9 Things I Learned at the 2015 Lethbridge Entertainment Expo Panels

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It was my first Expo, comic-con or con of any type.  I’d always meant to go to some but never really did.  Until this year.  When I showed up this year for the first time, I was blown away.   I went to as many panels as I could and I was always blown away by how passionate these people were for their craft.   I found myself taking notes and wondering how much of it applied to Life in General.   Here’s what I learned:

The Lethbridge Entertainment Expo was held November 14/15th, 2015 at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge Alberta. Guests included Jason Mewes (Jay & Silent Bob), Billy West (Futurama), Phil LaMarr (MAD TV) and Lee Arenberg (Once Upon a Time). Check out their official site HERE!

1)   It costs a lot of money to put out a comic.

You have to pay artists, writers, inkers, cover artists and letterers. That’s before a single comic is produced. Then there’s the materials and labor. Then there’s distribution, which usually gives you about 40% of the retail price. Bottom line – you have to sell a lot of comics to make money.  I put this in for two reasons:  a) I didn’t really realize and so I learned something and b) I think knowing how difficult something is to make, like comics, makes them even more awesome.

From Panel: Renegade Arts Entertainment – how to get into comics or die trying

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2) It’s not about breaking into the business, it’s about staying in.

No matter how successful or famous somebody is, NOBODY ever has really ‘made it’.  Everyone has to work very hard to make their stuff. Even long time pros still have to audition for every gig.  But besides the expense and the competition, there’s no real barrier to entry. As long as you’re producing content or auditioning, you are ‘in’ the business.  You can’t be fired, it only ends when you stop producing or stop auditioning. And if you keep showing up, you’re going to find something eventually.

From Panels:  Renegade Arts Entertainment, also Billy West and Brendan Hunter and also Lee Arenberg

4) Do it for the love, it’s your only chance for success.

It’s good to have work, but the real money isn’t by working on someone else projects.  Licences don’t make a lot of money for artists because anyone can do Spiderman. If you do something everyone can do, there will be more competition and less payoff.  Instead, do the risky thing that you have that’s different than everything else. Original content is where the money is – the art that is only there because you put it there.  Don’t be safe, the good stuff comes from the risky part of you.

From Panel: Renegade Arts Entertainment – how to get into comics or die trying

Billy West

5) Don’t follow your dreams (or at least not every single one)

Not every dream is realistic.  Some aspirations are just not a good idea.  Not everyone can be a supermodel or a professional athlete and unless you’re in the very special circumstances that make these things possible, your time would be better served honing skills you’re actually good at.    This actually takes the pressure off of having to decide what to do with your life.  If you have to go with what you love, how do you decide what you love enough to continue pursuing when it gets really tough?  This advice seems harsh at first but it’s a lesson all adults learn eventually if they want to live anywhere other than their parent’s basement.

From Panel:  Billy West and Phil LaMarr

6)  You can’t apply a formula and have it work every time.

When you try something that works once or twice, it’s far too easy to try to apply that same thing again in multiple situations and expect it to continue working.  The problem is your ‘winning formula’ is not a guarantee and will always be subject to diminishing returns.  You will always have to experiment and take risks, especially in any kind of creative environment.

From Panels:  Billy West and Brendan Hunter and also Billy West and Phil LaMarr

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7)  Don’t be needy.  People can smell desperation

There is nothing more unattractive than desperation.  This is true when you’re looking for a job, asking someone out or pitching an idea.  If you’re in a situation where you need something too badly, you’re not going to get it.  People will always go for the person who doesn’t seem to have that much at stake.  Of course when you need something so badly, how do you stop from being needy?  I’ve never been able to find out, but even from my own experience, this seems to be an immutable law.

From Panels:  Renegade Arts Entertainment, also Lee Arenberg and also Billy West and Brendan Hunter

8)  Be a class act

Usually it costs nothing to be patient and remain kind even when the people you’re dealing with are being insufferable.  But there are benefits.  Apparently during the filming of the first Pirates of the Caribbean, Geoffrey Rush had a scene with a monkey and that monkey was not cooperating.  What should have taken no more than 6 takes took well over 30 takes and they were there for hours.  Mr. Rush never wavered.  When asked how he stayed so calm during the whole thing, he answered:  “Well if I didn’t, mate, we’d still be out there.”

From Panel:  Lee Arenberg

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9)  The best job is the next one

Actually I’m not sure I fully understood this one but every single panel I saw said something along those lines.   What I took away from that is you have to stay in the game and always be working.  As long as you are still needed, as long as you are still getting jobs, then you are still relevant.  And relevant is good.  I feel this is both a ‘don’t dwell in the past’ sort of thing as well.  It’s healthy to have something to look forward to.

From Panels:  Renegade Arts Entertainment, also Lee Arenberg, also Billy West and Brendan Hunter and also Billy West and Phil LaMarr

To learn more about Renegade Arts Entertainment: Click HERE