Movies like Paul, Scott Pilgrim, Chasing Amy, and Fanboys chronicle the saga of the male geek. Obsessive female fans don't see much of themselves on the big screen. Now a movie is in production that could change all that.
One Con Glory is a story about life, love, and action figures - and one woman's obsession with avoiding the first two while seeking the third. It follows Julie, a nerd culture reporter covering a giant comic book convention. A little too much drinking on the first night leads to antics that leave Julie with an ill-gotten classic action figure, a new relationship, and a blood feud against another reporter.
This isn't a book that puts a girl in glasses and declares her a 'nerd'. Julie's inner monologue covers everything from the Doublemeat Palace episode of Buffy to the Ressikan flute that Picard plays on Star Trek. The book gets nerd culture and comic book convention mentality just right - but can it make it to the big screen? I sat down with the author and screenwriter, Sarah Kuhn, and the film's producer Desiree Hall, of Hall Squared Productions to get scoop on the book, the movie, and the rise of fangirlism.
There are a lot of 'geek-oriented' movies for men getting made, but not so many for women. Do you think this helps your movie? Hurts it?
Sarah: You know, I'm honestly not sure! I do think the time has come for lady nerd movie protagonists to become more of a thing. Geek girls are a force to be reckoned with online and at cons, but it doesn't seem like we've seen that reality reflected yet on the big screen. We've seen it in other mediums over the past few years: the web series world has excellent geek girl main characters — like The Guild's Codex and Awkward Embraces' Jessica. And TV's given us the likes of The Middleman's Wendy Watson and 30 Rock's Liz Lemon. I fully love all of these characters because they feel like they were written with me and my fellow lady nerds in mind as the primary audience.
Desiree: This very thing is what makes Sarah's story so appealing, in my opinion. Women's role in the predominate geek oriented culture seems to primarily be either an afterthought or an objectification. One Con Glory shows that women like Julie—intelligent, professional and a hardcore fan of all things 'geek-oriented'—exist in real life. I think a lot of women will identify with Julie and this story and I think that really helps our movie.
One Con Glory takes a more clear-eyed view of nerd culture than most movies. Most of the comedies out there, they take the most extreme versions of the 'nerd'. The book shows all kinds of different people in nerd culture; hot nerds, smart nerds, smooth-talkin' nerds, and the traditional socially-awkward nerds. Could you talk a little about your experiences with nerds and how much the step away from the 'in their mother's basement' persona will carry into the movie?
Sarah: I started going to cons as a pre-teen: I was heavily involved in a fan group dedicated to Major Kira of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, so we'd meet up at cons and scour the dealers room for the perfect Bajoran earring and stuff like that. Anyway, my small town tweenage mind was sort of blown away by the wide range of people involved: we had members all over the world, of all different ages and backgrounds, and we were united by the fact that we could talk for hours and hours about this one particular character. So, for sure, my formative view of fandom was that it encompassed a lot of different types of nerds. That said, I don't know if I was consciously trying to show that in the book — I just kind of wrote about people I knew, people like my friends. And I'd say that carries over pretty smoothly into the screenplay: there are a few different geeky perspectives. Hopefully, those perspectives will be familiar to people.
Desiree: I think that it is really important to step away from the stereotypes of people in general—in life and in entertainment. I wanted to produce this book into a feature because I think Sarah does such a good job of showing that Julie is a very real person with real thoughts and feelings that has an unexpected and transformative experience—but it just so happens to be at a comic convention because that is what she is passionate about. All of the characters in this story are well rounded human beings that love all things 'nerdy', which is representative of what I have seen when attending cons or interacting with any self-proclaimed nerds.
Without giving us too many spoilers, how does the movie differ from the book? Was there some particular aspect that was particularly hard to adapt?
Sarah: Book Julie does a ton of internal monologuing — so in a lot of scenes, I had to figure out how to externalize whatever crazy/snarky/overly verbose thought she's having in a believable way. Like, having her stand on a chair and yell, "HEY GUYS, HERE'S WHAT I'M FEELING RIGHT NOW" in every scene. That's probably not believable. But that was one of the most important things for me to crack, cause otherwise it'd just be 90 minutes of an actress making increasingly crazy facial expressions.
I know you've just barely started the process, but what are the upcoming steps? Paint us a picture of a movie in development, and what the path to the screen is.
Desiree: We are doing script revisions right now and after that process is completed, we are immediately moving into a first read with actors and the beginnings of pitch meetings, which is basically seeking out financing. Once that is secured, we will move along into pre-production and all the exciting stuff that goes along with translating a script into a movie.
For more information on One Con Glory, the film, head over to the site for updates.
Black and White Image: Max Riffner.