Before I start, I need to make a disclaimer: I am a Manifest committee member. The views and opinions expressed in the following post do not necessarily reflect the views of other committer members, or the Manifest committee as a whole.
Oh boy, here we go...
Let's get this out of the way first: Manifest 2008 almost didn't happen at all. A small number of committee members spent the better part of this past year actively trying to destroy the organisation, and all that it stood for. Those of us (and it is the vast majority of the committee) that actually wanted the event to run had to fight for every inch, against people who would go out of their way to stop us.
If it sounds like a bad anime series, then believe me, I'm just as incredulous as you.
I cannot, of course, name names. I want to, but it would be... bad for me to do so. Suffice to say that the people involved should know who they are (and if they don't, it is only because they are criminally stupid) and what they need to do about it (quit the committee forever).
In this light, the fact that Manifest 2008 was as much of a farce as it was seems, somehow, reassuring. I personally didn't even get to see much of the event behind my tiny little corner of the Old Arts building, where I spent most of the weekend running an information desk.
From what I can tell, that was the smoothest-running thing Manifest did all weekend. You can thank me in the comments.
I think a lot of the problems really can be blamed on the fact we almost didn't run. I was panels coordinator until sometime in July, when I realised that all the uncertainty over the future of the event led me to not do any work on it for far too long. Meghan Rocke got panels up and running after that, and I am grateful.
I ran three panels myself, including a very well-attended one on retrogaming. I was pleased with the turnout to that, and, had I not had such a broad topic to cover, I would have put on a more interesting panel. From what I hear the other panels went down pretty well.
There was some complaints about the Yaoi panel needing an ID check to get in, but after the trouble we got into last year, I think it was the right choice. My opinions on the panel in general are pretty well-known, so maybe I should leave that at that.
The program book is the elephant in the room. Normally one of the shining beacons of how awesome a Manifest is, this year the guy in charge did practically nothing, and when the rest of the committee found out, it was far, far too late. People will be yelled at. Trust me.
It's because of this that I spent most of my time on the info desk handing out programs to people, and showing them what was on. I'd like to thank all the volunteers that helped me on the desk over both days. My Dad, Adeline and Dave From Minotaur were also really big helps across the weekend at the table. If you see any of them, give them a thanks.
When I think about it, I enjoyed myself. I guess because I was out in the Manifest equivalent of Siberia, manning a remote outpost with what little I had, that I really got into what I was doing. I'm a terrible customer service person most of the time, but I do enjoy running things. I guess that's what made the difference. I had a simple, easy task that I knew how (basically) to do, and I pulled it off with, I hope, aplomb.
*strokes own ego some more*
In what turned out to be a brilliant act of foresight, I managed to snare a little TV and an antenna so I could watch the grand final on Saturday. After the rest of the Grand Final plans fell through, this TV, with its terrible reception
, was the only way I could watch my team win their first premiership in seventeen years.
Did I mention I'm a Hawks supporter yet? Did I mention how godsdamn happy I am right now?
(Oh yeah, I'm on Facebook now. Go me.)
I didn't buy anything at the convention this year, unless you count the digital camera I picked up on Thursday specifically so I had a small camera to cart around with me at the con. It worked out well and I took a heap of photos.
I feel as though I want to say more. I can stick the knives in all I want, but I was part of that committee so, I guess, I'm just as responsible as everyone else on it is. We fucked up. Really badly. Sure, we had to fight to put on a convention, and sure, we knew that the con we would put on when we did get it up again was not going to be brilliant. But there were things that went wrong that even the committee did not foresee.
For example, the massive queue was back with a vengeance. You have to understand something here: due to our internal problems, we did very little publicity or promotion this year. No one on the committee expected more people than last year, and, as such, we set up a vastly more efficient rego system to handle the same number of people as we had last year.
We had at least 50% more (I don't have real numbers and am mostly guessing) people than what we expected. I believe it was the most well-attended Manifest ever.
The program book fuckup was something that only really came about late in the game, but it can still be considered unforeseen. I don't think we quite foresaw the backlash against the screenings this year. There's a lot of complicated reasons for the way the screenings came out, owing to some perhaps misaimed paranoia and other things. I doubt that will happen again. (In fact, I intend to make sure it doesn't.)
I'm so godsdamn tired right now, and so worn down from putting up with committee bullshit for the past little while that I really don't have the energy to be vitriolic or biting or funny or whatever. I'm going to save that for the next committee meeting, I think.
I can't make any promises, but I think Manifest 2009 is going to be better by a wide margin than the past two years. It's more important than ever because next year is our 10th birthday.
I'll do everything I can to make it special. I've already got some cool ideas.