Sunday 2 February 2014

Nordicana 2014 or bust!

L-R Håkan Nesser, Arne Dahl & Barry Forshaw © Ayo Onatade
Where do I start with Nordicana 2014?  Let’s start with the positives, not that there were many in my opinion.  Event wise there were only three positive aspects to Nordicana 2014.  Firstly, Barry Forshaw’s event with Arne Dahl and Håkan Nesser.  It was brilliant.  The banter between all three was clear to see and Barry Forshaw as can be expected managed to draw out the best in these two authors.  There were lots of jokes and asides between all three of them and one learnt that Henning Mankell and Håkan Nesser wrote a short story together sometime ago featuring their main characters.  They also gave themselves cameos in the story.  It was a shame that due to the fact that they were running late there was not any opportunity for members of the audience to ask questions. It was a shame it could not go on for longer as it was clear that Håkan Nesser and Arne Dahl could have spent much longer talking together.

 The second was David Hewson’s talk on Deconstructing the Killing from television into a
David Hewson 
novel.  It was a fascinating talk interspersed with clips from the series as he talked about The Killing I- III. Sadly at the start he was badly let down by the technological set up, which did not appear to be working properly.  There was no volume.  It did however kick in but it was disconcerting.  One piece of news that that will cheer up fans of The Killing is the fact that there are talks in hand going on to see if a prequel will be done.  If it does go ahead then it will not be set in Copenhagen but the Faros Islands.  He explained that if Nordicana 2015 goes ahead next year then he will be in a better position to give out a bit more concrete information.

Lastly, Pan Macmillan put on a drinks reception to launch The Killing III.  It was a relatively small affair with lots of lovely cocktails made using Reyka Vodka.  Officially The Killing III is not due out for another couple of weeks.  It was also lovely to see Trisha Jackson and her friend Bev along with Sarah Ward, David Headley, and his partner Rob and also very briefly Jake Kerridge.

I really wanted to enjoy the day but sadly I did not and I am sure that I was not the only one who felt incredibly let down.

There were numerous things wrong with Nordicana 2014.  The queue to get in was ridiculously long.  I got there at around 9:30am I did not get in until after 11:00am which meant that I missed the first event.  The event was massively over-subscribed.  It was sold out.  I understand that there should have been no more than around 1600 people but I overheard two of the stewards saying that there were around 3000 in attendance.  It was a bit stupid of them to also be selling tickets on the door.  It was so crowded that in my opinion there was a big health and safety risk.  There appeared to be only one way in and one way out.  I dread to think what would have happened if the building had to be evacuated rather quickly.  Despite looking I could not even find the disabled access.
Very crowded room for Building Borgen

I managed to squeeze into the panel Building Borgen but not only did many of us have to stand, the microphones were not working properly (they had to share one between all of them), we were given headphones to use which didn’t really work as the background noise was awful and as it was standing room only my feet (and I am sure that I was not the only one) were killing me.  I ended up leaving just as questions were being taken from the floor.  If you were in screen 2 you could also hear what was being said in screen 3.  The acoustics were appalling.  The room was packed and even the overflow room was standing room only.  Furthermore, the chairs were so closely set out together they were far to close to not only the screen but also the table where the actors were doing the Q & A.

There was supposed to be a Nordicana Expo.  One could not consider what they had as being an expo.  The space where the expo was could have quite easily held over a dozen stalls.  Instead there were very few which in my opinion was really ridiculous.  There was a stall selling official Nordicana souvenirs which were in my opinion rather over priced.  One could also buy DVDs as well which was really good however, the set up was really badly organised.  One could have easily walked away with as many of the DVDs as one would like without paying for them.  The setup was appalling and there needed to be a lot more food stalls with a wider variety.  There was a stall selling silver jewellery and whilst admittedly it was selling vintage items I was rather surprised that they had not bothered to bring with them items that members of the public could afford to buy.  I mean in this day and age who could afford to pay £700 for a bracelet?  I certainly wouldn’t.  I would rather pay my mortgage.  With all the space that they had there should have been a much larger number of stalls.  The expo was a big disappointment.  It was just not well organised.  It lacked a buzz one would have expected but then again since there were hardly any stalls, I am not in the least bit surprised.

The queue for coffee was miles too long and at one stage the urns I understand were not working properly.  I didn’t waste my time queuing up but instead went across the road to the boutique coffee shop just across the road.  Thank God for Nude Coffee the brilliant coffee shop just a couple of minutes from where it was taking place.  Trestle tables were used for seating in the main area where people were expected to hang around but it gave off the impression that you were sitting outside in a beer garden on a very cold day.

It was also bloody cold!!!  I spent part of the time trying to stop my teeth from chattering and tapping my feet to keep them warm. Even with the few heaters dotted around the venue it was hard to keep warm.

The way the events were scheduled left a lot to be desired.  People just tended to stay in
Picture by Sarah Ward
whichever screening room they were in for the next event so it was not easy to get in.  They seriously need to relook at the way they schedule events.  Maybe they should consider selling tickets for each individual event.  That way they could also put a cap on the number of tickets that can be sold in relation to the number of people that can attend each panel. It was definitely a case of good PR and over exposure.  They clearly were unable to deliver.  Events over lapped so at times if you wanted to go to one event you had to miss for example the last 10 to 15 minutes of the previous event.

