Sci-Fi on the Rock is an annual science fiction, fantasy and horror convention held in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. It was founded by Darren Hann and Melanie Collins in mid-to-late 2006, and held its first convention in 2007.
It began in 2007 at the Hotel Mount Pearl, moving on to be housed in the Holiday Inn in St. John's as of April 2008. The convention has had a number a notable guests both from Newfoundland and beyond, including science-fiction author Kenneth Tam (Defense Command, His Majesty's New World), comic-book artist Paul Tucker (The Underworld Railroad, Google John Smith), actor Brian Downey (Lexx, Millennium), actor Jeremy Bulloch (The Empire Strikes Back, Octopussy), author William Meikle (The Midnight Eye series), horror author Matthew LeDrew (Black Womb, Roulette) and author Shannon Patrick Sullivan (The Dying Days).
Sci-Fi on the Rock's first convention was held on April 1, 2007 at the Hotel Mount Pearl (formerly Chateau Park) in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. It featured special guest authors Kenneth Tam and Shannon Patrick Sullivan, and local business/fangroup, Vader Party. As well as featuring special guests, the convention featured workshops throughout the day including the popular "Lightsaber Techniques", "Basic Horror Make-Up for Film and Television" and "Costume Designing". In addition, there were a number of sales-and-display tables, and a number of competitions such as Video Games, Model Building, Costume Contest, and others. Sci-Fi on the Rock also featured a canteen with Sci-Fi related food (i.e.: "The Kirk Burger").
Having been planned and put off within only a few months, and with little publicity, Sci-Fi on the Rock's first convention was surprise success with almost 500 people attending, and was covered in many local media pages, as well as internet sites.
Sci-Fi on the Rock II
As a result of the success of the first convention, Sci-Fi on the Rock organizers Darren Hann and Melanie Collins, as well as the now-larger organizing committee decided that the convention should be held again the following year and should be bigger. Around the summer of 2007, planning for Sci-Fi on the Rock II would commence.
The first change was time and place. It was increased from a one-day to a full weekend event, and was held in a larger venue. Sci-Fi on the Rock II was held at the Holiday Inn hotel in St. John's, on Saturday, April 19 and Sunday, April 20, 2008. As a kick-off to the convention, author Kenneth Tam was invited back as a special guest, and launched the first book in his new series The Grasslands on the evening before the convention. Other changes included the amount of publicity the convention received, and the structure of different competitions.
The list of special guests grew from three to seven, with Kenneth Tam and Vader Party returning for their second year, and the addition of authors Matthew LeDrew and Willie Meikle, comic-book artist Paul Tucker of Viper Comics, as well as the appearance of Celebrity Special Guests, actors Jeremy Bulloch, who notably played the bounty hunter Boba Fett from the Star Wars Franchise, and Brian Downey, who is perhaps best known for his role of Stanley Tweedle from Lexx: The Series.
Like the year before, Sci-Fi on the Rock II was met with positive reviews and overall success. In addition to more media coverage, both before and after the convention, the attendance increased to over 700 with a number of patrons coming from other parts of Canada, the United States and even the United Kingdom. The guests as well had an enjoyable time. Jeremy Bulloch commented on his website that "The people of Newfoundland are extremely friendly. It was only the second time that Darren had put the 'Sc-Fi on the Rock' show on, and it was very well attended. Lots of costumes and games for the children and it seemed that everyone was having a good time".
Sci-Fi on the Rock II featured a Charity Auction, which benefited the School Lunch Association. Items that had been placed for bid included a Limited Edition Star Wars T-Shirt-and-Box Set which is not available in North America (donated by Jeremy Bulloch), a Lexx Prize pack, including many behind-the-scenes cuts and scripts (donated by Brian Downey), a Limited Edition Boba Fett action figure, personally autographed by Jeremy Bulloch, and a P.A.D.D. that was used on the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation (which was donated by an agent of one of the actors of the show).
Sci-Fi on the Rock III
Sci-Fi on the Rock had its third convention on April 25 and 26, 2009 at the Holiday Inn in St. John's once again. The special guest actors for this year were Vaughn Armstrong, who is perhaps best known as Admiral Maxwell Forrest from Star Trek Enterprise, Christian Simpson, who notably played Lt. Gavyn Sykes in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and also worked on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (as Old Fred Weasley), and Peter Mayhew who notably played Chewbacca the Wookiee in the Star Wars saga. Author guests included returning authors Kenneth Tam, Matthew LeDrew and Willie Meikle, and welcomed for the first time Louise Bohmer.
