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Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Genesis of The Imaginarium Convention- Part III: The Programming (part 1)

Ever wonder what goes into creating a convention? Stephen Zimmer has agreed to take us through the steps. He has agreed to do a six week series about what it took to put together Imaginarium which will make its debut this September.

The Programming (part 1)

The next area concerning Imaginarium that we will discuss is the programming itself. The programming is the heart and center of this particular convention. In fact, the programming is so essential that this topic will be explored in two parts.

Today, I will take you on an overview of our goals for the programming for the debut of Imaginarium. Next week Susan Roddey will give you a look at the nuts and bolts of putting it all together, from slotting guests to scheduling panels.

Imaginarium is designed to be a fun and relaxing environment, but we are very serious about offering a wealth of content on a level that is hard to find anywhere else. The theme of the convention itself, being all about creative writing, has to reflect strongly in the programming content.

As such, we knew that the programming range would have to be broad enough to encompass things like books, screenwriting, comics and graphic novels, game-design, poetry and other areas that involve spheres of creative writing. From the foundation, Susan and I discussed having a definite core of topics covered from the outset while leaving room open for guest and panelist input.

Various topics on the craft of writing, the publishing business, and even the world of social media and how it applies to writers are, in our view, essential “must-haves” in the programming. The programming needed to offer opportunities for writers to develop their skill sets, learn about the industry, and find ways to use current media tools to most effectively to promote their work. The convention has to be timely, relevant, and edifying for any attendee.

We also wanted to be sure the core programming reflected the all-genre nature of Imaginarium. It was imperative to have topics pertaining to mystery writing, romance, and other sectors in addition to popular genres like fantasy and steampunk. Getting all of that on the map right away, in our view, set the right kind of tone for the overall event.

This year we decided to approach programming development by going through two rounds of surveys. One, the first, featured the core list that Susan was heavily involved in developing after we had talked about the overall convention programming goals. This survey was intended to gauge the interest of guests and panelists in the core topics and also open the door to panel and workshop suggestions.

From this survey, Susan was able to add in a number of new panel ideas and topics to the list that were derived from the input of the panelists themselves. This allowed our programming to be customized to a significant degree by the guests. Giving an opportunity for panelists to be involved with the development of the programming is a big positive, in my view, as it gives them a stake in the event itself.

The second survey was focused on the panelist’s individual preferences, regarding their own ideal selections of panels to be featured on. That stage of the process we will leave for Susan to tackle next week, as it gets into the adventure of setting the panel grid and guest assignments.

As it stands now, we are very confident in the programming being offered. Over 140 workshops strong, organized into twelve categories, and featuring over 130 guests from across the spectrum of creative writing, Imaginarium’s programming is comprehensive and offers attendees a tremendous amount of choice. Whatever areas of creative writing you would like to explore, we have something for you!

About the Author:
Born in Denver, Colorado, Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning fantasy author and filmmaker based out of Lexington, Kentucky.

Stephen has two series being published through Seventh Star Press. One is the epic fantasy Fires in Eden Series, which was launched with Crown of Vengeance (winner of the 2010 Pluto Award for Best Novel). Book 2, Dream of Legends, was released in January of 2011. The other is the epic urban fantasy series The Rising Dawn Saga. The Rising Dawn Saga launched in spring of 2009 with The Exodus Gate (nominated for a 2009 Pluto Award). The next step was taken in June of 2010 with The Storm Guardians. Highly prolific, Stephen is adhering to a release schedule that sees a new book approximately every seven months!

As a filmmaker, Stephen has credits in fantasy and horror, including the supernatural thriller Shadows Light (feature), The Sirens (horror short film), and Swordbearer (fantasy short film). Swordbearer debuted in early 2011 and is currently being exhibited on the convention and festival circuit. Featuring a special appearance by former WWE wrestler Al Snow, the film is based upon the H. David Blalock novel Ascendant.

1 comment:

  1. The workshop and panel listings for Imaginarium is incredible. I cannot think of another single convention which has the variety and quality of Imaginarium. I'm looking forward to the give and take during each panel.