Although it’s not as well-known as other events like JIBCon and Asylum, All Hell Breaks Loose (the Australian convention spanning two cities in three days) is nevertheless a force to be reckoned with. I was delighted to cover the con for The Daily Fandom this year, and so without further ado I’ll present you with this summary!
The seventh AHBL took place amidst torrential rain and gusting winds, but the miserable weather didn’t stop people from having a great time. The atmosphere was abuzz with enthusiasm all morning, and a surprise appearance by Matt Cohen, Misha Collins, and Richard Speight Jr. during the welcome speech only heightened the excitement.
During this introductory segment, it was revealed that Australian fans had taken a stand against the inappropriate objectification of cast members by raising five thousand dollars for Matt Cohen to keep his shirt on during his panel (it was later announced at AHBL7 Melbourne that we’d actually raised ten thousand dollars). In addition to sending an important message, the funds raised for the campaign were donated to Random Acts. Amazing work, SPN Family!
After three hours of queueing for photo ops (during which the wonderful convention staff kept us entertained by screening fan videos and hosting trivia), it was time for the much-anticipated Q&A panels.
First up was the duo of Chad Lindberg and Gil McKinney. Although they’ve never worked together on the show, the two had an easy chemistry that made for a hilarious panel. You would think they’d been co-stars for years with the way they were goofing around on stage! The shenanigans that ensued included impersonating J2, speaking in their best Australian accents, and working on their cardio by running around the auditorium. They also discussed their very first acting gigs (Chad played a ‘burger boss’, Gil had to wear a jock strap), the possibility of Ash’s return (‘there’s not a Supernatural fan out there who wouldn’t love to see the mullet rise again’), and Henry Winchester’s advice to Sam and Dean (‘stop being such jackasses!’). Gil even demonstrated his lovely singing talents with an impromptu performance of Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me To The Moon’. All in all, a great hour! And special mention must be made to Gil’s Elmo belt buckle. Pure fashion.
The following panel was hosted by Richard Speight Jr. and Matt Cohen, who of course spent most of their time poking fun at Gil’s singing (but they love him really). Rich and Matt are known to dive right in with their panels, and this time they tackled everything from fanfiction to filming episodes. Rich divulged that he secretly ships Gabriel and Donna (#Dabriel, anyone?) – which makes sense seeing as they’re both laidback people who love sweets. Matt, on the other hand, went all out crack ship with John and Rowena. On the topic of directing: we now have another reason to look forward to Season 12, because Richard is slated to direct two of the episodes! Their side-splitting panel ended with the biggest announcement of all: there will be a special AHBL Christmas con featuring The Supernatural Sisters (Alaina Huffman, Briana Buckmaster, Kim Rhodes, and Ruth Connell). If there was ever a reason to visit Australia, this is it!
Rich: I have tried vegemite and what is wrong with you people?! #straya#AHBL7
Mark Sheppard puts on a pretty terrifying front, but it’s no secret that he’s a big softie at heart. He couldn’t be more different to the morally ambiguous character he plays on the show. His love for fandom – and the SPN Family – was heart-warming to witness. In his own words, ‘Passion isn’t crazy…I hate the word ‘fan’ because it comes from ‘fanatic’, and that implies that there’s something wrong with liking things’. As someone who often feels guilty for being this invested in a ‘silly television show’, this really resonated with me. Mark also touched on the topic of mental illness; his advice to those going through a hard time would be to reach out to others, and to know that they can always find support. Very well put, and a touching note to end the panel on. I think I speak for everyone when I say that Mark is a genuine, kind, compassionate person who we are so lucky to have on the show.
‘What I see in this group of people is so much love and care for others’ – Mark Sheppard #AHBL7
Misha Collins’ Q&A – the final panel of the day – was a hot mess, but an enjoyable one at that. It kicked off with Misha taking this snapchat with his tiniest fan (cue the entire auditorium ‘aww’ing). He then proceeded to field questions while sitting among the audience, and somehow reached the topic of people shipping Dean with Pie (‘I love this fandom because you can ship the shit out of anything’). At one point, he even threw candy into the crowd a la Cady Heron from Mean Girls. Things took a more reflective turn when Misha was asked about the You Are Not Alone campaign. He stated that he feels like it’s very much a fan-led movement, and this resulted in a discussion about the support and generosity of Supernatural fans. It’s moments like these that remind you how cool it is to be a part of this fandom. The hour wrapped up with Misha saying he’ll always have a place in his heart for AHBL, and Australia in general. Thanks, Misha!
‘Thank you for putting up with us Yankees for all these years’ – Misha Collins#AHBL7
In short, AHBL7 was a thousand emotions bundled into one massive day. It was amazing to see the actors in person, to hear their funny anecdotes and thoughtful insights. Fingers crossed for many more years of kickass Australian cons to come!
Have you ever attended All Hell Breaks Loose? Let us know about your experience in the comments below!