You also actually had to buy signing tickets to get books signed.  That is ridiculous and stupid.  It is the first time I have ever heard this happening.  There was also a lottery where some got priority to meet the actors etc.

Even the programme had a big mistake.  Whoever proof read the programme failed to stop a glaring error.   On page 11 where there was a map it stated that Nordicana was taking place between 15 June & 16 June 2013! 

One must give credit to the actors and authors that were there who made the most of a bad situation.

Lots of people have asked for refunds.  In my opinion the event was not worth the cost of the ticket.  They would be as I have said earlier better off selling individual tickets for individual events.   

I don’t think it would do the organisers of Nordicana any harm to look at how other events are organised for example.  

If you don’t believe me have a look at the NordicanaUK Facebook page especially where Arrow Films have issued an apology and read some of the comments yourselves.

Would I go again?  I don’t think so unless the event has a radical overhaul.  It was the worst event I have ever been to in years and it is disappointing that one has to say so.  I couldn’t even be bothered to turf myself out of bed to attend the second day even though there were a couple of films that I wanted to see as I had been unable to do so on the first day. Happening events who managed the event have a lot to answer along with Arrow Films.  

I do hope that Pan Macmillan will also seriously consider as to whether or not they want to continue to be involved in Nordicana again especially after the way it was organised this year.  It certainly wouldn't do their credentials any good to be associated with such a mismanaged event.

A big disappointment all round.

Pictures © Ayo Onatade (Unless stated)


Janet Rudolph said...

Sounds like a lot of organizational problems. So sorry. But thanks for letting the rest of us know about the two good panels (in content).. not enough..

Anonymous said...

I was very upset at the absolute chaos on Saturday. Sound problems, queues for everything. Run out of coffee and food which considering they knew how many tickets they sold, unless of course they sold many more on the door, I was told by a security person there were over 3000 on Saturday. I am applying for a refund and if it is not forthcoming I will be contacting various organisations. I do not want to be a pain but I am not willing to pay £55.00 for 2 tickets and over £100 for other expenses.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything said above, it was appalling.

Unknown said...

I was really looking forward to the Nordicana event that I attended on Sunday, however the day proved to be one big non event. A huge cold venue where lights seemed to go on and off at random, toilets closed for health and safety reasons, nothing really to see or do, the stalls were a joke - sweets, overpriced sweatshirts, and an open sandwich more like a village fete than an expo! And to add insult to injury the cinemas were overcrowded, badly lit with extremely poor sound and vision.The whole thing was so poorly organised that the words piss up and brewery sprang to mind. Unfortunately the one person that I most wanted to see, Kim Bodina, was absent, put off by the shambolic event or stricken with a mystery virus - who knows. And finally for the amount of money I spent for two tickets the whole affair was a joke. I did however see the porsche and yes I still love Kim/Martin no illusions shattered there!

Jill said...

I fully agree with all the comments made and thank you for the full account of the experience on Saturday. It was physically an extremely uncomfortable event and more of an endurance test than anything else. The venue was shabby and the whole event run like something I might have experienced as a teenager in the early 70's than the slick, health and safety conscious times of today. No planning, no effort to make this a pleasant experience for everybody. I had travelled a long way from Scotland early that morning and have never been so glad to get home late than night to recover from the ordeal.
I agree there needs to be a radical overhaul of how this is organised if it is to ever happen again but wouldn't like to see people having to pay for different events within the event. Most people want to see, hear and meet the stars of the show and more should be done to make that accessible in a fair way. I still think you should pay for the day but have a ticketed system so that you a guaranteed at least one attendance per day at a live panel ( perhaps with an opportunity for an order of preference) with the rest guaranteed in overspill hall. Screenings of films and episodes could be running on with repeat showings so that you don't have to sacrifice attending live events. And in places with proper sound systems that don't encroach on the other meetings or vice a versa. The are many fantastic venues like university buildings with proper lecture theatres and sound systems. To me this was a cheapskate production, with the main aim seeming to be to make a cheap buck. I find it unbelievable that they were able to get away with it. I was told that after an initial group were allowed in, an older person on crutches was made to stand outside for another hour in the cold, despite people asking that he should be allowed in. This event was far to big to be pleasant, must have been challenging for the guests and am grateful for their good natured handling of it all. it will have to be a much smaller affair if it is to be successful. Like most events with a clear limit of places available.
Having said all that it was great to have the opportunity to hear what the actors, writers etc had to say and despite all the discomfort and hassle was for me still worth the journey.

Anonymous said...

Agree with everything that's been said here. Queued outside for ages and then couldn't even get a hot drink when we finally got in because the urns either weren't working or hadn't been on for long enough. The 'expo' was akin to a church hall bazaar on a really bad day. We were in the overflow room for the Borgen panel and were given incorrect information about the headsets PA system etc. and couldn't hear a lot of what was said because of the microphone situation and poor acoustics. Such a disappointing experience. Felt ripped off and left at 12.30 The highlight of the morning was bumping into Sidse Babett Knudsen coming out of the loo!