Following in the tradition of the previous year, the convention was upgraded due to the overwhelming response to the last convention to better accommodate the demand. Such changes included the addition of a third workshop room, which added around 20+ workshops to the convention. Other additions included the Cantina, a midnight movie, and website redesigns. This year also marked the first Fan Film that Sci-Fi on the Rock was involved with producing: Star Wars: Inner Demons.
Returning attractions included many of the workshops from the previous year, including Lightsaber Technique, Stage Combat, Star Wars, Transformers, Special Effect Make-up and others. The Charity Auction also returned, again aiding the School Lunch Association. Dinner with the Stars, an event where a limited number of guests are able to sit and enjoy a three-course meal with the special guest actors, also returned.
Sci-Fi on the Rock 3 was met with over a thousand visitors, and received many positive reviews from patrons.
Sci-Fi on the Rock IV
Sci-Fi on the Rock IV took place on April 17 and 18, 2010. Planning began in September 2009. The convention took place in its regular venue, the Holiday Inn. Special guests included actors Casey Biggs who played Damar on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Max Grod nchik who played Rom on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Nalini Krishan who is perhaps best known as Barris Offee, the Jedi Padawan to Lumiara Unduli, as well as authors Matthew LeDrew, Ellen Curtis, Dwain Campbell, Ira Nayman, Kevin Woolridge and Patti Kennedy. Actor Mike Savva was scheduled to attend, but as a result of the Icelandic Volcano eruptions and the resulting ash cloud over UK Airspace, he was unable to come to Newfoundland. Also, actor Tony Amendola, known as Master Bra'tac from Stargate SG-1, was scheduled in the early stages to attend the Sci-Fi on the Rock convention, but due to professional commitments, had to withdraw.
The 2010 convention again broke its previous record by having over 1200 people visit its attractions, beating the previous year's total of just over 1000. This was a twofold success, as this year the convention competed with the 2010 JUNO Awards. Besides growth in numbers, the convention grew in other ways. For example, in May 2009 (almost immediately following the past convention), Sci-Fi on the Rock opened an online store on their website. Also, Due to the success of Hann Made Film's first fan-film, Star Wars: Inner Demons, Hann Made Films filmed another fan-film, this time a Stargate SG-1/Doctor Who crossover film, titled Replication. The film debuted at Sci-Fi on the Rock IV, to great reception again.
Also, Sci-Fi on the Rock and HannMade Films teamed up to create Sci-Fi on the Rock TV, a video magazine that provided convention updates on an "almost bi-weekly" basis. Season One of Sci-Fi on the Rock TV was hosted by Steve Lake and Ellen Curtis, and ran from September 11, 2009 to May 2010. Season Two is slated to begin in September 2010, with both hosts returning.
Sci-Fi on the Rock V
Sci-Fi on the Rock held its fifth convention on April 15, 16 and 17, 2011, making this year the first time the organization launched a convention that spanned three days. It was held again at the St. John's Holiday Inn, and was kicked off with a book launch from convention co-founder Darren Hann, followed by the convention's first ever film festival. Special guests who were in attendance this year were actor Mike Savva (who was scheduled to appear for Sci-Fi on the Rock IV but was waylaid due to Volcanic activity over UK airspace), actor Robert Axelrod (better known as the voice of Lord Zedd from the Power Rangers), actor David Nykl, known as Doctor Zelenka from Stargate Atlantis, actor John Garman "J. G." Hertzler (known in the Star Trek community for his role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) as the Klingon General, and later Chancellor, Martok) and Suzie Plakson who is an actress, singer, writer, poet, and artist, who has played four characters on various Star Trek series, including Worf's wife K'Ehleyr. Special guests also included returning authors Matthew Ledrew, Ellen Curtis, and actor/comic creator Kevin Woolridge, and welcomed newcomers Charles Picco from Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, and Tom Brown and Thomas Gofton ("the Toms") from Mind's Eye. Picco, a native Newfoundlander, is the co-creator/co-writer/executive story editor of Todd and The Book of Pure Evil, a comedy/horror series currently airing on the Space Channel. The Toms are writers for Mind's Eye, a fantasy web series brought to you by the creative minds at Lynnvander Productions and Synn Studios inc. It is a tantalizing tale of adventure, magic and imagination becoming reality as we follow a new class of superhero, the Dreamweavers.
