. I'd go as far as saying that MP is one of the more sober cons I've attended. (Although, that might be influenced also by my personal levels of intake, as I haven't actually gotten drunk at MP, but there's some merit to the statement even after taking that into effect.)

I'd also like to note that avoiding the term "furry" has saved my ass in the past. While there may be some that think you should be waving around massive furry pride banners all over the place, there's still a few of us who do this on the down-low and appreciate avoiding the label. :P

Lastly, moving to Jacksonville kind of sucks, but hey, gotta keep the bills paid, right? A little bit of a longer drive is still better than "Con is canceled, can't afford to run it" or "Hey guys, we're moving into my basement. First 30 people with fifteen bucks and a dessert dish get in!"

Basements in Florida would be under the water table in some places. :D

Oh come now, that'd just be marketed as an "indoor swimming pool" :)

Bad Basements

Actually there are houses in Florida with basements. While visiting the Ringling house in Sarasota that house has a basement and it is located right on the water.

knowledge is power

MP 5 was my first con, and I didn't realize how much hard work went into preparing and running one until I saw the MP staff setting up for events and running the registration booth. If the staff wants to have a room party to unwind after a busy day, you deserved it and have the right to keep anyone who's not on staff from attending.

When I wore my Megaplex T-shirt at MFM last September, I received a lot of compliments and questions about the con. I surprised that many attendees and artists there didn't know there was a furry convention in Florida. Getting flyers in the MFM con book was a good idea, and I hope the staff does the same thing for the FC and FWA con books.

As for the PG-Rating, its no problem with me. I'm glad there are furries out there who do care about improving the image of the fandom by keeping the porn out. I also hope the move to Jacksonville and being so close to FWA (another complaint I heard) wont hurt MP 6's attendance next year.

We do intend to put some distance (calendar-wise) between us and FWA in the future. This was the only weekend in March available to us at the Wyndham this year, so we went with what we could get.

Well put and thanks for the energy to address the situation.
Its was my fault for suggesting the "Funny Animal" name for the convention theme since it was going to strive for more of a PG audience. I suggested that to help the intentions of "doing something different" and not just another cookie cutter furry con. Man did THAT ever backfire. *Faceplants* That word was instantly redefined as people trying to hide from the word furry. It also all came about at the same time of the dreaded MTV special that came out painting all furry as sexual perverts and thats all. a new name was trying to break an unfair steriotype. I can see how people would jump to a negative conclusion. So for some people... it was a hope that people would be able to enjoy a furry environment without the outside world judging them and trying to run around with more news camera's. But we all learned quicky it was not recieved that way. Especially me. I was being attacked with personal and death threats because of it. I just saw that it was getting too much and offered my resignation to the fandom before I f*cked things up for everyone anymore. It's in the past, Megaplex is now officially a furry con and has been for quite some time. Don't blame anyone else for my mistake.

I love the con. I like that fact that it is PG-13. I personaly do not want to run into R rated stuff at every turn. Though having a small section or room for those that must have higher ratings would not bother me either. It would at least draw more people the con, and hopefully more money.

My only problem is the location now. I don't think I can afford to go over to that side of the state and pay that much per night. :/ Otherwise I would probably go this year...but I don't think I will be able to.

I wish you all luck!

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