I’ve been slightly reluctant to comment on Starfury Elementary as whenever I do the trolls come running on twitter but as I’m now up to about 600 emails and I’m really going to struggle to answer them all I thought a quick info post would help and people can chime in in the comments with tips etc. This is all rather geared to the Sunday as I sense from everything I’ve been sent that the vast majority of Sherlock fans attending are arriving Saturday afternoon/evening for Sunday morning. But the event is of course a full 3 day event starting on the Friday.
Difference between the tickets
There are two different ticket types at Elementary – Gold and standard. Gold is £160 and standard is £90. If you want a gold ticket be speedy as apparently they’re nearly sold out. The gold ticket gets you access to the meet and greet on Friday (Benedict won’t be there), first entry into the autographs and Benedict’s photo shoot and the first few rows in the hall. If you’re not going to be there on the Friday and don’t want to spend all Sunday sitting in the hall zealously guarding your front row seat (you can’t shove a jumper on the seat and vanish for the day – if you want your prime spot you have to sit in it and not move) then I’d just buy a standard ticket. Everyone is guaranteed to get an autograph from Benedict. I’ve watched talks standing from the back of the hall and the view is fine so don’t fret about not being able to see anything.
I saw from Sean’s tweets that the hotel is fully booked. So if you can’t find a room online do try hotels.com or Late Rooms for hotels in the area. Surrounding hotels will often be a good deal cheaper than the Hilton rack rate although obviously less convenient. Try and find other people who are at the same hotel as you in case you’re worried about going back at night alone (although I think a lot of the neighbouring hotels are in walking distance and it’s a safe complex). If you need a roomie or have space please shout out in the comments.
Benedict’s photoshoot costs £35. If you want a photo of you and your friend with Benedict it costs £40 but you’ll only get one copy of the photo. Photoshoots are on sale all 3 days and Sean has guaranteed that everyone can get a picture with Benedict. You’re limited to one photo only. If you are arriving on the Sunday you need to be there well before 9:00 a.m. to get your ticket as any photoshoots left over at 9:30 a.m. on the Sunday will go on sale to anyone who wants more than one. The photoshoots will go through in ticket number order.
When you go into the photoshoot room you’re asked to leave everything you’re carrying on a table at the front. I know that can be a bit disconcerting for people at first so if you’re not comfortable leaving your valuables like that make sure you leave them in your hotel room or with a friend (although I should say I’ve never had the slightest problem leaving them – they’re perfectly safe). You’re not allowed to take anything with you when you go get your photo.
The photoshoots will be lightening fast so if you’ve got one once they start don’t disappear off to breakfast for an hour as you could miss out. Basically they’ll keep the line moving very quickly and when its your turn its pretty much step into shot, pose for the camera, quick thank you to Benedict and off you go. You’re looking at 10 seconds. So make sure your hair/makeup/clothes (background will be blue so try and avoid wearing that or you’ll merge) etc all look fab before you reach the front of the line and if you want a particular pose (because I have great psychic ability I sense he’s going to be asked to point & flip off the camera a lot) decide in advance and ask the second you get into shot.
You won’t really be able to chat to Benedict because it will all be so speedy as so many people to get through. But the photographer Malcolm is great. He’s used to doing high volume photoshoots and he’s extremely good. If your eyes are closed etc he knows immediately and takes a second shot. I’ve never had a bad photo of me that he’s taken.
You can then collect your photo later when it’s printed and you can buy a digital photo subsequently on-line.
Everyone gets one free autograph from Benedict. An additional autograph is £20. Gold ticket holders usually get given a convention poster they can have signed and everyone gets given a convention booklet. You can have official things signed as well (dvd of any of Benedict’s projects, tie in books, t-shirts, the Star Trek comics, the deerstalker (the St Mungos one is going for over £1000), one of those books he keeps mentioning in interviews lately, the Sherlock Casebook, Alice Zhang’s art prints etc). Official just really means not your own pictures. My friend would always get actors at cons to autograph the latest book she was reading!
I’ve seen Sean say on twitter that artwork is also fine (although maybe not the photo realistic stuff that makes me blush that people send to me to get Benedict to sign…)
What you can’t get signed at Starfury is your own photos. So you can’t go on my website and print out a high res shot of Benedict you fancy and bring it along to get signed. They don’t allow that. If you want a pretty picture of Benedict signed you have to buy one at the event and I think they cost £10.
So if you want say the Sherlock dvd and a 10 x 8 photo of Benedict signed that will cost you £20 - £20 for the additional item which includes the photo (edited after someone on twitter corrected me) . I am assuming that he won’t be personalising due to the number of people so that might affect what you want to bring to get signed.
You won’t be able to take photos, record or film in the autograph room. If you get your camera out at all you run the risk of being asked to leave so probably best not to have it in your hand. Again realistically you won’t have much longer at the autograph table with Benedict than you would at a stage door/premiere as he’ll have so many people to go through. Sean is apparently working on a gift giving policy and will let you all know what that is.
But think of one thing you really want to say to Benedict when you go up to see him. Because I’ve been at events where people freeze when they get up to the table & they don’t know what to say and the actor/actress is usually a bit bleary eyed and knackered at that stage & doesn’t always have smiley small talk ready and then the person gets really upset that the interaction wasn’t what they hoped. But if you’ve thought in advance of what you want to say (how much you loved Sherlock/you’re looking forward to Imitation Game/Hamlet/how cool Blood Mountain sounds etc) then it will all go swimmingly & you’ll go away really happy.
Benedict’s will be at the end of the Sunday and I’m guessing the closing ceremony will be straight after it. You can take photos (flash only for the first 5 minutes) but you can’t video or record. Try and be kind with your picture taking - the guys in the row behind don’t want to watch the talk through your camera lense. If photos are quite important to you definitely go gold as that guarantees first few rows.
If it’s the same format as the Matt Smith one Sean will interview Benedict for a bit and then the audience can ask questions. There is usually a microphone set up in the middle of the room and you go queue up and ask. Think of short interesting questions to ask. They won’t let you ask for hugs or autographs or let you go up to the stage in the talk. The audience questions at the BFI and BAFTA were by far the best bits so I’m sure everyone will come up with all sorts of fantastic stuff.
What to bring
Cash - the event is strictly cash only.
Food and drink in the hotel is quite pricy so it’s worth bringing your own food to the event. Cereal bars, crisps, fruit, cup a soups, ramen noodles that you can do with your tiny hotel kettle and drinks are all well worth you bringing. The food in the bar is nice but expensive for what it is. Also the bar prices are hotel bar prices and therefore extortionate so be warned.
Edit Sean has just said they’re looking at doing either a con menu or 20% of food and they’ll be 20% of drinks in the bar- more gin for me!
Bring either one of those plastic solid boxes to keep your autographs/photos safe or pick up a slim A4 folder and a set of plastic sleeves which will do the same thing. The air conditioning in these places can be variable so layers are advised.
What to wear
Whatever the hell you want. Theres no dress code. The parties each evening have a theme but you don’t have to adhere to it. There is a costume prize on the Saturday if you want to cosplay. I suspect as Benedict was finally confirmed quite late most people won’t have outfits fitting the party themes. Just wear whatever makes you happy. Just bear in mind during the day you’ll be on your feet for a while queuing so maybe avoid stilettos!
What if I’m on my own?
They’ll be lots of people on their own. The wonderful thing about conventions is that it’s a gathering of like minded souls. People that all love the same thing you do, all get the same in jokes you do. There’s usually a really lovely welcoming vibe and as soon as you get over that slight terror of speaking to someone for the first time I’m sure you’ll all make really amazing friends.