An interview with Vanessa May


Welcome to our new series of convention podcasts! For this first episode, we’re pleased to bring you an interview with ConFusion Chair Vanessa May, in conversation with Keith Smith, our Technical Director.



Music: ConFusion2021 Theme and Confusion2021 Incidentals by The Light Dreams – commissioned and licensed directly from the artist, check out their other work:​
Interviewer: Keith Smith
Guest: Vanessa May, chair of ConFusion2021
Rocket and UFO models: James Shields, based on the original artwork by Serena Culfeather – donated to ConFusion2021
UFO sound: Keith Smith – donated to ConFusion2021
3D animation and video editing: Keith Smith


Full transcript of the video

Interview with the Chair, 3rd February 2021
[Music plays]

Keith: Welcome to the first in a series of convention podcasts, and for this one I have got a real treat for you. It’s an interview with the wonderful convention chair, Vanessa May. Welcome to the podcast Vanessa!

Vanessa: Hi Keith, thanks for having me.

Keith: You’re most welcome. So, no interview would be fit without asking you of some obvious questions and I guess where I’m gonna start with a slightly more rounded and light-hearted mode is about the theme of the convention itself – what is the theme for ConFusion 2021?

Vanessa: The theme for ConFusion is whimsy and playfulness – it’s something that’s near and dear to my heart.

Keith: And what made you come up with it? Maybe you can elaborate a little bit on the concept for whimsy, in context of the convention and how you came up with it in the first place.

Vanessa: Well, it seems to me that we’ve all been in a pretty dark or dull place, we’ve all been in lockdown for almost a year now. I wanted something that would bring people out of that, I wanted people to come somewhere and enjoy, and where they could throw away their troubles and just have a good time; be playful, whimsical, let that part of themselves out. Somewhere to come and be that playful person, and forget about the problems of the world. So that’s really what it’s all about.

Keith: And, you know, that sounds absolutely fantastic. However, recognising what’s going on in the world, maybe you could tell everybody, because I’m sure they’re going to be curious about it, what is the situation with an in-person element to the convention? How are we going to, you know, not only recognise but deal with what’s happening out there in the world at the moment?

Vanessa: Well, sadly, I think our hopes of having any type of in-person element have been dashed. The way that the situation here is in the UK, they don’t think they’re even sending kids back to school until after Easter. So, we are still dealing with the hotel, but at this point we are planning a fully virtual convention. But we really have some surprises in store for you!

Keith: A fully virtual convention, okay, so what do you mean by surprises? How is this going to work?

Vanessa: Well, we are planning a platform that I think everybody will find fits right in with our whimsical theme. It’s going to be so fun, and our intention at this point is to start doing some tours when we have a couple of the environments ready. And I think everybody is going to be as pleased with it as I am. I am very happy with what we’re doing, and it just makes me smile when I think about it.

Keith: I have to agree with you I smile about it as well. If you don’t mind can I can give a couple of teasers to the audience maybe?

Vanessa: Please do, give a couple of teasers, absolutely!

Keith: Okay, so what you might not realise when we talk about – when Vanessa especially talks about a virtual convention, is that there’s not going to be any Zoom, guys. So this is going to be a virtual convention without Zoom and yet everything’s going to be live, or almost everything’s going to be live. And likewise this is going to be a virtual convention where there’s no Discord. So all of the traditional conventions that you’ve like perhaps attended over the last 12 months or so, where it’s been Discord-based and Zoom-based and so forth – none of that’s going to apply. So, no Discord and yet social interaction and the social side of the convention is going to be crystal clear, and totally key to the success of the convention itself. Yeah I’m totally excited about it, as you can tell I’m stoked.

Vanessa: I am, yeah, I am totally thrilled. It is what I wanted, and the remit that I gave to Keith, gave to you Keith, was I wanted something as close to an in-person experience as possible, and I wanted it all-encompassing and you’ve hit the ball out of the park, I think.

Keith: Oh wow, high praise, thank you very much. I hope that the reality that everyone’s going to experience in a few week’s time is going to meet the expectations that we’re setting here, although again I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s going to. I’m really looking forward to it.

Vanessa: I am as well, I can’t wait.

Keith: Excellent. So speaking of that, what element of the convention itself are you most looking forward to?

Vanessa: Oooh, ooh. We have some really fun things planned, and I wouldn’t want to give it away yet but we will have some great events. We will have, we will have some really fun things, please just join us. You, you won’t be disappointed, I promise. There could even be a magic show.

Keith: Wow, a magic show. And fully virtual –

Vanessa: Yeah.

Keith: That sounds really interesting. Okay, so if that’s some of the things that you’re most looking forward to, I guess we can only do this with content. How’s the content coming along? What sort of programming can we expect? Are there any hints that you can give us at this stage?

Vanessa: Well, no, because nothing’s been firmed up, but Russell is leading our programme team, and he is doing a great job. And he has a lot of really good ideas, has a good team working with him, and I think we’ll all be very pleased with the direction this is going. It’s because we’re all following the theme of whimsy and playful.

Keith: Fantastic. So, is there anything you need to help bring this to life on the day? Is there anything you would like to ask for?

Vanessa: We need volunteers. And see and that’s the thing, I think people think that it’s because it’s going to be a virtual environment, there won’t be that much need for volunteers – and that is so not true! We need loads of Ops volunteers, we need lots of Tech volunteers. We’re going to need Social Space volunteers. We’re going to need – we need people, we need people helping, we need people suggesting programme items, even more programme items. Um, dealers – we are going to have a great thing for dealers. Art Show – artists, we are preparing to start showing you what we have ready for you, you’re going to want to come and be part of this convention! It’s just, it’s going to be so fun.

Keith: Yeah, artists, you’re going to be blown away by some of the stuff that we’ve got planned for you, and dealers, again, this is not like any experience you may have had over the past 12 months. You’re not going to find this anything like the sort of frustrating, no-interaction experience, it’s going to be completely different, completely new.

Vanessa: Yeah. And we need members, we need members, we need you to come join us, because nothing can be done without money, and your membership is what helps us pay for all of this.

Keith: All right that’s fantastic, thank you very much Vanessa. Is there any comments you’d like to make in closing, before we before we sign off this quick podcast?

Vanessa: In closing, I think that we are planning a fantastic event for everybody, and I would like you all to come along and join us, and join in the fun. It’s going to be a blast!

Keith: So there you have it everybody, um, our first podcast! I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Come along to the convention, guaranteed you’re going to see something new, guaranteed you’re going to have a great time. Thank you all so much, have a good day.

[Music plays]