Like in previous years, the fifth convention beat its numbers from the previous year; while an exact figure is not yet known, it is estimated that around 1500 people visited the convention this year. Because this year marked the organization's fifth year, the convention staff introduced its first annual film festival, which commenced on the convention's opening night. Eleven films were submitted and screened, ten of which were from local film-makers, and one (X-Meeting) from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The winner of this film festival was a horror/comedy short called "Date With The Dead".
Sci-Fi on the Rock has announced that it will indeed be returning for a sixth consecutive year, and the dates will be April 20, 21 and 22, 2012.
Additional to the contests discussed in the main articles, there is a larger competition held during the convention called "Geek Survivor", where contestants compete to be crowned the title of "Newfoundland's Ultra Geek".
Although it is called "Geek Survivor", it more closely resembles Jeopardy! and Beat the Geeks in structure and style. It is a trivia-based game, where contestants answer questions of varying difficulty about different Sci-Fi topics. At the end of the game, the contestant with the highest score is crowned "Ultra Geek".
Mark Downey was crowned as the first Sci-Fi on the Rock Ultra Geek on April 1, 2007. Dr. Glyn George, a MUN professor and Doctor Who and Star Trek enthusiast, was crowned on April 20, 2008. He later abdicated his throne, as he became involved in the planning of Sci-Fi on the Rock, retiring from the competition undefeated. Newfoundland's Ultra Geek for 2009, crowned at Sci-Fi on the Rock 3, was Charles White. He, too, retired undefeated.
Andrew O'Brien was crowned as Newfoundland's fourth Ultra Geek on April 18, 2010. Unlike his predecessors, he competed again in the fifth Geek Survivor challenge, but was dethroned by Ford Cooke, who was crowned as the fifth Ultra Geek on April 17, 2011.
In 2011, Sci-Fi on the Rock teamed up with Justin Foley Entertainment, a local company, to bring forth the convention's first annual film festival as a large-scale addition to the convention attractions. This festival offered the JFE Audience Choice Award, sponsored by Justin Foley Entertainment, which was awarded to the film that received the highest amount of audience votes. In its first year, 11 films were submitted and screened, 10 of which were from local film-makers, and one (X-Meeting) from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The winner of the first annual film festival was a horror/comedy short called "Date With The Dead", written by Nima Yusefi, directed by Justin Madol and produced by Tommy Gushue and Ian Vatcher. The film starred local actors James Hawksley, Jennifer Smith and Andy Jones.
In its second year, the film festival went international, receiving films not only from other provinces in Canada but also from Spain, Denmark, India and the United Kingdom.
Apart from the media guest Q&A s, autographs and photo sessions, there are many other attractions during the convention:
- Comic-Book drawing
- Getting Published
- Getting Self-Published
- Costume Contests
- Lego Robotics
- Lightsaber Workshop
- Movie Make-up
- Writer's Circle
Sci-Fi on the Rock II featured a special entrance referred to as The Transporter Unit (in reality, a rotating blackroom door modified with space decorations and strobe lights). It was originally planned to have returned for the 2009 convention, but overall, this could not happen.
Making its first appearance at Sci-Fi on the Rock 2009, the Cantina is an informal concert/variety show held on one of the evenings of the convention. Performers opt to play Sci-Fi related music, known as Filk, but that is not always the case. The Cantina features performances by musicians involved with the convention, an open mic, and there is an improvised acting piece prepared that audience members are call upon to perform. The event gets its name as a reference to the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars: A New Hope.
At its maiden performance in 2009, guest Vaughn Armstrong performed at the Cantina with his ukulele, which was a highlight performance.
Since its inception, Sci-Fi on the Rock has had a number of guests of different types. Below is a list of guests they have had at their convention.
Kenneth Tam, author
- Shannon Patrick Sullivan, author
- Vader Party, business/cosplayers
As a completely separate project from the Sci-Fi on the Rock convention, organizer Darren Hann put together a small film company called Hann Made Films, which creates fan films just for the love of doing it. Because of the overlap (many Sci-Fi on the Rock personnel are amateur actors who appear in the films), these films are featured as a part of the Sci-Fi on the Rock convention attractions, however are not associated with the convention further than it being a venue.
Star Wars: Inner Demons
One attraction of the 2009 convention was the first public screening of Star Wars: Inner Demons, a 30-minute fan film based on a story written by convention chair Darren Hann (as a part of another, separate project called Hann Made Films), and starring Jake Fisher, Shannon Fisher, Mike Fisher, Brent Carbonell, Justin Foley and Melanie Collins. The film takes place 10 years after Revenge of the Sith and 10 years before A New Hope.
