LeakyCon Boston 2019: A Recap of the Final Day
Sunday, October 13, marked my first trip to LeakyCon while it was in my hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, to mark its ten-year anniversary back in the city where it first began. Besides the Celebration of Harry Potter that Universal Studios used to hold in Orlando on an annual basis, I had never been to a convention totally devoted to all things Harry Potter. Therefore, I was ready to take in all that the schedule of events on Sunday had to offer!
My friend Kristina and I first sat in on the “MuggleCast Live!” panel on the MainStage from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Podcast hosts Eric Scull and Micah Tannenbaum welcomed Harry Potter film actor Chris Rankin, who portrayed Percy Weasley, onstage for a live recording of MuggleCast. The live episode started off with a discussion of how the Harry Potter books and films have inspired travel tourism. Topics of discussion included the historical sites in Salem, Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (since it is located on Mount Greylock in Massachusetts), and what Ilvermorny House Rankin thought he might get Sorted into (he said he’s a Hogwarts purist and wouldn’t have gone to Ilvermorny).
Following the live recording of MuggleCast, my friend and I decided to check out the LeakyCon Marketplace to eyeball the range of Potter merchandise on sale. Not only did we encounter some fantastic cosplayers (especially a spot-on Arthur and Molly Weasley) while milling around the different vendor tables, but we each ended up buying specific pieces of artwork. Vendors such as Bunce and Bean (a reference to Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox) sold Potter pins based around imagery from the film series, and they were also selling what they called “Corkies” in order to turn any pin into an instant magnet! But what most stood out to me were the prints by Woodside Illustrations, especially the panoramic prints of Hagrid and Harry entering Diagon Alley and Hogwarts Castle. Several little hidden details were pointed out to me in each of the two prints I ended up purchasing, and adding in hidden details was a common theme that I noticed among the different vendors I spoke with.
After wishing I had more eyeballs in the Marketplace (much like Harry the first time he took in Diagon Alley), we next sat in on the “Spotlight: Dan Fogler” panel from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the MainStage. Dan Fogler, who portrays Muggle Jacob Kowalski in the Fantastic Beasts films, had great energy and frequently had the audience laughing (his laugh alone was infectious enough). Topics of discussion during the panel included Fogler’s thoughts on what was ahead for his character Jacob, what he thought about Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald‘s reveal about Credence’s family ties, his promotion of J.K. Rowling’s Lumos charity, and his real-life tie to Jacob with the fact that his great-grandfather was a baker who owned a bakery called Fogler’s Pumpernickel. Dan Fogler also did a killer Christopher Walken impression that got a great audience reaction when a fan asked him about working with Walken on the comedy film Balls of Fury.
My friend and I then chose to attend two other panels that focused on discussions around both the Potter books and the films. We first sat in on a panel called “Obscurus and Patronus: Expressions of the Soul in the Wizarding World” from 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. in which moderator Savannah Dag Currier presented her thoughts on the Obscurus and Patronus both as protective forces that are fueled by strong emotions. The Obscurus inside Credence in Fantastic Beasts reacted to psychological harm directed towards Credence by lashing out at both Senator Shaw and Mary Lou Barebone and serves as an expression of the damage done to a soul through trauma. On the flip side, a Patronus is the expression of strong, positive emotions in order to ward off the hopelessness that the dementors instill in their victims.
From 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. we sat in on the “In Defense of Prisoner of Azkaban, the Best Harry Potter Movie” panel with moderator Hannah Hosking. Her take on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a controversial one, given how strongly Potter fans feel about what was lost in the adaptation from book to film (particularly the Marauders storyline). This particular panel saw many fans raising hands to chime in on what they saw as the strengths and shortfalls of the third film, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Everything got discussed from the film portrayals of Dumbledore between Richard Harris and Michael Gambon to Cuarón playing with the wizarding world visually to making it feel like a lived-in space to Daniel Radcliffe’s acting choices in the more serious scenes to what adaptations mean and what we as an audience want out of them. Both of these panels were a great way to conclude my day at LeakyCon, as they really delved into the Potter series and had very thought-provoking premises. If only I had had a Time-Turner like Hermione in order to sit in on multiple panels at once because a lot of the other ones on the LeakyCon schedule sounded intriguing!