I have had two weeks to sort out my memories and thoughts from my trip to Toronto. A part of me is still sorting out the thoughts and the emotions, since I am still in awe for parts of it still. I have a habit of getting the after effects after I decompress from an event that is so large in my heart and in my emotions. La Femme Nikita has done so much for me in a small dosage of my life, but nothing could compare to the event of sitting and personally interacting in the same room as half the cast and parts of the crew behind the production that created such magic in my young life.
Never in my life would I have thought I’d be able to personally witness similar magic sixteen years later after the final scene was shot for Season Five of the show that would go down as one of the most dominant female roles in television history. Yeah, the show only lasted five short seasons (96 total episodes), but at the same time, I believe in quality over quantity when it comes to creating television or film. La Femme Nikita was one of very few shows that proved that and still holds a torch in that influential aspect for creating stories in my book, figuratively and literally. It ended imperfectly perfect in my optical illusion.
Regardless of my feelings for the show, Toronto became so much more than the convention itself. Behold the reunion was beauty of its own with the cast and crew that attended. The priority was the convention, since I was handpicked by the organizers to be the lead for the photography team for the event, as well as, be a part of the security team.
With those positions, I got to observe a different view and have different stories than most fans at the event. The most important thing I must add before I share my individual stories, is this, the new, and some old, friendships I encountered during my week in Toronto will be the biggest memories I will hold dear in my heart forever. The memories and quotes I’ll share justifies my week in Toronto with the individuals’ who made an impression on me for the rest of my life.
I traveled to Toronto on Wednesday, just like the Co-Chairs did, and it didn’t take long for me to reunite with sweet Maxine and introduce myself to Jayne and Maria. We went to the bar to chat and prep for the weekend, as I shared my background with the two I recently met and asked the ladies what they expect of me over the weekend. Shortly after, I asked Maxine to invite our friend, Emma, down to get the party started, so to speak. Shortly, behold, Emma! We chatted a bit, shared some laughs, and shared some stories of our times together in Montreal two years ago to Jayne and Maria. The weekend was already off to a good start.
Thursday morning, I unusually was up by 0800 to prepare my day with Emma to go to the CN Tower. I opened the windows to discover I have brought the rain straight from Wisconsin. I then made my way downstairs to check out the breakfast, because I can’t say no to food often. I walked into the restaurant, Hemispheres, and I quickly spot Emma sitting down for breakfast and took it upon myself to join her since we were already spending the day together. After breakfast, we took thirty minutes to prepare ourselves to walk in the rain to the CN Tower and back.
Maxine thought we were crazy, but we went ahead and did it. The rain was heavy; however, it was also warm and refreshing. By the time we reached back to the hotel, we were just downright soaked from the weather. Emma’s raincoat couldn’t even save her from the rain, since it was coming down at an angle. A rich memory in its own way.
Thursday night, I met Kris, as she flew in and I welcomed her to stay in my room. We shared stories of our lives and some of the best quotes came just from our conversations:
Kris: “Geez, you type fast.”
Me: “Well, that’s what happens when you’re a millennial.”
Kris: “That is a great quote! I need to post it…
Five seconds later…
Kris: “How do you spell millennial?”
Me: “You want to be a writer and you can’t spell millennial?”
I still smile when I think of our monologues from Thursday night.
Friday, finally, my partner-in-crime, from Madison, came to join me for the weekend event. Rae Ann
flew in early, bright eyed bushy tail and not a moment was wasted for her arrival, as we dropped her bags off in the room, and rushed out the door to start our day. Our first stop was as predictable as they come, if you know me. If you don’t, it was Starbucks. Now you know me and what my priorities are.
As we were strolling to our first adventures, Ripley’s Aquarium, I spied a new face that would request me on my Facebook messenger, who would become a breath of fresh air for Rae Ann and I. Our new friend and addition to our adoption habits would be none other than Mary Rosa from Venezuela. She would join us at the aquarium and be added to our great memories over the weekend. Four o’clock creeped quickly as it was the start of registration. The three of us would stroll back together to the hotel.
After registration, I would be patiently waiting for our Chair meeting with the leaders of the pack (Maxine, Maria, and Jayne). Around 1900, Rae Ann and I would take over the registration table for Karen and Carol, so the ladies of the RD Fan Club could reunite for dinner and catch up with one another. Yes, I am one of those ladies, technically, but work was priority for myself. I do apologize for the ladies for not being able to join, but for those who came by the table to say their hellos to me after dinner, I am much obliged. Thank you!
There was not a dull moment at the registration table though, as Rae Ann and I were waiting for Jen to arrive for the night, our other roommate for the weekend. Stacey and Beth would eventually feed me brownies, as an attempt, to boost my sleep deprived laughter with sugar. I am not sure if that was a good idea, because unexpectedly, Rae Ann and I, would be introduced to Gene during that time. It came to the point of Maxine being a bit concerned about me momentarily, but I assured her I was okay. The moment I got to shake Gene’s hand, he spotted my accent:
Gene: “I hear an accent from you. Where are you from?”
Gene: “I can tell. I love it.”
Right off the bat, Gene did not portray an ounce of Operation’s character. What an amazing start of the weekend, might I add. He was surely warm and full of wonderment during all the moments I shared with him throughout the weekend. He seriously loved every minute of ReCon. You could tell with every moment you shared with him. He was in heaven that weekend.
