geekery

San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition: Kristen Nedopak

Toni Adams
San Diego Comic-Con 2014

It just takes a small thought, encouraged by a lot of support, to get your projects going. One huge project that exploded in the Los Angeles area was the 1st Annual Geekie Awards in 2013.   An event that I attended and immensely enjoyed.

nedopakIt was a pleasure sitting down and chatting with Kristen Nedopak, the brains and power woman behind the Geekie Awards. Even though it took several text messages to find each other during the crazy Comic-Con scene where we met, it was truly a pleasure. For one thing, we started talking about Doctor Who before I even turned on my recorder. Whovians almost always equal instant connection.

I was able to enjoy the Geekie Awards last year with my boyfriend. It was truly spectacular to be in front of a Hollywood nightclub in line mixed with those who were glamorously dressed and the stunning cosplayers (I was a mixture of pretty dress and TARDIS overcoat).

There was so much happening! League of S.T.E.A.M. were wandering around the crowds showing off their gadgets.  It was also awesome seeing cosplayers I admired from online photos standing next me.  The show hadn’t even started yet and I was enveloped in a wonderful atmosphere of geeky creativity.

You can check out the photos and videos from the website. It was truly a HUGE event. The production values were amazing, authentic, and big. They introduced many categories including toys and games, web series, podcasts and many others. Each of the categories were introduced by geek celebrities (including my favorite Seth Green!).

From the show, I was able to find out about my favorite board game of all time (Takenoko!), discover Cosplay Piano, and other amazing geek endeavors that were unfamiliar to me. The award show sets out not only to celebrate the hard work of geek and independent creators but also to promote them.

It was all thanks to Kristen Nedopak, an up and coming force to be reckoned with in the geek community. When she’s not creating mind blowing events like the Geekie Awards, she creates her own content such as the Skyrim Parodies and hosts videos of the fantastical variety on Outta This World.

Actress, powerhouse, video gamer, Whovian. I say she’s a pretty well-rounded geek.

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What was your inspiration for the Geekie Awards? For a huge event, it came on so suddenly!

K.N. : It was one of those things that anything in entertainment development ,you don’t know about it until the last minute. You can’t really start pushing it until you have all of your ducks in a row. I had actually been working on it for a year and a half before the show. Months before the show, we didn’t have the money.

We are an independent operation, it’s myself and my team doing it. A lot of times, you have to get everything in order. I want to start pushing it but is it really going to happen? There were months before the show when I was wondering do we have a venue yet?Am I going to get a venue? It costs a lot of money.That’s why no one heard about it until right before because that’s when it start coming together. Then the media started picking it up because there were “important” people there.

What essentially inspired it is that I’m a creator. I’m an independent creator like everyone else. I make my own stuff, I struggle, I work really hard. And I also do stuff in the realm of geek especially in sci-fi/fantasy. And on top of it, I’m a women in Hollywood..

So I was kind frustrated with the mix of that. First and foremost, what really gave me the idea was I had to submit my work in a film festival thinking these were cool films and projects I worked on. Then I realized that the general reply I got from people who understand geek felt that it was an inside thing and they didn’t think it was good enough for a film festival…

Even now ?! Even though it’s such a huge thing?

K.N:… Yes!! I mean I love these guys . I always tell people this story: An agent looked at some of my stuff and told me ‘I don’t play video games so…. I’m not going to watch this.” That is so silly! Have you seen Youtube? It’s everywhere! It’s part of current culture. So I got really frustrated and I was talking to my publicist. Telling her that no one wanted to look at my work seriously. Meanwhile, you look at SDCC and it’s huge! Yet there are so many people in Hollywood that are very serious about their dramas and comedies and think that a superhero movie is never going to win an Oscar. Thank god that Lord of the Rings did! That was a huge win for geeks, three years in a row. And that doesn’t happen very often.

So I said, I wish there was something for geeks and for people making their own stuff, not just a film festival. My publicist said, ‘well, if anyone can do it, it would be you so maybe you should make something’. All of a sudden, I started thinking.I don’t know about film festivals but I want a giant show. Something huge where we can bring these kinds of people together and basically give them promotion where they wouldn’t have received otherwise.Different from the Oscars, where your already at a point that your huge in your career and you don’t need the PR to be honest.

I agree. When I was there, it was the first time I was introduced to about 95% of the artists out there. That’s where I found about Takenoko

K.N. : Isn’t that a fun game!

And cosplay piano! I really appreciate Geekie Awards for introducing these and having me become a new fan

K.N. : There is so much amazing talent. We have judges going through material months ahead. So it’s like the best of the best. Everyone who enters is really amazing. We don’t want it to feel like a competition but it is an award show. If we showed everything it would run for 20 hours long. I wanted to let everybody know that everyone is great. Also that our judges go through everything. They will filter everything. They will check out a video, then check out the game, then check out the website; it’s really easy to see someone’s work.