Synopsis: Pirates have obtained details on the security measures safeguarding the Death Star construction project. They invite members of the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire to bid on the information at auction. The story is about the two Jedi who are sent to retrieve the information for the Alliance, and the Imperial clone trooper, with the powers of a Sith lord, who is sent to stop them.
The story contains a few familiar faces such as Darth Vader and the Emperor, but introduces some new characters and aliens as well, such as a Sith witch, a Mandalorian warrior, some new Jedi Knights, and the man-eating Vo'Rath species.
In February 2010, Inner Demons took second place at the Mount Pearl Frosty Festival  film festival.
After the success and many positive reviews of their first fan film, Star Wars: Inner Demons, Hann Made Films put together a second film to be featured at Sci-Fi on the Rock. This time, it is a crossover between Stargate SG-1 and Doctor Who, entitled Replication, written by Darren Hann. The film stars Peggy Dixon as Samantha Carter, Mike Fisher as Jack O'Neill, Zachary Moore as Daniel Jackson, Justin Foley as Rya'c (son of Teal'c), Mark Todd as The Doctor, Emily Fisher as the Doctor's Companion, and Siobhan Foley as The Rani.
The premise of the film centres around the return of The dying Rani, who bonds with a Goa'uld after finding herself in the SG-1 universe. Also, the TARDIS finds itself stuck in some type of spacial distortion, and gets caught in a Stargate wormhole. The Doctor, his companion Emilie, and SG-1 have to team up and defeat The Rani, her group of renegade Jaffa, and a new breed of enemy created by the Rani which blends Replicators and Cybermen.
Replication is set to be shown at Sci-Fi on the Rock IV.
Future Fan Films
As long as Hann Made Films projects are met with positive reaction, it is anticipated that they will continue to produce a film a year coinciding with the Sci-Fi on the Rock convention.
Sci-Fi from the Rock
Another separate-yet-linked project is Sci-Fi from the Rock, a collection of short stories written by convention organizers and published through Engen Books. The collection features stories from convention organizers Darren Hann, Melanie Collins and Steve Lake. It was announced in January 2010 to be released April 18 at Sci-Fi on the Rock IV.
- Legacy of the Full Moon, Steve Lake
- Time Diamond, Darren Hann
- Woven by the Thief, Melanie Collins
- Vengeance of the Full Moon, Steve Lake
- Holy Troll, Darren Hann
- Grimspound, Mark Todd
- Earthdeath: Chrysalis, Justin A. Foley
- The Chair, Matthew LeDrew
Sci-Fi on the Rock TV
In September 2009, Sci-Fi on the Rock put together "Sci-Fi on the Rock TV", a webshow that would appear on YouTube and Facebook, as well as on the Sci-Fi on the Rock website. Each "webisode" runs approximately 10 minutes in length, and would serve as publicity for the convention, as well as a video newsletter, as it were. It is hosted by Steve Lake and Ellen Curtis, and is directed and produced by Darren Hann. The first episode "aired" on YouTube and Facebook on Friday, September 11, 2009. The guests were Darren Hann (Sci-Fi on the Rock convention organizer) and Matthew LeDrew (author of the Black Womb series).
Season One Episodes
- Episode 1 September 11, 2009. Guests: Darren Hann, Matthew LeDrew
- Episode 2 September 18, 2009. Guests: Jennifer Graham, Ross Barney
- Episode 3 October 12, 2009. Guests: Justin Foley, Simon Babineau
- Episode 4 November 6, 2009. Guests: Melanie Collins, Carson Smith, Matthew LeDrew (Note: This was a special "Roadshow" episode, where Sci-Fi on the Rock TV visit Newfoundland's West Coast Con in Corner Brook)
- Episode 5 December 12, 2009. Guests: Justin Foley, Peggy Dixon
- Episode 6 January 27, 2010. Guests: Melanie Collins, Mark Todd
- Episode 7 February 21, 2010. Guests: Darth Vader, Darren Hann
- Episode 8 March 22, 2010. Guests: Jean Hewson, Julia Coombes
- Episode 9 April 6, 2010. Convention Recap episode.
Sci-Fi on the Rock TV plans to air some "on-location" episodes from the Sci-Fi convention.
Season Two Episodes
Season Two of Sci-Fi on the Rock TV saw the return of Steve Lake and Ellen Curtis as hosts, but also Ellen's departure and the addition of Melanie Collins as co-host. Also, Season Two was filmed in a new location, with new equipment and new opening sequences. It is available to be watched at the Sci-Fi on the Rock site.
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