Saturday morning, I reported to ‘Oversight’ after my Starbucks run with my roommates. I then went into my operative mode for the day with both teams I was running with (photography and security). I was focused. Saturday afternoon was huge. I got to witness and snap photos of Jamie Paul Rock with Gene, Matt, and Roy, before the panel. Jamie got me to do it right away with just the sarcastic comment, “What else do you have to do?” The guys were down to earth and chilled from the moment they walked into the VIP area with smiles and jokes that could go on for days if you allowed them.
The cast’s stories they shared from set was just a beautiful recollection I got to hear and witness from their tales during the panel. Peta was skyped in during the panel. It would be better and more complete if she was there in person, but skyping and sharing the moment with the guys was better than not making an appearance at all. For that, I am grateful that the ladies in charge and Peta could compromise and make the panel work with her on board.
The big test for my personal affairs came when the autographs and photo ops were next. Unfortunately, I got the word that Roy had to leave right at 1700 to catch his flight home, so when it came to the photos, I was set up to succeed, lining up my photographers, each with an actor. I got the opportunity to do Roy’s photos with the fans. One snap and it was on to the next, boom. Roy even complimented my work flow as professional, as I remained focused on the mission at hand. I won’t lie, having Roy in front of me, helped me stay calm during the whole experience.
I loved the afternoon with the cast, like everyone else, but what peaked me the most, as a student going through video production in college for my second degree, I was more intrigued by the stories from the editors, writers, Jon Cassar, Joel Surnow, Jamie Paul Rock, and the other crew members who got their start in the film industry on La Femme Nikita.
For me, the panels that these guys and gals held was very informative on the production side of creating good television. The panel that was the most insightful and most informative for me, was Brock Jolliffe (FX Effects) and Mic Jones (Stunt Coordinator) w/ one of his stunt doubles. I learned a lot about their jobs with the stories they shared and it gave me a new perspective of how much work and skills needs to be done to successfully film an action sequence.
Sunday night would be a post-con adventure of a lifetime with Jen, Rae Ann, Kate, and KC. We started to just stroll towards the Art Gallery, but we were hungry first, so we walked until we found a few choices. Across from a Catholic church, we had the choice of Village Idiot Pub or Sin & Redemption. Mind you, we chose Sin & Redemption. Most of us found redemption.
After lunch, we finally made it to the Art Gallery of Ontario, but we only had an hour and a half before it closed, yet… three and a half hours before we had to be at the Murdoch Mysteries Escape Room that Rae Ann booked for us. There was no way we would get through the whole Art Gallery in an hour and a half, so we chose wisely and kept to the culture of the country we were in, Canada.
I was profound by the aboriginal and the abstract art in the galleries. Two of my favorites. Some of the most incisive art in my book at the AGO was the art made by bone. It creeped some people out, but I was drawn to it most for some reason. The pieces shared some stories, I can tell you that much.
As AGO closed at 1730, we still had two hours to kill before the Escape Room, so the ladies and I strolled some more, going towards the house that we needed to be at for the Escape Room. We would find a local Mexican joint for Margaritas. Unfortunately, Mexican in Toronto, is not up to par in my book. Not anywhere close to the authenticity of the food South of our border, but the virgin margarita I had was delicious and refreshing.
Honestly, I never been to an escape room, nor have I ever watched the Murdoch Mysteries. I was going on this damn thing blind. When we got into the room after the constable gave us instructions on the room, the only thing I knew I was good as is finding things, so I started to just randomly find clues and deliver them to Rae Ann since she was the most experienced individual in our group for these escape room thingy’s.
The highlight of the adventure was when Rae Ann and I caught on to the fact that the constable we were working with was the ‘bad guy’ and the good guy was trapped in the jail cell. We didn’t know who or how we were going to distract the ‘bad guy’ and we were failing badly with just the two of us. I don’t know how she found out, but then out of nowhere, here comes Paula, bum rushing into the constable as Rae Ann was able to pick pocket the constable, so we can free the ‘good guy.’ Then as the ‘bad guy’ tried to stop Rae Ann from leaving her side, I somehow used my operative skills to grab the key from Rae Ann and unlock the jail cell for the ‘good guy.’
While all of this was going on, Kate was in her own world in the secret room trying to figure out what an out of tuned old piano was trying to hint at us for the next clue. She had no idea what was going on in the main room. She then came in, and by that time, we already swapped constables, and her expression was priceless. Rae Ann and I just said, “Don’t worry, we got this.”
Unfortunately, we didn’t complete the task when the one hour was up. With a group of seven, we were only one lock away from succeeding, but it was extremely fun for something that I have not done before. Trust me when I say, I will make Rae Ann take me to more rooms back home.
If you have not tried an escape room, I highly recommend you find a theme you like, grab some friends (preferably more than seven people, max is twelve), and go at it! This was surely one of my top favorite non-convention memories from Toronto.
Another favorite memory I got to take home was from my last night in Toronto with Maria, Jayne, Mary Rosa, Maxine, MJ, and Kristiana on Monday night. We first gathered in the bar to recollect the whole weekend, and ended the weekend memories hanging in Maxine’s room. Two generation of fans (the old and new) just enjoying each other’s company! Such sweet ladies I get the privilege to call my friends!
PS – I went 2,507 words without saying my favorite word… Fuck.