I do my own PR and marketing. I had let go my agent and manager.They weren’t doing anything for me that I wasn’t doing for myself or better. I would show up on red carpets even though I’m not on the list. I would still do that at comic cons [laughs]. I get all dressed up and make stuff up. It’s hard. Without PR and marketing, what good is your talent ? It’s the biggest thing for your career other than your talent.

So this is what I wanted to do for other people. We sell an Oscar show but at the end of the day it’s PR and marketing for people.

Did you hit any obstacles while producing the Geekie Awards when you started?

K.N: Many obstacles! [laughs]. I’m hitting obstacles right now! It’s a show in development and there are many parts to it.There’s the event, the production, the PR, the nominees, there’s the judges, business, marketing,so many different pieces. It’s a lot to keep in my brain. Thank goodness that I have incredible producers that are helping me. I can tell them your handling the guest list, I’m not even looking at that. I can tell them your handling production, I will tell you what I want, but I don’t want to talk to the camera guys. There is so much work!

So when you have a show like that, especially in its first year, people don’t know what you’re doing. I called in a lot of favors from friends who trusted and knew me. A lot people didn’t know what it was and didn’t want to become involve in it. Others didn’t know me and just wanted to see what would happen.

How is it the second time around?

K.N.: It’s a lot easier. People saw what we did and were blown away. People were expecting it to be a lot smaller and it was big!

So big!Wow! For me to run book clubs, it’s a headache sometimes. For you to produce this, it’s amazing. It also means I have to step up my game.

K.N. : I burnt myself out. I had adrenal burn out. I had to give up coffee!It was horrible! I’m healthy now and fine. It was one of those things… I’m not comparing myself to George Lucas by any means but my friend would always tell me that story. Your doing great, think about George Lucas. He really wanted to do this movie, he was hospitalized, he put all of it on his credit cards (I’m doing the same thing). That was Star Wars. So when you really,really want something, and you know in your heart it’s going to be huge for people for other people, not just for myself then it’ll happen. This is the world of geek that I want to share with everybody. Somebody has to make the sacrifice.

I’m glad you did. It was great and should have been done a long time ago….

K.N.: I know….I’m glad it didn’t. It was waiting for me! [laughs]

Now that in its second year. What should we look forward to?

K.N.: We have a lot of big brands. Gibson is one of them.Someone actually commented that it was the non-geekiest thing ever seen. That comment was unfortunate.We are geeky but we also cover independent artists.Gibson is huge in the music industry for supporting independent art. They wanted to branch out into other industries.

Who’s to say loving music is not geeky in it’s own way? They just had standing room only for a musical soundtrack panel a few hours ago (at SDCC)?

K.N: That’s kind of motto: geek means your passionate about something. We wanted to open it up. It’s not an exclusive club. Your geek about this or that. It just means your passionate.

We also have Pizza Hut and Pepsi Coke coming in and it’s all for independent artists. It’s not them wanting to throw their money in to become part of this crazy show. It’s still small. They are all really good brands that are supporting independent artists. I didn’t want to work with anybody that wanted it to be about money or fame. You’re in to support these people.

Do you envision this to become prestigious as the Oscars or Academy?

K.N.: Maybe somebody. I want it to be prestigious as comic con. We still have a small venue because you can control it. It’s also broadcasted so everyone can watch it. We want it be enjoyable that people can look forward to it every year.

You create he Skyrim parodies, so I know video game is one of your passions. Do you have any other geek passions?

K.N: My biggest geek passion is fantasy. I am a huge magic, fantasy person! Fantasy side, I love reading, I love swords.I love epic fantasies like Wheel of Time….

Wow…I just cannot get into that! I keep meaning to…but there is so much of it…(I’m lazy)

K.N.: I know! I read it so many times and memorized it. It gets crazy. Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. He just finished the Wheel of the time and has his own series coming up. He’s a phenomenal writer.I’m really geeky about books. I’m crazy about authors. I’m a story person! I live in a fantasy world in my head.I also MC an event called Fairy worlds. I’m very into fairies, magic, and all that fun stuff.

Outside of the con, do you get a weird vibe from people on what you do? Sometimes I mention my own geek passions and people ask me if I’m little bit too old for that..

K.N.: This is what I mean when people think this is all weird. I tell people I’m going to DragonCon and they love watching the people because they think it’s weird. Some people around the city just want to see people in costume. Where if you are a geek, you just get excited seeing someone in costume.

