"They took the seed of an idea and planted it - and out grew Gatecon" Don S. Davis, Vancouver 2000
Don was talking during the closing ceremony of our very first convention back in 2000, and he delivered the amazing line above that has stuck with us, and become a mantra for Gatecon ever since.
Gatecon 2000 was a very special event for us. It was our very first event. It was supposed to be our one and only event. It was far from perfect. We learned so much as organisers....and we were asked to do it again. How could we refuse!
So began a run of ten conventions - eight in Vancouver and two in the UK - that saw nearly every member of the cast and crew up on stage over the years. We forged a great relationship with the Bridge Studios who overwhelmed us with their generosity in donations for our charity auctions, in loaning us larger items from the show to create magnificent stages and for allowing us to be the first convention ever to organise studio tours to the Stargate set.
So how did it all begin?
In 1998 a small group of fans of a relatively new sci-fi series called Stargate SG-1 were discussing in an internet chat room the lack of merchandise available for our favourite show. It was suggested that maybe as fans we should start producing a few items to sell - this was in the days when licensed merchandise wasn't so heavily enforced as it is now. But that plan was quickly replaced when the idea of staging a convention crept into the conversation.
It was a crazy idea yet everyone instantly agreed it was what they wanted to do. Our biggest problem was that not one of us had even been to a convention before, let alone organised an event of such magnitude. However, we set about contacting the Bridge Studios in Vancouver where the show was filmed. Quite rightly, perhaps, the studio did not take us seriously. After all, here was a bunch of inexperienced fans saying they wanted to showcase their treasured product.
Almost a year later and the group now calling themselves Gatecon had almost, but not quite given up. Some of the team had fallen by the wayside as we weren't really getting anywhere, but the core group still continued to pester the studio. Finally the green light was given and along with studio support, Gatecon was a go.
With that core group of four living in the UK, Australia and the US, planning online was a long and meticulous procedure and it was a further year before Gatecon launched onto the convention circuit in September 2000. Cast and crew were booked and ready to appear at a venue not far from the studios, and by this time news of this determined band of fans had reached MGM itself with the result that Hank Cohen, then President of MGM Home Entertainment, announced he wanted to see what all the fuss was about and would be attending the convention. No pressure then!
The degree to which MGM and the Bridge Studios supported Gatecon has always been appreciated and we in turn have been proud to support and promote Stargate from its infancy right through to it becoming the longest running sci-fi franchise in history (so far at least).
There was really only ever supposed to be one convention, just to prove we could do it. Things like the registration lines needed serious attention and improvement but yes, we did it, and by the end of the weekend fans were imploring the organisers to consider a second event the following year. The rest, as they say, is history.
Jump forward ten years and Gatecon had become stronger and bigger than any of the core group could have imagined. It had become a firm favourite with fans and guests alike. It had also become a hugely successful fundraiser for the Make a Wish Foundation and the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and latterly the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. For Make a Wish alone, Gatecon was the single biggest donor for the British Columbia chapter in 2003, raising more than the likes of Disney and Microsoft. Pretty impressive when you consider the fundraising that year was done over a three hour period in a room of 500 people.
All whilst being organised across three continents and without corporate sponsorship, showing that a quality product can be achieved with the right mindset, and that quality over quantity was the way forward. It also created an entity none of the organisers could have envisaged. One of Family.
People from all corners of the globe use their annual vacations to return to Vancouver, or wherever the convention is held, to reunite with like-minded people who have forged friendships as strong as any family bond. People have met at Gatecon and later married. Proposals have taken place at the event, as has a wedding ceremony. Some who met at Gatecon have since travelled around the world to support friends in times of happiness and sadness.
It is this unique strength of family values that makes Gatecon what it is, and creates an atmosphere that astounds the cast, crew and guests who arrive as strangers but leave after three days as part of the extended Gatecon family.
Despite us taking a five year break from conventions the demand for more has always been there and we were so pleased to be able to fulfil that demand in 2016.
So who comes to Gatecon?
Over the years the list of nationalities represented at Gatecon continues to grow, and illustrates the worldwide phenomenon that is Stargate. Even though the show is (currently) no longer in production, enthusiasm from the fans never wanes.
So thank you to our supporters from:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahamas, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Gran Canaria, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Phillipines, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, USA and Wales.
Here's hoping we can add some new countries to that list soon.