When I tell people what I do, if they are geeky then they freak out. If they are not, then I can see their eyes glaze over when I explain it. I really honestly thing that things like the Avengers movie, E3, people are understanding that it’s bigger.Joe-Manganiello-true-blood

We just announced Joe Manganiello (Alcide Herveaux on True Blood) will be presenting Video Games this year. Turns out he is a huge video game fan. You just never know what people love until you talk to them.

It’s old news now but I just found out that Vin Diesel is a huge Dungeons and Dragons fan. When I first learned that, it changed my whole perspective of him and I became a fan.

K.N.: Actors get pigeonholed into doing what they do on camera. You just never know until you talk to them. There are a lot of gamers out there!

So a big trend is the “fake geek girl”. I feel that it doesn’t exist outside of the internet

K.N. : [ groans]I know..I’m so sick of hearing it…I don’t know where it’s coming from a lot of time. If it’s women that are writing, then there is some envy over something. Yes, models get hired to do shows, just like models are hired to do trade car shows. Give it up, we are all aware that they are working. Don’t give them a hard time! They are not trying to be fake geek girls and they are just doing their job. I think we’re over that now though. I’m so done with that.

After doing to the first Geekie Awards, did you get any strong criticism?

K.N.: Everybody loved the show. I think the biggest downfall that there were a few celebrities they wanted to make it about them. They know who they are. I don’t know if it was envy. You know you are doing something right when people who are popular are mad at you because they are not apart of it. I have to sit back and say this isn’t the Oscars! You didn’t get a snub…This isn’t about you. Your not even our targeted audience for being nominated. Someone actually got mad that they didn’t get nominated even though they were already a celebrity!

People see something good and they want to be apart of it.Or they will put it down.

For the most part, everyone loves it and supports it. I have a lot of support and I appreciate it.                         

Do you have any dream hosts?

K.N: I will tell you right now that Zachary Levi will host the show one year. Zach we are coming for you! We did ask him and declined but he is so busy. I think we have to be big enough. Honestly, He is my dream host. Super charming dude and everyone loves him. I support the Nerd Machinelevi.I love what they are doing with their fans and being non-exclusive. I worked with David Coleman, I did a show with them. I never met Zach in person but he is my dream host.

We are always looking for new people every year. It’s one of those things where celebrities aren’t sure if they want to do it. So we are trying to look for good hosts that are up and comers. That’s even a spot where we can push somebody. The who point of the show is to be seen.

What are the new changes this year? New categories?

K.N: We added gaming this year. Last year it was Toys and Games, a small category. This year is straight up table top games. We had tons of entries. We also have video games. So the two big categories are games. There is also fashion, is a great one. Everyone in the top ten was so hard. Every single entry was phenomenal to the point where I’m not sure how the judges are going to pick. We also have personality categories, some Youtubers that entered. We tried to mix it up and play with it. Then there’s web series and podcasts, always the two biggest categories. So many web series. This year is fantasy theme. One of our sponsors is branding the stage design which will be pretty awesome.

Will there be a dragon?????

K.N: I don’t know..Maybe… We are working and trying for a dragon.They are working on the stage design. There will be a band playing. Gibson is sponsoring it.They are still holding out for my ideal band due, I’m not going to say who it is. If they say yes, it will be the best show ever. People are unsure because of scheduling. I don’t even know what my schedule is like a week before.

What else would you like for the show? Additions? How would you expand the show?

K.N:I want to expand the broadcast. Larger venue, sell more tickets. We will get there eventually. We do so much content offline. We hope to have viewing parties.We actually have an Embrace your Geekiness campaign going on right now. The whole point is also to push people to do viewing parties. This year we are going to try to give prizes of pictures of viewing parties. For Embrace your Geekiness, we want people to take pictures of anything they are geeky about and put them on the show into a compilation, the best of the best. Which is another way to show how awesome our fans are.

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Nedopack was full of energy, ideas, and passion for this project. The conversation left me feeling empowered and excited for the geek projects of the future.

Are you excited for the Geekie Awards now?! I sure am! I’m really hoping there will be a dragon involved…..

The 2nd Annual Geekie Awards will be happening on Sunday, August 17th. You can buy tickets here. You can also catch the broadcast. More information on the website.

With every fiber of this fangirl’s soul, I would like to thank Smart Girls Love Scifi, San Diego Comic Con, and M4 PR company for granting me access for this interview.

 

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2 thoughts on “San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition: Kristen Nedopak

  1. Agreed! I am definitely of the same camp! If you haven’t,check out their social media, they have been uploading random bits of footage from the event. Support independent geek creations! Or more anything that results in more magic and dragons!

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